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More hot food at the Hoot

(10/08/13 7:00pm)

The Thresher would like to corroborate the general feeling among students that hot food at the Hoot is running out too quickly. While the Hoot must, of course, first have the capital and stable consumer base in order to purchase more food, the general feeling on campus appears to be that there is enough demand among Rice University students for the Hoot's hot food to justify purchasing additional food, especially given that the Hoot's food is often sold out by 11 p.m. or midnight, which is only about halfway through the Hoot's hours of operation (see story, p. 4). 

Wi-Fi issues need to be addressed

(10/08/13 7:00pm)

Recently, the Rice University community has experienced a decrease in the quality of on-campus Wi-Fi, specifically with regard to the Rice Owls Wi-Fi network available to students, faculty and staff (see story, p. 5). The Thresher urges Rice Information Technology to make improving the campus Wi-Fi network a priority.The extra access points that IT has added in areas on campus where Wi-Fi connection is particularly poor are appreciated. However, because the issue is so widespread, it seems necessary to find another solution. Many students are having trouble finding a functional wireless connection all over campus, not just in specific places like their rooms in the colleges.On a university campus, students, faculty and staff rely on Wi-Fi to do much of their work. A lack of an Internet connection should not be an impediment to getting our jobs done. We therefore urge IT to look further into the causes of the problem and potential solutions. The explanation that an increase in wireless devices on campus resulting from students bringing more laptops, smartphones, tablets and gaming consoles to campus is a contributor to this year's increased connectivity problems does not appear to tell the whole story; the extent to which this year's student body has more electronic devices than last year's seems, without supporting data, minimal at best. IT should consider whether other factors may be better able to explain the increased issues this year.Lastly, students need to be patient with IT. IT has been accommodating and understanding about the Wi-Fi issues. If people experience issues with their wireless connection, they can and should email or call the IT Help Desk at 713-348-4357. Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the Thresher editorial staff. All other opinion pieces represent solely the opinion of the piece's author.

Student-taught courses important to Rice

(09/30/13 7:00pm)

The Thresher would like to encourage more students to consider teaching student-taught courses. STCs are an important part of Rice's culture of student-led initiatives. We are fortunate at Rice to have the opportunity to be not only students, but also teachers. STCs offer a new perspective on academics. Often, we can learn the most from our peers. Students at Rice have a wonderful variety of interests and areas of expertise, and STCs can be a great way for others to learn about something they would not usually have the opportunity to learn. Where else can you take a course like the 2011 STC on the theories and techniques of the dating game?In the past year, the requirements for becoming a teacher of an STC have increased to include a seven-week preparatory course, (see story, p.1). We understand that this adds another layer of difficulty for teachers, but we strongly urge students to not let this deter them from teaching. It may be more work for teachers, but STCs are worth the extra effort, especially if the new requirement improves the quality as intended. Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the Thresher editorial staff. All other opinion pieces represent solely the opinion of the piece's author.

SA Meeting Minutes

(09/30/13 7:00pm)

The following were noted at the meeting of the Student Association on Sept. 30.SA Internal Vice President Nathan Liu announced that the SA/GSA Research Mixer will be held 5:30 - 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 7 in the Rice Memorial Center cloisters. Free Thai food will be served.SA External Vice President Ravi Sheth introduced legislation to formalize the SA Wellbeing Working Group as a special committee under the SA for the 2013-14 school year. The Student Senate passed the bill, which was designated Senate Bill No. 3 of the current session. Send ideas or comments to Senate voted to close nominations for RTV5 station manager and programming director and to hold an election for both positions.The Senate elected Martel College junior Lauren Thompson as RTV5 station manager and Lovett College sophomore Rachel Grey as RTV5 programming director.The SA will next meet Monday, Oct. 7 at 9 p.m. in Farnsworth Pavilion.

News in Brief

(09/30/13 7:00pm)

Baker College did not hold its fall public party, Baker Blues, during Families Weekend and will no longer do so in the future, according to Baker Social Sidney Cauthorn."We moved the date because there were potential conflicts with the new Families Weekend schedule that would pull Baker parents away from the event," Cauthorn, a senior, said. "[For example,] parents might choose between BakerBlues or [the] football game because the football game would end around the time the party would start."Cauthorn said the party, planned to be held on Nov. 9, might not remain Baker Blues."The [theme] is subject to change, [but] we haven't decided [on one] as a college yet," Cauthorn said. Baker College freshman Maha Aziz said a public vote was held at Baker's cabinet."The majority of people wanted to have a similar idea to Baker Blues but with a few minor changes," Aziz said.

