From the Senior Editor's Desk: Trust the Thresher. Journalism is our job.
Two years ago, a group of Thresher staffers went to Washington D.C. to attend the College Media Association’s annual convention, during which student journalists shared concerns that their communities didn’t take them seriously. Administrators would patronize them and ignore emails, and coverage often went unread.
I remember hearing their thoughts and being grateful that, for a school without a journalism program, Rice always took the Thresher seriously. Administrators respond to our interview requests, faculty write guest opinions and students read what we write. But sometimes I wonder if our community takes us too seriously — to the point where they fear speaking to us, and often grow angry with us for mistakes we don’t make.
While my happiest memories come from positive experiences I’ve had at the Thresher, I’ve learned the most from interacting with people who view us as an adversary. I’ve had high-up administrators accuse me of unethical journalism, when I actually took their responses word-for-word from a response intended for the article. I’ve received emails listing ways that an opinion piece was inaccurate, when we had evidence backing up each of the listed claims. In every case, complaints stemmed from the assumption that we had malicious intent.
If you’re far-removed from the Thresher, it’s not hard to view us as an adversary — but a glimpse into how we operate will show you that our only goal is to convey the truth as clearly as we can. Outside of the Thresher, it’s hard to imagine the amount of time we spend poring over interview transcripts, writing and rewriting stories, and examining every word during the editing process. In reality, we’re a group of students who dedicate our entire Tuesdays, and a majority of our Mondays, toward ensuring our work is perfect. We strive to make our pieces as accurate, relevant and interesting as possible because we value these attributes, but also because we take pride in our work.
Since this is my last week working with the Thresher — the organization I’ve dedicated my Mondays and Tuesdays to for the past four years — I would be remiss to leave without thanking the people who have shaped my experience. Thank you to Kelley Lash, the most patient and enthusiastic soul, whose journalistic wisdom is boundless. To Christina Tan and Anna Ta, for being such passionate, driven and inspiring leaders. To Rishab Ramapriyan and Amy Qin, for making me feel welcome in our leadership team and for sharing those delirious Tuesday nights with me. To Savannah Kuchar and Ben Baker-Katz, for brightening up my days with light and laughter. And to everyone on staff at the Thresher for cucumber photos, outfit-themed page designs and late-night talks. And for making this the hardest goodbye.
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.