<![CDATA[The Rice Thresher]]> Mon, 02 Oct 2023 22:44:10 -0500 Mon, 02 Oct 2023 22:44:10 -0500 SNworks CEO 2023 The Rice Thresher <![CDATA[Pride was too hasty in cutting ties with Houston Hillel]]> In an email last week, Rice Pride announced an end to its partnership with Houston Hillel, a Jewish campus organization that has hosted events with Pride since 2016. The statement pointed to the "Standards of Partnership" of Hillel International, the parent group of Houston Hillel, which Pride called exclusionary to Palestinian and Arab queer students.

Pride is right to discuss the needs of some of its most marginalized members. Palestinian and Arab queer students deserve to feel safe and welcomed in Pride.

Pride was wrong, however, to so quickly end its partnership with Houston Hillel. It made this decision based on the values of Hillel International, with no clear grievances against activities at the Houston chapter.

In fact, Pride did not attempt to have a discussion with Houston Hillel before its announcement. Pride claims to have spoken with student organizations such as Rice Students for Justice in Palestine and Judaism On Our Own Terms, but these are explicitly anti-Zionist groups that do not represent the wide spectrum of people who have a stake in this partnership - a particular point of worry given that Pride claims to represent the voices of all LGBTQ+ students on campus, whether they are pro-Israel or pro-Palestine.

Most worrying is that Pride seemingly had little-to-no input from queer Jewish students at Rice; had the organization spoken with more Jewish people, it would not have made its announcement during the High Holy Days - especially the afternoon after Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year - and would have anticipated the attention this decision has received.

Pride should have met with Houston Hillel to relay its concerns with Hillel International's platform. Houston Hillel was the first queer-affirming religious group on campus and has hosted a dozen events with Pride about the challenging intersection between queerness and religion. Kenny Weiss, the executive director of Houston Hillel, has even said that the operations of Houston Hillel no longer align completely with the cited "Standards of Partnership" for Hillel International - information Pride could have taken into account if dialogue with Hillel was opened sooner, or even at all. Pride and Houston Hillel could have tried to work together to devise ways to make all members feel included. The importance of an accepting and established space for studying and celebrating religion and queerness cannot be understated.

We also believe Pride should have encouraged more dialogue within the organization before making this decision. Many queer Jewish students felt blindsided, and rightfully so: A choice this complex should not be made exclusively by the leadership of a student affinity group. The very nature of intersectionality necessitates a wide discussion among people who hold different identities.

More broadly, this announcement brings into focus the way affinity organizations on campus make decisions regarding the diverse and intersectional identities of their members. These are incredibly complicated questions covering queerness, race, religion, violence, legacies of colonization and more. No affinity group executive board is prepared to fairly and wholly answer these questions - and none should try.

Because this issue is not black-and-white, Pride's decision to cut ties with Houston Hillel should not have been either. To carve out a space that is welcoming to queer Jewish, Arab, Palestinian and other members, Rice Pride should have fostered dialogue and worked to build a solution for all. While the political and historical events that have shaped our identities may be beyond our control, the civil and all-encompassing discourse necessary to make difficult decisions is not.

Editor's Note: Thresher editorials are collectively written by the members of the Thresher's editorial board. Current members include Prayag Gordy, Riya Misra, Nayeli Shad, Brandon Chen, Sammy Baek, Sarah Knowlton, Hadley Medlock and Pavithr Goli. Features Editor Sarah Knowlton recused herself from this editorial due to her personal relationship with a member of Pride's executive board.

<![CDATA[Rice Pride ends partnership with Houston Hillel]]> Editor's Note: The identity of a student mentioned in this story has been removed to protect them from harm due to their sexual orientation. The anonymous student was given a false name, marked with an asterisk when first mentioned. Any questions about our anonymity policy and sourcing should be directed to thresher@rice.edu.

Rice Pride ended its partnership with Houston Hillel, a Jewish campus ministry at Rice, on Sept. 18. Pride's latest statement on the decision says that the organization will no longer "receive funding or co-create spaces with Houston Hillel" and cited concerns by Palestinian and Arab students who did not feel comfortable engaging in Pride due to the partnership.

"The standards of partnership that Hillel has are incompatible with the operating mission of Pride, which is to include as many queer individuals from all different backgrounds," Cole Holladay, co-president of Pride, said. "These standards of partnership have been utilized in the past by several Hillel chapters across the nation to cut ties or spark conflict with other organizations that support Palestine."

Hillel International is the world's largest Jewish campus organization, according to its website, with a presence in 16 countries and 850 chapters in the United States.

Houston Hillel's website states it is "the only inclusive, egalitarian and pluralistic Jewish campus organization [and welcomes] LGBTQ+ students [and] those from interfaith backgrounds." According to Kenny Weiss, the executive director of Houston Hillel, Pride and Houston Hillel have co-hosted 12 events since 2016, including "The Invisible Identities of Being Queer and Jewish," "Queering the High Holy Days" and "Reconciling Queerness with Religious Spaces."

Jorge Arnez, a co-president of Pride, said though Pride was satisfied with its events co-hosted with Houston Hillel, the decision was based on the actions of other Hillel International chapters and Hillel International's standards of partnership.

"No one has specifically cited that Houston Hillel itself has made them uncomfortable in any way," Arnez, a McMurtry College junior, said. "But they're under the direction of Hillel International and that's enough for a lot of students, especially considering current events at Rice regarding the Israeli-Palestine [conflict], that I think that a lot of students wouldn't feel comfortable engaging [with Pride]."

Hillel International's standards of partnership state they will not partner with or host organizations that "deny the right of Israel to exist … delegitimize, demonize, or apply a double standard to Israel; support boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the state of Israel; exhibit a pattern of disruptive behavior toward campus events or guest speakers, or foster an atmosphere of incivility."

The guidelines also encourage individual Hillel chapters to "create their own Israel guidelines that are consistent with this document" and acknowledge diverse student perspectives on Israel, though they "object to labeling, excluding or harassing any students for their beliefs."

Houston Hillel's Israel guidelines include "the healthy exchange of differing opinions" regarding Israel and states Houston Hillel "will not support or sponsor any student or organization … which advocates violence as a solution to the current Middle Eastern conflict, whether against Israel or its opponents." Houston Hillel's guidelines do not mention "disruptive behavior" as a standard for not partnering with an organization.

In its updated statement regarding the decision to cut ties with Houston Hillel, Pride pointed to instances that "show Hillel's problematic biases against people from Palestinian background and their allies." The most recent example was controversy over the Palestine Writers Literature Festival at the University of Pennsylvania.

According to a statement released by Judaism On Our Own Terms' University of Pennsylvania chapter, Penn Hillel had made "attempts to dismiss the entire festival and play up racist tropes about Palestinian advocates due to the inclusion of anti-Zionist speakers."

In contrast, The Daily Pennsylvanian wrote, "Members of Penn's Board of Trustees signed an open letter to President Liz Magill calling on her to … distance the University [of Pennsylvania] from the Palestine Writes Literature Festival." The trustees cited concerns regarding event speakers' previous allegedly antisemitic comments.

"The way that [Hillel's] standards of partnership have been applied at other chapters in other universities is that they have been used to exclude Palestinian or Arab students and it continues to happen today," Arnez said. "Because [the standards] are vague, they can be utilized in ways that unfortunately we don't agree with."

Weiss said the operations of Houston Hillel no longer reflect the standards of partnership posted on the Hillel International website. He added that Houston Hillel is an affiliate of Hillel International but a separate 501(c)(3) organization and legally independent.

Pride's decision-making process

Holladay, a Martel College junior, said the Pride executive board consulted queer Jewish students and representatives from organizations such as Rice Students for Justice in Palestine and JOOOT in making the decision. Pride declined to share the identities of specific queer Jewish students with the Thresher, citing concerns of outing closeted students.

