Former Wiess College Senator Hannah Todd was appointed interim external vice president of the Student Association by an SA Senate vote March 30.Todd, a sophomore, came in second in the general election race for EVP to former Sid Richardson College Senator Justin Onwenu.
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Jake Hassell will be this year’s senior class commencement speaker following his selection from a field of 24 candidates, according to former Student Association President Jazz Silva.“I am deeply humbled to have been selected as the commencement speaker,” Hassell, a Lovett College senior, said.
A memorial service will be held in Houston on Saturday for Jean-Claude DeBremaecker, an outspoken professor of geophysics at Rice for 30 years who passed away Feb.
Students at Sid Richardson College will not be allowed to hold private parties for the rest of the semester as a consequence of the unregistered Lads in Plaid party at Sid on Jan.
A special election will be held for Student Association external vice president by the end of the month, pending SA Senate approval, due to elected candidate Justin Onwenu’s decision to step down before changeover for personal reasons.According to Director of Elections Sai Chilakapati, Senate will vote on the the timeline for a special election on March 14, then finalize the ballot a week later, after which campaigning will begin.
The University of Houston hosted a heated debate between five contenders for the Republican Party presidential nomination on Feb.
Griffin Thomas will assume the position of Student Association president after winning a close election against Joan Liu, while Justin Onwenu emerged as the clear winner in a three-way race for SA external vice president.Thomas, a junior finishing his term as Lovett College president, won 53 percent of the 1,532 votes cast in the presidential race, which had a 40 percent higher turnout than last year.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sheryl WuDunn will give the commencement address at the graduation of the class of 2016, according to the office of Rice president David Leebron.
Rice Program Council external vice president Jodie Nghiem and co-chair of RPC’s socials committee Iman Khan are running for the position of next year’s RPC president.This is the second campaign for RPC president for Nghiem, a McMurtry College junior.
Both Texas A&M University and the University of Texas are considering plans to create new facilities in Houston, according to public statements by A&M President Michael Young and UT Chancellor William McRaven.
Last week, Kaylen Strench wrote an opinion piece in the Thresher calling attention to the lead story of the previous issue, whose headline read, “Seventh Under Scrutiny: Sid Richardson College faces administrative backlash following sexual assault at unregistered party.” Kaylen wrote that the headline and accompanying photo of Sid contributed to making it “not only unclear that a sexual assault had occurred, but ... imply[ing] that whatever happened, the members of Sid Seventh were somehow to blame.”The headline for the article was the topic of considerable discussion among certain members of the Thresher editorial staff.
Rice University’s Critical Thinking in Sexuality Task Force launched a new website, Facebook page and video series this week as part of their effort to garner support and student input for a new mandatory course educating incoming students about healthy sexuality.The task force, which was created by the Student Association Senate in November with a mandate to develop a proposal for the course, is working to gain the Rice community’s backing, according to task force member Angela Masciale, who also serves as president of Hanszen College.
A Rice University student was sexually assaulted early Saturday morning at an unregistered party, themed “Lads in Plaids,” on the seventh floor of Sid Richardson College, according to the Rice University Police Department.
The Faculty Senate Task Force on the Honor System will hold student focus groups this week as part of its ongoing effort to evaluate and recommend changes for the implementation of Rice University’s Honor Code.The Task Force will use the focus groups to help gather information as part of a yearlong process, which also included an online survey given to faculty and students at the end of the fall semester, according to Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson, who co-chairs the Task Force. The Faculty Senate unanimously created the task force, which includes faculty, undergraduate students and Hutchinson, at its public meeting last April in response to concerns about whether students were abiding by the Honor Code.