Obey the rules of the road

(09/30/13 7:00pm)

In light of Bike Safety Awareness Week, the Thresher would like to promote mutual awareness not only among bicyclists, but also among pedestrians and drivers. While bicyclist awareness certainly needs to be raised, there are steps pedestrians and drivers can take to create a safer transportation atmosphere in general.First, bicyclists should keep in mind that they are in fact subject to traffic rules - including stop signs, yield signs, crosswalks and one-way streets. That their wheels lack of a motor does not exempt bicyclists from the rules of the road.Second, pedestrians must also be aware of their surroundings. A nose glued to an iPhone screen does not make for a courteous walker. Pedestrians and bicyclists alike should remember that a sidewalk is most efficient when treated like a road: Walk or ride on the right, and pass on the left.Third, drivers should be alert at all times for bicyclists. This is a college campus and thus holds a greater proportion of bicyclists than the general Houston population. Houston itself is not a bike-friendly city, but once inside the hedges, it becomes even more important than usual for drivers to keep an eye peeled for the average college student on a bicycle.We can foster a community of safety by encouraging all three groups of travelers to be aware of their surroundings, to obey the general rules of the road, and to be courteous to each other.Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the Thresher editorial staff. All other opinion pieces represent solely the opinion of the piece's author.

President Leebron visits the SA

(09/30/13 7:00pm)

The following were noted from President David Leebron's speech at the Student Association meeting on Sept. 30.Leebron discussed academic initiatives, campus infrastructure investments, long-term renovation and construction projects, as well as other "priorities for the new century" in his State of the University presentation to the SA.According to Leebron, upcoming university projects include developing Rice's online education presence, increasing diversity of the international student body in terms of national origin, and sustainably constructing new buildings and facilities around campus. Leebron reminded students of the importance of communicating feedback to university administrators in order to contribute to real change.Leebron addressed recent national and world rankings of universities, noting that while the administration is not overly concerned with the drop in Rice's U.S. News and World Report ranking from No. 17 to No. 18 this year, the administration is working to ensure students are as satisfied with their Rice experience as possible. Leebron encouraged students to provide feedback to the administration and noted that while not every concern will have a quick and easy solution, the administration is interested in finding ways to address issues on campus. Leebron acknowledged student concerns about the parking situation at Rice and said it was a priority for the administration to work on both short- and long-term solutions as part of its broader project of improving campus infrastructure. He discussed options for expanding parking, including above-ground garages on existing lots and underground garages as part of other new construction projects or under Founder's Court, but he noted that the high cost of underground parking spaces at approximately $50,000 per space must be taken into consideration.

Quirky museums distinguish Houston

(09/11/13 7:00pm)

The Art Car MuseumThe Art Car Museum, aka the "Garage Mahal," seeks to promote art not normally recognized by other institutions (namely, art cars). The most imaginative and elaborate art cars, mobile contraptions and revolving exhibitions are displayed at this scrap metal- and chrome-covered museum.Price: freeWhen: Wednesday -Sunday, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.The Health MuseumThe Health Museum is Houston's most interactive museum, attracting geeks of all ages with a walk-through brain, 3-D giant microbes and DNA fingerprinting. Not only is this museum the most visited health museum in the country, but it also has a whole room inside a ribcage, a bicycle-riding skeleton, a walk-through eyeball, a 27-foot-long intestine and a 22-foot-long backbone.Price: $8 general admission, free Thurs day 2-5 p.m.When: Tuesday - Saturday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sunday, noon - 5 p.m.Lawndale Art CenterHoused in an art deco building, Lawndale Art Center is dedicated to promoting the contemporary art of Houston artists. Composed of four galleries, three artist studios and an outdoor sculpture garden, this is the best place to support Houston art. Lawndale Art Center also stands out for its specialized events, such as its annual festival celebrating Dia de Los Muertos that includes an open-call exhibition of contemporary interpretations of retablo, a Mexican folk-art tradition. Price: freeWhen: Monday - Friday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Saturday, noon - 5 p.m.Menil CollectionOriginally started as a way to preserve the extraordinary art collection of John and Dominique de Menil, the Menil Collection holds over 17,000 works of art, from traditional tribal cultures in Africa to Byzantine art to one of the most impressive collections of surrealist art in the world. Besides the typical fare, the Menil hosts phenomenal exhibitions and public events. Also nearby is the Rothko Chapel and, on the right day, the Monster PBJ food truck.Price: freeWhen: Wednesday - Sunday 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.The John C. Freeman Weather MuseumThe Weather Museum was founded by a father-daughter meteorologist team to teach Houston residents about all things weather. Rated Best Museum in 2012 by Houston Press, this museum has Groundhog Day activities, a hurricane simulator, a simulated broadcasting studio, a touchable tornado vortex and a 3-D digital weather sphere.Price: $5 general admission, free Thursday noon - 4 p.m.  When: Monday - Saturday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Houston Center for Contemporary CraftThe HCCC focuses on the history and creation of all things made from craft materials, allowing visitors to see all parts of the creative process and even explore artist studios. It also hosts a shop called Asher Gallery, where one-of-a-kind creations can be purchased, and Hands-On Houston, a monthly, free event in which artists teach visitors how to make crafts related to the current exhibitions.Price: freeWhen: Tuesday - Saturday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sunday, noon - 5 p.m.The Beer Can HouseNamed one of America's top 50 roadside attractions by Time magazine in 2010, this beer can house is a Houston can't-miss. According to legend, homeowner John Milkovisch despised throwing things away, and as a result, he collected an attic full of beer cans. In the 1970s, he realized what great siding the cans would make for his house. Then, he put glass in his concrete, marbles in his fence, clinking pull-tab curtains and beer-can art in his garden. After 18 years of decorating, this house is his famous result. For more eccentric art,  visit the Orange Show at 2402 Munger St. for $1. Price: $2 admission, $5 guided tour and filmWhen: Wednesday - Friday, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m; Saturday -Sunday, noon - 5 p.m.

