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Greater leadership and initiative needed at Rice University

By Staff Editorial     9/28/11 7:00pm

Apathy is quite the buzzword at Rice; for every comment about rigorous majors and extreme coursework, a reference is made to Rice students' failure to get involved and effect change. Whether discussing voting, college cabinets, environmental consciousness or entrepreneurship, it seems that too many students simply decide to stay out of the fray and not participate. Of course, there are widespread exemptions to all of the claims, but on the whole, Rice students could certainly benefit from less apathy. It is precisely this lack of initiative and leadership that the leadership committee has been established to address (see story, pg. 1).

This committee will have to deal with both mental barriers and information asymmetries that prevent students at Rice from getting more involved in the university, local and broader communities that they are a part of. Mental barriers constitute each internal reason not to participate in an activity: lack of time, lack of confidence, lack of desire, and lack of motivation. While each person can not be persuaded to act on passions and exhibit initiative, the committee can overcome both the mental barriers and information asymmetries by simply promoting the hundreds of opportunites already available on campus. Despite the availability of so many opportunities to get involved at Rice, many of them are unknown or seem excessively distant. By efficiently promoting existing organizations, programs, and grants, students will be much more likely to take advantage of them. The more visible these opportunities are made, the easier they seem to take advantage of; thus, even the portion of the student body more reluctant to get involved may be swayed to do so. This concept is not about coddling the student body, it is simply about making existing opportunities seem more viable and more visible. The fact is that students at Rice are extremely busy with academics; this new committee and the university as a whole need to persuade students to take more chances outside the classroom as well.

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