St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S. is trying to crackdown on a retailer selling rings that resemble the iconic gold rings worn by St. FX alumni.
'I, like most St. FX alumni, I hold this ring near and dear to my hear and when I saw this ring I actually felt slightly violated.'—Ed McHugh, former president of the St. FX Alumni Association
The rings from retailer Forever 21 come in a two-pack. Both rings are gold-coloured: one has an "O" printed in black on the front and the other has an "X" printed in black.
The ring with the "X" on it is the one some people have an issue with.
"I, like most St. FX alumni, I hold this ring near and dear to my heart and when I saw this ring I actually felt slightly violated," said Ed McHugh, former president of the St. FX Alumni Association.
The iconic rings are worn by alumni and according to the university’s website, "is said to be, after Super Bowl and Papal rings, the third most recognized ring in the world. It’s a permanent reminder of the St. FX experience and its lasting solidarity. As St .FX president Dr. Sean Riley says every year in his convocation address, ‘If you fall, a fellow Xaverian is there to pick you up.’"
McHugh, who is also a marketing teacher at Nova Scotia Community College, said it's a brilliant marketing tool for the university.
"The ring means pretty much everything to a St. FX grad. There are, unbelievably, people and families spending $80,000 over four years to get a ring. They've picked St. FX because of the ring," he said.
The gold rings from St. FX cost about $1,000 each. The Forever 21 rings cost $5.80 for the two-pack.
"Sure I'd look twice, but I think I would after the second look say, 'Oh it's the Forever 21 ring.' It doesn't bother me. I've got my own, I worked hard for my ring, " said Adam Barrett, alumnus of St. FX's class of 2006.
Cindy MacKenzie, manager of communications and marketing for St. FX, said the university has had the X-ring trademarked for decades.
"We were made aware of the situation yesterday afternoon. We reached out to the company to make them aware that the X-ring is an existing trademark we have held for decades. We have requested they stop selling the rings immediately. We are waiting for a response from the company," she said.
Forever 21 has not responded to the CBC’s request for comment. The company does not have a retail store in Nova Scotia but one is set to open this fall at Dartmouth’s Mic Mac Mall.