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The Sammy Awards

(05/14/13 7:00pm)

This year in theater, Rice students showed us Shakespearean equality, 19th-century English country homes, the Roaring '20s, the mysteries of death, a musical doomed to fail, the danger of stamp collecting, and much more. 2012-13 marked a series of strong achievements in theater in everything from student works to the Rice Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts productions. 


Alcohol policy cuts both ways

(04/18/13 7:00pm)

The Thresher commends the administration for incorporating many of the Alcohol Policy Advisory Committee's recommendations into its proposed changes to the alcohol policy as announced April 15 (see story, p. 1).The explicit ban on underage hard alcohol consumption and possession is reasonable. It is unrealistic to expect that the changes will stop all current students from consuming hard alcohol. The Thresher acknowledges the possibility that the policy change may drive more underage students to consume greater amounts of hard alcohol in very small gatherings and in shorter lengths of time prior to public or private parties. With the policy change, these students may be less inclined than they currently are to pace themselves throughout the night. But on the other hand, the changes may be able to curb dangerous and irresponsible drinking behavior as intended. We cannot foresee the effects this ban will have on Rice's current drinking culture. For now, the culture undoubtedly centers around hard liquor.Regardless, the Thresher hopes the student body will respect the spirit of the policy and its intentions. Those who already drink responsibly are probably already adhering to most of the fair rules now explicitly laid out by the policy changes. The Thresher believes the intent of the policy changes is to urge those who drink or behave irresponsibly around alcohol to seriously re-evaluate their choices and modify their behavior, both for the sake of their own safety and for that of their peers. Specifically, the increased responsibilities for hosts and caps on the size of private gatherings rightfully hold hosts accountable and force them to plan carefully in advance of hosting. The Thresher believes the key difference the policy changes will make is in how students who are caught violating the policy will be punished. Since these rules and hard caps will now be codified in a policy change, repercussions for violations will likely be much harsher than the current sanctions. The Thresher would like to reiterate the need for students to act reasonably and responsibly. Students should simply be smart and not act foolishly around alcohol, especially hard liquor. We encourage students to watch out for our peers and take on the responsibility to ensure we all act smartly and safely around alcohol so that violation repercussions are not necessary. Despite these endorsements, the Thresher believes the ambiguous and vague wording around the ban on drinking games in the proposed policy changes is problematic. To clarify, the ban on drinking games is not a new addition to the alcohol policy; it had already been part of the previous policy. The Thresher commends the administration's choice to highlight this aspect of the policy by announcing the rule with the other policy modifications. However, the single line in the alcohol policy on drinking games does not define what constitutes a "drinking game." We believe the definition of a drinking game is highly subjective. Under the policy, shotgunning a beer, participating in a case race or playing beer pong may or may not be considered playing a drinking game. The vague wording creates the potential for inconsistent enforcement and exploitation of the policy, whether by enforcers or by students. It is extremely important to delineate what defines a drinking game in the policy because we believe responsible drinking games exist. One can punish irresponsible or competitive drinking games without banning all of them. For example, we do not believe beer pong is a dangerous drinking game because it proceeds slowly with a substance of relatively low alcohol content. Banning beer pong for safety reasons seems unwarranted. For many of us, these changes are new, but in four years, if the policy is still in place as proposed, these changes will be seen as part of the norm in the same way students who matriculated during the hard alcohol probation understood the probation as part of Rice's drinking culture. The Thresher hopes the policy changes will succeed in encouraging responsible, safe drinking behavior at Rice.Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the Thresher editorial staff. All other opinion pieces represent solely the opinion of the piece's author.