In Houston Hillel's response published on Instagram, Weiss wrote that they wished "Pride's leadership had pursued a conversation with Houston Hillel students or professionals during internal discussions."

Arnez said he did not think meeting with Houston Hillel would have changed the decision.

"We do believe that conversations between Pride and Hillel probably wouldn't have influenced them enough to repeal the standards of partnership that they currently have," Arnez said.

Arnez and Holladay said the decision was made without open discussion from Pride members.

"Broadening the decision outside of the executive board would've likely further isolated Palestinian and Arab students who already felt excluded by this partnership," Arnez and Holladay wrote in a follow-up comment to the Thresher. "The broader discursive context would have likely been dominated by a homogeneous voice rather than a diverse set of opinions, which is why we [consulted queer Jewish students and students from colonized backgrounds] in private, one-on-one settings."

Two days after Pride's public announcement, a member of the Pride executive board chose to step down due to his disagreement over the decision. The member declined a request for comment.

"We always encourage ourselves, our E-Board and student leaders across campus to ensure the values they have and the values [of] the organization they're representing align," Holladay said. "[Arnez and I] have a lot of respect for [the former board member]."

The release of Pride's statement came shortly after Rosh Hashanah, during the High Holy Days. Emma*, a queer Jewish student, said she felt it was poorly timed.

"This is certainly a decision that could have waited a single week," Emma said. "To make an announcement of this kind during the High Holy Days places a lot of extra stress on Jewish people, and shows there isn't the level of cultural fluency I would like to see from Pride leadership."

Bela Nelson, a McMurtry senior, said she was surprised by Pride's decision to end the partnership with Houston Hillel.

"Pride historically [is] a very inclusive place," Nelson said. "I don't know how they could have [made this decision] without seeing how this would affect Jewish students unless they literally talked to not a single queer Jewish person."

Holladay said the statement was released when the decision happened to be made, but they regretted that it did not come at a different time.

"We didn't really expect [the decision] to become a widespread conversation … so [the timing] was something we overlooked, and that's why we included [the recognition of the date] in the [email] statement," Holladay said. "We acknowledge that this time of the year is really important for Jewish people."

Reactions across campus

Wed Timraz, a Jones College junior and member of Rice SJP, said she was in favor of the decision due to her support of Palestine.

"Although in Hillel's [statement] they said they were saddened by the decision because it brings politics into an area of queer student life that focuses solely on the intersection of religion and queerness, that's not true," Timraz said. "The existence of Hillel is political and so as someone who is Arab myself and who has friends from Palestine, any events hosted by Pride and Hillel have not been an inclusive space for Arab and Palestinian queer students. Any space organized by Hillel is inherently a Zionist space and the whole basis of the organization is to support Israel."

Weiss said that though Houston Hillel as an organization does support the existence of the Israeli state, the events Houston Hillel used to co-host with Pride did not represent a political perspective.

"Neither Houston Hillel or Hillel International is going to disavow support for the modern state of Israel or Zionism, but you need to make sure you don't confuse that with support for the government of Israel," Weiss said.

Zac Ambrose, a member of Houston Hillel, said although he did not agree with some of Hillel International's past actions, he also did not believe Houston Hillel should be conflated with Hillel International.

"Hillel's mission and their [purpose] of existing is separate from the state of Israel," Ambrose, a Lovett College junior, said. "Tying Houston Hillel's existence to the actions of the state of Israel is what most people would claim is antisemitic, because you are holding the Jewish people at Rice accountable for the state of Israel's actions."

Ambrose further stated he felt the decision would create an unwelcoming environment for Jewish students.

"I'm afraid that by cutting ties with Hillel, it's a signal to queer Jewish people at Rice that they're not necessarily welcome in that Pride space," Ambrose said. "So ironically by including a number of students, they've completely excluded another group."

Holladay said Pride's decision was not intended to alienate queer Jewish students.

"Our intention was always to maximize our inclusivity, not to trade one group of students for another, which we felt like was going on with this partnership [with Hillel]," Holladay said. "We completely understand that students have a very complicated relationship with this decision, and that it can be isolating for some students. We're doing everything in our power to ensure that as many people are represented as possible."

Sam Forman, a Jones freshman, said that although he regrets that Pride and Hillel are not partners anymore, the issue surrounding Jewish and queer identities is worth discussing.

"I think Hillel shouldn't have those policies and I certainly don't agree with them, but I also think Pride could have taken a little more time and maybe some discussion with Hillel to come to some sort of agreement. The statement without discussion with Hillel was hasty," Forman said.

Karma Elbadawy, a Martel sophomore, said she was also in favor of Pride's decision, and noted that many Palestinian students may feel unsafe sharing their support.

"I'm very close to a few Palestinian students, especially international Palestinian students, whose families are still there," Elbadawy said. "They decided they didn't want to do these interviews [with the Thresher] because it's dangerous for them; the [Israeli] government [tracks opposition] and they worry about not being able to go back home. It's a privilege for students to be able to speak out about it."

Houston Hillel's queer programming

Weiss said Houston Hillel was the first faith-based organization at Rice to host programming specifically for queer students.

"In the last couple years, there have been at least two additional campus ministries who are inclusive and whose ministries reflect that," Weiss said. "But from the time Hillel started these programs in 2016, until two years ago, we were the only campus ministry that was actively engaging queer Rice students, beyond individual conversations, in programming and group conversations."

Artie Throop, a Jones junior, said they felt events co-hosted by Pride and Houston Hillel were inclusive of students from all religions, including their own unitarian universalist faith.

"Pride's decision to cut ties with Hillel is not only isolating Jewish students, but other students who are religious in any way," Throop wrote in an email to the Thresher. "The events I attended … were some of the few that didn't make me feel like being queer and being religious were antithetical."

Nelson said that Weiss has always made a safe space for queerness.

"I know Rabbi Kenny is a very pro-gay, pro-queer, pro-pride person, and that really means a lot to me," Nelson said. "My rabbi growing up was the same and although I never had a conversation about my sexuality, it just made me feel immensely safe to know that he felt that way. That is very different from other religious organizations and other Jewish leaders … so it's just something that I … really appreciated."

Weiss said during co-hosted events, Pride allowed Houston Hillel to use the Queer Resource Center and promoted the gatherings on social media. He said the events were interfaith in nature.

"Almost all these programs were of a format where I would bring in an article or editorial, almost never religious in nature," Weiss said. "I would say, 'What do you think', and it was an open conversation. These programs have never been about Judaism or Israel or anything related to that. They have always been an opportunity for queer students, Jewish and non-Jewish, to speak with a religious leader who affirms their identities."

Future of Pride's partnership with religious organizations

Pride's statement said they "are actively reaching out to other organizations that will assist us in creating more inclusive spaces, such as JOOOT, the Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender & Sexual Diversity, the Episcopal Church at Rice, and others."

According to Holladay, SOJOURN has expressed interest in a future partnership with Pride.

"[SOJOURN has] said they are willing to facilitate conversations themselves and connect us with rabbis in the Houston community that would be able and willing to facilitate these kinds of conversations," Holladay said. "We wanted to ensure that we can create the spaces that we're taking away, as opposed to taking away the space and not replacing it."

Emma said she believed the organizations mentioned in the Pride statement would not fulfill the purpose of events previously co-hosted by Pride and Hillel. In particular, she was concerned that JOOOT focuses too much on helping Jewish students organize and host their own non-Hillel-affiliated events.

"Why do Jewish members of Pride suddenly need to take the burden of organizing events when we already have the events organized, hosted and set up in ways that experts in … Jewish organizations know are effective?" Emma said.

Arnez said though he perceives Houston Hillel as under the jurisdiction of Hillel International and associated with Hillel International's past actions, he is open to further discussion.

"If Hillel said [they're] no longer going to abide by the standards of partnership of Hillel International and recognized the problematic marginalization that Hillel International has caused Arab and Palestinian students," Arnez said, "then we could start a conversation."

