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Ask any Rice student why they chose this university, and they might say they were excited about the residential college system, the small class sizes or even Beer Bike. But every student is ultimately here to get an education, and most of us are privileged enough to take that for granted.
Last Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Rice. While students protested outside, only a select few students, such as Baker Institute for Public Policy interns, were invited to attend the event — and that was only after specific petitioning by Rice Young Democrats. The aura of exclusivity around Baker Institute events perpetuates inequalities in accessibility that are commonly seen in the political sphere but should not take place on Rice’s campus.
Conversations around wealth inequality on campus have picked up in the past few years, with initiatives ranging from food pantries to stipends for student leaders created with the intent to bridge the gap. However, all the free Beer Bike T-shirts in the world don’t make up for that fact that Pell Grant recipients at Rice face a lower graduation rate than students who do not receive financial aid. Research from the Office of Institutional Research (see News, p. 2) points to a greater issue of weak social mobility at Rice, evidenced by our ranking as No. 204 in Top Performers on Social Mobility by U.S. News and World Report. Even with subsidized tickets and T-shirts, students can’t enjoy Esperanza or Beer Bike if they’re worrying about making it to graduation.
Rice has upheld vastly unequal maternity leave standards for its staff members and tenure-track professors for over 20 years. While tenure-track professors are able to take a semester off at full pay, staff members are offered only up to five or seven weeks — depending on delivery circumstances — at only 80 percent of their salary. While Rice is more generous than required by the federal Family Medical Leave Act, which mandates that employers offer at least 12 weeks of unpaid leave, the discrepancy between how Rice treats its different employees undermines the importance of staff.
With the Astros having been on the national stage for the World Series, hopefully you’re feeling some Houston pride. When Beyoncé or Travis Scott top the charts, it’s fun to take their shoutouts to H-Town a little personally. Spending four years in a city like Houston is the perfect opportunity to explore a city that we may never have the chance to live in again — it’s time to use the METRO system and actually get out of the hedges to understand what Houston has to offer.
This weekend, students have the options of going to Wiess College’s Night of Decadence and Chi Alpha’s Evening of Elegance.
A petition demanding that the computer science department cut ties with Palantir Technologies raised concerns about Palantir’s connections to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. As we are students in a border state where ICE has a large presence, the petition raises a valid concern about Palantir specifically. More broadly, it points to the necessity of a critical examination of potential employers. As recruiting season continues, students should consider more than their prospective paycheck when weighing employment options.
Content warning: This opinion piece contains references to sexual assault.
The last time the Marching Owls Band performed a halftime show at a football game against Baylor University, they formed a IX on the field to call out Baylor’s cover-up of a sexual assault scandal — and the Rice administration gave an official apology on behalf of the university. At Saturday’s show during the Rice-Baylor football game, the MOB again used their platform to support student interests. Over 50 Rice and Baylor students and alumni ran onto the football field, waving pride flags to stand with LGBTQ+ students at Baylor. And the Rice administration has so far been silent.
At Saturday’s football game against the University of Texas, Austin, students resorted to the same, tired means of “supporting” Rice athletics — making fun of the opposing team’s academics.
With the recent precipitous drops in acceptance rates at Rice, students, including ourselves, began to wonder — how will this affect our rankings? As much as we claim to not care about how we’re ranked, it doesn’t stop us from sharing the latest Niche or Princeton Review ranking (especially if it makes us look good).
For years, students on campus and the Thresher editorial board have been petitioning for more visual and dramatic arts support — in space, funding and recognition. With Tuesday’s announcement of a new, dedicated VADA building in the near future, there is finally hope that all three of these requests will be fulfilled.The Thresher editorial board applauds the efforts of Dean of the School of Humanities Kathleen Canning, VADA chair John Sparagana and the Humanities Advisory Board as well as the countless student voices that have been petitioning for increased VADA attention for years. The editorial board also applauds the administration for its openness to the idea and commitment to fundraise for the project.
Following faculty concerns that students are misusing the pass/fail option, the faculty senate formed a working group last semester to reevaluate the existing policy. The working group’s charge is to determine if the policy sufficiently fulfills the option’s purpose and to “examine how these policies affect the learning environment.” Currently, the working group has one undergraduate representative out of nine members and the group has so far only surveyed instructors. While we recognize the ways in which pass/fail affects the instructor’s classroom environment, we urge the working group to consider the ways in which that is true for students as well.
The impending Rice Memorial Center renovations are a potentially exciting new development for Rice’s campus. Upgrades could transform the RMC into an even more welcoming hub of campus life with renovations to Coffeehouse, the multicultural center and study spaces.
More than five years ago, the Thresher editorial board wrote about the visual and dramatic arts department’s need for attention from the administration, specifically that it “could greatly benefit from new space and materials.” The editorial was in response to the demolition of the Art Barn, a historically significant building funded by John and Dominique de Menil.
This year, Hanszen College’s room draw ended with 17 unclaimed beds. It’s been well-established that Hanszen’s housing facilities are in dire need of upgrades, but so far Rice’s administration has largely turned a blind eye to the housing discrepancies that threaten to sully the perceived equality of the residential college system. This should be the last straw. Rice needs to make a concrete, meaningful and tangible pledge to construct a new residential building for Hanszen.
A cloud often hangs over the student body as it returns from spring break. Usually, that’s a product of mixing Frio 6.0, Red Bull and sunshine. This year, though, that cloud was the result of a massive fire at a chemical storage facility on the bank of the Houston Ship Channel.
The women’s basketball team received potentially great news on Monday: when it tips off its opening game of the NCAA Tournament on Friday at 1 p.m., it will do so a mere two hour drive from its home court — in College Station on the campus of Texas A&M University. Rice has a chance to send enough fans to make it feel like a home game. That could matter. A lot.
Every election cycle, candidates push to increase the diversity of ideas that make their way from the student body to the Student Association Senate. As newly elected leaders take their positions at both the college and the SA Senate level, we have several significant changes — outside of constitutional reform — that we believe would increase the flow of ideas from the student body to its leaders.
The Thresher editorial board strongly supports the Student Association’s efforts to prevent violent and sexual abusers from holding elected office in campus-wide organizations, including the SA Senate. We believe this change is one that should be implemented as soon as possible — not only at a campus-wide and SA voting level, but also for certain positions at a residential college level.