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Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Sunday, October 24, 2021 — Houston, TX °

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Non-Black journalists, students and college administrators need to do better. So do we.

(06/01/20 11:40pm)

On May 25, Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd. Chauvin, a Minnesota police officer, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down on the ground. Floyd did not merely “die in police custody” as the Washington Post and other publications continue to insist on phrasing it. As Floyd pleaded that he couldn’t breathe, a police officer killed him. Active voice.


Administration should be transparent about decisions for future semesters

(04/21/20 11:33pm)

On Monday, California State University, Fullerton became one of the first colleges in the country to announce that it will start the fall semester virtually. Rice is not CSUF — a 40,000-student campus in a state significantly more affected by COVID-19 than Texas — so we do not expect the Rice administration to announce contingency plans at this time. The status of the fall semester at Rice has not yet been announced, and the administration has not communicated their plans or decision to the Thresher or the student body at this time. But when they make plans about future semesters, which they will have to do eventually, we urge them to consider the following factors. 


Time to go further: Faculty should consider mandating optional finals and other steps

(04/14/20 11:42pm)

This Thursday, the Faculty Senate will meet to finalize their April 22 agenda. As an editorial board, we endorse the measures they plan to vote on. As students, we are suggesting they take a step further to consider more accommodations such as making finals optional for all students. We also ask that professors take proactive steps now to adjust their classes, regardless of what the Faculty Senate eventually decides. 


Rice must clarify protections for all employees during COVID-19

(04/08/20 2:47am)

President David Leebron previously promised staff members that “despite the significant reduction in campus activity this semester,” Rice would not furlough or reduce compensation for its employees in his March 15 email. However, little clarifications or information on how Rice will be supporting employees has been released since then. At the Thresher we have been wondering: Who at Rice is considered an “employee,” and how are less visible populations being protected during this time?


To professors and students alike: please lower your standards

(04/01/20 1:35am)

Last week, we urged the administration to grant students academic accommodations in light of the unprecedented era we are existing in. That happened the next day, when the Faculty Senate voted unanimously in favor of a series of motions intended to alleviate the weight of academics on undergraduates this semester, including one that allows students to designate all courses this semester pass/fail. We applaud the administration for taking such an important step in doing right by students as we try to navigate the rest of our semester remotely. 


Academic accommodations necessary to balance inequalities at home

(03/25/20 1:26am)

Other universities gave students very little time to move out, mandated that all students leave campus no matter their home situation or gave their students very little information. In light of this, we want to commend the administration, faculty and staff for doing the best they can in constantly changing circumstances. Communication about the crisis began early and stayed up to date. For the most part, professors have been working hard to transfer the rest of the semester to an online format and have been empathetic to student concerns with the restructuring of classes. President David Leebron and Dean of Undergraduates Bridget Gorman were also quick to offer partial refunds for room and board and other fees, a step that many universities have yet to take.


Centralize COVID-19 communication

(03/10/20 11:44pm)

As students in the midst of a global epidemic, we understand that there are things we must sacrifice for our safety and the safety of our community: no in-person classes, no Beer Bike, no school-sponsored trips. We accept these measures because we understand what’s at stake, but the problem is what we don’t understand: The information being obscured from us or only slowly leaked out, a handful of people at a time. While we appreciate the abundance of caution that the university has taken, we find transparency and communication rather scarce in a time when it’s more necessary than ever.


Clubs need sustainable funding

(03/04/20 3:54am)

Basmati Beats, one of the a cappella groups on campus, recently won first place at a national competition, an already impressive feat made only more difficult by the lack of funding received from the university. They’re not alone: most clubs are not consistently funded by the university on a yearly basis except for some club sports and blanket tax organizations, which include the Student Association, the Thresher, Rice Program Council and eight other organizations. 


Primaries are here — and not just for the president

(02/26/20 3:30am)

Early voting ends this Friday, Feb. 28 and Election Day is next Tuesday, March 3. If you have the privilege of being registered to vote, get out the vote on behalf of yourself, your communities and everyone who is institutionally excluded from our election processes. Political apathy is rampant in this country and on our campus with only 42 percent voter turnout last year. But we urge you to care. Our future will be shaped by the people we elect to office and the decisions they make regarding the issues we talk about, protest for and care about.



Why we're not endorsing IVP

(02/19/20 5:02am)

Last Sunday, Ashley Fitzpatrick began a write-in campaign against the previously uncontested internal vice president candidate Kendall Vining. While the Thresher’s editorial board normally endorses candidates in contested races, we were unable to reach a consensus on endorsement for the IVP role of either Vining, a Martel College sophomore and former new student representative, or Fitzpatrick, a Martel sophomore and current senator. 


Y2K sets dangerous precedent

(02/05/20 3:17am)

Saturday night, hundreds of Rice students paid $2 to stand in line for one of the most popular publics of the year, Y2K, with some waiting over two hours only to not get in. Despite claiming that they based the number of wristband sales on statistical “models” that would allow entry to everyone, McMurtry College refused to release this data publicly, leaving the logic and intent behind this new system unclear. Additionally, the conflicting explanations given by various McMurtry student leaders have muddled the situation rather than clarified it. 


Keep SA campaign promises realistic

(01/29/20 3:25am)

With the start of a new election season, there are only a few weeks remaining for the current Student Association Executive Council to meet goals set at the beginning of their terms. Given the Thresher Editorial Board’s previous endorsement of Grace Wickerson for SA president on the basis of promises they made at the time, we were particularly interested in progress made on those promises. Basing our research on publicly available SA records and our own coverage, we found that while strides in two areas — financial accessibility and support for underrepresented groups — were significant and laudable, many campaign promises fell to the wayside or were not raised at all after elections.


DesRoches’ appointment promising for the future

(01/22/20 4:07am)

As undergraduates, we are far more likely to be familiar with the everyday work and initiatives that come from the Office of the Dean of Undergraduates than those from the Offices of the Provost or even the President. Often, the Thresher’s coverage reflects this uneven familiarity. However, when Rice announced that current Dean of Engineering Reginald DesRoches was named the incoming provost, we were excited for the new era of university leadership to come. 


New year, new(s)paper

(01/15/20 5:26am)

In the spirit of the new year, we as the Thresher’s editorial board have set a few resolutions and invite y’all as the readers to hold us accountable. Going forward, we want to be more transparent about our operations as well as maintaining the standards and policies we’ve created this year in the spirit of transparency. 



Baker Institute events too exclusive

(11/20/19 3:58am)

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.


Rice has work to do to improve social mobility

(11/13/19 4:28am)

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 should lead in maternity leave policy

(11/06/19 4:23am)

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. 


Take pride in Houston

(10/30/19 2:15am)

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.