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Academic Cup at Rice

By Joey Capparella     10/19/11 7:00pm

Three Hanszen College seniors have begun developing an Academic Cup competition similar to the athletic competition provided by the President's Cup to encourage scholastic rivalry. Head Academic Fellows and seniors at Hanszen College Raymond Verm and Apoorv Bhargava and Hanszen college senior Travis San Pedro, think this idea will be instrumental in raising awareness of the fellows program campus wide.

San Pedro, also an academic fellow, said that he came up with the idea this summer.

"Apoorv has always approved of my craziness, so when I came up with this idea for the fellows I immediately went to him," San Pedro said. "We then introduced the idea at the first campus-wide fellows meeting of the semester and got a good reaction from other Academic Fellows."

San Pedro said that the Academic Cup will follow a Quiz Bowl-type competition format with colleges competing in a bracket system tournament.

"I was looking at the residential college systems at schools like Harvard, Yale and Cambridge, and I saw that they all had academic-based competitions between the colleges in addition to athletic competitions," San Pedro said. "This type of competition would complement the athletic competition provided by the President's Cup and add to the cultural and intellectual aspects of the colleges."

Bhargava said that he and Verm have been working with Assistant Director of Academic Advising Anthony Pulido since the beginning of the year.

"This project was one of our main goals as head fellows," Bhargava said. "We basically stormed into Anthony Pulido's at the beginning of the semester and told him our idea."

Pulido immediately got on board, he said.

"Half of the fellows' responsibility is to provide academic help for students, but the other half is to create visibility for the program in the college by bringing in speakers and planning events for the college," Pulido said. "I thought that this competition was a great idea because it promotes a sense of college pride and helps spread the academic vibrancy at Rice to the college level."

Bhargava agreed, saying that fellows have many responsibilities in the colleges beyond just providing academic help.

"The main purpose of the fellows is not to be an unpaid TA," Bhargava said. "Fellows are meant to provide intellectual stimulation in the colleges. The colleges are meant to be not only social, but also academic."

San Pedro and Bhargava said that they hope that the program will begin by Homecoming in early November.

"We plan on having the initial rounds between rival colleges, like Hanszen versus Wiess or Jones versus Brown," Bhargava said. "There will be heavy advertising to try to get the competitive spirit up, and the teams will be open to anyone."

Brown College Head Fellow Sophie Bonifaz thinks the cup will be a good idea.

"I think it's a great way to encourage competition outside the athletic arena," Bonifaz, a senior, said. "If done well, it could allow people to shine who might not normally show as much pride for their college in terms of athletic prowess."

Jones College junior Rahul Kamath agreed.

"I think it would be a good way to promote the Fellows and at the same time get people excited about more ways to get involved in college pride," Kamath said.

Bhargava said he is most excited about the effects that this idea will have on the colleges.

"The Academic Fellows have the opportunity to become an integral part of the college system," Bhargava said. "I think this competition has the potential to make the fellows more prominent in the colleges. We're not just here to help you with your physics problem sets."

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