This Friday at noon, Stephen F. Austin State University students will be receiving their school ring by dipping their hand in purple dye to complete the rite of passage. There will be about 250 students in attendance, as well as any friends and family. Seating for family and friends is first come, first serve, and opens at 11.
Pictures of the event will be on the SFA Alumni Association Facebook page for students to download and view. The pictures will show students shaking hands with school president, Dr. Baker Pattillo, while receiving their ring. According to Samantha Mora, director of alumni events and engagement, the recipe for the purple dye is a secret and is constantly changing.
“It’s a great tradition, and it’s growing and growing more and more every year,” Mora said. “We just want to encourage that to students to participate.”
The Big Dip is a bi-annual event, which means it takes place every fall and spring semester. Each event has about 250-300 participants, and is open to students who have completed 60 plus hours. Students should receive an email or invitation when they become eligible for their SFA ring, but students can also go to the Alumni Center whenever to discuss or buy their ring.
The Big Dip has been an SFA tradition for over 10 years, and will continue for many more. Water from the Surfin’ Steve fountain is used in the purple dye, and will usually last on the hand from anywhere between a few hours to a couple of days. According to Mora, the Big Dip stands for “dipped in pride” with the purple symbolizing purple pride.
“It all depends when in the day you dipped, and if you’re in the first batch or not,” Mora said. “It usually lasts a couple of hours. But it depends if you scrub it, and it depends on how much you wash your hands.”
Students planning on participating in The Big Dip can register online at the SFA Alumni Association website by going through the events, or by clicking this link. Students who don’t register will still have a seat at the event; the RSVP is for a head count.
The Big Dip is hosted by the SFA Alumni Association, with Mora organizing the event. The Big Dip should last an hour and a half at most, and there plans to be a photo of all of the participants after The Big Dip in the atrium with Pattillo.
The SFA Ring
Thousands of SFA alumni own their SFA Ring, which Mora describes as “a diploma for your hand.”
The SFA Alumni website also has information on the SFA Ring, as well as an order form through the official SFA Ring provider, Balfour. Balfour is a provider for high school rings, college rings, yearbooks, graduation announcements, letter jackets and more.
After receiving an invitation to participate in The Big Dip and to order the SFA ring, the Alumni Association hosts a ring sales event. At the event, students can try on rings, ask questions and fill out the form to order a ring. Students can also come by the Alumni Association office whenever to order and try rings on as well.
Students also have the option of ordering a ring and not participating in The Big Dip. However, to participate in the Big Dip, students must purchase the official SFA ring.
“Students don’t have to [attend the Big Dip] but we’d really like them to,” Mora said. “We try to encourage it as much as possible.”
When designing the SFA Ring, the first thing a student must decide is what kind of metal they want to order. The metals offered are:
- White Metals
◦ 10K White Gold
◦ 14K White Gold
◦ 18K White Gold
◦ Balfour Premium Silver
- Yellow Metals
◦ 10K Yellow Gold
◦ 14K Yellow Gold
◦ 18K Yellow Gold
After choosing what kind of metal for their ring (which varies in price between the men and women designs) students get to personalize their ring.
The SFA Ring features the following decorations:
- University Name
- Axe Heads
- Graduation Date
- Pine Cones and Pine Trees
- SFA Seal
- Stephen F. Austin Statue
- The “T”
- The Lumberjack
- Engraving on the Inside
- The Austin Building
Some of these features can be personalized, like the graduation date, degree and personalized engraving.
There are also two top options:
- SFA Metal Top
- Amethyst Top
After designing the ring, students get to choose between an antique finish or a natural finish. There are also other options, such as adding diamonds or cubic zirconium’s to the ring. The engraving can only be up to 18 characters, and it’s most common for students to put their name on the inside.
More information on the designs and decorations of the ring can be found on the Alumni Association website.
There were over 225 students who ordered their SFA Ring this semester. According to Mora, more students order their rings in the Spring.
When wearing the SFA Ring, it’s important to note which way the “Stephen F. Austin” engraving is facing. If it reads Stephen F. Austin facing in, it symbolizes the wearer has not graduated. When it reads Stephen F. Austin facing out, it symbolizes the wearer is an alumni.
“It’s facing SFA to the world,” Mora said.
For students not interested in the official SFA Ring, they may order other rings but will not be able to participate in The Big Dip.
The Mentor Ring
In years past, the SFA ring used to be called “The Mentor Ring.” It was called this because after a student received their ring, they could get paired up with an alumnus who would mentor them throughout the rest of their college career and after they graduate.
However, in the past three years the mentor program has been revamped. The program used to be exclusive to students who had purchased their SFA Ring, but now any junior and senior is eligible to enter the mentor program. Participation is not mandatory, but encouraged.
According to the SFA Alumni Website, over 200 mentor-student assignments have been connected. Alumni can always request to be a mentor and be paired up with a student by completing the document online.
Students can request to participate in the program on the SFA Alumni website or by clicking the link here.
For questions or comments, email Emily.Jensen05@gmail.com