Student Association Parliamentarian and Former Treasurer Maurice Frediere is running uncontested for the position of external vice president in this year’s SA elections.
In last year’s SA elections, Frediere ran for president, dropped out, and then entered the race for internal vice president and lost to IVP Sara Meadow. He was later appointed to the parliamentarian position by SA President Justin Onwenu.
Frediere said one of the reasons that he chose to run for EVP this year rather than re-run for IVP or president is because the EVP has more freedom compared to the other positions.
“The IVP has a lot of mandated responsibilities and the president has a lot of mandated responsibilities, like in the first week of October you have to have this completed,” Frediere said. “The EVP is a lot more open-ended and it gives you a lot more ability to take on projects you’re really passionate about.”
According to the SA website, the job of the external vice president is to facilitate interactions between the SA and external groups at Rice and in the Houston community.
The last time a student went unopposed in the race for EVP was in 2014, when Brown College alumni Amritha Kanakamedala ran as a sophomore.
“I don’t know how I ended up unopposed,” Frediere said. “This is usually a really contested position.”
Frediere, a Duncan College junior, has held various other positions within the SA including new student representative, chair of the Academic Freedom Working Group and university student committee representative.
According to his campaign statement available on the SA website, Frediere has three primary goals for his tenure as external vice president. The first is to require university student committee representatives to conduct direct outreach to students before and after committee meetings. According to Frediere, the idea was inspired by student backlash to a previous decision in 2016 by the Committee on Undergraduate Curriculum to limit the maximum number of credit hours for undergraduates to 18.
“It was just the CUC reps who were going to the meetings and were like, ‘OK, this sounds like a reasonable proposal, I think students will be fine with it,’” Frediere said. “It turns out that once the proposal went public, students just went crazy and there was like a 300-person protest at Lovett Hall during the meeting.”
Frediere also said in his campaign statement that he would like to take on projects from the SA’s 100 Ideas report, consisting of students’ ideas for improving Rice. Frediere said that he cannot yet name any specific projects he is particularly passionate about and wants to get done right away.
“I’m going to sit down and read through everything again, identify who to allocate certain tasks to, talk to the senators, who’ll talk through it with the USC reps, and take on some projects myself, because the EVP usually has a decent amount of access to the administrators that need to do that,” Frediere said.
Lastly, Frediere said he wants to expand the Hedgehopper program, which offers discounts from local businesses in an attempt to encourage students to experience more of Houston. Frediere said he helped develop the program during his time as treasurer.
“Part of the 100 Ideas was that students wanted to get more opportunities to go outside the hedges,” Frediere said. “Houston is a city that has a lot to offer academically and culturally —it’s the most diverse city in the country — but also there’s an aspect of socioeconomic accessibility that we can tackle here.”
One of the issues raised during last year’s EVP debate held by the Thresher was the role of the SA in politics. Frediere is currently the president of Rice Young Democrats, but he said that he plans to step down after this year and that the SA is largely apolitical.
“Our job is to represent students and there’s not a Democratic position on whether or not we should pave the grove, or how we should handle parking,” Frediere said. “I haven’t, for the last three years in the SA, let my political beliefs have any corrupting influence on the work I do in the SA. There are two separate parts of my personality, and I am readily able to separate them.”
SA elections open at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22. Frediere expressed hope that students will stay involved in the SA after the election season passes.
“I hope students will stay engaged in the SA and we’ll be able to build on the momentum of the past two or three years of making a positive change on campus and of becoming more accessible and visible to students,” Frediere said.