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

Thursday, May 13, 2021 — Houston, TX 66°

‘Masters’ title change not a threat to free speech

By Thresher Editorial Board     11/9/16 8:00am

With most college masters in support of changing their title (see p.1), it does not seem reasonable to invalidate their concerns and their desire for a title more fitting for their roles within the residential college system.

Opponents of the change often cite the academic sense of the term “master.” However, consider Rice’s context: William Marsh Rice was a slave owner and used his riches to found the school. The same man stated only white students may attend Rice, so it is only last year that Rice celebrated the 50th anniversary of black students on its campus. The ramifications of slavery will never cease to exist here. Facetious arguments claiming we must now change the title of “master’s degree” create illogical comparisons: Unlike an academic degree, college masters are in a position of authority over students which implies an inherent power imbalance.

Others say the change reflects an overly sensitive culture of political correctness that could lead to a slippery slope of increasingly restrained freedom of speech. However, this notion suggests either we keep the masters title and our liberties intact, or we change the name and risk crumbling the foundations on which our freedom rests, an argument that leaves no room for nuance. Thus, criticism of changing the term reflects a lack of deeper critical thinking about the connotations of the college master title within the appropriate historical context.

As a newspaper, we ourselves are deeply concerned with freedom of speech, and any restrictions thereof. Yet we do not see how changing the title of the college masters to something more thoughtful will inevitably lead to a culture of speech silenced and repressed.

Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the Thresher editorial staff. All other opinion pieces represent solely the opinion of the piece’s author.

More from The Rice Thresher

OPINION 4/27/21 11:34pm
From the Editor’s Desk: Journalism takes a village

Remember that we are fellow students seeking to deliver truth to the community with the best intentions in mind. I am deeply appreciative of every student, staff member, faculty and administrator that has shared their stories, data and viewpoints with me. Without the Rice community’s buy-in, the important work we do would not be possible. 

OPINION 4/27/21 10:53pm
Refocus STRIVE to fulfill its original purpose

As a Students Turning Rice Into a Violence-Free Environment liaison, the organization and its mission are incredibly important to me. I originally joined because, as a survivor myself, I wanted to be a part of facilitating safe spaces on campus through educating my peers and acting as a resource to provide support. STRIVE cares a lot about the student body and puts an extreme number of hours into raising awareness and making themselves accessible, as we have seen with the recent survivor panels, college-specific events throughout the year and their response to an anonymous 2019 Thresher opinion. However, we need to readjust how STRIVE is not only viewed and utilized by the student body but also how it is run. The place the organization holds now oversteps into the lives of liaisons and other students and goes beyond what they set out to do with their mission statement. 


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