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Friday, August 23, 2019 — Houston, TX 80°

Self-proclaimed gadfly:Superficial intelligence no substitute for true learning

By Evan Mintz     3/27/08 7:00pm

Since I have spent the last three years working at the Rice Thresher, I had forgotten what it is like to open the paper Friday morning and not know what the news is going to be. Last week was a great week to start. In case you missed it, students from Will Rice College strung fishing wire around campus as part of a jack. Some students tried to take it down after a girl was caught across the neck while riding her bike and thrown to the ground. But never fear, the Will Ricers wasted no time putting the wire back up - only at knee level though, because it is not like that could possibly hurt anyone.At the risk of sounding elitist or judgmental, this whole event was a great example of one of the many lessons that nearly all Rice students learn by the end of their four years: Rice students are dumb.

We are dumb. We do stupid things, we make idiotic decisions and, overall, we can act like general nincompoops.

At Rice, a 100-pound girl will try to drink 21 shots of vodka - enough to kill a person - on her 21st birthday. People will drink until they vomit . in someone else's common room. Year after year, Thresher editors in chief appoint me to write the Backpage. And let's not get started on the often-hilarious ineptness in the Rice social scene.

We also have a Rice Objectivist Club.

Of course, none of this is that unique; people are dumb everywhere. What makes Rice special is that all these idiots never seem to shut up about how smart they are. This is probably because Rice students are constantly told that they are smart - just read the Princeton Review or U.S. News and World Report. But the standards for smart in higher education are very specific, and high GPA and a resumé do not necessarily equal wisdom. Given these very narrow avenues of measurement, it is no wonder that Rice, and probably all universities, are filled with idiots. Columbia has its drug obsessions, and every schmuck at Harvard with a coif'd hairdo thinks he's going to be the next president, but Rice has a special kind of professional academic dimwit.

Throughout the semester, students cram for tests, regurgitating facts onto paper in a fit of academic bulimia, retaining nothing and bragging about how little sleep they got. Students sign up for clubs and fellowships with more concern for their resumés, personal prestige or how it will help get a summer internship than the actual issue itself. Rice is full of empty-minded turnscrew students for whom a college education is just one more step on the ladder towards death.

Instead of the idiot-breeding method of ranking students by pure GPA and a stylish curriculum vitae, it would be refreshing to see students judged based on academic credentials that cannot exactly be summed up on a scale of zero to four. Students should show a intellectual hunger, a curiosity about the world and an academic passion. Final transcripts should be replaced by a final project, such as a thesis or undergraduate research project. This may not put an end to stupidity at Rice, but it would at least help put an end to academic bulimia and instead emphasize a love of learning.

And perhaps if students spend enough time thinking about the big world around them instead of the narrow world of their personal academics, they will take a few seconds to consider the wisdom of drinking until passing out in the quad or, yes, stringing up fishing line across bike paths.

Evan Mintz is a Hanszen College senior and backpage editor.

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