Brandon Chen and Richie Su contributed reporting for this article.

[9/27/2023 10:01 a.m.] This article was corrected to reflect Holladay's pronouns.

<![CDATA[Baker Institute 30th anniversary gala to host Kissinger, Clinton, Baker]]> The Baker Institute will hold its 30th anniversary gala Oct. 26, welcoming three former secretaries of state: Henry Kissinger, Hillary Clinton and James Baker.

Director of the Baker Institute David Satterfield said this celebration serves as an opportunity to accentuate the work of the Baker Institute and Rice University.

"We tried to feature speakers that we believe will be of broad interest, not just to the foreign policy or domestic policy community, but to Houston and the Rice University community in general," Satterfield said.

Satterfield said the armchair discussion will be moderated by Norah O'Donnell, the managing editor and anchor for CBS Evening News. She will broach issues like Russia's war in Ukraine and the relationship between China and the United States.

"What do they think, based on their experience, needs to be done now?" Satterfield said. "What are their recommendations? What are their thoughts? This is not meant to be a look backward. It's a look at the situation facing Americans, Houstonians, Texans, the global community today and where things go in the future."

Rice University Students for Justice in Palestine, along with other Rice and Houston organizations, started an online petition calling upon Rice to cancel the gala and issue a letter, along with the Baker Institute, addressing Kissinger's alleged international war crimes. As of Sept. 26, this petition has garnered 232 signatures. This isn't the first time SJP has protested a Baker Institute event - in April 2023, a similar petition called for the cancellation of Israel@75, a conference marking the 75th anniversary of Israel's founding.

SJP member Zachary Katz said the celebration, in his opinion, is a representation of Rice's position within a system of imperialism that oppresses other countries.

"All three of the [speakers] have been involved with very egregious war crimes that the U.S. has done," Katz, a Brown College junior, said. "For example, Hillary Clinton was involved in war crimes in Libya. Kissinger was one of the main people who helped the U.S. install political coups of socialist governments across the world."

In response to concerns over the invited guests, Satterfield said that people are free to communicate their opinions to the Institute and to the public.

"Everyone has a right to express their views," Satterfield said. "It needs to be done in a civil matter, and this university can take pride in its openness to discourse, its openness to the expression of different points of view. There is no cancel culture at Rice."

Nithya Shenoy, a co-president of the Baker Institute Student Forum, said she is looking forward to attending the event.

"A lot of people were extremely excited when they heard that Clinton would be here. She's had a great career and is just incredibly impressive given that she served as secretary of state and ran for presidency back in 2016. She's someone who is a role model to a lot of people in politics … and we can't wait to get the opportunity to meet her," Shenoy, a Sid Richardson College senior, said. "I think that [the Baker Institute has] done a good job of choosing speakers who represent a diversity of opinions and perspectives, which is what the Baker Institute stands for."

Satterfield said that the speakers' combined five decades of policy experience was the primary reason behind hosting them at the Institute's anniversary celebration.

"All three have remained active in the foreign policy domestic policy world, particularly Dr. Kissinger, who has just returned from trips to China [and] Japan," Satterfield said. "They offer insights of high value, and that's what we do here."

Shenoy said she believes the ideal outcome of the gala would be for students to get the chance to meet different people and attendees at the event. She thinks it's a great opportunity to exchange viewpoints with different people - many of whom aren't Rice undergraduate students - and to learn from everyone present.

"[It would be interesting] to get [the speakers'] opinions on how the U.S. is going to do moving ahead," Shenoy said. "I think the country's going through some tough times economically, and I know that there are many different opinions on what policy should be enacted or what action should be taken. It would be great to hear from all the guests who have had extensive political careers on what they would do if they were in current power."

Katz said he believes Rice's goal for the gala is to whitewash history and to normalize oppressive and imperialistic foreign policies.

"The Baker Institute should not celebrate its 30th anniversary. Although it does do research, a lot of [it] is used to justify the U.S.'s involvement in imperialist affairs," Katz said. "For example, the research done about the Ukraine-Russia war has been used to justify the U.S.'s involvement and extension of that war."

Satterfield, however, believes the gala has a different goal in mind.

"We want to stimulate informed debate," Satterfield said. "We want to draw the attention of this community here, Rice, Houston, Texas, as well as the broader U.S. policymaking community, to not only our experts here at the Institute, but those we bring to the Institute. What do they offer? What are their thoughts? What are the best responses in a changing and challenging work?"

<![CDATA[09-27-2023 Crossword Solution]]> <![CDATA[09-27-2023 Crossword: "Hispanic Heritage Month"]]> ]]> <![CDATA[Families Weekend Schedule of Events]]> <![CDATA[09-27-2023 "Owl-American"]]> "Who's Beatrice?"

<![CDATA[New conference, same results: Volleyball opens AAC play with perfect record]]> Rice Volleyball defeated the University of Alabama at Birmingham at home and the University of Tulsa on the road twice last week to open their first-ever American Athletic Conference season, moving the Owls to 9-4 on the season. This streak also brings the Owls to five consecutive unbeaten games since a Sept. 11 loss to No. 10 University of Texas at Austin.

Despite defeats to nationally-ranked teams like the Longhorns and No. 3 Stanford University in the preseason, graduate transfer right-side hitter Emilia Weske believes that the Owls continue to perfect their craft the more games they play.

"Preseason definitely challenged us and the transition to a new conference still holds many unknowns, but we are continuing to grow stronger as a team and finding our groove," Weske said.

Rice's AAC debut set nearly got off on the wrong foot, however. After opening 3-0, the Owls gave up streaks of points throughout the first set, and they trailed 19-15 to UAB at one point. The Owls went on a 5-1 streak of their own and were eventually able to cap off the set after a kill by junior right-side hitter Lola Foord.

The Owls went on to dominate the second and third sets with scores of 25-12 and 25-20, respectively. According to head coach Genny Volpe, the offensive quality seen from Rice is a testament to the team's preseason efforts.

"Our offense [improved over preseason]," Volpe said. "We are still working through consistency, but it has been good to see different people step up and score more points."

The Owls then traveled to Tulsa, Okla. for a weekend double-header against the Golden Hurricane. Almost as a preview for the game that was to follow, the first set saw Rice and Tulsa tightly matched with the Owls winning the first set 28-26, with neither team leading by more than four points throughout the set. Tulsa took the next two sets in similar fashion, leaving Rice with the burden of a comeback.

The fourth set was even closer than the first three. After trailing 20-14, Rice went on a 9-3 streak to come back and warded off three match points before two consecutive kills by senior outside hitter Danyle Courtley awarded Rice the set. The momentum propelled the Owls to a quick start in the tiebreaker set, defeating the Golden Hurricane 15-19 and sealing their comeback victory.

A large contributor to the victory was senior libero Nia McCardell's 33 digs, tying her season high and leading her to winning AAC Defensive Player of the Week.

Following the victory, Volpe explained that the team was able to gain new confidence after fending off Tusla and completing the comeback.

"Our team gained a ton of confidence in how we came back multiple times after being down, and found a way to win," Volpe said. "I think overcoming that type of adversity will definitely pay off down the road."

The Owls continued to be challenged in the first set of Sunday's bout, coming out with a 30-28 victory to start the game. The next two sets, however, were easily taken care of by Rice, capping off a perfect road trip and beginning to the AAC season.

According to Weske, as the conference season gets running, the greater regularity in the team's schedule will help the squad maintain their quality.

"I'm looking forward to the routine and consistency that the regular season schedule brings," Weske said. "This will be a good foundation for us to find consistency in our game, too."

Volpe echoed this, emphasizing that these results can grow with time.

"We have started out well," Volpe said. "I think our numbers are climbing in terms of statistics offensively, and defensively, we are one of the best in the country. I'm sure we will need to make adjustments, but for now we are taking it one day at a time with the main goal of getting better each time we hit the floor to compete."

