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Thursday, November 30, 2023 — Houston, TX

Knitting communities together: Explore Rice’s wackiest committees

Illustrated by Katherine Chui

By Parker Blumentritt     9/13/22 11:42pm

From cheese fondue to crocheted cows, residential college committees have their own ways of upholding their college’s special culture. The Thresher talked to a few unique committees across campus that showcase the full range of possibilities for college governments. 

Hanszen Cheese Committee

Cheese connoisseur Brian Lee, a Hanszen College junior, was nominated by his friends to bring back Hanszen College’s Cheese Committee after its hiatus in 2020. According to Lee, the cheese committee previously held one to two cheese related events a year. Lee brought in Emery Engling, a current sophomore at Hanszen, as his fellow Cheese Master to bring the committee back to Hanszen College. They said they host events approximately once a month featuring cheese in all of its various forms (fondue, mozzarella sticks, you name it). 

The Cheese Committee, according to Engling, also pairs with other Hanszen Committees to put on a variety of events including a “Cheese x Trivia” night  and “Cheese x Cider” event with Hanszen’s Brewing Committee. Even with the frequency of their events, the cheese supply often runs out within half an hour, according to Lee. 

“We have never once had more food than people,” Lee said. 

Lee’s favorite part of the committee is the array of people he interacts with. 

“The best part for me is getting to meet a lot of people,” Lee said. “I’ve met a decent amount of underclassmen, a couple upperclassmen, just through helping set up cheese events and also just trying out different kinds of cheeses. There’s always a really cool experience.”

Engling, on the other hand, said the cheese is his favorite part. 

Sid Knits 

Two Sid Richardson College sophomores, Evelyn Chiu and Anuska Santra, are crafting a community with Sid Knits, Sid’s own knitting and crocheting committee. Sid Knit’s was started last year by Sid’s previous magister, Melanie Achard, according to Chiu. However, when it was announced that the Achards were leaving Sid, Chiu said she decided to continue the tradition and make Sid Knits into a committee. 

“A lot of [people] are busy all the time and [Sid Knits] was a place for them to gather and meet people,” Chiu said. “I really liked that environment, so I just wanted to continue that.” 

Santra said that after learning to crochet through Sid Knits, crocheting became an important coping mechanism for navigating their freshmen year.

“Crochet made me feel more independent, and it made me feel like I could be by myself without feeling lonely,” Santra said. “I wanted to keep the infrastructure for [Sid Knits] in place and also hopefully give that to somebody else.”

According to Chiu, Sid Knits meets weekly, offering a space for those with experience to hone their craft and for beginners to learn. 

Jones Ambiance Committee

Yuv Sachdeva, a Jones College sophomore, said he is one of Jones’s two Ambiance Coordinators, along with Lauren Yu, a position dedicated to improving the spaces and overall physical environment at Jones. (Editor’s note: Lauren Yu is the Thresher’s backpage designer). According to Sachdeva, the position was not very active in the past, their only project was getting new speakers for the college, even though the committee has been around for several years. Additionally, he said there was no committee in the past, just the two coordinators. According to Sachdeva, the committee wants to especially focus on requests from Jones students in their projects this year. 

“A lot of Jonesians [would] love to see fairy lights in the Commons or would love to see their [floor] lobbies improved.” 

Sachdeva said the position is especially important to him because of how one’s physical environment impacts their well-being. 

“We all live in Jones throughout the whole year, so if the space is not appealing, [it] doesn’t feel like a homely environment, then that can actually really affect your well-being,” Sachdeva said. “Also, we think that [the ambiance committee] is a way that we can … give everyone a chance to have some say in what would make them feel better at Jones.”  

Hanszen Skeleton Committee

Thanks to Hanszen College’s Skeleton Committee, it’s Halloween all year long in the Hanszen Commons. The Skeleton Committee started last year when Harry Femur, a 12-foot-tall skeleton, found his home in Hanszen College after a year-long acquisition process due to stock shortages across Houston. The current chair, Christina Wong, a Hanszen sophomore, says that the skeleton committee’s main responsibility is taking care of the skeleton. 

“We put together the skeleton and … we dress it up,” Wong said. 

This year, Wong said the Skeleton Committee plans to do some extra costumes throughout the year, including various famous Harrys, such as Harry Styles and Harry Potter. For Halloween, Wong said the costume is selected via popular vote in the Hanszen GroupMe. After a choice is made, the committee and anyone who wants to join works on crafting the costume.   

“When we do get together with a bunch of people to craft these costumes … it’s a really good bonding experience for everyone involved,” Wong said. “I remember last year [the skeleton committee] offered service points for helping out with the costume, but there were swarms of freshmen, all helping out, all contributing.”      

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