From the editor’s desk: Entering a transition period
Last year, for their welcome letter, our Editors in Chief gave insight into what it looked like as they navigated leading a newspaper in the midst of a pandemic.
This year, we’re looking forward to having people back in the office, being together for our weekly meetings in the Rice Memorial Center and on Tuesday production nights — just as the Thresher operated two years ago.
A year later, the pandemic continues, though in many ways the circumstances have improved. For instance, this week our staff was able to be back together in-person to put together our first issue, something we sadly never had the chance to experience last year. But as everyone at Rice knows, the crisis isn’t over. Just like every other organization on campus, the Thresher is, at best, still in a transition period as we figure out how to navigate bringing our staff back together while continuing to keep everyone safe.
As a member of the last class to have experienced a full normal year, I’ve heard a lot about the institutional knowledge that our class holds — something I’ve noticed recently at the Thresher as well.
At our first meeting this week, the icebreaker question as everyone filed into the conference room was, “have you ever been in the office before?” with an overwhelming response of “no.” Last year, we missed out on a year of bonding, as well as learning journalism practices — ranging from small details ingrained in the design of our text to larger procedural policies that we practice as an organization.
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of access to reliable information, and our goal at the Thresher is to be that source for the Rice community. This didn’t start for us with COVID-19: it’s what we’ve been doing for over a hundred years now, and whenever the world does return to “normal,” the Thresher and its staff will continue to serve Rice in this way.
I started working with the paper my freshman year, pre-COVID times, as a news writer. I came to Rice knowing I wanted to join the Thresher as soon as I matriculated, after having toured campus as a high school senior and reading my first issue in Lovett Hall (I still have that paper sitting in my closet at home). This year, I have the privilege of getting to lead the paper. Simply put, I love the Thresher and the people who are a part of it. I’m excited for all of us on staff to come back together for this next year.
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.