Join the Club

(09/05/13 7:00pm)

Rice Coalition for Hunger and HomelesnessThe 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 Basmati BeatsBasmati 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 AllianceThe 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 SocietyA 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 MalariaNETwork 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."

Student Wellbeing Office

(08/31/13 7:00pm)

The Wellness Center and the Office of Student Development and Retention have combined to form the Student Wellbeing Office.According to Associate Dean of Undergraduates Donald Ostdiek, the new center's broader concept is combining individual problem solving with health education. The center will be an evolution of wellness where three new social workers will be working to reach students personally and in small groups, Ostdiek said."Really, it's an evolution beyond having separate offices for these things... beyond just offering education," Ostdiek said.The social workers have a background in mental health, according to Director of Student Development and Retention Kate Noonan."They're able to really help students problem solve," Noonan said. "They're going to be very accessible and they will be able to really sit down and talk to students one-on-one and get them connected to resources at Rice and have them learn about ... options at Rice or off campus. Because they have that background and training, I think we're able to do some different kind of work with students one-on-one."The social workers will have flexibility to go to the residential colleges and graduate housing during the evenings, Ostdiek said.According to Noonan, the social workers will have a more informal and organic relationship with students by having meals with them. Possible duties include attending college government meetings, working in conjunction with the Rice Health Advisors and holding small group discussions.Wellness Program Specialist Patrick Lukingbeal said the key messages of the new center are being approachable, accessible and visible."I think another big piece of our work that we're [doing] this year is kind of this whole collaboration and engagement piece with students," Lukingbeal said.Over the last year, Noonan and Retention Counselor Agnes Ho heard input from a Student Association forum and held a discussion with Orientation Week advisers in April."I think a lot of this is a natural evolution that comes from a lot of student input and a lot of input from our faculty and staff that we work with regularly as well," Noonan said. "It's been something we've been thinking about for quite a while and we've really been paying particular attention to what students are thinking and how we can help them."Will Rice College junior Petra Constable said she thinks combining both centers into one office will be a welcomed change."Their new approach on educating students on how to deal with things on their own is also a great idea because it will definitely help to prevent more serious wellness issues arising as a result of students not wanting to seek help for fear of embarrassment," Constable said.In addition to the Student Wellbeing Office, the Rice Counseling Center is another resource on campus for students seeking help for mental health. Dr. Kurt Cousins, a psychiatrist, was hired in July to become the director of the center; however, he is no longer with the university, according to Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson."We did not have a good fit," Hutchinson said. "We place a high priority on providing care for our students, and we believe this change will provide the best level of service."Dr. Timothy Baumgartner is currently serving as the director of the counseling center. Hutchinson said the university will carefully consider the best options for the center in hiring a new director. He said Rice will continue with its commitment to providing access to psychiatric services.

Students on campus

(08/28/13 7:00pm)

After two years at No. 1, Rice dropped to No. 2 for "Happiest Students" in the Princeton Review's "The Best 378 Colleges" rankings, while rising from No. 2 to No. 1 for the fifth time in the "Best Quality of Life" category. "I feel like we haven't gotten that much less happy. A lot goes into the rankings, so maybe we'll be #1 again next year."- Duncan sophomore Ashley Buchanan "Because it's such an academically ranked school, I didn't expect it to really be as happy as it is. It already feels like home!"- Duncan freshman Iqra Dada"I think Rice is really trying to improve our resources, so I don't see why we would have gone down in happiness while we're trying to make improvements. I think the college system helps make everyone feel welcome."- Martel senior Izzy Spanswick "The rankings were right on. The university seems really proud, and everyone I've met so far absolutely loves Rice."- Lovett freshman Luke Daniels "I don't think we've gotten unhappier - some other school probably just got happier than us, and I'd say quality of life has actually improved."- Hanszen sophomore Michael Fleming