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Inaugural Academic Cup ignites college rivalries

By Joey Capparella     3/20/13 7:00pm


Jones is undeniably the smartest college. At least according to the inaugural William Max Nathan Academic Cup, which Jones College won over Hanszen College 150 points to 110 in the finals Thursday evening. 

Hanszen College Head Academic Fellow and tournament organizer Wei Yang Tham said the Cup was a quiz bowl-style tournament between the residential colleges, with each college fielding a team of four students with the possibility of using up to four masters, resident associates or associates as lifelines. 

Tham, a Hanszen senior, said the competition began Sunday, March 17 with colleges matched up in the first rounds in groups of two or three based on college rivalries. 

Will Rice College sophomore Victor Prieto said he assembled a list of more than 250 questions for the tournament from a variety of subjects. 

"I play with the Rice quiz bowl team, and when we play against other universities, it's mostly academic things," Prieto said. "I wanted to change [these questions] to be more Rice-specific." 

Prieto said each round consisted of two halves of 14 questions each, with a bonus Rice question between the halves. The subjects of the questions were half pop culture and half academic, including a variety of science, humanities and social science topics. 

Hanszen College Head Academic Fellow Nicki Pariseau said the idea for an Academic Cup had been circulating for a few years and finally came together for this year's Willy Week. 

"The idea would spring up in one college or another, and it was be hard to get all the colleges to give the support it needed for it to be a universitywide thing," Pariseau, a Hanszen senior, said. "This year, we were just lucky enough that the Hanszen fellows got the preliminary plans to go forward and then reached out to all the other mentors and fellows programs and were able to get universitywide support." 

Jessica Lee, a member of the winning team, said she was excited to participate in the Cup. 

"It fosters the intercollegiate experience," Lee, a Jones College freshman, said. "I did quiz bowl in high school, so it was like coming back." 

Going forward, Pariseau said she hopes this tournament will grow into a fixture of college competition. 

"We originally had the idea that it would be a round-robin competition that would last for much longer," Pariseau said. "As opposed to being two days of competition, it would be throughout a semester, and each college would face each other college. It'd be really great to see that happen." 

Pariseau and Tham said another goal was to have the competition included in the President's Cup and to include the Graduate Student Association. Tham said the inclusion of the GSA could solve some of the bracket problems that came up due to the odd number of residential colleges. 

Tham said part of the event's good turnout could be attributed to the enthusiastic spirit of students during Willy Week. 

"We had a great crowd at the finals on Thursday," Tham said. "People actually saw that things were getting serious and how much college pride was at stake." 

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