A matter of students’ priorities at StFX
On Dec. 3, hundreds of students on this campus will be receiving the coveted X-Ring that we have all drooled over. As I myself am one of those students, it is debatable whether I will be this excited on my own wedding day. I want to say probably not. StFX students all across Antigonish are waiting piously by to celebrate their time at this school with their family and friends, enjoying an ode to their memories while rejoicing the fact that they still have a whole other semester to make more.
One question I have heard pop up though is regarding the priorities of students at this school: it seems to some as though we value X-Ring more than actual graduation. With the last few years’ rising allegations that StFX is a party cult, do we value X-Ring more because of its party aspect?
I am not convinced it’s fair to say that convocation is less of a party than X-Ring. Many parents make the trek down to Antigonish for both occasions. In fact, graduation has a whole weekend allotted to it. Maybe it is not a super-sub event like for X-Ring, but I can personally vouch for the fact that there is no less – maybe more – drinking involved in the overall weekend.
Most importantly though, X-Ring and convocation are celebrating two entirely different feelings. On X-Ring day, amid the general excitement to be receiving that bling, there is also a feeling of being inducted into some type of Hall of Fame; your X-Ring is your ticket into an exclusive and continuously supportive alumni community. Starting December 4 and onwards, your X-Ring can actually work as a catalyst for networking and meeting new people everywhere you go. Imagine walking into a job interview, and the first thing you notice on the interviewer’s hand is an X-Ring. Talk about getting a foot in the door; you already have endless conversation queued for once the interview is over.
Even now, before I wear my X-Ring, as soon as alumni hear you’re a student at StFX, the hours you could spend talking about your varied experiences at the same institution is heartwarming at the very least. I have had people approach me on the street and show me their X-Ring all because I was wearing a StFX sweater. Your X-Ring is almost just like a merit badge: you did your time at the school and get the reward for it. Sure, one might say this all sounds a little cult-like, but so be it. No one is asking you to drink any Kool-Aid, and as StFX alumni are spread all over the globe, I will have an eternal abundance of friends no matter where my future takes me. Call me crazy, but sounds like an awesome cult to me.
It is largely this sentiment that I believe is being celebrated on X-Ring. Not so much your personal memories, but rather the experience of the collective. We’re celebrating the fact that we’ve now become a part in a much bigger story, members of an elite that we value. We celebrate how StFX has shaped us all to be our own person, and yet also given us something that we will all share together for the rest of our lives.
In fact, the feeling of this shared experience is mirrored in many ways during X-Ring. Only students and faculty are permitted in the room during the celebration. You earned your right to sit in that chair, to walk up that aisle and to put on that ring. Furthermore, we then share our experience with lower-years: seniors return to their first-year residence to reminisce, but also to give these young grasshoppers a glimpse into what their future holds for them should they stick it out at – what is in my opinion – the best school ever.
X-Ring is an occasion on which we gain something; access to a new network and shared experience. On convocation, it feels more like something has been lost. The memories that we cherished making at this fine institution come to a close as we say our final goodbyes to many of our friends, promising to visit but knowing we rarely will. After all, life is about to hit us fast. While both events are about new beginnings, only one is about goodbyes: I think it is for that reason that StFX students tend to emphasize the importance of X-Ring over that of convocation. Plainly and simply, we’re not ready for those hard goodbyes yet, and that is why we tend to enjoy X-Ring moreover convocation.
Having the opportunity to know some older alumni, I have heard that back some 50 years ago, students receiving their X-Ring would simply order it, walk into Cameron’s when it came in and pick it up, sans celebration. Question is, did we make this celebration just for the sake of a party? Heck no. As the StFX alumni network continued to grow, so too did reasons to be proud to have attended this school. We share an alma mater with many prominent figures, and thanks to this ever-growing community, X-Rings are now the third most recognized ring in the entire world. Is that not something to celebrate? Celebrations may not have been required back when the foundations of this traditions were first being laid. Now, the tradition is decades old and in my opinion should have a celebration the likes of what we throw today.
StFX students get a bad reputation for our partying habits. Honestly, I’m not convinced that we even party more than other schools in the first place, but for the moment let’s say that we do. Okay, so what? We like to have a little more fun than the average Joe. Our affinity for a good party might even go to show how successful many students on this campus really are. Grad schools and employers want to see that you can balance academic success with involvement on and off campus; well throw in the fact that you’re also an avid partier and now who’s really multi-tasking?
Basically, what I’m trying to say is I do not think it fair to say that we value X-Ring more because we like to party. The party is only one minute aspect to the celebration that is X-Ring day. December 3 is about so much more. Call it cliché, but it really is a day to celebrate with your family: your StFX family. Students’ priorities are exactly where they should be, and I for one cannot wait to walk down that aisle.