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

Friday, December 03, 2021 — Houston, TX °

To our essential workers at Rice: Thank you

By Thresher Editorial Board     9/1/20 11:24pm

On a typical morning this fall, on-campus students might drop by the servery for breakfast on the way to a class and pass contracted construction workers building the new Sid Richardson College dorms. We take weekly COVID-19 tests at centers staffed with volunteers, attend classes led by professors with little to no prior experience in online instruction and receive emails from student leaders who have had to take on enormous responsibilities beyond their job descriptions. Behind our daily actions are hundreds of people working hard and going above and beyond to ensure that we can maintain a semblance of normality in our college experience. 

But we’d be remiss if we didn’t extend the biggest thank you to our essential workers on campus — from our chefs to our custodial staffers, those who keep our surfaces disinfected and those who fill our disposable containers with food. The ones who don’t have the option to work remotely and can’t opt out of contact with students. Rice couldn’t operate without you.

Despite their designation as essential workers and heightened exposure to contagion, Rice’s Housing and Dining  staffers do not receive hazard pay, as confirmed to us by Vice President for Administration Kevin Kirby. This, frankly, is outrageous. Without these workers, our campus could not have opened in the middle of a pandemic, and yet they have been refused such important accommodations. To us, this is a painful indication of where the administration’s priorities lie. 



As students adjust to the new reality of on-campus life, it’s impossible not to notice that things are different — the way we interact with people, the spaces we live in, the food we eat. All of these are now limited; we can’t hang out without masks and six feet of distance, and we don’t have as wide of a food spread as we used to.

Although complaints about food varieties and dietary restrictions are valid, know that H&D has faced numerous obstacles in continuing to provide food for us, from pandemic-induced supply chain issues causing lapses in food availability and shipments to social distancing requirements imposing practical constraints. Despite facing these obstacles, H&D has always shared the same message: if you have a request or feedback, tell them. Even before the pandemic, the chefs at each servery went out of their way to communicate with students, wanting to learn more about our food likes and dislikes, allergies and dietary restrictions. If you’re facing an issue with food availability, you can do something — reach out to your servery’s chef, or your college’s food rep.

We know that everyone who chose to live on campus was promised some semblance of a return to normalcy, cue inspirational video. However,  the quality of campus life simply cannot be the same as it’s been in years past. The agreement to live with restrictions and shortages is implicit in the agreement to live on campus. We’re all doing our best to adjust.

We want to stress the importance of following campus safety protocol and acting responsibility — not just for yourself but for all the staffers who don’t have the opportunities to avoid contact with you. Unlike some faculty and staff members who have the chance to work from home, the H&D workers who sanitize your college and prepare your food are required to be on campus and, as such, have a greater risk of exposure to COVID-19. 

Editor’s Note: Thresher editorials are collectively written by the members of the Thresher’s editorial board. Current members include Rishab Ramapriyan, Ivanka Perez, Amy Qin, Elizabeth Hergert, Ella Feldman, Katelyn Landry, Rynd Morgan, Savannah Kuchar, Simona Matovic and Tina Liu.



More from The Rice Thresher

OPINION 11/30/21 11:21pm
It’s past time to bring Chick-fil-A back to The Hoot

For those of you who are seniors, you’ll remember a campus controversy that broke out in April 2019 when The Hoot announced its decision to stop serving Chick-fil-A amid criticism of its donations to three organizations — the Salvation Army, the Paul Anderson Youth Home and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes — that have taken anti-LGBTQ+ stances. When the policy took effect the following fall, I spoke out against the decision in this paper, arguing the secondary boycott was nothing more than token enforcement of an unworkable standard. I still believe that we shouldn’t take into account political considerations when we eat. But The Hoot didn’t budge, and the controversy quickly faded away. I have close friends on both sides of the issue, so I didn’t push the matter any further.

OPINION 11/30/21 11:19pm
We need proactive academic policies

We’re nearing the end of another semester in the COVID-19 pandemic, filled with policy changes requiring flexibility from administration, faculty and students alike. We appreciate the administration’s responsiveness to the evolving pandemic, but the continuous changes are not without consequences. This semester has been hard on many students’ mental health due to insufficient academic accommodations on top of pandemic-related stress. While we understand the necessity in being flexible with COVID policies due to the ever-changing nature of the pandemic, administration and professors should recognize the impact this has on students and their mental health, and be proactive in accounting for this.


Comments

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