Hats off to SA for a fantastic job during the Centennial
While some aspects of the Centennial Weekend left much to be desired, the event as a whole served as a reminder for students that the university we attend is a unique place with a colorful history and a myriad of opportunities that we would not have elsewhere.
For undergraduates, the successes of Centennial Weekend were for the most part thanks to student-led organizations, in particular the Student Association and Rice Program Council. Without the organizational work and advocacy of these two groups, it has become apparent that the administration would not have done much to interest students for the weekend. The number of student-oriented events was still limited, but the return of Esperanza in an extravagant tent in particular kept students on campus for what was the biggest weekend of the year for the entire Rice community.
Overall, the Centennial events were well-received. Especially notable were events that encouraged mingling with alumni, like Willy's Pub's Young Alumni event and receptions held at the colleges, as well as the awe-inspiring Spectacle, a unique, aesthetically and technologically fascinating way to celebrate Rice's history. In a previous staff editorial ("Centennial year holds promising speaker line-up" Aug. 17, 2012), the Thresher lauded Rice's lineup of speakers for the Centennial Lecture Series, who lived up to their high expectations by giving thoughtful, academically inclusive talks.
Along with Esperanza, RPC and the SA also organized the Student Vision for the Second Century Town Hall and the Mr. Rice competition. Each of these events was able to engage the greater undergraduate population on different levels - some purely fun, some intellectual - and contribute to the value of the weekend as a whole. Esperanza sold more than 2,000 of the 2,300 available tickets to undergraduates and sold out the rest, a sign of the party's incredible success. The SA and RPC were able to cooperate on the timing of Mr. Rice, deciding to hold the event during the Centennial Weekend. Inclusive events like these were well-attended and popular, encouraging the present student body's excitement about Rice and Rice's future.
The administration undeniably dropped the ball on planning events for students for the Centennial, but the students themselves stepped up to correct the deficit. In the future, the Thresher hopes undergraduate events and events that include both alumni and undergraduates can be planned in harmony, rather than in competition with each other. It is commendable that ultimately the SA, RPC and the administration were able to work together to throw an absolutely memorable weekend with events that fostered a sense of community for current and former students, faculty and staff, and the local public. The administration should recognize the benefits of allowing the SA to plan events for the current student body and helping to fund those events, and the administration should keep Rice's internal community in mind when planning future blowout weekends.
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