Keeping up with the Sidizens: College president Nia Prince leads the way
This is the first installation of Keeping up with the Sidizens, a features series that checks in with various members of the Sid Richardson College community as they navigate a semester without a physical college to call home.
This semester, residential colleges are striving to maintain their bond and unity despite the distance. But for Sid Richardson College, even the students on campus are separated amongst other colleges due to their physical college’s transformation into COVID-19 isolation housing. However, there’s one person on campus leading the process to unite the residential college that has lost its physical home. She’s taking on this daunting task all while living off campus and dealing with her own student responsibilities. Nia Prince, a senior at Sid Rich, is serving as its president during the most unprecedented semester yet.
As most Rice students were sent home in the spring, Prince immediately assumed the presidential role and dealt with the aftermath. When faced with the uncertainty of the fall semester, she dedicated her summer to work on the return plan for Sidizens. Then came Dean of Undergraduates Bridget Gorman’s announcement, and Prince’s plans came to a sudden halt as she found out that Sid Rich became the designated housing for students infected with COVID-19 on campus.
During the initial shock, Prince was comforted by Sid Rich Magister Michel Achard and quickly accepted these circumstances in order to take action. Her first plan of action was to communicate with the Sid Rich External Committee and create a task force to help her plan this semester.
“After we got the news, I turned to the EC and the task force to see how they felt about the things we’re doing that can still apply, the things we’re doing that needed to change and the things we did in the past that just didn’t matter anymore,” Prince said.
She also had to take the Orientation Week coordinators into consideration since they were planning an O-Week for students that would soon be split up across campus.
“I made a Zoom call with the O-Week [coordinators] when I got the announcements so we could all be there together and process it,” Prince said. “It wasn't immediately like ‘Let's plan,’ but a ‘Hey, this is kind of sad news, but let's at least be together when we get this news.’”
Now that the fall semester has arrived, Prince is using what she learned from O-Week and applying it to her initiatives and events for Sid Rich.
“I learned a lot from O-Week [because] our remote advisors during O-Week really emphasized how dual delivery can still be pretty challenging and isolating for people who are remote,” Prince said. “From hearing their feedback, I don’t necessarily want to push for in-person things. If I try to do anything, it's automatically going to be a cross-college event because Sidizens are at different colleges. When you think about the COVID-19 risks and inclusivity of the remote community, I think the focus should be on things that are virtual.”
As she’s planning these events and fulfilling her responsibilities, Prince says that each day is different for her.
“Some presidents have assigned hours for their presidential roles, but I’m the type of person to get something done as soon as possible. This means that a lot of my day will end up being filled by president-related things, and sometimes it means being available 24/7 to answer questions and concerns,” Prince said.
Currently, Prince is involved in the committee for the public health ambassadors and COVID Community Court, and she’s planning to set up office hours to check in on people and answer questions. She said, however, that this experience is still a learning experience. In particular, she’s learning to balance between taking on tasks herself and delegating them to others.
“Fielding questions can take a bit of time, so I'm trying to learn how to delegate better and point people to other Sid members,” Prince said. “There’s plenty of people at Sid who are excited, capable and do great things. I don't want to be the sole generator of ideas in the Sid community because I think everybody can contribute.”
While learning to delegate, Prince has been excited to see Sidizens step up and take on responsibilities even outside of their designated roles.
“It was just so encouraging, and it definitely feels less like, ‘Oh, here's what I have to do.’ Now, it feels like, ‘This is what Sid is getting done.’ It's so cool to see this because I didn’t expect anyone to be doing things outside of their role. Going above and beyond means a whole lot more during COVID, and seeing all these people do it is just so great,” Prince said.
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