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Friday, February 23, 2024 — Houston, TX

Letter to the Editor: Transgressions go beyond the founder

By Leonard Chan     3/1/22 10:59pm

After reading the Thresher Editorial Board’s “Alumni: If the statue news upset you, think about why” from Feb. 1, 2022, I came to the realization that the discussion of Rice’s history and the history of its benefactors should by no means end there.  While the focus has primarily been on the university’s origins, we also need to recognize and confront our past with more recent events instead of brush through them.  For example, the university benefited from the largest corporate scandals in a generation with Enron and Arthur Andersen.  Yet, alumni ignore or willfully forget its role in helping build the university despite its name still being seen in prominent buildings such as the Baker Institute while students remain painfully left in the dark of Enron-related crimes. Meanwhile, the name gracing as well as the funding for the newly completed opera house may also prove problematic. The legal process remains pending for Robert Brockman in the largest tax evasion case in American history. These issues, of course, pale in comparison due to the darkness of slavery associated with the university’s namesake, but no matter how many individuals have benefitted from the rewards of illicit activity, it does not justify the pain endured by those affected. The impact of these cases are still felt, especially in Houston. This conversation can be even more uncomfortable as a good number of active alumni regretfully spent parts of their careers with corrupt organizations. History can be inconvenient, and ignoring it as we have been represents tacit approval.





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