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Thursday, May 26, 2022 — Houston, TX

Culture of Care requires constant effort from each of us

By Jayaker Kolli , Aaron Pathak , Sarah Mozden , Lila Frenkel , Aayushi Shah , Antoni Yotov and Rachel Moore     3/22/22 11:05pm

Editor’s Note: This is a guest opinion that has been submitted by a member of the Rice community. The views expressed in this opinion are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of the Thresher or its editorial board. All guest opinions are fact-checked and edited for clarity and conciseness by Thresher editors.

A one sentence definition of the Culture of Care is impossible to create. Three years ago, it was embodied through building relationships with Housing and Dining workers, walking someone home from a party at 2 a.m. or inviting someone new to join you for lunch. 

It’s no secret that the Culture of Care isn’t what it used to be. For the past two years, caring for our community has meant isolating ourselves to protect others. As a result of this shift, we fail to engage in community on a wide scale in the way we used to, and in turn we may have forgotten how certain actions impact others and undermine the ideals of the Culture of Care. As we have shifted away from a COVID mindset, we have seen some aspects of the Culture of Care return, but we are still far from where it needs to be. The full restoration of the Culture of Care is not a given – it requires intentional action from all of us. 

The Culture of Care is not only about taking care of your friends, it requires extending what you would do for a loved one to the rest of the Rice community. Consider the following examples that we have seen across all the colleges on campus: furniture left in disarray, trash forgotten after meals in the commons and messes made in the elevator. This isn’t just disrespectful to your college spaces and your peers but also to our H&D staff. It’s not just enough to avoid these things; it requires keeping your peers accountable and taking active measures to be helpful. 

With publics returning to campus, it’s imperative to remember the importance of being an active bystander. The seven of us have all experienced at least one situation that could have been damaging or even life-altering if someone hadn’t intervened. During a party, check in on people who seem visibly uncomfortable with the way others are dancing or interacting with them, call Rice Emergency Medical Services if someone might need it (the amnesty policy exists for a reason) and don’t pressure others to drink more than they want to. Being an active bystander may sound cliche, but it’s a critical part of keeping each other safe. 

The Culture of Care also extends to the intangible. It requires a shift in mindset to become an active participant in the Rice community by leaving Rice better than when you matriculated. Actively participating does not mean sticking to the people you already know and care about. We all have to step out of our comfort zones and be willing to meet new people. Communities are built by extending support to the diverse groups of people you encounter at Rice. We are a mosaic of cultures and backgrounds, and we must learn about and embrace these differences. 

Now is the time to start incorporating these practices back into our daily lives. Embracing the Culture of Care often requires courage. It is scary to be vulnerable with new people and often requires selflessness. We challenge you to eat in your commons and invite someone new to sit with you next time you’re at lunch, and use that as a stepping stone to start incorporating the Culture of Care into your daily life. We know these actions aren’t easy. But these actions will ensure that what once was a cornerstone of the Rice community can again become second nature. We can rebuild the Rice community, together.

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