Volpe's assessment of her squad's top defensive ranking is further substantiated by the statistic that Rice women's volleyball ranks first out of 332 Division 1 teams in digs per set, forcing 19.38. McCardell said that this team strength shone this weekend and hopes the team can continue to embrace this strength in the future.

"After playing UAB and Tulsa, our defense has continued to show how strong it is and we're just going to continue to keep digging balls so we can create more play opportunities for the front row," McCardell said. "We're really excited to continue fluidity amongst all aspects of our game and dominate."

The Owls will hope to extend this win streak when they return to Tudor Fieldhouse for a Texas bout against the University of Texas at San Antonio Friday, Sept. 29 at 6 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 30 at 1 p.m. Both games will be streamed on ESPN+.

<![CDATA[Rice Soccer shut out by UNT in first road AAC match]]> Rice Soccer traveled to Denton on Sept. 24, where they were defeated 6-0 by the University of North Texas. According to graduate transfer midfielder Sarah Piper, the team was disappointed by the final results.

"The game Thursday was definitely frustrating for all of us," Piper said. "We need to make sure we're focusing for the entire 90 minutes."

The Owls started off the game on the defensive with the Mean Green immediately getting shot opportunities on goal. Graduate transfer goalkeeper Hannah Pimentel was an iron wall for the Owls early game, getting three of her game total seven saves in the first 15 minutes of the match.

In the 27th minute, the Mean Green were able to get past Pimentel to take a 1-0 lead. Another save by Pimentel late in the first prevented the lead from growing and the Owls went into the half down one.

According to Piper, the team had their share of opportunities early in the game, but not being able to finish them halted their momentum as the game moved forward.

"I think we started fairly strong and found chances, but need to make sure we capitalize on them earlier in order to build a bit more confidence early in the half," Piper said.

The second half went downhill fast for the Owls. Over the next 45 minutes of play, the Mean Green found the back of the net five times. After a few unsuccessful Owls offensive attacks, the game ended 6-0.

Over the course of the game, the Mean Green dominated on both sides of the ball, putting up 26 shots, 13 on goal, to the Owls' four shots, one on goal. Defensive errors were evident and Piper explained that a lot of it came from a lack of consistency throughout the game.

"Defensively, we need to be better with marking in the box and staying focused for the entire 90 minutes," Piper said. "We need to make sure we aren't turning off during big moments to bounce back [after a goal was scored] or build traction [beginnings of halves]."

The loss drops the Owls season record to 2-8-1, and 0-2 in conference play. The shutout marked their fifth scoreless game on the season and their fourth straight loss in a row, losing by a combined 20-5 in that period.

"We need to [build] each other up," Piper said. "We're all frustrated as a team, but we all also see the potential of what we can do individually and collectively when we stay focused towards a similar goal."

The Owls return to the pitch Thursday, Sept. 28 at 1 p.m. against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, to be streamed on ESPN+. Despite the slow start, the team is focused forward on the next match.

"I think we're all still confident that we can show up in conference play and be the team we want to be," Piper said. "We've struggled to get the results we've wanted in the first two conference games, but we're making sure to keep our eyes on the next game and the potential we have to turn it around this Thursday."

<![CDATA[JT Daniels injured as Rice drops AAC opener to USF 42-29]]> Coming off wins against cross-town rivals University of Houston and Texas Southern University, Rice Football was unable to keep up against the University of South Florida, losing 42-29. The Owls' loss in their first game against an American Athletic Conference opponent dropped them to 2-2 on the season.

The Owls and Bulls exchanged punts to open the game before USF took an early lead on a field goal. Rice answered with a methodical 10-play, 70-yard drive that brought the Owls near the goal line. On fourth-and-one, head coach Mike Bloomgren dialed up a play-action pass. Graduate transfer quarterback JT Daniels threw to freshman running back Daelen Alexander for a touchdown, giving Rice a 7-3 lead toward the end of the first quarter. It was Alexander's sixth touchdown in three games.

The USF offense operated quickly in the first quarter and did not slow down, averaging just 23.6 seconds per play compared to Rice's 27.8 seconds. To open the second quarter, the Bulls found themselves in the red zone, courtesy of a 29-yard run from their quarterback. USF ultimately settled for a field goal to pull within one point.

Possession returned to the Owls, who converted a third down as Daniels found freshman receiver Landon Ransom-Goelz for a 31-yard gain to move the chains. Rice closed in on the goal line, lost yards on back-to-back plays and attempted a field goal. Redshirt junior kicker Tim Horn hooked his kick left, missing from 30 yards out. After forcing a quick USF three-and-out, the Owls got the ball back in USF territory but Horn missed another kick, this time from 40 yards out.

USF took advantage, quickly moving into Rice territory on a 53-yard pass before taking the lead on a 26-yard rushing touchdown. Rice's deficit was short-lived, though. With just 90 seconds left in the half, Daniels led a scoring drive that resulted in a go-ahead touchdown. Junior receiver Luke McCaffrey totaled 35 yards on the drive while junior running back Dean Conners was responsible for the score, giving Rice a slight 14-13 advantage at halftime.

After the game, McCaffrey commented on how much he enjoyed moving down the field with the rest of the offense in the first half.

"It was a lot of fun," McCaffrey. "Our offense has a lot of good chemistry right now."

The Bulls wasted no time delivering a quick blow in the second half, picking up 51 yards on the drive's first play. They found the end zone to cap off a series that lasted just one minute and six seconds, putting the Bulls up 20-14. On their next possession, USF once again moved into the red zone thanks to a 59-yard completion and a costly defensive penalty against the Owls, but Rice got the ball back on a fumble. One play later, Daniels found Connors for an 80-yard touchdown strike to take a 21-20 lead. A back-and-forth affair to this point, the Owls' defense returned to the field and held strong, forcing a fourth down, but the ensuing punt took a USF bounce to the five-yard line.

Armed with the ball once again, Rice was unable to score. To make matters worse for the Owls, Daniels suffered an apparent leg injury on a sack. He was helped off the field by the medical staff and relieved on the next drive by redshirt freshman quarterback A.J. Padgett.

Daniels, prior to his injury, had completed 27 passes on 40 attempts, passing for a total of 432 passing yards and three touchdowns. He is also currently ninth in the nation in total passing yards.

After the game, Bloomgren said that Daniels suffered a lower-body injury.

"[Daniels] just told us in the locker room he's going to be okay," Bloomgren said. "[We] tried to get him ready to go back in the game and it just didn't work out for today. I'm confident we'll have him back sooner than later."

The Bulls, meanwhile, struck for a 49-yard touchdown and brought a 27-21 lead into the fourth quarter after Rice failed to answer.

Eager to build on his team's lead, the USF quarterback completed a 52-yard pass in the first minute of the final quarter, then followed this big gain with an eight-yard touchdown pass. Suddenly, momentum had swung back in the favor of USF, who led 34-21. Rice went three-and-out on its next drive, and upon getting the ball back, the Bulls struck for their fifth touchdown of the contest. They had gone on a 21-0 run over the course of just 12 minutes, putting the Owls in a three-score deficit. Padgett managed to lead a scoring drive on the next possession, finding redshirt freshman receiver Rawson MacNeill for the touchdown.

McCaffrey was optimistic about what he saw from the backup quarterback after he was thrust into action.

"A.J. has done what he's done all year," McCaffrey said. "I think he had a few mistakes early, just getting excited and getting into the first set of action for him this year. We have confidence in him as a team and whatever happens in the future, with whatever this week is looking like, we're excited for him."

Padgett's touchdown pass helped soften the blow, but it was too little, too late as Rice ultimately lost 42-29. The defeat was Rice's first at the hands of USF, as well as its first in AAC play. Bloomgren admitted that the Owls struggled in all three phases of the game and let it slip away after halftime.

"We know what we're capable of as a football team and it's certainly a lot better than that performance we put out there in the second half," Bloomgren said.

