Spring semester, senior year: a time where we have our last chance as underclassmen to commit ourselves to our studies, our friends, our faith and for some to each other for a lifetime.
That’s right, I’m talking about the not-exactly-exclusive-to-the University of Dallas-tradition of “Ring by Spring,” a phrase that describes when seniors take their relationship to the next level and become engaged to be married the spring semester before they graduate.
Though this courting period is not unique to our Catholic school, the community of UD fosters an environment that encourages the possibility of Ring by Spring for some who may be ready.
In my opinion, a community that fosters, encourages, and provides for the true end and purpose of relationships is superior to one that is more encouraging to casual relationships or no relationships at all.
“Ring by Spring” is not so positively interpreted in the “real world,” which may be due to high divorce rates. Today, the American Psychological Association says that roughly 50 percent of marriages end in divorce.
This percentage only increases when couples marry younger: the National Center for Health estimates that for couples who marry between ages 20 and 25 have a greater possibility for divorce at 60 percent. Studies have shown that Americans are tending to marry later on in their life, as women, on average, marry at 27 and men at 29.
The engaged couples at UD (so far I know of a whopping number of 12 couples in the 2018 graduating class) are an anomaly to this age of decline in marriages and increasing national average of age in marriage. Their engagements go against what is considered the norm in society.
Megan Brennan, an English major and student of the 2018 class, just received her proposal from a 2016 UD Alum Mark Houle on March 11. Her love story began at UD: Brennan met her fiancé in the Cap Bar her freshman year while she was having a lively discussion with her friends.
“One of the professors [in the Cap Bar] had a cute baby and we were talking about how we would steal it,” Brennan said. Houle joined in on the joke, and then later on, asked Brennan to the Spring Formal.
Brennan helped Houle, another English major, with his senior novel paper, and two years later, Houle helped Brennan with her senior novel paper. Brennan and Houle plan to get married this summer.
For Brennan and Houle, a marriage early on in their lives may have its advantages, something not normally discussed in this day in age.
Charles Murray, a political scientist who wrote for the American Enterprise Institute, discusses the advantages of people marrying young: “[Y]ou and your spouse will have made your way together. Whatever happens, you will have shared the experience. And each of you will know that you wouldn’t have become the person you are without the other.”
This of course, doesn’t mean that Ring by Spring is for everyone. There are many students who may not be ready for marriage yet or have not found the right person at UD. Getting married later on has its advantages too — you may be more mature, more stable in your career, and you may have more of an understanding about yourself and what fulfills your life.
However, even if Ring by Spring is not for most of our student body, it seems as if it still affects the UD students in one way or another. I’ve heard students discuss their worry about not finding a spouse at UD.
There is a pressure that comes along with this tradition for students to have a Ring by Spring, that for some may inevitably drive them to rush into a state of vigilance and stress over finding potential partners.
Tony Spurgin, another senior of 2018 class, said that though he himself has never felt confronted with this pressure of Ring by Spring, he sees the pressure to find a spouse at UD as a positive thing. “[Ring by Spring] seems to me a far healthier alternative to the hookup culture most colleges seem to have,” Spurgin said, and he has a point.