Rice University will continue to prohibit all weapons on campus, opting out of a new state law allowing handgun concealed carry on college campuses, President David Leebron announced Monday.Texas Senate Bill 11, which was passed by the state legislature in May, legalized concealed carry in colleges throughout the state, but contained a provision allowing private universities to opt out after consultation with students, staff and faculty. Rice must post signs at its entrances explicitly prohibiting weapons, according to the legislation.According to Leebron, Vice President for Administration Kevin Kirby headed the working group in the consultation process. The group gathered input from the Student Association, Graduate Student Association, Staff Advisory Committee and Faculty Senate.According to the final report of the working group, 85 percent of the 544 responses to the SA survey of undergraduates were in favor of opting out, as were 82 percent of the 530 responses to the GSA graduate survey. 83 percent of the 178 staff polled and 95 percent of the 138 comments to the Faculty Senate also advocated opting out. Leebron said there were several reasons for the decision to continue weapon prohibition.“One was the overwhelming reaction from every constituency,” Leebron said. “We had numerical totals of 82 to 95 percent in every constituency we had. Second was the people who would be closest to dealing with issues arising from having weapons on campus – that is, the police and the mental health professionals – they opposed it. And third is, frankly, not seeing a good argument to have guns on campus.”One argument some expressed in favor of concealed carry was the possibility of an armed citizen using a concealed weapon to fight a hostile shooter on campus.One student criticized Rice’s current policy in his anonymous SA survey response.“This school’s weapon policy is ridiculous and does more harm than good,” the student said. “I don’t trust RUPD to respond quickly to a serious threat and I’d feel much safer knowing that students are allowed to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms. I believe many school shootings in this country could have been stopped or may not have happened at all had the student body been authorized to carry.”However, Leebron said the possible positive use of weapons to stop an active shooter is overshadowed by negative effects.“The role of having random guns on campus if there’s an active shooter is disputed, particularly by the people who are most concerned about it, the police,” Leebron said.In addition to campus police organizations, the Texas University and College Counseling Directors Association, which includes Rice, opposed concealed carry. The association wrote an open letter opposing S.B. 11 in April, which Timothy Baumgartner, the director of Rice’s Counseling Center, said was representative of the opinion of Rice counseling staff. “If factors such as alcohol and other substances, unfamiliar environments, social conflicts mixed with strong emotions and the absence of supportive familial relationships are considered, ready access to a firearm may prove lethal,” the letter said.Many of the students who responded to the SA survey agreed concealed carry would increase the risk of dangerous incidents.“Campus carry should not be allowed at Rice University, a haven of higher learning,” one student said. “Considering the shooting incidents that have happened at other college campuses and the rates of consumption of drugs and alcohol on college campuses, I am outraged that Texas would even consider passing a bill such as this one.”Leebron said the opt-out provision of the law was appreciated.“We’re happy when we have leeway to adopt policies that we think are appropriate and serve the interests of Rice University,” Leebron said. “For us, that’s a national and international interest. It was pretty clear from the information we received that [concealed carry] would be a disadvantage in our competitive position around the world.”Leebron said Rice’s response to the passage of S.B. 11 was similar to the rejection of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, a proposal prohibiting discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation, in Houston’s November election.“I and the university were disappointed by the outcome of the [HERO] vote,” Leebron said. “That said, Rice University will continue to be a place that is fully inclusive of its GLBT students. In both [HERO and S.B. 11], we were given as a private institution the opportunity to adopt the policies that we think are most appropriate for Rice.”Leebron said he regretted the fact that public universities in Texas cannot opt out of allowing concealed carry. Debate regarding the law has taken place at universities across the state, including a high-profile student protest at the University of Texas, Austin.“We’re sympathetic to the situation of our fellow public universities, who do not have the ability to opt out,” Leebron said.
