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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.
This past Tuesday, Nov. 5, voters across Harris County went to the polls to cast ballots in local elections. Here at Rice, 851 individuals voted at the Rice Memorial Center. Many important municipal positions were on the ballot, including the Houston mayoral and city council races, along with Texas constitutional propositions. However, a number of Rice students who tried to vote at the RMC did not have an equal opportunity due to gross violations of one of our most essential rights.
Amid the Thresher opinion, protests and town halls, we have been in conversation with many of you about your concerns regarding sexual misconduct policies and the ways in which Rice handles previous and current cases. Many of you feel like your trust in the administration and Student Judicial Programs has been shaken.
In the Oct. 3 issue of The Rice Thresher, the Rice University College Republicans claimed to support increasing voter turnout. RUCR President Juliette Turner claimed in her interview with the Thresher that her group has not been invited to participate in campus events to increase voter registration.
The #MeToo movement was supposed to be a national reckoning, an exposure of the frequency of sexual violence across America — from Hollywood to government to college campuses. Rice, to its credit, has attempted to reduce the frequency of assaults in a number of ways. The Critical Thinking in Sexuality program is a strong step beyond our peer institutions, and Rice is reportedly reevaluating the practices of Student Judicial Programs after the departures of Donald Ostdiek, the former associate dean of undergraduates, and Lisa Zollner, the former director of SJP. But we, as students, have to acknowledge that Rice is an outlier. In much of the country, this issue is largely swept under the rug.
A recent op-ed criticized Rice’s administration for publicly supporting Dreamers. The author, Anson Fung, stated, “Rice’s mission statement summarizes that ‘Rice University aspires to [cultivate] a diverse community of learning and discovery that produces leaders across the spectrum of human endeavor’” and that Rice should be “cultivating an environment where ideas are free from prejudice.” Anson claims that the administration should not take stances on “contentious” political issues like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, considering that Hanszen College was split on the Bar Removal of Individuals Who Dream and Grow Our Economy Act.