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Correcting the record: A response to the Thresher's endorsement

By Griffin Thomas     2/16/16 8:16pm

To the Editor:

I would like to thank everyone for the incredible outpouring of support I have received for my campaign, especially over the past few days. In light of recent events, I want to take a moment to address the Thresher’s endorsement. While I don’t agree with their characterization of my leadership style or vision for the SA, I would like to encourage everyone to participate in the debate in a civil manner. Vigorously represent your opinions, but be respectful of others. This campaign has always been driven by issues and with the purpose of uniting the student body behind important topics. I hope we can show this unity now. Whether you are thrilled, furious or somewhere in between, the ultimate decision is yours and yours alone. Get out and vote to make your voice heard.

While I disagree with the Thresher, I have an incredible amount of respect for the value that they serve in keeping our student body informed. I am running to be president of the entire student body and their editors and writers are students too and deserve to be treated with the same level of respect as anyone else. I am not upset that I did not receive their endorsement, as Joan is an outstanding candidate, but I do believe that some of my policy positions were distorted in the Thresher’s endorsement, and I want to correct the record. Below are misrepresentations from the endorsement, in italics, and the facts correcting them. As I always do, I’ll allow students to draw their own conclusions.

“Thomas…hopes to serve as Rice’s voice outside the hedges” related to local, state and national policy topics.

I have repeated again and again that I hope to provide students with a platform to express their own thoughts on relevant policy issues that will affect our community. I do not wish to serve as Rice’s voice outside the hedges.

“Thomas’ stance against responding to affairs at individual colleges … neglects the president’s role in leading the student body.”

I care deeply about issues like sexual assault prevention and discussions around the alcohol policy, and feel that Rice student governance works better to address these issues when we collaborate. College leadership teams know their colleges’ unique culture and should be allowed to address individual events internally. However, I do believe that the SA is a body that should lead discussions about pervasive issues as a venue for unified, campus-wide action. I am not neglecting the president’s role in leading the student body, but rather using the position more strategically.

“Unlike Thomas, who mostly has experience working with the Dean of Undergraduates as college president, Liu has been forced to consistently engage with a range of stakeholders.”

I have worked with numerous stakeholders over the past two- and-a- half-years. Not only do I have extensive experience working with SA members as a voting member and a member of the Blanket Tax Standing Committee, but I have also interacted with external stakeholders. As Lovett President, I have worked with President Leebron, Provost Miranda, Vice President Kirby, General Counsel Zansitis, Dean Hutchinson, Dean Taylor, Dean Ostdiek, the directors of Wellness and Student Activities, the Committee of Masters and members of the Faculty Senate. Clearly, I have engaged with an extensive range of relevant stakeholders.

In reference to my vote against a popular amendment to SB4, “Thomas’ readiness to equate procedural checks honoring student opinion to political nonsense…is confusing at best and concerning at worst.”

I am committed to fostering a representative, responsive and fair SA and university administration for all students. The Thresher condemns me for voting against a popular amendment that they believe would have made the CTIS Task Force more representative of student interests. However, they neglect to report that the following week I proposed the tabling of a vote on CTIS Task Force nominations to ensure that every student had the opportunity to consider applying.

As president of Lovett, I have worked as a mediator and a facilitator around difficult dialogues to ensure the voices of everyone in my community are heard. You can ask my community and they will tell you that I approach dialogues as a listener first, allowing members of the community to direct the conversation.

Once again, I am not concerned that I did not receive the endorsement nor am I accusing the Thresher of malicious bias, I just want to set the record straight and ensure that voters are making an informed choice.

Griffin Thomas, SA Presidential candidate, Lovett College ‘17

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