Powderpuff Scouting Notebook: Week 6

(10/24/12 7:00pm)

Brown vs. GSA (6-0, OT) This game was a defensive struggle on both sides, with Brown College managing to scrape together a touchdown drive in overtime to clinch the game. The Graduate Student Association was without its starting quarterback in this contest, possibly accounting for the overall lack of scoring. GSA and McMurtry College were the two best teams in the North Division entering the week, and according to the standings still are, but neither looked too impressive this past week.  Jones vs. McMurtry (14-13) McMurtry College looked impressive early, scoring and seeming as though it would turn this game into a blowout. However, Jones College was able to battle back to go into the half down 13-6 before scoring in the final two minutes of the game to bring the game within one point. Jones then smartly elected to go for the two-point conversion to win the game, a decision we would like to take a second to praise. Extra points in Powderpuff are far from given, and we would argue not nearly twice as easy as a two-point conversion, so going for two is almost always the probabilistically wise decision. To understand this with the game on the line is commendable, and the Jones coaching staff deserves credit for its decisiveness. McMurtry did not look good in this loss, but Jones also might be better than we thought in light of this victory and its narrow loss to Wiess College.  Martel vs. Duncan (7-0, OT) Martel College took care of business in this game, albeit in an unimpressive manner, winning in overtime after scoring and then intercepting Duncan College to end the game. Martel remains in the playoff hunt despite being under .500 and possessing a negative point differential. Martel is, however, 2-1 in the North Division. Winning games in-division is far more crucial to a team's playoff success than winning its inter-conference matchups, and Martel has done a solid job at this thus far. The playoff picture is wide open in the North, as Jones has a chance to sneak in with a couple of divisional victories. Brown also has a chance at the playoffs with a victory over Jones and a McMurtry loss to Martel.  Sid Richardson vs. Lovett (13-6)In what was probably the most anticipated game of the week, Sid Richardson was able to defeat Lovett. The game was a hard-fought defensive battle, and Sid looked extremely impressive in victory. Sid went up 13-0 in the middle of the fourth quarter, but Lovett scored with slightly under two minutes remaining, stopped Sid on its subsequent drive and advanced the ball all the way to Sid's 20-yard line before Sid ended the game with a sack. Lovett has displayed a tendency to fall down early in games before riding torrid comebacks to victory, but that pattern will not hold up against the tough competition of the South Division. This was a massive win for Sid and tightens up the race for the South, with Baker, Hanszen, Sid and Lovett Colleges all having legitimate shots at first place. As we have said before, sometimes it looks like the five best teams in the league are in the South, and it is truly a shame that Wiess College will most likely be on the outside looking in come playoff time. Hanszen vs. Wiess (35-20)As the score would indicate, this game was an absolute offensive showcase. Hanszen looked brilliant at times on offense en route to five total touchdowns in what was easily quarterback Audrey Chao's best game of the year. Chao accounted for all five of Hanszen's touchdowns, with three coming through the air and two on the ground, and if she can maintain something close to this level of play going forward, Hanszen has true juggernaut potential. We criticized Hanszen's offense a little bit in this space in recent weeks, arguing that most of their scoring came either directly from its defense or as a result of the short fields its defense created, but the offense was truly on fire against Wiess. Wiess also looked quite impressive offensively and produced a point total that would be enough to win most weeks, but the team had the misfortune of running into a dominant opponent. Hanszen leads the league in point differential by a mile at +57, which is 28 points greater than Baker's margin of +31. Baker's point differential is 28 points greater than that of seventh-place GSA, showing just how much better Hanszen has been according to this particular metric. The race for the South is going to come down to the finish and the favorite seems to shift with each passing game. Hanszen plays Baker in a critical game next week, which not only will go a long way toward determining playoff seeding but will also give us another piece of data in the ongoing discussion about the best team in Powderpuff, an argument that in our opinion currently comes down to one of these two teams.


