One of the greatest moments during an Aggie’s time at Texas A&M is the day he or she receives an Aggie Ring. As the most visible sign of the Aggie Network, the Aggie Ring is a unique representation of achievement, as it can only be ordered when an Aggie completes specific academic requirements.
The tradition of the Aggie Ring dates back to 1889, when the first Rings featured the letters “AMC” entwined on the crest. E.C. Jonas, Class of 1894, designed the Aggie Ring that includes many of the same symbols used in today’s design. Slight modifications would be made to the Ring through 1933 when a committee was formed to bring greater standardization and control to the manufacturing of the Ring. As a result, the Aggie Ring has remained mostly unchanged since 1933, with one exception: in 1963, the Texas legislature changed the name of Texas A&M from the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas to Texas A&M University, and the name on the Ring was changed accordingly.
Traditionally, students wear the Ring with the class year facing them to signify that their time at A&M is not yet complete. During commencement ceremonies, The Association of Former Students leads a ceremony in which Aggies students turn their Rings around to face the world proudly, just as the Aggie graduate is now ready to face the world.
Every element on the Aggie Ring is symbolic. The top of the Ring features a shield that symbolizes the protection of the good reputation of the alma mater. There are 13 stripes in the shield that symbolize the 13 original states and an Aggie’s patriotism. The five stars found in the shield refer to the five phases of Aggie development: mind or intellect, body, spiritual attainment, emotional poise, and integrity of character. The eagle on the top of the Aggie Ring symbolizes agility and power and ability to reach great heights and ambitions.
One side of the Aggie Ring holds a large star, which symbolizes the seal of the State of Texas, encircled with a wreath of olive and live oak leaves joined together by a ribbon near the bottom of the Ring. The wreath of olive leaves symbolizes achievement and desire for peace, while the live oak leaves symbolize the strength to fight. The leaves are joined at the bottom by an encircling ribbon to show the necessity of joining these traits to accomplish one’s ambition to serve.
The other side of the Aggie Ring contains an ancient cannon, saber, and rifle, symbolizing that the citizens of Texas fought for their land and are determined to defend it. The saber stands for valor and confidence, while the rifle and cannon stand for a preparedness and defense. The crossed flags of the United States and Texas recognize an Aggie's dual allegiance to both the nation and state.
Aggies receive their Aggie Rings at a special celebration called Aggie Ring Day. Three times a year, thousands of Aggies, family and friends gather at the Clayton W. Williams, Jr. Alumni Center to celebrate achieving an academic milestone by receiving their Aggie Rings. During this celebration, Aggies can enjoy various festivities on the Alumni Center grounds, including taking professional photos at different landmarks, watching student group performances, and more.
Since its creation in 1936, Ring Dance has come to be as much a part of Aggieland as the many older traditions that have existed as long as the school itself. This dance, held in honor of the senior class, will be for many the last social function of a student’s time in Aggieland.
Ring Dance features giant replicas of the Aggie Ring, where seniors can take photos and turn their Aggie Rings so that the class year no longer faces them.
Ring Dance began with one room of entertainment — an orchestra — until 1978. At that time, another entertainment option was made available: a rock band. Over the years, the variety of entertainment has expanded and ranged from Tejano to big band to piano bar to country western.