Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Tuesday, April 23, 2024 — Houston, TX

Pro-Palestinian protesters disrupt Rice activities

By Sergio Kapusta     3/5/24 10:42pm

Editor’s Note: This is a guest opinion that has been submitted by a member of the Rice community. The views expressed in this opinion are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of the Thresher or its editorial board. All guest opinions are fact-checked to the best of our ability and edited for clarity and conciseness by Thresher editors.

In view of the deafening silence coming from Rice’s upper leadership, I want to bring my opinion about an incident to the broader Rice community, and put it in the context of the Rice Code of Conduct.

On Thursday, Feb. 15, I attended a presentation by Antonio Neri, Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett Packard Enterprises. The presentation was organized by the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership and was attended by approximately 200 guests.

Some of the guests chose that opportunity to loudly express their opinion contrary to HPE activities in Israel. They screamed the usual themes of genocide, “from the river to the sea,” and similar phrases that have become quite common. Many attendees, including guests from HPE and myself, felt intimidated and threatened by these chants and by the protesters’ attitudes, body language, tone of voice and words. This was certainly not the venue, nor the way to express an opinion about war in Gaza. In public discourse about similar incidents at Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania and other schools it became clear to me that these type of slogans (“from the river to the sea,” Israel genocide) are not freedom of speech, but are really hate speech. 

The silence from Rice leadership, from the president down to the deans and department chairs, is deafening. What happened to the promise to protect Rice students from harassment and threats? Or is Rice leadership only concerned with the perception of free speech and not with the implications of hate speech? 

I understand that the matter was referred to the Rice University Police Department. This is a good step but it does not replace academic and administrative measures that Rice should take against students and student associations and clubs who organize and participate in these demonstrations and blatantly break the Code of Conduct. I expect that hate speech will not be tolerated, and that stark disciplinary action including expulsion or suspension would be imposed on those who ignore it. This is an institutional matter, and I wait for an institutional reply from the Rice president, provost and other authorities.

More from The Rice Thresher

OPINION 4/16/24 10:18pm
Do more to make campus bird-friendly

April is the month of many things: Beer Bike, a solar eclipse, the last day of classes and, perhaps lesser known, Earth Month. As Rice launches a series of Earth Month events, I would like to address our potential as a campus community to be more environmentally conscious, particularly in an effort to make this campus more friendly to birds.

OPINION 4/10/24 2:41pm
Student activism is working – and fear-mongering cannot hold us back

S.RES 02, titled “Student Association Boycott and Divestment from Corporations Complicit in the Ongoing Genocide in Gaza,” was presented to the Student Association on March 25. This resolution proposes the creation of an Ethical Spending Advisory Board designed to ensure that Blanket Tax funds are not dedicated to corporations that are complicit in Israeli colonial violence and apartheid based on guidelines created by the BDS movement. 


Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.