The Student Association Senate passed Senate Bill #4, creating a task force charged with developing a mandatory Critical Thinking in Sexuality course for new students, by a 19-7 margin at the Nov. 11 Senate meeting.Before voting on the bill, the Senate approved an amendment requiring Senate approval of additional members of the task force, whose first five members were named in the legislation. SA President Jazz Silva, who proposed the course to combat campus sexual misconduct, will chair the task force.“I’m very excited,” Silva, a Sid Richardson College senior, said after the vote. “That was awesome — we have a lot of work to do.”The course proposal will be presented to Faculty Senate, who will make the ultimate decision of whether the course is implemented and made mandatory. The course’s details will be developed by the task force with Faculty Senate, the Provost’s Office and the faculty and students of the Committee on Undergraduate Curriculum, according to the bill. Silva said she hopes the course will be approved in time for it to be ready for next fall’s new students.After its original presentation to the SA Senate on Oct. 28, Brown College President Tom Carroll introduced an amendment to the bill calling for Senate approval of the course once it is developed in addition to the initial vote creating the task force. In its final form, Carroll’s amendment states that the task force must “present details of the course for Senate support through voting procedure” once the curriculum has been outlined. However, the outcome of this vote would not have legal effect on Faculty Senate’s final decision.At the Nov. 11 meeting, immediately before voting on SB#4, the Senate voted on an amendment proposed by Duncan College Senator Reagan Kapp. After revision, the amendment changed the wording of the section of the bill describing more task force members from “additional members to be appointed by the Student Association president” to “additional members to be appointed by the Student Association president and confirmed by the Student Association Senate or by majority vote of the Student Association Senate.”“Part of the reason why students felt they could not support the course was they felt the way the task force was created was unfair,” Kapp, a sophomore, said. “From someone who doesn’t know what’s going on inside student government, it just seems like it’s all being controlled by one sector.”The Senate approved the amendment almost unanimously, with only Lovett College President Griffin Thomas voting against it, then moved on to voting on the overall bill. Kapp said the amendment helped prevent procedural concerns from dragging down the proposal itself.“The goal of this amendment was just to alleviate those concerns so that we can talk about the actual bill, and what it is and what it isn’t, and not just focus on some procedural worry that people have,” Kapp said. “[Also, the task force] should be as representative as possible of the diversity of opinion that we have here at Rice.”The presidents and senators of Baker, Jones and McMurtry Colleges voted no on SB #4, as did Sid Richardson President Lauren Schmidt. All other presidents and senators, as well as the four members of the SA Cabinet, voted yes.Sid Richardson Senator Justin Onwenu said he and Schmidt agreed to split their votes to reflect the divided opinions at their college, where 58 percent said they supported the class and 42 percent said they opposed it in a non-mandatory survey.“Other colleges [voted such that] the majority won out,” Onwenu, a sophomore, said. “We just thought it would be a better idea to split the vote that way to be equally representative. There were more ‘no’s than we anticipated, so we just thought giving them a voice would be helpful.”McMurtry President Elizabeth Finley said she and McMurtry Senator Mishi Jain voted against the bill after a slight majority of their college’s survey opposed the proposal. “These responses, along with our concern regarding how rushed the process was and the SA’s minimal communication with relevant stakeholders, caused us to vote against SB#4,” Finley, a senior, said in an email sent to McMurtry members.Finley said she and Jain personally supported the concept of a sexuality class for all students.“Though we feel that education is extremely important, we want to ensure that this initiative is done thoughtfully,” Finley, said in the email. “We felt that it was imperative to vote how the college wanted us to vote, regardless of how that may or may not have conflicted with personal views.”Hanszen College President Angela Masciale, in contrast, said she voted in favor even though Hanszen’s poll was almost evenly split. Masciale is one of the task force members named by the bill.“Hanszen [is] about 300 students,” Masciale, a senior, said. “And 100 voted. So if you’re [trying to be] completely representative, you can’t, because two thirds didn’t even vote.” Masciale said comments from the Hanszen survey showed that much of the opposition was due to logistical concerns or misinformation.“A lot of what was negative was very mis- and ill-informed,” Masciale said. “There was a post that said, ‘They should do another survey of sexual assault of only the penetration because I think unwanted kissing and touching isn’t sexual assault.’ That’s obviously wrong. That is sexual assault.”Hanszen Senator Olivia Hsia said fears of the Faculty Senate disregarding student input when approving the developed course are unfounded, even if the SA Senate does not have the power to actually reject the final product.“If there’s something in there that we don’t like and are not receptive of, then if we — the Student Association and student body — pool our support, I firmly believe the class will not come forward,” Hsia, a junior, said. “There is historical precedent that Faculty Senate has only done these initiatives because the students had wanted it.”Thomas said he voted for the overall bill because he supports the underlying proposal of a mandatory sexuality class.“Procedurally [the bill] became problematic throughout the debate, but I’m glad that ultimately students put the sexual well being of the campus first,” Thomas, a junior, said.Masciale also said she voted yes because she supported the proposal’s spirit, even if she disagreed with some aspects of its implementation.“I was very surprised that there was such a backlash against [SB #4],” Masciale said. “It’s all in good spirit. It’s not to make anyone feel like they are cornered or that their voice isn’t heard. It’s about tolerance of people from different backgrounds. That’s why we have this vote of the spirit.”