The Owls hope to use Saturday's game as a learning experience, reviewing their gameplay to find ways to continue improving as a team.

"We're going to watch this film, we're going to learn and then we're going to move forward, " Bloomgren said. "This is going to sting, but it can't be any different [than coming out of a win]. Our process has to be our process."

The aforementioned process will be put to the test when the Owls face East Carolina University Saturday, Sept. 30 at 6 p.m for Rice's first home AAC game. The Owls own an all-time 2-2 record against East Carolina, winning twice at home and losing twice on the road. When the two teams last met in 2010, Rice won 62-38.

"I don't think next Saturday can come soon enough," McCaffrey said.

<![CDATA[Weekly Scenes & Screens, Sept. 27]]> Chamber Orchestra

The Shepherd School is hosting a chamber orchestra concert Thursday, Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m. in Alice Pratt Brown Hall.

Poet Laureate Reading

Leslie Contreras Schwartz, the fourth Houston Poet Laureate, will be reading from her new memoir Sept. 28 at 6:30 p.m. at Basket Books. Schwartz, a Rice graduate, also teaches the occasional poetry writing class on campus. The event is free and open to the public.

SpoCo & Nocturnal

The campus improv troupe will be hosting a collaborative Families Weekend show with a capella group Nocturnal Sept. 30 at 3 p.m. in the Grand Hall.

Off the Wall

The Off the Wall series at Brochstein will unveil its newest installation by william cordova with an opening reception Sept. 29 from 5 to 7 p.m. The installation will remain on view through Aug. 23, 2024.

"Minamata Mandala"

Over the course of three days, Rice Cinema will show a three-part documentary 15 years in the making by Kazuo Hara. Hosted in Sewall Hall 301, part one of the screening is Friday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m., part two will show Saturday, Sept. 30 at 5 p.m. and part 3 will follow the same day at 8 p.m.

<![CDATA[Review: Chappell Roan's debut seeks solace on the dance floor]]> Rating: ★★★½

Best track: "Picture You"

Small town girl seeks stardom in the big city: It's a trope as old as time in the entertainment industry. Crafting an exciting narrative using this theme often requires an artist willing to subvert expectations or chart new ground. Chappell Roan's debut full-length album, "The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess," proves the power of the latter, recounting a journey to queer self-affirmation through campy pop bangers and confessional ballads that express the conflicted comfort of finding solace far from home.

The album begins with a three-part celebration of queer femininity, evident in the kitschy title of opener "Femininomenon." A pounding kiss-off to mediocre men in the age of online dating, the song establishes Roan's penchant for dramatic builds, brash choruses and lyrics that walk a fine line between camp and cringe. "Dude, can you play a song with a fucking beat," Roan taunts before the bass-boosted hook rushes in, though the meta humor of this moment is tampered by her subsequent command to "get it hot like Papa John."

Fortunately, "Red Wine Supernova" and "After Midnight" are both better demonstrations of Roan's ability to imbue otherwise standard pop songs with a signature style and sexuality. "Red Wine Supernova" renders a blossoming queer romance with cosmically down-bad lyrics and love-drunk ad-libs, while "After Midnight" finds Roan cheekily asking, "I kinda wanna kiss your girlfriend if you don't mind."

After the banal Top-40 balladry of tracks "Coffee" and "Casual," the album picks up steam once again with "Super Graphic Ultra Modern Girl," a beguiling power-pop anthem about leaving a boring man stranded on a first date to find the kind of girl who would enjoy "making out while the world collapses." This propulsive energy continues into "HOT TO GO!" whose warped chants evoke "Masseduction"-era St. Vincent. "My Kink is Karma," is a vengeful breakup banger similar to Taylor Swift's "Midnights" single "Karma."

"Picture You" is equal parts lovelorn soul ballad and unconventional masturbation anthem, as Roan laments "Am I in the frame of your point of view? / Do you feel the same? / I'm too scared to say / Half of the things I do when I picture you." This song is the album at its best sonically, as Roan's voice trills over twinkling guitar and ethereal harmonies to convey her yearning to find a moment of pleasure amidst uncontrollable anguish.

"Pink Pony Club" and "California" represent the ultimate rise and fall of Roan's protagonist. The former has her celebrating finally finding space for herself in West Hollywood's drag bars. On "Pink Pony Club," Roan lusts after that "special place / Where boys and girls can all be queens every single day," mourning what her mother would think of the person she's become but ultimately declaring that she'll keep dancing through it all. "California" is its polar opposite and an ode to a place and people Roan can never fully leave behind. "Come get me out of California / No leaves are brown / I miss the seasons in Missouri / My dying town," Roan pleads, ironically yearning for the cyclical monotony that only her hometown can provide.

Narratively, "California" would've been a fine ending, signaling the titular "fall" of the midwestern princess who found a place for herself in the city while still yearning for home. Instead, the album ends with "Guilty Pleasure," a shapeshifting, synth-drenched finale that reaffirms Roan's capability as a pop vocalist but blunts the emotional impact of the album's conclusion.

Ultimately, though, "The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess" is a strong debut that charts Chappell Roan's journey across the country finding herself as a queer woman and as an artist. It's an adventurous album whose missteps only amplify the fact that Roan's music soars when it's at its most ambitiously indulgent.

<![CDATA[Cup, plate and pot: what's hot in Bellaire]]> Not too far west on US-59 lies Bellaire, a gustatory world full of bold flavors and unique dining experiences. Home of Houston's Asiatown, Bellaire is packed with delicious eats, from tonkotsu to takoyaki. Give these restaurants a crack at keeping you warm this fake fall season.

Xiao Long Kan (M-Thu noon-9:30 p.m., F-Sun 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.)

Past the impressive doors of this Chinese Sichuan hotpot chain lies a wonderful restaurant styled after Chinese Night Markets. The menu is expansive, containing cuts of meat from cow to frog, and vegetables and fungi alike. While it's rather easy to miss in the massive expanse of Bellaire restaurants, it's worth the visit and hard to forget.

Recommended fare: frog legs, vegetable medley plate (includes winter melon, lotus root, potato)


Hours: Sun-Thu 1-10 p.m., F-Sat 1-11 p.m.

A bustling part of Bellaire Food Street, this dessert cafe sports impressive themed interior decor that they auction at the end of every event. That's to say nothing of the drinks, which are always sweet and on-theme. Very Instagrammable. Beat the lines by reserving a time slot to see their One Piece fan cafe before it closes Oct. 1.

Recommended fare: Off the fan menu, try the Gomu Gomu potion. Off the normal menu, try the Mango Berry Swirl


Hours: Mon-Thu 10 a.m.-11 p.m., F-Sat 10 a.m.-midnight.

Bellaire is well supplied with options for boba, but Teahouse is an absolute staple within the community. A Bellaire staple since 2000, this Taiwanese-owned boba chain will continue to be a post-work treat stop for years to come.

Recommended fare: Passionfruit Black Tea with basil seeds and boba


Hours: M-Thu 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., F-Sat 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

Kyuramen, the youngest on this list, wows with its unique honeycomb seating and delicious ramen.

Recommended fare: Tokyo Tonkotsu Shoyu with black garlic


Hours: Tue-Thu 11 a.m.-8 p.m., F-Sat 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun 11 a.m.-4p.m.

A lovely study spot featuring soft jazz, fried street food and baked goods, ethically sourced coffee from La Colombe and heartwarming tea. If you can read in Korean or Mandarin, this quaint spot has a hearty selection of books for you too. All in all, very good study vibe.

Recommended fare: Kyoto Fog and Takoyaki

Pepper Lunch

Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily

Dip your toes into Teppanyaki! This Japanese chain serves savory, filling meals, in hot iron pans. Season liberally, and don't burn your hands.

Recommended fare: Chicken Pepper Rice, with a hearty splash of garlic sauce and a bit of honeybrown sauce

Banana Leaf

Hours: Sun-Thu 11 a.m.-9 p.m., F-Sat 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

This is the Malaysian spot you've been looking for. Good old traditional Malayisan cuisine in a bustling space, tucked into the corner of Bellaire.