Powderpuff Scouting Notebook: Week 5

(10/18/12 7:00pm)

Wiess vs. Jones (14-6) Wiess College was dominant in the first half en route to a 14-0 lead highlighted by stifling defense but faltered a bit in the second, allowing Jones to come within five yards of tying the game before it ran out of time. Wiess' point differential is still the second-best in the league, but this measure might be slightly inflated, as it looks more like the third- or fourth-best team.  McMurtry vs. Duncan (20-12) McMurtry College was firing on all cylinders offensively early in the game and did a solid job overall defensively. Duncan College was able to put together a strong scoring drive late in the second half, but could not get the stop it needed to regain possession, and McMurtry was able to run out the clock to clinch the game. McMurtry has progressed significantly since last season and has been the best team in the North Division thus far both according to record and point differential. We cannot say enough about the turnaround seasons McMurtry and Wiess are experiencing, as both have gone from tremendous struggles last season to serious contention this year.   GSA vs. Jones (20-0) This game looks like a statement game for the Graduate Student Association on the surface due to the lopsided score, but a closer look reveals that the team was not nearly as dominant as the final margin indicates. The GSA has fallen off from last season, when it outscored its opponents by 82 points over seven games. Discount this game and its point differential is still at -11 for the year. Jones College was also able to move the ball downfield at times, but its offense stalled at inopportune moments, and threw a couple of costly interceptions, including two that were returned for touchdowns. Jones was actually favored by a touchdown by the Thresher, so we were way off, but again, this game was a play or two away from looking very different.  Sid Richardson vs. Wiess (12-6)This game was a truly impressive victory for Sid Richardson College. We have been a little skeptical of Sid here at the Thresher and had actually favored Wiess by 6.5 entering the game, but Sid put on a performance worthy of title favorites. Sid looked good offensively in the first half, but Wiess' defense held strong deep in its own territory, preventing Sid from finishing drives and forcing a turnover on downs on the five-yard line on Sid's first possession of the contest. Wiess was unable to score until late in the game, and while its offense has grown by leaps and bounds since last season, it still has progress to make before it can score consistently against defenses like Sid. This year Sid has displayed the ability to win close games and thus looks comparatively worse than the other elite teams in terms of point differential, but it left no doubt after this game that it belongs in the discussion for the title of best team in the league. As we have said almost all year in this space, Wiess is a very solid team. However, the South Division is absolutely loaded, and Wiess still might not be good enough to make the playoffs, a travesty since it would most likely be the best team in the North.  Martel vs. Brown (27-0) Martel College, as the score suggests, dominated this game from the outset. Still, its point differential stands at -13 after this massive victory because it has struggled in its other games this season. However, with the North looking weak this year, there could be hope for it to sneak by either McMurtry or the GSA with a little luck, but we would not count on it.  Hanszen vs. Will Rice (20-0) Will Rice College actually played quite well in the first half, forcing three interceptions, and challenged Hanszen College much more than the final margin indicates, but the real story in this game was Hanszen's dominance. Priyanka Duvvuru had three interceptions for touchdowns in the second half, and Hanszen's defense looked fast, aggressive and intimidating en route to accounting for all of the team's 20 points. Hanszen's offense did not look good in this game, but with a defense that lethal and Duvvuru flying around the field, it may not matter much.  Hanszen vs. GSA (18-0) This game was a truly dominant performance from Hanszen, one that we had been clamoring for in this space for weeks. Hanszen looked explosive on offense, scoring on big plays and racking up yardage, and airtight on defense, forcing several turnovers and stifling GSA all over the field in the process of shutting it out. This was a hard-fought, feisty matchup, and Hanszen impressed throughout. Hanszen has the best player in the game and is on a roll right now, actually leading the league in point differential at +47. Hanszen will play Wiess next week in a rivalry game. These two teams battled it out last season, and with Wiess looking much improved this season and Hanszen looking absolutely lethal, it looks like it could be one of the best games of the year. The South is now 9-2 against the North this year, and it looks like the South will get four teams into the playoffs. Amazingly, a deserving team from the South will still be left out; at the moment, Wiess is on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. GSA vs. McMurtry (18-12) This game was pretty evenly matched throughout, a classic example of how looking simply at binary wins and losses can be misleading. Neither team truly looked better than the other, but the win will go a long way toward helping the GSA secure the top spot in the North. The North gets two teams into the playoffs automatically (as does the South, with the last two spots being wild cards), and it looks like these are the two that will advance. The GSA has won all of its divisional games but has yet to secure a win against the South, a good indicator of the talent disparity between the two divisions.