The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, a proposition to guarantee various anti-discrimination protections, was voted down by a significant majority in the Nov. 3 election. In the mayoral election, out of a field of 13 candidates, Sylvester Turner and Bill King gained enough votes to advance to a runoff election to be held Dec. 12.Turner, a Democrat, won 31.5 percent of the mayoral vote and King, a Republican, won 25.4 percent, according to the Harris County Clerk’s Office. At 16.8 percent, Democrat Adrian Garcia was the only other candidate to capture more than 1/10 of the vote. Proposition 1, supporting HERO, was defeated 61 percent to 39 percent.HERO, a measure initially passed by the Houston City Council in 2014, prohibits employment, housing and public space discrimination based on 15 characteristics including race, marital or military status, sexual orientation and gender identity. The final two were additional protections beyond what is already established by federal law.After HERO opponents submitted a petition to the city against the ordinance, legal challenges ensued that culminated in a ruling by the Texas Supreme Court requiring Houston to either repeal the law or include it on the election ballot. The campaign surrounding Tuesday’s vote gained state and national attention, including comments in favor of the proposition by President Obama.According to the Houston Chronicle, Rice University had the highest percentage of voters in favor of HERO of any precinct, with nearly 95 percent of voters at the Rice Memorial Center polling station voting yes. However, Rice had relatively low turnout at 25 percent.Austin Bae, a voting liaison, said many Rice students focus on larger elections such as the presidential contest instead of local decisions.“It seems that university students mainly focus on the ‘bigger’ elections,” Bae, a Jones College sophomore, said. “I think a lot of students nationwide forget that there are many other opportunities, in some case, necessities, to participate in elections that are crucial to making that presidential election actually mean anything.”Sam Herrera, chairman of the Rice College Republicans, said he believed King was the better mayoral candidate. According to Herrera, the Rice College Republicans will soon make an official endorsement for the runoff.“[King] addresses the biggest problems for Houston [the pension crisis, crime and the state of the roads] with effective plans,” Herrera said. “He would bring a new vision to city hall in that he is a businessman and not a career politician.”Turner has served in the Texas House of Representatives since 1989. Sid Richardson College sophomore David Cirillo, an intern with Turner’s campaign, said Turner’s experience on the House’s appropriations committee would help him deal with Houston’s debt. Cirillo also pointed to Turner’s support for HERO.“Integration and equality are tenants of who Sylvester Turner is, and his policies reflect that,” Cirillo said. “King is opposed to an equal rights ordinance. He is for a Houston in the past. Houston can’t go back. It needs to move into the future and prove that it is the city of true opportunity. It needs Sylvester Turner.”Kathryn Hokamp, public relations representative of campus advocacy group Queers & Allies, expressed surprise at HERO’s defeat. “Even after hearing the results, even after talking to opponents, I still can’t process that so many people were against HERO,” Hokamp, a Martel College senior, said. “It’s extremely eye-opening to the amount of prejudice toward LGTBQ people in this city. HERO was a bill that should have helped everyone.”Hokamp, who served as Queers & Allies president last year, said the reason for HERO’s defeat was opposition to transgender rights. Campaign for Houston, an anti-HERO organization, widely distributed advertising during the campaign alleging that HERO could allow men to pose as transgender women in order to gain access to women’s restrooms.“When the opposition to HERO became about bathrooms, it became about transphobia,” Hokamp said. “We live in a hugely transphobic city, and the election results confirm that in a scary way.” The successful opposition to HERO has caused Hokamp to rethink plans of staying in Houston after graduation.“I’ll probably end up leaving Houston because I am tired of hiding my sexuality and gender identity in professional contexts,” Hokamp said. “In Houston, any of my employers could fire me if they find out I’m gay or genderqueer, and Houston voters made it that way.”Cirillo, who is also the campus leader of pro-HERO organization Houston Unites, said he believes the vote does not reflect Houston’s values. “Houston turned out based on fear and based on lies, but I know Houston does not value discrimination,” Cirillo said. “Equality is a Houston virtue and it will not be ended by a vote of ignorance.”Cirillo said he is confident another version of HERO would be introduced to the City Council.“Thank you to every Rice student who voted,” Cirillo said. “I know, with the support of every Rice student, that an equal Houston will soon become a reality, regardless of any vote tonight that may say otherwise.”
