Letters to the Editor
Published: Friday, March 27, 2009
Updated: Sunday, March 20, 2011 18:03
Accurate election results are critical
To the Editor:It is the policy of the Student Association Election Committee to remove from the published elections results only those write-in votes that attack the character of individual candidates or which use profanity on the level of the word "fuck."
In accordance with this policy, the results of the 2009 SA General Election include votes for "anyone but [candidate]," but not "[candidate] is a [profanity]." This policy also resulted in the inclusion of "some Asian girl," as noted by Courtney Ng in her column ("Stereotyping places unreasonable expectations on Asians," March 20).
The Election Committee believes that an accurate reporting of results - even if some of the results are less than tasteful - is beneficial to the elections process and increases the transparency of our student self-governance.
Member, SA Election Committee
Beer Bike obstacles unjustly ignored
To the Editor:
As former Beer Bike coordinators, we are dismayed by the manner in which Beer Bike changes were presented in last week's Thresher. The problem of truck reservations has been a perennial issue for Beer Bike coordinators that began long before Duncan and McMurtry Colleges appeared on our horizons. There simply aren't enough flatbed trucks in Houston for Beer Bike, especially during the Rodeo. This is not just a simple hassle. Truck companies see the event as a liability and are loath to rent trucks. Thus, coordinators must go to elaborate lengths to secure trucks, sometimes lying to truck companies in the name of Rice, often to find truck reservations cancelled at the last minute. Trucks will continue to be an issue until an alternative parade structure is developed.
What few people consider is that the parade is a constantly-evolving tradition. Balloons have appeared in the parade for only the past 15 years, and the trucks entered the event simply as a way of transporting them. The spirit of Beer Bike will continue even with fewer trucks, and to proclaim otherwise is irresponsible, or at least foolish. We have heard nothing but positive feedback about this year's Beer Bike, a testament to all of the campus-wide, college and area coordinators' hard work. These people have, after all, been elected by your colleges to represent student opinion in all Beer Bike proceedings.
Beer Bike is about much more than the number of balloons filled. College unity can be preserved with minor parade changes. Rice students should approach these changes with flexibility and perspective.
2007 Baker Beer Bike Coordinators
2008 Campus-Wide Beer Bike Coordinator
2007 Campus-Wide Beer Bike Coordinator
FIRE defends Rice's "red light"
To the Editor:
There are good reasons why Rice gets a "red light" from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education for plainly prohibiting certain protected speech ("Rice's free speech questioned," March 20). Dean of Undergraduates Robin Forman makes one of FIRE's points exactly: The speech code in Rice's Information Technology policy is enforced selectively, so students have no way of knowing whether their speech will be prosecuted. Forman admits that speech in violation of the policy is sometimes prosecuted, sometimes not. Apparently, administrators only punish "material which explicitly or implicitly refers to sexual conduct" and "profane language or pander[ing] to bigotry, sexism, or other forms of prohibited discrimination" by whim. In FIRE's experience, such discretion results in oppression of views administrators dislike.
Forman also claims that the IT Common Policy Questions and Answers document makes the censorship rules clear, but it makes them worse. It vaguely calls for "responsible and courteous behavior" and states, "[M]isuse of resources includes working irresponsibly as well as actions that are intentional, reckless or negligent." What Rice administrators will find "irresponsible" is anybody's guess.
That Rice might permit speech to flourish most of the time hardly guarantees that Rice is fully living up to its free speech commitments. It is nothing special that a student publication is allowed to write a noncontroversial editorial about FIRE stating, "Thanks for your interest, but everything is OK here." As the Supreme Court wrote in 1943, "Freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom."
Director, Individual Rights Defense Program, FIRE
Newspaper cuts reveal larger issues
To the Editor:
I was deeply moved by Catherine Bratic's opinion piece decrying the cancellation of daily newspaper subscriptions in the colleges ("Newspapers indispensable to education," March 20). Reading newspapers online fosters quick and shallow thinking, as we click from one article to another. Contrast this with the leisurely contemplative thought that the print medium nurtures. That kind of thinking is sorely lacking in our age.
Yes, our shrinking endowment and continued physical expansion dictate serious budget cutting. But cuts could be made without compromising student education. As in the public schools, our administrative bureaucracy is bloated. In my own department, one efficient administrator, upon retirement, was replaced by three people. Another boondoggle is the on-campus shuttle bus system that ferries commuters a few blocks to and from the stadium parking lots. Why does this inefficient luxury take precedence over education?
It feels like Rice has strayed from its real mission. Education seems to have taken a back seat to public relations, building construction and employee entitlements. Following the 2001 financial crisis in Argentina, many dedicated professors continued teaching despite a 100 percent pay cut. In contrast, professors at Rice are collectively intolerant of even slight pay cuts. In my work unit, childish squabbles have crippled student research and journal publication. Persistent efforts to resolve this problem revealed an academic culture that passively upholds the absolute power of professors while implicitly tolerating a fundamental breakdown of the educational process.