Rice Coalition for Hunger and Homelesness

The Rice Coalition for Hunger and Homelessness will focus on tackling poverty and homelessness in Houston, according to founder Ahmed Haque.

Haque, a graduate student in bioengineering, said that while most service clubs tend to mitigate the effects of hunger and homelessness, RCoHH differs because it will try to attack the problem at its source.

"Volunteering itself is great and incredibly important but, in and of itself, isn't enough," Haque said. "In order to make meaningful change, there is a real need to spend time experimenting with new kinds of solutions, developing connections with existing agencies, building deeper awareness about the problem and generally serving as advocates for this group in need."

The club was originally started to continue a project Haque and a group of friends had been working on called Sandwiches-for-All, in which students made and distributed sandwiches to the local impoverished and shelters, according to Haque. Eventually, the group realized their project could accommodate more volunteers, and more importantly, that what they were doing was not enough, Haque said.

"While handing out sack lunches was awesome and it was obvious that those receiving them were incredibly grateful, the work itself felt sort of low-impact," Haque said. "Handing someone a sack lunch once a month, even if every month, is just a tiny Band-Aid solution to a serious structural problem."

Haque said that because of this, he and his friends spent some time planning projects with longer-term solutions to poverty and hunger in Houston and have come up with three additional projects.

According to Haque, the RCoHH will work with the Houston Police Department's Homeless Outreach Team to pair resourceful students up with homeless people on the streets who need jobs and housing. The students will coach their partner through many of the issues the homeless face, he said. 

Another project is the Photojournaling Houston Poverty Campaign, according to Haque. This project will spread more awareness of the extent of Houston's poverty problem by having students document the poverty in Houston through photography of the lives of people in low-income communities. Through this project, RCoHH hopes to spark discussions about potential solutions.

Another event is the Annual Forum on Homelessness and Hunger. RCoHH hopes to bring together thought leaders, nonprofits, government officials and people who are or have been homeless for this annual event in which students can learn more about poverty and homelessness. 

The club also has speaking events and film screenings planned, Haque said.

"We want this organization to be one that also serves as a venue for hard-hitting conversations on topics like food stamps and social security," Haque said.

Interested students can find out more by visiting the RCoHH's website at www.coalitionrice.org.

 

Basmati Beats

Basmati Beats is a group that sings a mix of Indian and American songs. It has existed as acts in the South Asian Society's Dhamaka and Rangeela, but has become a separate club in order to be able to hold auditions, according to club co-president Ashley Joseph.

"[Now, we can] rope in people who would not necessarily be able to participate unless they were members of SAS," Joseph, a Jones College junior, said. "Holding auditions allows us to select members whose voices will be able to work well together to create the best possible sound."

The group will continue to perform in SAS's cultural shows, but will also have other performances both in and outside of Rice, Joseph said.

"We plan to have a joint concert with SAS in November to showcase individual talent of members in both organizations," Joseph said. "Throughout the year, we hope to perform at venues both at Rice and in the greater Houston community, and we plan to participate in South Asian a cappella competitions."

Auditions will be held on Friday, Sept. 6 from 2-7 p.m. and Tuesday, Sept. 10 from 5-8 p.m. 

 

Asian Pacific American Student Alliance

The Asian Pacific American Student Alliance will dedicate itself to establishing a Pan-Asian identity at Rice, according to Internal Vice Chair Bo Kim.

"Through collaboration with existing Asian-American organizations, both on and off campus, we will educate the student body about the shared experiences of Asian Americans and issues that affect Asian Americans as a whole," Kim, a McMurtry College sophomore, said.

APASA was formed to increase awareness and spark campus discussion of Asian-American issues, Kim said.

"Asian-Americans as a group are a fairly new phenomenon," Kim said. "It's important that at Rice there's an opportunity for students to explore what it means to be Asian-American and we thought that a non-cultural, all-inclusive club would be the best way to generate awareness and talk about these issues."

APASA plans to host speakers and conduct round tables to talk about issues specific to Asian-Americans and also planning on working with the Chinese Student Association to host an Asian-American Heritage and Culture Month in October, Kim said.

 

Federalist Society

A chapter of the Federalist Society, a national organization with over 40,000 members, student chapters at every accredited law school in America and lawyers' chapters in 65 cities, was established at Rice according to club founder and president Blake Delaplane.

"The society will provide a forum for students who share an interest in the American constitutional system and believe that governments should protect unalienable rights; that concentration of power in one branch of government is dangerous; and that the judiciary branch says what the law is while the elected branches determines what the law should be," Delaplane, a Duncan College junior, said.

Delaplane said the Federalist Society plans to work closely with the University of Houston Law Center, the South Texas College of Law and student groups like the Baker Institute Student Forum and the Pre-Law Society.

"The society is committed to encouraging open and honest debate on the fundamental legal issues of our day," Delaplane said. "I hope that students will also gain a better sense of a law school environment at Rice Federalist Society events."

 

NETwork Against Malaria

NETwork Against Malaria is a national organization that works with schools in Uganda to distribute mosquito nets treated with insecticide to reduce students' risk of being bitten, according to Rice chapter co-founder and president Ashley Phillips.

"The major fundraiser for NETwork is the sale of beaded jewelry that incorporates paper beads handmade by Ugandan women," Phillips, a Will Rice College junior, said. "We plan to extend our fundraising efforts by selling other items such as boba tea, baked goods, Saturday dinner, etc., and [by] hosting a campus-wide awareness event."

Phillips said he, along with Will Rice College junior Sajani Patel and Brown College junior Julika Kaplan, founded the chapter because it allows interested Rice students to take an active role in a significant public health effort. 

"Malaria is a hugely significant public health concern, and NETwork allows us to assist in the effort to reduce the number of lives lost to this disease," Phillips said. "Rice is full of passionate, caring and globally aware students, and we saw a lot of potential for NETwork to thrive on our campus."