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Sunday, June 16, 2024 — Houston, TX

Solomon Ni for Student Association president

By Thresher Editorial Board     2/21/23 10:18pm

The Thresher endorses a Student Association presidential candidate every year. This year, to no one’s surprise, the Editorial Board endorses Solomon Ni — not only because he is the only option, but also because he has expansive plans to make changes. However, in a time of exceptionally low engagement both externally and within the SA, many of his plans are overly ambitious without laying a solid foundation.

As we read through Ni’s platform, we couldn’t help but chuckle. Some of his proposals — hiring more Wellbeing & Counseling staff and implementing free on-campus winter housing for students — are presented as simple fixes, when in reality they are unlikely to materialize. Others, such as lobbying the City of Houston for bike lanes near campus and renter protections or lobbying the state legislature to allow Rice IDs to be accepted as voter ID, are laughably unachievable. We’re concerned that Ni is too preoccupied with their lofty plans to actualize real changes that will truly benefit student lives during his term. We suggest that Ni choose a few concrete, achievable proposals and work to successfully implement them, rather than stretching himself too thin by setting utopian groundwork that future Student Associations may or may not build upon.

To his credit, Ni’s proposals for internal improvements are much more feasible. Ni has been a champion for transparency of the SA’s actions through publicizing the budget in their role as treasurer and has plans to create a bill tracker to increase visibility of the movement of legislation. We also applaud their plans for the implementation of a bereavement policy in professors’ syllabi and revisions of Title IX policies to prioritize survivors. Ni also discussed wanting to increase the number of appointed positions within the SA, and he and the other candidates at the recent Thresher Town Hall assured attendees that they plan to fill appointed positions with qualified students. While we appreciate that sentiment, it is notable that these appointed positions will be appointed by Ni and a slate of candidates who essentially appointed themselves through uncontested elections.

Ni is running unopposed for a reason. SA engagement is embarrassingly low, and many students feel that voting, much less serving within the SA, doesn’t make enough of an impact to be worth their time. Before Ni can focus on ambitious policy goals, he needs to build a solid foundation for the SA and address the fact that no one on campus thinks the SA does anything that affects their lives. 

Every year, candidates come in with these big ideas. They set up groups to talk about them, but then nothing gets done. The president that the SA needs right now is not one who has a four page platform of mostly unachievable goals. The president the SA needs right now is one who gives a few specific and achievable plans they can devote their time to implementing. Those include the aforementioned bereavement policies in syllabi, beginning discussions with departments and student-run businesses on increasing students’ minimum wage and working with Housing & Dining to introduce more late-night food options on campus. 

Ni isn’t running for president of the United States, city council or anything in between. He should throw out the parts of his platform that are nothing more than political grandstanding and fight for concrete, effective changes that will boost students’ trust and engagement in our Student Association. 

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. Features editor Riya Misra recused herself from this editorial due to her personal relationship with the candidate.

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