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Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Sunday, October 24, 2021 — Houston, TX °

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Support Houston, shop local

(10/20/21 3:24am)

Within the hedges of Rice University, it is possible — and thanks to online shopping, sometimes easier — not to venture out and explore the city that Rice calls home. However, treating campus as separate from Houston fails to recognize the impact that we have on the larger community that we are a part of. To support the relationship between us and Houston, the Rice community should make a consistent and concerted effort to shop at and support local businesses. 


Guidelines require definitions: What is a ‘gathering’?

(10/13/21 5:23am)

As we have seen over the past 18 months, COVID-19 has a tendency to disrupt even the best-laid plans. The administration was premature in declaring a return to normalcy in May, and we appreciate the caution with which they have handled COVID policies this semester. Since the initial testing snafu during Orientation Week, COVID guidelines on campus have been gradually rolled back as the semester progresses. 


The Rice community showed us how to show up

(10/06/21 3:14am)

This weekend, people flooded the streets of Houston and cities across the state to protest SB 8 at the Women’s March. For a march dedicated to women, the crowd extended well beyond that group, including adults, children and pets alike. While it may have been initially daunting to take action in the wake of SB 8’s enactment, numerous displays of support last weekend by members of the Rice community and other actions in the previous weeks have shed light on how we can support each other and come together to support causes we are passionate about.


Rice must clarify academic accommodations

(09/29/21 3:18am)

Four weeks ago, we wrote an editorial calling for the Rice campus to embrace a new normal when it comes to COVID policies and our activities on campus. Because we are arrogant enough to believe that everyone reads and takes guidance from our editorials each week, it seems that, by and large, the community has taken our advice as this semester has continued along in a relatively “normal” way. However, there is still work to be done in ensuring that courses are delivered in a uniform manner, allowing every student an equal opportunity to succeed in their classes while we continue through this pandemic. 



It is on each of us to be anti-racist and hold others accountable, not just student leaders

(09/15/21 3:06am)

The use of racial slurs by college students toward their peers is a problem that permeates across college campuses all over the country. The Rice community is no exception. When students say or do racist things, specifically toward other students, there is usually outrage, and rightfully so. However, in most of these instances, the immediate response is to look to student leaders, namely diversity facilitators, for a reaction. While DFs are well-trained in productive mediation and conflict resolution, it cannot fall on just them and other student leaders to provide accountability. If we, as a community, are serious about being anti-racist, then it is on all of us to hold our peers accountable.


Unused meal swipes should automatically be donated

(09/08/21 3:00am)

For three semesters now, the Student Association has implemented the Guest Meal Swipe Donation Program where Rice students on the Type A meal plan can donate up to all five of their guest meal swipes for off-campus students facing food insecurity to use. The SA’s efforts have helped many and will continue to do so this semester. However, food is such a basic need that off-campus students can struggle to access, meanwhile on-campus students have an abundance of food available to them. Whether by going off-campus for meals or sleeping through breakfast, there is undoubtedly a plethora of meal swipes that go unused by on-campus students each semester. The administration should consider allowing those unused swipes to be automatically donated to those who are food insecure.


Don’t simply return to normal — embrace a new normal

(09/01/21 2:50am)

In the past few weeks, the Rice community has begun to return to in-person activities, from Orientation Week to research and soon classes. However, challenges have arisen alongside that return, seen through an increase in COVID-19 cases and students’ feelings of isolation after testing positive amidst a largely in-person community. Despite the difficulties of a highly virtual environment, COVID-19 brought about a more accessible and often more accommodating world. Last week, we as an editorial board asked the Rice administration not to disband the infrastructure that allows us to navigate COVID-19 in pursuit of a return to normal. Now, we ask the entire Rice community for a more significant commitment: pursue a new normal instead of just a familiar return.


The crisis is not over

(08/25/21 3:50am)

On May 24 of this year, Chair of the Crisis Management Advisory Committee Kevin Kirby sent an email to the Rice community, informing everyone that the Crisis Management Team would “cease its formal COVID-19 organization and operations” by the end of that week. This came exactly one week after the Crisis Management Team had lifted the indoor mask mandate for vaccinated individuals, essentially returning campus activity to normal. Almost two months prior, President David Leebron had penned a letter signaling the administration's intent to proceed with a relatively normal fall semester. All in all, it was clear that Kirby’s email regarding the cease of CMT operations was the culmination of a year-long effort to return a sense of normalcy to campus.



Account for international students when planning for fall

(04/14/21 3:17am)

On Rice’s campus, a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel finally seems to be emerging. The administration is optimistic about “a mostly normal fall semester,” according to communications sent out by Kevin Kirby. According to President Leebron’s announcement on fall planning, most classes are expected to be in person, most university housing is expected to be fully occupied and COVID-19 policies regarding gathering restrictions are expected to be relaxed. The road forward for many Rice students is clear: Sign up for a vaccine appointment as soon as possible and wait for more than 80% of the Rice community to be fully vaccinated so that COVID-19 policies can be relaxed.


