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Senate ignites Rice Fight

Katherine Hui / Thresher

By Maria Morkas     9/13/23 12:51am

The Student Association passed a resolution Sept. 11 congratulating the Rice Owls football team on winning the 2023 Bayou Bucket and reaffirming the senate’s support of Rice’s student-athletes.

According to SA President Solomon Ni, a resolution congratulating a sports team for winning a single game is unprecedented at Rice. The resolution was met with pushback from other SA members, who called it performative.

McMurtry College President Jackson Hughes motioned to postpone the resolution indefinitely. Hughes called for student-athletes to be invited to the SA meeting so they could be celebrated. Ni denied Hughes’ motion.

Ni said he invited the football team captains to the SA meeting; however, given the short notice, they could not be present.

SA meetings follow the Robert’s Rules of Order. Hughes alleged that the SA proceeding did not follow them in this session.

“It wasn’t a great feeling to know that the Rules of Order were sidestepped in favor of trying to get this resolution passed,” Hughes, a senior, said.

Ni said that according to parliamentary procedure there can be a motion to overrule the chair, but since that wasn’t invoked, he still presided over all of the parliamentary inquiry. 

“The point of parliamentary procedure is to be able to have discussion on [a resolution],” Ni, a Jones College junior, said. “I think the performance from the McMurtry president was very telling about what he wanted to do in terms of having a performance and shutting down all discussion on the resolution altogether.”

In response, Hughes said he was trying to move the SA towards something that would actually impact the student body, rather than performative action.

Brown College President Jae Kim said there have been ongoing conversations about the intent of the SA and that the resolution’s phrasing of “Whereas Rice Fight Never Dies” doesn’t match the seriousness of the SA. As a result, Kim said he agreed with Hughes.

“To only put out a statement of support after a big victory seemed really performative to me, especially since [we removed] the athletics committee this senate year … instead of reforming it,” Kim, a junior, said.

Hughes said there are more public ways to honor student-athletes than passing resolutions, like hosting celebratory events that incorporate a larger population of students and truly support the student-athletes.

“I think we should celebrate each team, especially when they perform well,” Hughes added. “But to do one specific resolution, for one specific team, at one specific instance seems very targeted.”

Martel College President Katelynn Porras said she acknowledges that this resolution is a supportive gesture towards the team. Since the SA members had access to the agenda beforehand, she said, they could have brought football players to the meeting in anticipation of the resolution.

Ni said the resolution was not intended to be monumental in the first place, but just an acknowledgement to the football team’s victory in the Bayou Bucket for the first time in 13 years.

“I am very disappointed that people would throw around the word performative when it comes to that,” Ni said. “I don’t think it’s anything more than [an acknowledgement] … I would be curious to see what the SA Senate, [specifically] the college presidents and senators that voted against it, would like to do in alternate. I didn’t anticipate this much discussion on [it].”

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