Click here for updates on the evolving COVID-19 situation at Rice
Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Friday, July 03, 2020 — Houston, TX °

Letter to the Editor: Parking garage short-sighted

By William K. Wilson     1/26/16 8:53pm

The office/parking garage article in the Jan. 20 Thresher indicates that Rice students are quite supportive of the new six-story office building and seven-level parking garage south of Allen Center. Similarly broad support was apparent from my communications with faculty and staff about concerns over the construction plans. Senior Rice administrators met with me and demonstrated that they had carefully designed the project to maximize benefit to the Rice community and minimize sustainability concerns. But darker concerns persist.

Campus buildings have a typical lifetime of 50 to 100 years. The new office building thus perpetuates our bloated bureaucracy — a major contributor to our large student tuition increase since 2001. The trend of universities creating bureaucratic empires by milking students through increased tuition has magnified the national student debt crisis. A plausible backlash may streamline university bureaucracies toward the spartan European tradition. The new office building could then be transformed gradually into classroom and study space.

In contrast, the parking garage will inevitably become an anachronism. Current Rice students, faculty and staff show strong loyalty to automobile transportation, which is a major contributor to climate change. Scientific breakthroughs will never make cars tolerable unless the human population is decimated. Already the confluence of climate change (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2015, vol. 112, p. 3241), overpopulation and consumerist ideology is creating an intractable geopolitical crisis: See George Soros’ Jan. 4, 2016 interview in WirtschaftsWoche, “Europa? Gibt’s doch nicht mehr,” and condensed translations. 

 The Rice community seems oblivious to these powerful forces shaping our future. Will our parochial optimism withstand the profound global instability that awaits us? Please think hard about the consequences of future building projects.


William K. Wilson

Research Scientist

Department of Biosciences

More from The Rice Thresher

OPINION 6/29/20 4:48pm
Rice’s diversity education must include anti-racism

“To make a true difference in creating an equitable society, Rice’s course should educate students on the history and sociology of race as a construct, how systemic racism manifests in every facet of society and how to be anti-racist rather than simply not racist,“ writes Nicole Zhao (Brown ‘15). 

OPINION 6/22/20 6:19pm
Replace Willy’s Statue with Johnson

“In this cultural moment the university can no longer play the same old games of working groups and task forces to confront its racist history. Therefore I am calling for the replacement of the statue of William Marsh Rice in the middle of Rice University’s campus with one of Raymond Johnson, the first Black graduate student at Rice and a current professor in the math department,” writes Yoseph Maguire (Wiess ‘18).


Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.