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The impending Rice Memorial Center renovations are a potentially exciting new development for Rice’s campus. Upgrades could transform the RMC into an even more welcoming hub of campus life with renovations to Coffeehouse, the multicultural center and study spaces.
More than five years ago, the Thresher editorial board wrote about the visual and dramatic arts department’s need for attention from the administration, specifically that it “could greatly benefit from new space and materials.” The editorial was in response to the demolition of the Art Barn, a historically significant building funded by John and Dominique de Menil.
This year, Hanszen College’s room draw ended with 17 unclaimed beds. It’s been well-established that Hanszen’s housing facilities are in dire need of upgrades, but so far Rice’s administration has largely turned a blind eye to the housing discrepancies that threaten to sully the perceived equality of the residential college system. This should be the last straw. Rice needs to make a concrete, meaningful and tangible pledge to construct a new residential building for Hanszen.
A cloud often hangs over the student body as it returns from spring break. Usually, that’s a product of mixing Frio 6.0, Red Bull and sunshine. This year, though, that cloud was the result of a massive fire at a chemical storage facility on the bank of the Houston Ship Channel.
The women’s basketball team received potentially great news on Monday: when it tips off its opening game of the NCAA Tournament on Friday at 1 p.m., it will do so a mere two hour drive from its home court — in College Station on the campus of Texas A&M University. Rice has a chance to send enough fans to make it feel like a home game. That could matter. A lot.
Every election cycle, candidates push to increase the diversity of ideas that make their way from the student body to the Student Association Senate. As newly elected leaders take their positions at both the college and the SA Senate level, we have several significant changes — outside of constitutional reform — that we believe would increase the flow of ideas from the student body to its leaders.
The Thresher editorial board strongly supports the Student Association’s efforts to prevent violent and sexual abusers from holding elected office in campus-wide organizations, including the SA Senate. We believe this change is one that should be implemented as soon as possible — not only at a campus-wide and SA voting level, but also for certain positions at a residential college level.
Revelations related to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s blackface appearance led to similar discoveries at Rice — in our very own Campanile yearbooks. This should not come as a shock to anyone. Rice, which was founded by a slaveowner, did not admit black students until 1965 and like colleges in Virginia, regularly engaged in racist practices like blackface. The Thresher was no exception, not only reporting on minstrel shows (1962) but also including racist, editorialized comments. Now, less than 60 years later, it would be insulting to claim that we are a completely different university. The traditions that this university is founded on were birthed during a racist time, and time and time again we see that we are still far from an equal world.
Petitions for the campus-wide Student Association ballot are due Sunday, and it’s not too late to consider running for a position. Often, the same individuals who served in the government their freshman year are the ones who ultimately run for SA or college leadership positions. But the fact of the matter is every Rice student has experience and skill sets that qualify them to serve in an elected position.
The new summer school financial aid is undoubtedly a good thing (see p. 3). In fact, it appears to place Rice ahead of its peer institutions. Harvard, Yale and Princeton Universities only offer loans for summer courses which must be paid back — Rice’s new grants, which need not be paid back, expand summer school access to those for whom the cost might be prohibitive.
Duncan College Magister Caleb McDaniel announced a ban on all private gatherings at Duncan serving alcohol, including wine and beer on Dec. 3, alleging that student leadership had turned a blind eye to hard alcohol consumption at the college. The Thresher believes this ban to be misguided and counterproductive.
Rice’s connection to the world’s first genetically altered babies is alarming. Not only was a former Rice graduate student leading the research, but an active Rice faculty member has academic and financial stakes in the project. Rice released a statement that the work is inconsistent with the ethical norms of the university. But the troubling truth is that while Rice students are introduced to the honor code during Orientation Week, most will go their entire undergraduate experience without a crash course, let alone a comprehensive one, in ethics.
The pay gap between male full professors and female full professors is $11,580 as of the 2017-18 academic year (see p. 1). This gap has grown over the past eight years from $6,526 in 2010-11 and $9,244 in 2013-14.
This week, the Rice Program Council changed the theme for Esperanza, which will take place at the Houston Museum of African American Culture, from “A Night at Gatsby’s” to “A Taste of the Twenties.” The change occurred after the Black Student Association, Rice African Student Association and the National Society of Black Engineers reached out to RPC with concerns that the initial theme was based on a novel that is not racially inclusive and overlooks the contributions of the African American community to culture in the 1920s. By meeting with student leaders and altering the theme, RPC responded in a thoughtful and appropriate way. The discussion that led to the change is an example of honest and critical conversations that we should be engaging in.
This past weekend, Rice’s volleyball team won two away matches to extend its winning streak to a program-record 13 matches in a row, breaking the old record of 12 set in 1995. This is a historic and extremely impressive accomplishment for head coach Genny Volpe’s team. But almost no one at Rice was able to watch it happen.
Last year, Chi Alpha staff member Mathison Ingham commented to the Thresher that Evening of Elegance was meant to provide an environment with “dignity” compared to Night of Decadence. That set off a whirlwind of criticism culminating in a fiery op-ed from then-Wiess College senior Josh Kaye. Chi Alpha did not publicly respond to the criticism.
This week, as promised, Rice officials sat down with representatives from the Rice International Student Association (see p. 1). Unfortunately, the administration’s comments described by RISA members are symptomatic of an overall apathy towards meaningful progress in financial support for international students. This is our second editorial of the year on the topic of international student aid because we feel it is important not to let this issue be swept aside in a private meeting. Once again, we are calling for greater transparency, not only through clear financial goals but also through increased and transparent communication with international students on how Rice can better support them.
Three changes to Rice University students’ revered annual Beer Bike are under consideration: reducing the number of bike team members to six bikers from 10 bikers, moving the races’ start time to 8 a.m. from 11:30 a.m. and allowing A-team members to participate in alumni races.
As incoming students enter Rice, many are surprised by the degree to which the university’s Honor Code extends trust to the student body. The Thresher believes the honor system has the potential to help both students and faculty, but in its current state, the system is broken: As the Faculty Senate Task Force currently working on the issue recognizes (see p. 1), cheating remains far too common and honor rules are applied unjustly and unclearly.
Due to a new Texas state law, Rice University Police Department will now be subject to open records requests (see p. 1) for information on their policing activity, which includes correspondences, activity logs and other documents. This requirement marks a continuation toward increased transparency in RUPD, following the introduction of body cameras to its officers in April (see “RUPD implements body cameras” in the Sept. 2 issue of the Thresher).