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While the transition to digital classrooms has brought much change to campus, the process behind the U.S. decennial census, a count of every person in the country that helps determine how federal funds are dispersed, at Rice has remained relatively unchanged.
As we all exist in isolation from one another, it can be grounding to take a moment to reflect on where we are and how we're doing, and hear the same from others. With that in mind, the Thresher asked for brief stories from the Rice community about what living in social isolation has been like. Here’s what people told us. This is our second installment of this series — you can find the first one here.
With its glittering waters and nine-mile running trail, White Rock Lake is one of Rebecca Francis's favorite places in Dallas. The Baker College senior takes every opportunity to run there with her family when she's home, usually followed by breakfast at a nearby coffee shop.
Following Rice’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the transition to all online classes, the Student Association has moved to an online platform for the remainder of this semester. Without the option of in-person Senate meetings, the SA is now using a Canvas page to hold discussions and send announcements.
This Thursday, the Faculty Senate will meet to finalize their April 22 agenda. As an editorial board, we endorse the measures they plan to vote on. As students, we are suggesting they take a step further to consider more accommodations such as making finals optional for all students. We also ask that professors take proactive steps now to adjust their classes, regardless of what the Faculty Senate eventually decides.
When Rice announced that classes would be going remote and required students to leave campus unless their petition to stay on campus was approved, some undergraduates had to do what it seemed like nobody in America wanted to do: travel to areas of the country with high rates of COVID-19. The Thresher caught up with students from California, New York and Washington who made the difficult decision to return home and be with their families.
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 opinions are fact-checked and edited for clarity and conciseness.
Since the debut of Marie Kondo’s show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” many of us have been asking ourselves, “Does this spark joy?” either in jest or while actually sorting through clutter that we should have thrown out three years before. However, while it is easier to function in a tidy workspace, many items that are crucial to someone’s career cannot be thrown away regardless of their emotional value. This is where “Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life,” coauthored by Marie Kondo and Rice business professor Scott Sonenshein, comes in to bridge the gap by helping readers declutter their workspaces and take pleasure in their jobs.
For the first time since our university’s founding in 1912, all instruction is taking place remotely and virtually. For the second time since our founding in 1916, the Thresher has stopped printing physical papers (the first break was during World War I, according to our records) and for the first time has transitioned to emailing a weekly online newsletter (which you can and should subscribe to here). And for the first time in its 64-year history, Beer Bike did not happen.
Over 10,000 miles from Houston, off the coast of the Maldives, reef manta rays are in their peak season: Every March and April, the massive sea animals aggregate in large numbers in the water surrounding the small South Asian island nation.
After a recent Thresher opinion piece in support of Rice adopting a Double A grading policy, students mobilized their support through the creation of a petition. The Faculty Senate Executive Committee unanimously rejected this proposal on April 10, according to Christopher Johns-Krull, speaker of the Faculty Senate.
With few students on campus and writers working remotely, we need all the help we can get to continue featuring our diverse Rice community. To make things a bit easier, we’ve compiled all of the relevant submission links for the week of April 15 below. If you can’t see the embedded forms, click the titles to be directed to the form!
Rice officials announced that a $1 million accelerator fund will be established to support COVID-19-related research projects, according to a press release on Monday.
All summer session courses for 2020, except for research and internships, must now be offered online and no face-to-face courses may meet, according to the Office of the Registrar. In addition, fees for summer courses have been reduced to $250 per credit hour from the typical $800 per credit hour billed for online summer classes, according to the Rice Cashier’s Office.
On March 25, the Faculty Senate passed an academic relief package, including an opt-in pass/fail policy that allows undergraduate students to designate any course this semester as pass/fail until the last day of classes, including First-year Writing Intensive Seminars and major, minor or certificate requirements. With the transition to remote learning, we believe that the Faculty Senate was short-sighted in recognizing the extreme changes students have undergone in a matter of weeks. By the end of the semester, student and faculty limitations will look drastically different from when the Faculty Senate passed the opt-in pass/fail policy. The current policy insufficiently addresses growing inequities caused by disruptions to the semester stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak. Instead, Rice should implement a Double A grading scale for the Spring 2020 semester, meaning students will only receive a final grade of A or A- for every class.
More than two weeks ago, faculty and students embarked on a remote-learning journey, most of them using a combination of Zoom’s videoconferencing platform and Rice’s Canvas platform. While faculty have experienced mishaps surrounding internet stability and lagging, many have embraced the platform and found creative avenues for continuing their classes.
President David Leebron previously promised staff members that “despite the significant reduction in campus activity this semester,” Rice would not furlough or reduce compensation for its employees in his March 15 email. However, little clarifications or information on how Rice will be supporting employees has been released since then. At the Thresher we have been wondering: Who at Rice is considered an “employee,” and how are less visible populations being protected during this time?
Recently, Rice University announced that all undergraduate international travel has been canceled until the start of the fall semester. I can imagine that this decision has been challenging for many undergrads who were looking forward to expanding their horizons by practicing a new language or immersing themselves in a new culture over the summer. At the risk of sounding cliche, I can say that international travel opportunities I received through Rice have been some of the most transformative experiences of my life. These cancellations come with a heavy sense of loss, and I hope that someday soon every student who was looking forward to international travel will get to spread their wings. Yet, I think that in this pause, we have the opportunity to reflect upon and stop a particular kind of predatory tourism pervasive at Rice: voluntourism.
At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has completely uprooted the daily lives of so many, the entire country is constantly having to adjust. But for Rice student-athletes, the stakes are higher than most, given the pressure to stay in shape and train remotely. This is especially true for Rice’s swim team. With shelter-in-place orders taking effect in 42 states, and only “essential businesses” remaining open, pools and swimming facilities have been shuttered throughout the country. According to swimmer Rebecca Brandt, this has left much of the team unable to practice their craft.
Shut down for the remainder of the semester, student-run businesses are facing challenges filling the financial and emotional gap left by COVID-19. Questions hover for Coffeehouse, The Hoot and Rice Bikes, as well as student-owned East-West Tea and student-staffed Willy’s Pub, as to how they will support their student employees, deal with disrupted income and plan ahead.