Recommended fare: Roti Canai, followed by Laksa

Sweet Memes

Hours: Tue-Sun 11 a.m.-10p.m., Mon closed

Adorable and also very instagrammable, Sweet Memes satisfies the sweet tooth of even the most ravenous dessert monger.

Recommended fare: Shibuya Toast

<![CDATA[Celebrate Hispanic artists this month]]> Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 marks Hispanic Heritage Month. In honor of this month, the Thresher has compiled a sampling of works by Hispanic artists you should definitely check out.

"De Todas las Flores" by Natalia Lafourcade

Mexican singer-songwriter Natallia Lafourcade has been releasing music since the early 2000s but, two decades later, has never been better. Her latest album "De Todas Las Flores" is a group of love poems backed by a soundscape of Mexican folk music, traditional vocal jazz and the indie pop she's known for. It's the jazziest album she's made that draws its inspiration from a variety of Latin American musical genres, especially samba, bolero, cumbia and bossa nova.

"KiCk i" by Arca

When most think of the Latin Electronic genre, they think of Arca. Contemporary alternative pop music wouldn't be what it is today without the Venezuelan-born artist. Arca's music is a mix of electronic and industrial, mysterious and ethereal, manic and blissful. Like fellow transgender electronic artist SOPHIE, Arca's musical experimentality has indelibly left its mark on music today.

"KiCk i" is one of her best albums, the first of a series that now has five parts. An album that merges the genres of reggaeton, industrial music, electropop, trap, techno music and R&B, among others, "KiCk i" demonstrates that Arca's style can't be contained in a single box.

"Isolation" by Kali Uchis

Kali Uchis has blown up in recent years, and rightly so. Her music is a blend of pop, soul, R&B, funk and psychedelia melodies which coalesce to create her own unique brand of sensual, bittersweet and deeply lush soundscapes. Even after two great albums in "Sin miedo del amor y otros demonios" and "Red Moon in Venus," "Isolation" still stands as her best project. With songs like "Just a Stranger," "Dead to Me," "After the Storm" and "Your Teeth In My Neck," this album is a sonically and thematically diverse project that is uniformly excellent in quality.

"Roma" by Alfonso Cuaron

From the director of "Gravity," "Y Tu Mamá También" and "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," "Roma" is Alfonso Cuaron's semi-autobiographical passion project and 2019 Oscar winner, claiming Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Foreign Language Film. Set in 1970s Mexico City, the film centers on Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), a woman who works as a maid for a middle class family. Aparicio became only the third Indigenous woman to be nominated for Best Actress for her work in this film. Visually stunning and deeply moving, "Roma" moves at its own unique rhythm and is an experience not to be missed.

"Nine Queens" by Fabian Bielinsky

A propulsive heist thriller from Argentina, "Nine Queens" follows two con men who try to swindle a stamp collector by selling him a set of counterfeit stamps. It sounds simple but, like the best heist films, the intricate planning, character banter and rapidly increasing stakes make this a riveting watch from opening to close.

Argentina has a thriving film industry responsible for some of the 21st century's best underseen gems, such as Juan Jose Campanella's "The Secret in Their Eyes," Lucrecia Martel's "La Cienaga," Damian Szifron's "Wild Tales" and Mariano Llanas' "La Flor."

"Machuca" by Andres Wood

A poignant coming-of-age drama that illustrates one of the most significant events in Chilean history through the eyes of children, "Machuca" is a touching story of burgeoning friendship set within the context of extreme political tensions. Anyone interested in 1970s Chilean history, Salvador Allende's presidency and the coup that overthrew him will find this film fascinating.

<![CDATA[Senior Spotlight: Deema Beram colors within the lines]]> Deema Beram wouldn't call herself a theater kid. With artistic tendencies from a young age, Beram grew up finding creative outlets - whether it was classroom coloring or community theater.

"Even in preschool, my teachers would commend me because … I was the only one who was able to color within the lines," Beram said.

Now, Beram majors in Visual and Dramatic Arts with a Studio Art concentration at Rice. At the same time, she's on the pre-medical track - coming from a long line of family members passionate about women's health, Beram hopes to be an obstetrician-gynecologist in the future.

"I was blessed to have parents [who] encouraged me to express myself creatively, especially my dad. He's always asking to see my works," Beram, a Duncan College senior, said. "[Since] you can major in anything and still be pre-med, I thought 'Why not take this opportunity to do something I'm really passionate about, alongside my intended career plan?'"

Despite having lived in more than 10 places, Beram considers Houston home. She said her desire to be close to family was a reason for coming to Rice.

"Once I stepped foot on campus my junior year of high school, I took a tour and it just felt right to me," Beram said. "This is my dream school, and my expectations have been exceeded. I love this place, and I get emotional thinking about the fact that it's my last year here."

Beram also said that attending Rice has been a great opportunity to foster her life-long interest in art, even outside the classroom. She's been active in marketing and design for Duncan and Rice Coffeehouse, the latter of which she will "never shut up about."

"I don't think I will ever love a job as much as I love Coffeehouse. It has taught me so much about perseverance and patience and empathy and just having compassion for people," Beram said. "Weirdly, I feel like it definitely has prepared me for the medical field and the challenges that I'm going to face along the road."

Although Rice has been a large factor in developing her art, Beram also said her background has been impactful. Her identity as a Muslim Iraqi woman, she said, has affected her worldview and presence in the artistic world.

"I want more Arab women to exist in these [artistic] spaces … I want more Arab presence and Iraqi presence," Beram said. "I'm always subconsciously aware of the fact that I'm a Hijabi woman, a Muslim woman, an Arab woman on this campus. I strive to make my presence known in my art since there are so few of us here."

Beram said her personal experiences have also led her to create inclusive art, especially for people who are often marginalized. Beram's ultimate goal is for all audiences to relate to her art.

"My artwork is made to be interpreted freely. I do not impose a certain meaning in any of the works I create," Beram said. "Whatever they think it means, that is what it means to them. I hope everyone finds a piece of themselves in my artwork and whatever I make."

Artistically, Beram draws inspiration from Caravaggio and Francisco de Zurbarán, the old Italian and Spanish masters of still-life painting. Yet, Beram tries to resist being boxed into any one medium.

"I'm trying to expand my horizons and [get] out of this bubble of believing that art is just painting stuff," Beram said. "Art can be anything I want it to be. I really just want to figure out … what part of my identity I want to showcase."

<![CDATA[Review: Doja's 'Scarlet' takes risks]]> ★★★★

Top Track: 'Paint The Town Red'

Doja Cat has long been known for her distinctive blend of pop and R&B stylings. For the past year, though, she has teased a change in her sound to something heavier and less palatable for many fans of her radio hits.

"Scarlet" is that transitional album that Doja Cat said allowed her a mental release. Her decision to focus on the music that she wants to make, rather than what might do well commercially, is further evidenced by the lack of features throughout the LP. Brimming with a messy energy and passion, "Scarlet" gives listeners a lot to love as Doja Cat doubles down on a hip-hop sound.

The album begins with "Paint The Town Red," a standout single that expertly samples "Walk on By" by Dionne Warwick. While the original Warwick song emphasizes the pain of losing someone, Doja Cat uses it to tell people that they should move on if they have issues with her new direction. The music video for "Paint The Town Red" features surreal imagery involving blood, demons and the Grim Reaper.

"Agora Hills" is a great combination of Doja Cat's new direction and her previous sound. The song is about the desire to show off someone you love, along with the effects that might accompany that for someone as famous as Doja Cat. Throughout the album, and seen on this song, Doja Cat keeps her pop-like vocal lines for choruses of songs, while rapping for the verses. This style creates a nice release on the songs with tight raps contrasted by lifting choruses. "Agora Hills" sees Doja Cat hoping that her partner can handle the public eye on him with their relationship's publicity. The title is also a misspelling of the Agoura Hills suburb that Doja Cat grew up in and likely references agoraphilia, the love of public life and crowds.

