‘We’re still working’: The future of inter-college events
Rice’s residential college system is a cornerstone of the university’s culture, frequently touted for its ability to foster a sense of community for students. With 11 different colleges boasting unique structures, traditions and inhabitants, many students find it easy to connect with others within their college. However, while these dynamics produce tight-knit support systems and friend groups, some might find it challenging to broaden their relationships across colleges, and sometimes lack organized opportunities to develop them.
Recently, the Student Association leadership met for the spring SA retreat and PEAK leadership retreat. While recreational cross-college activities were not the primary focus of either event, some leaders report that the subject came up in conversation.
Duncan College president Evan Jasica predicted that more specific details regarding plans for cross-college activities are still yet to come.
“I don't think I can say yet if inter-college activities are one of our ‘biggest priorities’ because the president cohort is still in the process of defining the issues we want to work on during our leadership term,” Jasica said. “We're still working to assess the feasibility of different ideas and determine concrete, measurable goals.”
However, college leaders are still focused on working towards solving certain cross-campus concerns. According to Hanszen College president Alan Tapper, planning recreational inter-college events was not part of either retreat’s official agenda, but discussions were centered around setting potential goals instead of preliminary event planning.
“[At] the PEAK retreat, we did talk about campus-wide goals for part of our session,” Tapper said. “Creating more cross-college events was noted as a priority, albeit a lesser one than things like tackling housing and food insecurity.”
Both Jasica and Tapper conveyed that their respective colleges seem to enjoy cross-college events, specifically ones that occur during Beer Bike Week.
“Some healthy rivalry is always fun,” Jasica said “Beyond the competitive side of them, I think cross-college events help students connect with people outside their own college, since I know the college system can sometimes be isolating.”
Baker College president Jonah Wagner emphasized that the responsibilities of events and activities, whether they be cross-college or college-specific, fall more on the heads of planning committees instead of specifically on the presidency.
“As a Bakerite, cross-college activities is definitely something that I am interested in; as Baker president, though, my primary focus is within my residential college,” Wagner said. “The goal of my presidency is to revitalize the culture within Baker and make it a place that makes all Bakerites feel welcome and supported. As a result, I do not anticipate intentionally focusing on cross-college activities, but I have no doubt that...event planners will emphasize this as a component of their positions.”
Student leaders encourage socialization among students of their colleges, establishing communities unique to Rice’s structure, but accomplishing this goal can be difficult. Brown College sophomore Saatchi Sagoo-Jones said that she finds it difficult to form relationships with people from other colleges without events designed to accomplish that goal..
“It’s easy to meet people casually through college classes, but it’s difficult to sustain friendships this way, [and] at planned events, people tend to travel with their friend groups or cliques,” Sagoo-Jones said. “I don’t think that we shouldn’t have more events, I just don’t know what that would really look like. It feels like the issue of becoming more isolated from your college when it comes to relationships is more of a cultural phenomenon at Rice. It wouldn’t hurt to [have] more activities that bring people together.”
Conversations surrounding future plans for facilitating more cross-college activities are still in the preliminary stages, but student leadership is looking for collaboration from the student body to identify students’ needs.
“We're incorporating survey feedback as well as formal and informal conversations with different groups across campus to inform these priorities,” Jasica said.“By the end of the semester, I think we'll have more specific details on the items we want to advocate for and implement.”
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