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Endorsement misrepresents Thomas

By Bridget Schilling     2/16/16 8:11pm

To the Editor:

Late Sunday night, the Thresher put out an endorsement for SA President based in slander by fundamentally misrepresenting Griffin Thomas and who he can be as a leader. This view is based on speculation rather than evidence and Griffin’s responses at Friday’s Thresher-hosted debate.

During the debate, the Thresher did not ask questions pertaining to the relevant personal leadership experience they now criticize Griffin of lacking. Any praise they gave Joan as a leader dedicated to listening to the student body can and does absolutely compare to Griffin's experience as a leader of Lovett. He has been a mediator and facilitator within the college while discussing sensitive issues, such as the college climate surrounding sexual violence and queer inclusivity. During campus-wide debates about SB#4, Griffin explained the bill’s content and encouraged questions in order to represent Lovett’s views in the campus-wide vote.

The Thresher contrasts Joan and Griffin by painting Joan in a light of inclusivity of all students’ ideas. However, representation without action means nothing. Griffin has acted repeatedly as a “listener and mediator,” then used student voices to criticize campus processes and work with administration to remedy the issues. His track record of listening to student needs demonstrates he will act on inclusive initiatives in a way that could productively change our campus climate.

Our SA President must understand the goals of the student body, work with the administration to achieve common goals and represent student interests beyond our campus. Joan may claim to do this, but she disregards athletes, low-income students, first-generation students and international students — populations for whom Griffin has pledged to make all aspects of the Rice experience more accessible. While Griffin expressed a plan to work with organizations in which minority student populations are already involved, Joan answered the same question about the inclusion of minority voices on campus with a plan to work with the colleges to communicate the SA agenda, demonstrating that she misunderstands the extent to which the college system similarly fails to represent minority students.

The Thresher overlooked Griffin’s interest in connecting Rice outside the hedges in an attempt to prove that Griffin does not understand how to represent diverse student views; however, their example of Joan’s tangible dedication to student engagement in the form of her inviting a HERO activist to a Senate meeting was misguided. HERO’s campus presence can be largely attributed not to Joan but two other Rice students.

I usually try to make a point of standing behind strong women like Joan, but in this case, we are all more represented by Griffin, who has demonstrated an actual interest in both listening to and actively representing students. While I would understand the endorsement if it were based on Joan’s merits as a candidate, it was a slam against Griffin, based on misrepresentation of facts. If the endorsement truly does capture all of Joan’s merits, then Griffin Thomas is by far the more qualified candidate to represent a forward-moving Rice.

A version of this letter was originally posted on Facebook.

Bridget Schilling, Lovett College ‘17

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