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The beginning of another academic year at Rice has seen the return of study abroad programs that were inactive the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rice offers students the opportunity to study abroad in multiple countries, from Costa Rica to Germany. These students not only take classes outside the United States, but also immerse themselves in new cultures and perhaps even improve their language skills.
Even though McMurtry College senior Isabel Sjodin was raised in Houston, she didn’t know much about Rice until her junior year of high school. She said the first time she was scheduled to tour Rice she ended up chatting with a Rice student on campus and missing said tour. However, that conversation and a later overnight visit at Sid Richardson College made a strong impression on her.
Jacks, or pranks pulled by residential colleges on each other, are time-honored traditions especially popular during the week of Beer Bike. The Thresher looked through the archives to rediscover past Beer Bike jacks, which have included everything from stealing Hanszen College’s swing to tie-dying the Will Rice College commons.
Ever since the pandemic started in 2020, classes, events and more were moved online. Learning virtually came with its own challenges, such as Zoom fatigue and monotony; however, the shift also increased accessibility to things like classes and social activities, a change especially helpful for students with disabilities.
As the Omicron variant led to record-high COVID-19 cases on campus in January, Rice adjusted its own policies, from the format of course delivery to the testing requirement after travel, in response. In anticipation of high case numbers among students due to the high transmissibility of the new coronavirus variant, Dean of Undergraduates Bridget Gorman announced late December that Rice may be unable to offer isolation housing to students living on campus. Should Rice run out of isolation space, students who tested positive for COVID-19 or are symptomatic would need to isolate in place.
The fall 2021 semester began with online classes amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in the Houston area, attributed to the Delta variant. As the semester progressed, though, restrictions were gradually lifted, allowing for a nearly normal semester. Now, given the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, classes are online for the first two weeks of the semester once again. This change, along with the administration’s request for students to delay their return to campus, has prompted some students to change their plans for the beginning of the semester.
Last school year, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, musical groups at Rice were forced to adapt. Adjustments included wearing special masks, using horn covers and rehearsing outdoors. As Rice rolls back COVID health measures this semester, musical groups have been able to practice and perform live music with fewer restrictions. The Thresher spoke with three students from different instrument ensembles to find out how playing music has changed.
As life on campus returns to a semblance of normality, Housing and Dining has been making its own adjustments. The pandemic’s effects might be seen in staffing and supply, for instance. The Thresher spoke to H&D employees and students to better understand how it is currently operating.
Editor’s Note: Some students who tested positive for COVID-19 were given the option of remaining anonymous in the interest of protecting private medical information. Anonymous students were given false names, which have been marked with an asterisk on first reference.
Before coming to Rice, Martel College senior Kendall Vining was part of the student government in her freshman year of high school. Vining said she didn’t enjoy her role there because students couldn’t do anything. At Rice, however, she found that that was not the case.
Ever since Adulfo Amador, a McMurtry College senior, was a young child, he knew he wanted to attend Rice. As a native Houstonian, Amador visited campus often with his family, and when the time came, he applied early. The day he received his acceptance was a memorable one — it quite literally took his breath away.
When Edesiri Mushale was in high school, he thought he wanted to be a doctor.
When Nitin Srinivasan began his first semester at Rice, he knew that he was interested in medicine. Beyond that, the Hanszen College senior didn’t know what exactly he wanted to pursue. It was during that first semester of freshman year that Srinivasan determined what direction he wanted to take his interest: the world of psychology.
Rice was always a goal for Tamara Siler (Brown College ’82). The native Houstonian recalls how when her aunt wanted to apply to college, Rice wasn’t an option for her. Siler and her aunt are Black, and the university didn’t admit Black students until 1965.
The confirmation of Donald J. Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election set the stage for a political rollercoaster that lasted four years. It drove countless Americans to take a stand and voice their support for and opposition to the former president, whose controversial policies and actions sparked heated debates. On campus, those conversations served as fuel for movements and organizations that sought to politically engage and inform students. Rice saw a surge in voting rates in recent years and high engagement in the past election as a result of the efforts of various on-campus clubs and groups.