Rice University placed 1,271st out of 1,275 American four-year colleges under a new ranking created by The Economist, a major weekly newspaper.
Student Association President Jazz Silva officially introduced a bill creating a task force to spearhead the design of a mandatory Critical Thinking in Sexuality course for incoming freshmen at the Oct. 28 Senate meeting. Since her presentation, an amendment to mandate a second round of SA voting has been added to the bill. The vote, which was originally scheduled to Nov. 4, will now take place on Nov. 11. Students across campus continue to express concerns to their representatives before they vote on the bill. The task force created by Senate Bill #4 is charged with developing a course addressing healthy relationships, sexuality perspectives, safe sex, bystander intervention and sexual assault prevention. Silva, a Sid Richardson College senior, first announced her proposal on Oct. 21, following a campus-wide discussion of the results of Survey of Unwanted Sexual Encounters on Oct. 7. Task ForceAccording to Silva, the task force will work with the Committee on Undergraduate Curriculum to develop the course outline, which will then be presented to the Faculty Senate for approval. The legislation names three initial members of the task force from the SA: Duncan College President Colin Shaw, who co-proposed the legislation with Silva, Hanszen College President Angela Masciale and Sid Richardson College New Student Representative Ramee Saleh. The initial task force also includes Women’s Resource Center Co-Director Cristell Perez and Brown College junior James Carter, referred to as a “General Student Body Representative.”“The task force members consist of students who are highly informed about the SUSE results, bring a variety of perspectives to the table, feel passionately about the program, and can think critically about the program,” Silva said. “Most of these people have been working on the proposal for quite some time.”Carter said Silva asked him to be on the task force for his perspective as a black male and role as a past Orientation Week Coordinator. “While I don’t have an official position that entitles me to have an opinion, I think that was something else Jazz wanted to have on the task force: someone who doesn’t have a pointed position, who wasn’t already on the SA, someone who’s just a community member,” Carter said. Recalling the task force’s first meeting, Carter said the five members brought different perspectives and opinions, though they were all appointed by Silva.“Everyone in the room was critical, not in a bad way – there was a lot of thought that went into the conversation we had,” Carter said. “It wasn’t like everyone in the room was on board with how everything was being presented already.”Perez, a Baker College senior, said she gave feedback as Silva was developing the class proposal, leading Silva to invite her to join the task force. “We kind of had the same visions for certain initiatives and approaches for addressing different issues,” Perez said. “I think I do bring a lot of different aspects to this task force, but definitely we still need more diversity. I think we need more people of color as well as more queer people.”Silva said the task force will add more members, though she said it could not add too many without losing effectiveness, with a hypothetical maximum of seven or eight members. She said students who are not on the task force can still get involved in the process by submitting feedback.“I’m going to make sure every single piece of feedback, whether it be completely in line with what I believe, or completely outlandish, it’s all on the table,” Silva said. AmendmentAfter the presentation of the bill, the Senate added an amendment requiring the task force to present a detailed course outline to the SA for approval before final approval by the Faculty Senate. The amendment was proposed by Brown College President Tom Carroll. Carroll, a senior, said the amendment’s goal is to allow students the opportunity to stand not just behind the spirit of the course but also its logistics, which he said seems to be many students’ major concern.