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Universities should focus first and foremost on educating their students. Ensuring that students receive the highest quality education possible should be the fundamental goal of the administration. Unfortunately, as things stand right now, this is not the case. Promotions are given out based on a faculty member's research and the number of times he has been published and referenced in journals without much consideration as to how effective an instructor he or she is.
Students transferring into Rice get the short end of the stick by anyone's standards. With issues such as academic credit and housing, the transfer experience here is far from perfect or even acceptable.
There is so much discussion and numerous viewpoints today about the size of government, the amount of money the government should borrow, how big a deal the debt currently is, and whether or not we can responsibly raise taxes while still in a recession. But one of the major misconceptions present in a large number of debates deals with people's perceptions of taxes. Especially with the last midterm elections which so many people view as a clear message for smaller less intrusive government, the word "taxes" got thrown around so often, used pejoratively by the right, while being a taboo word for the left.
This Monday, President Barack Obama spoke at the National Defense University explicitly describing the motivations and justifications for our action in Libya. And yet so much of what people feel he left out was crucial to "making his case" to the American people.
It is a good day when autocrats who have been in power for over 30 years step down, and all signs point towards democratization and an improvement in a country's political system. That is exactly what happened in Egypt when former-President Hosni Mubarak resigned his position last week and the new leadership of the government of Egypt - the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces - even dissolved the old parliament which came to power in an election no one considers legitimate, and all signs seem to show that the military's top leadership is willing to allow - and accept - the results of a fair, legitimate election either late this year or early next. For those worrying about whether the transition will lead to a change in the stability of the country, the truth is not much would change for the worse. The military has said Egypt will "remain committed to all its regional and international treaties" - an implicit reference to their peace treaty with Israel. And with a new, democratically elected leadership, the country's policy makers shall be accountable to the people; no longer will there be the perception that the government is just an American pawn that is against its own people. This new trust in, and connection to, the government will lead to a greater long term stability (even if the U.S. can't simply send aid in return for a certain policy) both in Egypt and in the region as a whole.
With congressional midterm elections as a prime example, we are witnessing the polarization of politics. There is an increase in personal attacks and the constant attempts to humiliate the opposition. Our elections and our politicians' rhetoric are no longer about why their particular policies or views are better for the country: It is now all about how America will be driven into the ground if we elect their opponent.Of course, they never discuss any real reasons of why that will happen or how they will do better. The reality is that fear-mongering is alive and practiced widely in today's political scene and comes from both major parties. The Republicans decry everything done in the past two years, regardless of whether the policies enacted are those they wished for (such as health care reform). Meanwhile, the Democrats portray the Republican party as little more than the party of "no" and paint a bleak picture of economic destitution and failure if Republicans are reelected. Neither of these platforms focuses on issues of real substance. That could be a symptom, not of the people in charge, but of the people who voted them there.
In September, a Rutgers University student named Tyler Clementi jumped off of a bridge and fell to his death because his roommate invaded his privacy and transmitted a live broadcast from a webcam of Clementi having a sexual encounter with a man in order to humiliate and degrade him. Clementi was 18, with all the normal worries of school, activities in college and desires to live ?his life. In the same month, Seth Walsh died from injuries sustained while trying to hang himself in his family's garden in a town in California after being harassed and bullied by both peers at school and neighbors. He was 13.
With midterms rolling around again, I have some advice I'd like to share not only with freshmen but also the rest of us who need to practice the art of living a little more than we do. Especially in a place like Rice where so much of our lives is oriented around schoolwork, it's easy to get swallowed up by studies, work and the academic desire to do better on tests and papers. We must take care to not let our lives and our enjoyment become only secondary features of our time here at Rice. College is - and should be - far more than classes. At no other time in our lives will we have so many opportunities. We have the chance to volunteer our time to things such as Alternative Spring Break. We can belong to and see so many different cultural clubs and events. Dance classes are available at an affordable price. We can take time to learn a new sport or go to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston or an orchestra concert put on by the Shepherd School of Music for free. Every day we get to meet people from other cultures and learn more about the world they come from and to easily make deep, meaningful relationships with many people that will last us a lifetime, long beyond our college experience.
Two weeks ago, the Israeli freeze on new settlement construction in the West Bank expired. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had instituted the freeze 10 months ago in a goodwill gesture toward the Palestinian government.With its expiration, the flood gates are reopened for Israeli settlers to continue encroaching on Palestinian land and in some cases razing and completely replacing Palestinian towns, forcing the Palestinians out.