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Wednesday, September 23, 2020 — Houston, TX °

Letters to the editor

2/7/13 6:00pm

To the editor, 

As the executive board, we would like to clarify the factual inaccuracies presented by the Thresher's Feb. 1 editorial regarding Rice Program Council's blanket tax increase request. 

The selection of Samantha Ronson was out of RPC's control. Due to the nature of the weekend, we were limited to a pre-selected list of musical acts set by the Centennial Celebration office. The short list of choices allowed us very little flexibility with the budget, and Esperanza ended up being more expensive than it typically is. However, though Esperanza was over $100,000, over 50 percent of the event costs were picked up by other parties, minimizing the overall cost to students. Lastly, this Esperanza was not an ordinary occurrence and we wanted to take the event to the next level to reflect the atmosphere during Rice's 100th anniversary. 

As stated in the Thresher's article last week titled "No Rondelet for Second Year In A Row," we did not receive the final charge from the Centennial office for Esperanza until Jan. 28. Our maximum capacity for Esperanza increased only days before the event and we never received a copy of the invoices for the variable cost amenities at the event. We couldn't give our Socials Committee a budget for Rondelet, so there was no way it could book a venue and start planning the event in time. Furthermore, the Welcome Back Concert only used $5,000 of blanket tax monies this year. The remainder of the festival and concert costs were handled by various offices within the administration and by donations. Due to the nature of our relationship with the administration's co-sponsorship in the past, we have attempted to keep its interests in mind as much as possible. Moving forward, we will receive a much-reduced sum from the administration specifically for the event and, instead, we will be partnering with corporate sponsors. That said, there will likely be major changes to the event moving forward. 

While the bus for Sky Zone was indeed an unfortunate occurrence, we feel that the situation has been remedied in two ways. We received a refund for the buses and can now apply this credit toward other events. Additionally, we have found a different bus company that we used with much success for our bowling event last weekend. 

Lastly, blanket tax does not cover the subsidies for tickets to events like the Rodeo. The funding for the Arts and Entertainment Committee comes from the Office of the President, so the number of tickets we can buy with this money is limited by the funds we are given. The committee receives no blanket tax funding, so unfortunately, we cannot reallocate funds to subsidize more tickets. 

We know that the problems with Sky Zone and with Rondelet being cancelled again have upset students, and you should rightly question why you should vote to give us a blanket tax increase. In the end, though, these are students planning events for students, and all of them put their hearts and souls into making these events successful. Mistakes happen - we learn from them, and we always appreciate feedback on how to make these events a better experience for you. 

We sincerely hope students will consider the initial recommendation by the Student Association's Blanket Tax Review Committee, which was to increase RPC's blanket tax for the 2013-14 academic year. Please be assured that the committee's recommendation was a well-informed decision that came from an extensive, in-depth review of our budget and expenditures from the last three years. Should you have further questions, we encourage you to reach out to us at

Rice Program Council Executive Council 


To the editor, 

I am Calvin Schmidt, president of the Rice Business Collaborative's Entrepreneurial Division. We strongly support OwlSquad and what it is doing to promote entrepreneurship on campus, but we are being misrepresented in your article about it ("OwlSquad promotes entrepreneurial culture" Jan. 24, 2013). You quoted Allison Garza as saying, "The Rice Business Collaboration is more of a club whose members have small interactions like lunches. People don't have the time for small lunches. They'd rather devote half a day to really exploring entrepreneurship." Along with this information simply not being true, Garza herself said she was misquoted. 

In actuality, our club offers a variety of resources to Rice's undergraduate entrepreneurs and has done so for a number of years. The small lunches mentioned in the article attracted over 100 students last semester who were able to have intimate conversations with entrepreneurs from all over Houston. These lunches have educated Rice students on a variety of topics and have led to many new relationships between Rice students and outside entrepreneurs. We will be giving students here a fantastic ability to see what entrepreneurs go through, as we have secured positions for them to volunteer for and observe the Rice Business Plan Competition, the world's largest business plan competition. We also offer internships at startups and multiple ways for students to get leadership experience by putting on their own events with our support, and we are assisting the Rice Alliance with putting together a website for Rice entrepreneurs to find resources. 

As for larger events, we, along with the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership, the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship and the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen, coordinate the largest entrepreneur events for Rice undergraduates, our elevator pitch and venture challenge competitions. These events have grown every year, and our upcoming Undergraduate Venture Challenge promises to be the best yet, with over $5,000 in prizes; we are already accepting submissions on the RCEL website. Leading up to this, we will be hosting multiple events to get teams together and help them present their business plan to our diverse panel of judges. Our work has enabled Rice students to be successful in their entrepreneurial goals across all fields. 

I would also like to mention that both the Rice Alliance and RCEL have done a lot to help undergraduates and are the main sources of funding behind all of the large entrepreneurial events for undergraduates. 

Calvin Schmidt 

McMurtry College junior 

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