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All members of our community — faculty, students, and by extension Rice as an institution — have a duty to uphold our institutional values. These values are RICE: responsibility, integrity, community and excellence, which have long been established and are values that must continue to be supported and affirmed. While some have called on Rice to avoid taking sides in all political topics, it is naïve to believe we can operate in a world free of the consequences of intentional silence.
Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan once said, “No one is born a good citizen; no nation is born a democracy. Rather, both are processes that continue to evolve over a lifetime. Young people must be included from birth. A society that cuts off from its youth severs its lifeline.”
To better inform students, I decided to share my perspective for this year’s Student Association president, internal vice president and treasurer races based on my evaluation of their past experiences, their public campaign posts, Thresher debate performance and one-on-one interviews.
There has been a lot of discussion centered around the recent proposal to expand the Lifetime Physical Appreciation Program to a more holistic Lifetime Enrichment Activities Program. This campus-wide discussion has inspired me to shed light on why I believe this shift would be beneficial for the Rice student body.
Over the last week, more than 2,000 Rice students, faculty and staff signed up to help rebuild the city we all call home through the Rice Harvey Action Team collaborative. They have volunteered nearly 8,000 hours, waking up before the sun rises and working long after it goes down. The Rice community’s sense of civic duty has been inspiring to everyone; however, we can and should ask more of each other.
The United Nations referred to the Syrian crisis as “the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era.” The crisis has led to the destruction of over 6,000 schools, with the international community labeling Syrian students as a “lost generation”— but it doesn’t have to be this way. Universities can play an enormous role in providing refuge for displaced students while they work on bettering their lives. Rice University in particular is in a great position to lead by becoming the first university in Texas, and one of the first in the South, to offer scholarships to displaced Syrian students.
In recent days, debate has reached a fever pitch about Senate Bill #4, a bill recommending the creation of a mandatory “Critical Thinking in Sexuality” class to combat sexual assault on Rice’s campus. This debate has grown increasingly personal and centered on process over substance. Recently, many arguments have focused on petty attacks against individuals without substantive discussion of the bill itself. These personal attacks have no place in the arena of public discourse as they cheapen the debate and distract us from the goal of combating sexual assault.