“Some students are wary of giving final support before they know more about what the final structure of the class would look like,” Carroll said. “This amendment results in a proposal which better balances the urgency of getting this course implemented in a short time span with the critical need for student engagement and buy-in throughout the unprecedented process creating this course would involve.”Silva said while the task force may not be able to present a detailed course outline before meeting with the Faculty Senate, it will provide updates to the Senate later in the development process.“The spirit of the amendment is that throughout the process the task force will be reporting and [Senate] will have some sort of voice of whether they agree with how the process is going,” Silva said. “As a governing body that is trusting, we are just going to respect what the spirit was.”Carroll emphasized the function of additional voting by the SA under his amendment is simply to gauge student opinion, not halt the process of creating the course. “This final vote will not be a restriction for the working group going forward with the [Faculty] Senate,” Carroll said. “It would just be to get an idea of where the students stand on this.”Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson said in the meeting the administration is willing to support whatever initiatives the student body decides to implement. He said the language of the legislation is similar to the initial proposal to create First-Year Writing Intensive Seminars in 2012, which was also voted upon before the curriculum was completely outlined. DelayAt the Oct. 28 meeting, voting on the bill was planned for the Senate meeting a week later on Nov. 4. However, in an email distributing the agenda for the Nov. 4 meeting, SA Secretary Brianna Singh announced that voting would be delayed. According to a website created by Silva supporting the bill, voting is now planned for the Nov. 11 Senate meeting.“Timing is everything, and we wanted to make sure you all have adequate time and notice to discuss this at your colleges,” Singh, a Hanszen College sophomore, said in the email.Jake Nyquist, the Senator from Will Rice College, said minor revisions were made to the legislation before and after the bill’s presentation on Oct. 28, but a full copy of the revised bill was not distributed at the meeting or posted online immediately afterward. Nyquist, a sophomore, said he reached out to the Cabinet and SA Parliamentarian Annabelle McIntire-Gavlick, for a final copy but did not receive the final text for two days. The SA Constitution states that a full copy of a bill must be provided at a Senate meeting at least a week before voting occurs. So, according to Nyquist, the delay in voting was required because a vote on Nov. 4 would be unconstitutional. McIntire-Gavlick, a Lovett College junior, and Perez confirmed that the constitutional requirement of prior notice was the reason for the voting delay. ResponsesAt the SA meeting, Duncan College Senator Reagan Kapp said she is concerned about how to evaluate the course’s success. “We need to be concerned about the practical implementation and effectiveness of the course in the long run,” Kapp, a sophomore, said. “It is crucial that we be able to ascertain whether or not our response is helping fix the problem.”In response to Kapp’s question, as well as others regarding implementation, Silva said she would defer practical judgments to the task force.Silva also addressed the suggestion that the course should include general well-being topics.“What we have at Rice is a lot of catch-alls,” Silva said. “Right now what we’re trying to solve is this problem of sexual assault on campus. We are going to give that its own attention.”At the meeting, Wiess College freshman Avery Johnson questioned whether lack of knowledge is the real cause of sexual assault.“Are these high rates of unwanted sexual experiences at Rice University due to under-education about consent or due to Rice being a ‘wet’ campus?” Johnson asked. “This proposal, although having good intentions, may be unnecessary.” Carroll said he thinks solving sexual assault requires a novel and aggressive approach, which is why he supports the legislation and wants to ensure its smooth passing.