Another highlight of the album is "Can't Wait," a wistful love song addressed to Doja Cat's partner, J.Cyrus. The song opens with backing vocals declaring, "I don't want to wait," before Doja Cat's chorus comes in. In a humorously specific line, Doja Cat tells her partner, "If you were to become a middle-American farmer / I'd read up on every vegetable and harvest them around you." The line's specificity and absurdity underscores Doja Cat's devotion towards her lover.

Late on the album, Doja Cat addresses allegations of devil worshiping in "Skull and Bones," an ethereal rap track. As with many of the songs on the album, "Skull and Bones" starts with the chorus, delivered with otherworldly vocals. She directly addresses unfounded theories that she sold her soul to the devil with, "The only thing I sold was a record," both hitting back at the rumor and reiterating her sales abilities.

"Scarlet" sees Doja Cat embrace unpolished creativity and prioritizes self-expression over marketability for a satisfying and well-rounded listen. While her change in sound may alienate a portion of her fan-base, Doja Cat's stylistic pivot is an evolution to her musicianship that is exciting and unpredictable.

<![CDATA[Review: 'Dumb Money' takes a feel-good approach to finance]]> Rating: ★★★

Despite the omnipresence of the internet today, few movies force themselves to reckon with its existence the same way "Dumb Money" does.

Journeyman director Craig Gillespie's latest film attempts to capture the mania that occurred at the beginning of 2021 after the price of GameStop stock increased exponentially. Rather than delving into the intricacies of finance, Gillespie, alongside writers Lauren Schuker and Rebecca Angelo, chose to tackle this subject by exploring the ways the short squeeze both empowered the common retail trader - often called "dumb money" by Wall Street investors - and built a strong community, both offline and online.

While this feel-good objective makes for an entertaining story, the film's lack of focus, in both style and substance, ultimately makes "Dumb Money" somewhat unrewarding, at least for those already familiar with the true story.

From the moment "Dumb Money" begins, it is apparent that the film wants to be the next "Social Network." The film has a cold look, with hues of blue and gray standing out against the warmer lighting. While everyone involved in this stylistic tribute to director David Fincher is doing a good job, the purpose of that coldness is lost.

"The Social Network" is about Mark Zuckerberg's lack of humor, complemented by the film's muted palette. On the other hand, "Dumb Money" is a film ripe with jokes and is, at least to some degree, funny, yet is visually chilly. The style is simply incongruent with the substance, leading the film to feel a lot more flat than either component would want you to believe.

This is not to say, however, that the film does not work. Gillespie's emotional take on the subject matter was refreshing and necessary given the complexity that underlies the financial world. The film bounces between various perspectives of people invested in the GME situation and creates a strong sense of empathy for those taking advantage of the system.

The choice to focus on five characters rather than one or two, though, leads to a certain collapse around the midpoint of the film. Once it becomes apparent that no particular character will receive a nuanced emotional payoff, the film slows down significantly, as the viewer is only watching a recitation of an event they likely already know about.

Despite this fall-off, the ensemble cast is firing on all cylinders throughout the film. Paul Dano, playing central character Keith Gill who sinks his savings into GameStop stock, portrays a subtle depth to his frustration that punches way above the weight of the film. America Ferrera and Talia Ryder play easily empathetic protagonists who contrast the despicable, coldhearted performances of Vincent D'Onofrio and Seth Rogan.

Ultimately, "Dumb Money" doesn't quite know what to do with all the threads it attempts to weave. If the viewer is familiar with the story and the internet at large, it becomes a struggle to stay invested. Regardless, the strong performances and inherent intrigue of the story keep the film moving, and it's difficult not to feel good for the little guy, especially in a story at this scale.

<![CDATA[Unconventional wisdom, unconventional purchases]]> Whether it's College Night, Beer Bike or just another quad event, Rice's residential colleges often shop for some unique items. From inflatable gorillas to 188 individual Squishmallows, the Thresher took a look at some of the colleges' silliest acquisitions.

Baker College

As the oldest college at Rice, Baker has a storied history of dignified and … not so dignified purchases. Jonah Wagner, the president of Baker, said that many such purchases revolved around Beer Bike, a week known for strange antics.

This includes a trackless train for Bakerites to ride, zombie doll heads to throw around Sid Richardson commons and the "humerus" addition of a strategically placed bone(r) on Harry Femur Hanszen.

Perhaps the largest purchase in Baker's illustrious past was 188 Squishmallows in preparation for Orientation Week. Lynn-Chi Nguyen, Baker's external vice president and 2023 O-Week Coordinator, said it was difficult to obtain so many of the popular stuffed toys.

"We were forced to physically go to Five Below [locations] around the Houston area and wipe out their inventory," Nguyen, a Baker junior, said. "Our receipt was at least 10 feet long and all the employees gathered around the front of the store and made us take a picture with it."

Brown College

One of Brown's more eccentric purchases was an assortment of Orbeez guns. Sara Davidson, Brown's internal vice president, said that these guns were to be used for various events in the quad.

"They could be used for years to come and are cooler than Nerf Guns," Davidson, a Brown junior, said.

Watch out when walking through Brown, as an Orbeez battle might be taking place - no prisoners taken.

Duncan College

Duncan's treasurers, Daniel Li and Akshay Shyam, said they dedicated a lot of effort to ensure that Duncan had fun activities to promote college culture - and some of them are pretty unconventional.

"Recently, we purchased a 30x50 ft tarp and bottles of dish soap to play slip 'n slide hockey in our quad," Li, a junior, said. "Now that we have the tarp, nothing would stop us from running slip 'n slide hockey regularly."

One of their recent purchases didn't work out as well as they thought it would. As it turns out, ball pits are often made for children.

"Last year, we purchased a ball pit for our sophomore-junior slumber party in commons," Shyam, also a junior, said. "We thought it'd be fun, until we found out that maybe it wasn't big enough for the average college student. Still worth it."

Hanszen College

Anyone that walks into Hanszen commons can see perhaps one of the tallest purchases of any college: a 12-foot tall, $800 plastic skeleton appropriately named "Harry Femur Hanszen."

Emery Engling, Hanszen's IVP, said that Harry has been the centerpiece of many college events.

"This skeleton is the center of things like jacks during Beer Bike, decorations during our public and more," Engling, a Hanszen junior, said. "Three different colleges all put a penis on the skeleton last year for jacks."

Hanszen hosts an event every semester called "Float the Keg," in which they decide something silly to spend their money on. There are two brackets, one for a $250 purchase and one for a $500 purchase. For each bracket, Hanszenites propose ideas on which to spend this money and a winner is chosen. The secondary objective of the night is to empty a keg that has been placed in a bucket of water so that it floats, which can lead to some interesting financial decisions.

"We bought a Barbie Jeep, like a kid's electric car, last year that we can drive around," Engling said. "Last semester I won Float the Keg in the spring semester with the idea of building a trebuchet so that we could launch water balloons and eggs at other colleges. Unfortunately, this was shut down by the administration rather quickly after the event."

Will Rice College

While other colleges spend their money on more material objects, Will Rice chose Hank from "Breaking Bad." Will Rice President Gazi Fuad said last year the college set aside $500 to fund a Shark Tank-esque program called Whale Tank. The winning bid was a video from Dean Norris, the actor who played Hank Schrader in "Breaking Bad."

"We got [Norris] to say a script that some of our secretaries had prepared, just basically as a hype video for Beer Bike," Fuad, a senior, said. "We released it on Instagram and played it in commons and it was pretty fun."

Lovett College

While Lovett is somewhat affectionately known as a toaster due to its riot-proof dorm, their purchases have shown that they've become the very thing they're built to withstand.

Lovett's president, Mehek Jain, said that the college has a certain affinity for all things filled with air.