Willy Week no more: Students have the power to distance from William Marsh Rice

(04/07/21 2:19am)

This year’s Beer Bike Week looks quite different from years past, even in name. Dean of Undergraduates Bridget Gorman encouraged Beer Bike coordinators to rename Willy Week to reflect the different nature of the event due to COVID restrictions. Individual college Beer Bike coordinators chose a variety of new, college-specific names; many told the Thresher that they were further motivated to change the name to distance their college from William Marsh Rice and that they may carry the name change into future years. Coordinators’ swift renaming of Willy Week reminds us that students have a lot of power at this university — and that we can and should use it to foster a Rice community that we’re proud of.


The twelfth residential college is a clean slate

(03/31/21 2:49am)

Earlier this week, Rice’s Board of Trustees announced that they had approved a measure that, by 2025, will expand the undergraduate student body by 20 percent and add another residential college to Rice’s campus, giving us an even dozen. It is the latter announcement that struck us as particularly noteworthy, as the addition of a residential college is not all that common. Rice has added residential colleges twice in the last 20 years: Martel College in 2002 and McMurtry and Duncan Colleges in 2009. If you’re thinking that’s not all that long ago, keep in mind that 2009 was the first year Silly Bandz were sold in stores. With the addition of a twelfth college, we thought it pertinent to point out that a lot can change in 12 years, be it culturally or socially, and that Rice has the opportunity to capitalize on the blank slate that is this soon-to-be-named college.


When reporting on anti-Asian violence, journalists need to prioritize Asian voices and hold racists accountable

(03/24/21 3:27am)

Last Tuesday, a white man took the lives of eight people in a series of mass shootings at three spas and massage parlors in the Atlanta area. Six of the victims were women of Asian descent. The event was horrific, as is the general trend it belongs to of rising anti-Asian violence in the U.S. over the past year. We write this with a heavy heart for the victims, their loved ones, and the Asian community at large. As a student newspaper, we feel the need to discuss the racist, dangerous choices many media organizations have made over the past week, and commit to doing better.


What we’ve learned from publishing a newspaper in a pandemic

(03/17/21 3:20am)

For the past year, people have been using the message “we’re all in this together” to help us feel less isolated in the shared traumatic experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. While all of our lives have been touched by the pandemic, it has also affected each of us differently, at different times and in different degrees. Some of us stayed in Houston, while others went back to our hometowns. Some of us stayed inside, isolated from other people, while others had to work in-person jobs as essential workers. Some of us watched our loved ones suffer from afar after they contracted the virus and some of us contracted it ourselves. For this editorial, the Thresher editorial board is reflecting on our experience of the pandemic as a newspaper staff and finding out why the work we do continues to be worthwhile despite the challenges.


Second doses of the vaccine are coming soon. The Rice community should be prepared.

(03/10/21 3:38am)

Last month, over 800 members of the Rice community received a surprise first dose of the Moderna vaccine, which was provided by the Harris County Public Health Department after a power outage caused vaccines to unexpectedly defrost. Individuals who were vaccinated on campus are slated to receive their second dose on March 22. It is imperative that students and administration adequately prepare for hundreds of Rice community members to receive their second doses in the coming weeks.


Low SA election turnout reveals need for better campus engagement

(03/03/21 4:53am)

With only 24 percent participation, this year’s Student Association presidential election had the lowest voter turnout in the past five years. While student apathy towards the SA Senate and its leadership can easily — and perhaps fairly — be attributed to recent events such as the pandemic or the recent winter storm, SA election turnout has consistently declined over this five-year period. 


Make Admin communication more centralized

(02/24/21 3:23am)

Almost one year ago, we wrote an editorial titled “Centralize COVID-19 Communication.” That editorial, published on March 10, 2020, came a day after Rice made the decision to suspend classes following the announcement that a Rice employee had tested positive for COVID-19. We wrote, “When we instead get information fragmented between Rice Alert, our magisters, other students’ magisters, our professors, our college presidents or group chat screenshots, it becomes almost impossible to distinguish rumors from facts.”


Kendall Vining for Student Association president

(02/17/21 9:21pm)

It is the Thresher editorial board’s opinion that only Martel College junior Kendall Vining has the qualifications, experience and platform to effectively lead the student body as Student Association president. Vining’s experience in the SA as the current internal vice president, plans to address students’ concerns (particularly prioritizing the immediate needs of Black students), commitment to transparency and speaking out on important topics makes her an appropriate fit for the current and upcoming needs of the student body.


Lily Sethre-Brink for Student Association external vice president

(02/17/21 8:34pm)

In last year’s Student Association election, there were no external vice president candidates on the first round ballot. This year, refreshingly, we have three candidates running — three candidates who are all incredibly qualified for the position. All three have ample experience working within the SA, strong communication and leadership skills, and a clear vision for the path they want to help lead Rice down. However, throughout their campaigns and our editorial board interviews, one candidate stood out: Baker College SA Senator Lily Sethre-Brink.