From the art director's desk: Hobbling through a goodbye
I stumbled into the Thresher office as a freshman who was determined to go to medical school. Three years later, I’m stumbling out of the office, just as clumsily, as a senior who is pursuing design because of Thresher.
The Thresher changed my life — and that’s not an exaggeration. I joined Thresher because I couldn’t let go of high school (specifically, I wanted Christina Tan to be my editor-in-chief again). Lost in my transition into Rice, I returned to the familiar: overworking on designs. Through my five major changes, a global pandemic, breakups and drama and housing changes and hangovers and everything in between, the one thing that has held constant for me, always, is Thresher. Here’s the thing: Being part of the Thresher is one of those experiences that I can’t quite put into words. It’s the designing without your index finger or thumb because they’re covered in Cheetos Puffs dust; it’s the 1 a.m.s, eyes sore and walking out of the Rice Memorial Center ready to sleep off the screen fatigue; it’s the hidden smiles when you watch someone pick up a fresh paper issue; it’s the rants about administration and campus climate; it’s the collaborative experience of an editor looking over your shoulder to check in on the design of their page; it’s the serious and goofy Slack messages that span across channels. I don’t think I can translate those ephemeral moments to those who have not experienced it, but here’s what you should know: Designing at Thresher, at Rice, is hard.
Designing seems so easy on the surface until you’re faced with multiple new programs you have to learn, with hundreds of tools on each program, trying to understand and visually communicate complex ideas. With so few digital (much less, journalistic) designers on campus, it’s isolating. It’s hard to feel like what you’re doing is legitimate in the judgment of a STEM-heavy school. Without a single digital design class offered to Rice students, I’m constantly amazed at how well my designers pick up skills and run with their creativity from week to week, pushing the limits of journalistic design relentlessly. Thank you to all my designers for making my job so easy, and I hope you know just how important your role is in making the world feel more intuitive; thank you to the editors, photographers and writers who make it easy for my designers to do their job with such great content. You all are doing so much so well, with so little institutional support.
The Thresher has given me opportunities to write about personal things, like the dangers of yellow fever, and experiences far bigger than myself, like racial injustice timelines. It’s challenged me to explore more creative designs, like the 2020 Beer Bike infographic; it’s also forced me to confront, mourn and storytell my and other’s experiences, like in “In Their Own Words.” It’s helped me connect with people across campus, some of the most passionate people I’ve met. The experience is fun, collaborative, healing, exciting, exhausting. If you ever have the chance, I encourage you to join our staff. If not, keep reading our issues. Readers are the reason why we continue to turn an unimaginable number of gears to publish each issue. Thank you for letting me do what I love.
More from The Rice Thresher
Before you attend a counseling session at the Rice counseling center, you will be told that “the RCC maintains strict standards regarding privacy.” You will find statements from the university that your mental health record will not be shared with anyone outside of extreme situations of imminent harm, and only then that your information will be shared with only the necessary officials. This sounds great, except that these assurances bear no teeth whatsoever — no enforcement agency ensures that Rice follows its public confidentiality promises, and there are no penalties for Rice if they break them. The Wellbeing and Counseling Centers should more directly communicate the limits of their confidentiality policies when compared to unaffiliated counseling centers, and students in sensitive situations should take the necessary precautions to protect their information.
This week marks the last issue of the Thresher for the year, and for the seniors like myself, our last issue ever. I have been a part of the Thresher since freshman year. And it would not be an exaggeration to say it has defined my Rice experience. As someone pursuing a career in journalism after graduation, there has been no better place to learn than at this paper.
In January, the Rice Board of Trustees announced plans to move the Founder’s memorial to another area of the academic quad as part of a whole redesign, adding additional context of his “entanglement” with slavery. This comes despite continual calls from the student body to not have the enslaver displayed in the quad regardless of the context provided. It would be just for these calls to action and the majority of the Task Force Committee who voted to not keep it there that the Board of Trustees decide to not keep the memorial prominently displayed in the quad at all.