“What we’ve seen around the country is that traditional programming has not been sufficiently effective at combating sexual [misconduct],” Carroll said. “This is the only potential solution I’ve heard of that brings everyone to the table in a way [to] allow for meaningful discussion and creation of a shared understanding of community values.”Senators from several colleges, including Duncan, Lovett, Martel, Wiess and Will Rice Colleges, have been seeking feedback from their constituents. According to Kapp, who initially believed Duncan to be generally in support of the proposal, results from the anonymous survey revealed an alarming split. Kapp said she is concerned the current discussion atmosphere is making dissenters reluctant to share their opinions for fear that their views will not be respected or considered seriously.“The conversations that we are having in public about the proposed course might not be representative of the opinion split of the entire student body,” Kapp said. “The fact that these results surprised me so much makes me worry that those who do not support the course do not feel comfortable sharing their opinions in public discourse.” Martel College Senator Marisa Hudson said she has received mixed responses from Martel. Hudson, a sophomore, said most concerns revolve around a few aspects of the class: enforcing mandatory attendance, finding appropriate teachers, course duration, inclusion of LGBT classes and students who may be triggered by these topics.
The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), a controversial law guaranteeing various anti-discrimination protections, was voted down by a significant majority in the Nov. 3 election.HERO, a measure initially passed by the Houston City Council in 2014, prohibits employment, housing and public space discrimination due to many characteristics including race, marital or military status, sexual orientation and gender identity. The final two were additional protections beyond what is already established by federal law.After HERO opponents submitted a petition to the city against the ordinance, legal challenges ensued that culminated in a ruling by the Texas Supreme Court requiring Houston to either repeal the law or include it on the election ballot. The campaign surrounding Tuesday’s vote gained state and national attention.With all voting precincts reporting, a total of 100,427 citizens or 39 percent voted in favor of Houston Proposition 1, supporting HERO, while 156,882 or 61 percent voted against, according to the Harris County Clerk’s Office.Kathryn Hokamp, public relations representative of campus advocacy group Queers & Allies, expressed surprise at HERO’s defeat.“Even after hearing the results, even after talking to opponents, I still can’t process that so many people were against HERO,” Hokamp, a Martel College senior, said. “It’s extremely eye-opening to the amount of prejudice toward LGTBQ people in this city. HERO was a bill that should have helped everyone.”Hokamp, who served as Queers & Allies president last year, said the reason for HERO’s defeat was opposition to transgender rights. Campaign for Houston, an anti-HERO organization, widely distributed advertising during the campaign alleging that HERO could allow men to pose as trans women in order to gain access to women’s restrooms.“When the opposition to HERO became about bathrooms, it became about transphobia. We live in a hugely transphobic city, and the election results confirm that in a scary way,” Hokamp said. “I’ll probably end up leaving Houston because I am tired of hiding my sexuality and gender identity in professional contexts … in Houston, any of my employers could fire me if they find out I’m gay or genderqueer, and Houston voters made it that way.”David Cirillo, the campus leader of pro-HERO organization Houston Unites, said he believes the vote does not reflect Houston’s true values.“Houston turned out based on fear and based on lies, but I know Houston does not value discrimination,” Cirillo, a Sid Richardson College sophomore, said. “Equality is a Houston virtue and it will not be ended by a vote of ignorance.”Cirillo is also involved with the Rice Queer Resource Center and Rice affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union as well as serving as a communication director for the Rice Young Democrats. He said he was confident another version of HERO would be introduced to Houston’s City Council.“Thank you to every Rice student who voted,” Cirillo said. “I know, with the support of every Rice student, that an equal Houston will soon become a reality, regardless of any vote tonight that may say otherwise.”