"We're a big inflatable college. We have the inflatable tube man, the inflatable purple gorilla, we got the inflatable reindeer. I really like inflatables," Jain, a Lovett senior said.

COVID was also a time for many purchases. Thousands of dollars, a lack of events and a surplus of time yielded some wild results.

"One of the freshmen requested a foam sparring sword … I got this inflatable pig costume [for college night]," Jain said. "It's been auctioned off every year. We also got an air raid siren … to protect Lovett from the bomb and to annoy Sid because their music is too damn loud."

McMurtry College

McMurtry is the only college with two mascots: a lion and a banana. No matter the item or event, they are nothing if not committed to their brand. Adeel Sumar, McMurtry's IVP, said that one of their planned purchases is an actual school bus - banana-themed, of course.

"We [plan to order] a bus … like a really run-down one, but it works. We got it for around $4,500 or $5,000," Sumar, a junior, said. "We're planning on calling it, I don't know, the 'Banana Mobile' or something. I don't know what it's going to be called but it's going to be yellow."

Other McMurtry-themed purchases under consideration are a banana-shaped canoe to be placed in their quad and an actual living lion.

<![CDATA['They do make a difference': Rice registers to vote]]> Another election season is upon us, with local candidates and amendments on the ballot. Rice's civic engagement organizations are making an effort to amplify the voices of young adults and register as many students as possible in the coming months.

Veronica Reyna, an associate director of the Center for Civic Leadership, oversees Rice Votes, a collective of organizations aiming to promote political participation among students. Rice Votes registered 291 new students to vote during this year's Orientation Week, an initiative that they've continued to prioritize during the semester. Reyna said they've now registered over 330 students.

The push for voter registration comes in anticipation of the November elections, when Houston ballots will include new candidates for mayor to replace Sylvester Turner, who has reached his two-term limit. Also on the municipal ballot are several City Council positions and 14 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution. Reyna suggested students visit Houston League of Women Voters' website to find a comprehensive, nonpartisan guide to the propositions as the election draws nearer.

"Sometimes the language is very confusing, so the guide walks you through what a 'yes' vote would mean and what a 'no' vote would mean. It's a wonderful resource … You can actually take it into the voting booth with you," Reyna said. "These amendments might feel like minutiae, but they do make a difference in the quality of life of anybody who's here."

Students not from Harris County who would prefer to cast their vote in their home county must register to do so via absentee ballots, which they can find information on through TurboVote, an online voter platform partnered with Rice. This resource allows students to see the offices and policies up for election in their home county, as well as important deadlines for voting and registration. However, many opt to exercise their civic responsibility in Harris County, according to Reyna, who says the majority of Rice students are registered to vote in Houston.

"We have a significant percentage of Rice students registered to vote in the county … anywhere from 70 to 90 percent," Reyna said. "If you're living here for any amount of time, these laws are going to affect you."

Although high voter registration rates are an accomplishment, Reyna outlined the importance of prioritizing actual voting, especially among young adults.

"Young people are often ignored," Reyna said. "If young people voted at even half the rate that the baby boomer age group votes at, that would have a significant influence on election outcomes."

However, Rice students also tend to have a high yield rate, or percent of registered voters that actually end up voting. The National Study for Voting, Learning and Engagement's voting report for Rice found that 89.9% of students registered to vote in 2020, and 77.9% of eligible students actually voted.

Katherine Jeng, a Rice Votes democracy fellow and junior at Hanszen College, attributed these high engagement levels to the social atmosphere surrounding voting at Rice.

"Here, it's easier because voting is like a community … People wait in line at the polls together, people plan out their ballots together," Jeng said.

Rice's institutional prioritization of civic engagement, such as providing shuttles to take students to early voting locations or designating no classes for next year's presidential election day, may also play a large role in influencing voter turnout.

Anna Xiong, the government information coordinator at Fondren Library, is a Volunteer Deputy Voter Registrar, meaning she is certified to register students to vote. Students interested in becoming VDVRs themselves can receive guidance to do so through the Kelley Center for Government Information at Fondren Library, according to Xiong, who has worked at the Kelley Center in collaboration with Rice Votes since 2019.

"I came to Rice from another university where I became a U.S. citizen … and I never cast my vote," Xiong said. "I started [to vote] only after coming to Rice because the environment was very supportive."

Rice's network of organizations that promote civic engagement are promoting a wide variety of events in anticipation of upcoming elections. Voter registration tables will be available at the flu clinics in the Rice Memorial Center on Sept. 27 and Oct. 5. Civic Duty Rice is encouraging students to attend the Houston Youth Voters Conference, a student-led collaboration between schools in the area, on Sept. 3o. Rice Votes is also co-sponsoring a debate between Houston's mayoral candidates on Oct. 18, which will take place in Duncan Hall.

According to Reyna, voting is just the first step in becoming civically engaged. Students can remain involved in politics in a number of ways between elections by communicating with their representatives, attending local government meetings, working in their communities and remaining informed.

"Most of the forms of political participation are non-electoral … The heart of our democracy is holding accountable those we put in power during elections," Reyna said. "The sky is the limit in creating a 21st century democracy that reflects Rice students' diversity and values."

<![CDATA[Rice athletes make an IMPACT on Houston community]]> When they aren't at practice or zipping to class on their scooters, Rice's student athletes have been working to connect with the Houston community.

Team IMPACT is a non-profit organization that pairs children dealing with serious illnesses and disabilities with college-level sports teams. Children will join a support system and have athletic opportunities that their health might otherwise make difficult to participate in. Meanwhile, college athletes will be able to bond and grow as a team, furthering their leadership and community engagement skills.

Elizabeth Myers is a Team IMPACT student fellow representing Rice Athletics. She was initially acquainted with Team IMPACT in her first year of college.

"One of the seniors on the swim team learned about the program and proposed that our team could be involved by becoming matched to a child facing a severe illness," Myers, a Jones College senior, wrote in an email to the Thresher.

When it comes to the matching process, every sports team has to go through a training process. The children will be officially inducted into the team after a signing day.

"We followed through and were matched with a young girl named Noura my sophomore year," Myers wrote. "We had a signing day to bring her on as a part of our team - a ceremonial event every college athlete goes through to celebrate their official commitment to the team."

Despite the scheduling challenges the team faced both before and after the COVID-19 pandemic, Rice swimmers said they were committed to maintaining a strong connection with Noura and her family.

"We stayed connected by sending videos such as 'day-in-the-life' and by writing notes," Myers wrote. "When we were eventually able to meet more frequently in person, it was cool to see Noura and her siblings open up to us and continuously gain more excitement to be a part of the Rice swim team. It was also cool to see my teammates bond through these events."

When asked to reflect on the previous partnership with Team IMPACT, Darrlyn McDonough, the director of operations for the women's basketball team, expressed her appreciation for the program in an email to the Thresher.

"We were grateful to have the opportunity to partner with Team IMPACT and be a part of [our match] Addison's life," McDonough wrote. "Both our team and our staff enjoyed the opportunity to get to know her and build lasting friendships as she attended events and games with us.

The meaningful connections Myers made with Noura eventually led her to apply to become a Team IMPACT student fellow.

"I found myself developing leadership the two years we were matched," Myers wrote. "The amazing experience I had getting to know and support our match prompted me to want to share that experience with others."

The relationship between Team IMPACT and college sports teams typically lasts for two years. After the term, the children will "graduate," but that does not mean an end to the program. Since only one child can be matched with a sports team during the term, it opens up space for other children dealing with severe illness and disabilities.

Currently, Myers is working to increase the participation of Rice Athletics in the program.

"This year I am working with Travis Dowd, another Rice Team IMPACT fellow on the Cross Country and Track team," Myers wrote. "Our main goal is to increase awareness of the program on campus and in the Rice community so that more of Rice Athletics can be involved. It would be cool to see more teams at Rice matched with children through Team IMPACT."