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Re-evaluate priorities of college committees

By Thresher Editorial Board     9/13/22 11:04pm

Residential college life is often considered the cornerstone of the “Rice experience.” Just look at any Rice admission materials or listen to the chants at Beer Bike. College governments, then, play an integral role in representing and serving the students within their residential colleges. From Brown to Wiess, residential colleges host a plethora of committees, including the standard committees across campus and ones that stand out in their singularity like with Hanszen’s cheese committee.

College governments and their committees should, in theory, reflect the priorities of the students they represent. While we are not denying the value of current committees — they play large roles in facilitating connection and tradition within their colleges, something we appreciate — we ask college governments and the campus community they represent to re-examine how they prioritize their time and resources. 

This can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. For example, some residential colleges have organized committees whose purpose is to facilitate community service outings into the greater Houston area. Students joke about the “Rice bubble,” but these committees aim to pop it by facilitating connections between Rice and the broader Houston community. 

Colleges can revisit their financial accessibility efforts by subsidizing or covering the cost of merch or certain events with associated fees. While some colleges’ merch come with high price tags, putting more funds towards subsidizing or paying for college merch would make them more accessible for low-income students without the hassle of requesting funding through their college magister funds. Lowering or eliminating funds associated with some events that colleges host would allow more students to participate where they can forge meaningful links to their college.

More attention and funds could be given to college-specific affinity groups, cultural and diversity committees. This would allow for more community events and opportunities for connection within affinity groups. Prioritizing promoting cultural events in the colleges or subsidizing tickets to campus-wide cultural events would signal a commitment to supporting the organizers on their college cultural or diversity committees while presenting a way for the college to come together and bond during the events. 

These are just some of the many ways college committees could consider reallocating their resources. And again, we are not asking colleges to do away with all of their “fun” committees. Rather, we implore governments across campus to take a more holistic view of which committees they promote the most and whom those committees represent. College committees should serve and bring together their college communities — all of their college communities. Let’s see just how unconventionally wise we really are. 

Editor’s Note: Thresher editorials are collectively written by the members of the Thresher’s editorial board. Current members include Ben Baker-Katz, Morgan Gage, Bonnie Zhao, Hajera Naveed, Nayeli Shad, Riya Misra, Michelle Gachelin, Daniel Schrager, Prayag Gordy and Brandon Chen. Special projects editor Prayag Gordy recused himself from this editorial due to being part of McMurtry Executive Council.

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