Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Friday, May 24, 2024 — Houston, TX

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The Election’s effects go beyond Tuesday — academic accommodations must reflect this

(11/03/20 3:02pm)

This week is hard. The timeline and stakes of this election are unlike any before, and it is likely we will not know the results on election night. Because of delays in vote counting — due to the increase in mail-in ballots and early voting, or the possibility of a losing candidate contesting the results —  the election results will likely not be finalized before Wednesday, when students are expected back in class. Many students will spend the upcoming days glued to their screens, watching states blink red or blue, and worrying about what happens post-election. 


Don’t miss your last chance to vote — and make history — this year

(10/28/20 3:01am)

Texas has continuously shattered voter turnout records since early voting started in the state on Oct. 13. Through Monday, Oct. 26, after 14 days of early voting, 7,802,505 people had cast their ballots in Texas. That is almost 50 percent of the total number of registered voters in the state. For reference, around 8.5 million votes were cast in Texas in 2016 in total — this number includes ballots cast through the entire early voting period and on election day. 


Proposed pass/fail policy is antithetical to academic exploration

(10/21/20 2:17am)

The Faculty Senate recently presented their proposed changes to the pass/fail policy, which include changing the threshold grade for pass to a C, preventing students from recycling the four allotted pass/fail designations and preventing a pass/fail from being converted to a letter grade after the deadline, even for classes that later become major requirements after the major is declared. The proposed changes to the pass/fail policy do not serve to ameliorate students’ academic integrity or academic performance, but rather unnecessarily limit flexibility and discourage intellectual curiosity and exploration.


Support student artists as they support the Rice community

(10/14/20 2:53am)

When the massive tents known as Provisional Campus Facilities were first constructed on the Rice campus, the South college courtyard suddenly looked a bit alien — a literal sign of the times. Those once foreboding white tents have since been transformed, however, into canvases for compelling visual art, and the once downtrodden courtyard surrounding them into a colorful playground, thanks to the Moody Center for the Arts’ “Creative Interventions” initiative. This project has combined creativity and innovation from students and professional artists alike to give us all an opportunity to celebrate everything that makes our Rice and Houston communities special as we collectively struggle with uncertainty. 


The pandemic hasn’t gone away. Neither should academic accommodations.

(10/07/20 2:42am)

There are so many ways in which this semester is unlike any semester before. We’ve heard this said a million times in a million different ways. Every media outlet from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal has written about how the pandemic has changed higher education. And yet, amid people constantly admitting that this year is different, one thing has remained the same: academic expectations.


Rice is not a bubble free of COVID-19, students must remain vigilant

(09/30/20 3:08am)

At the beginning of the semester, we wrote about our skepticism with the administration’s reopening plan. The plan has proven to be successful so far — we have been able to keep our COVID-19 case count low, especially in comparison to many other universities across the country. Our case numbers may reflect the administration’s thorough planning, but they also reflect the caution and cooperation that everyone on campus has exercised  over the past six weeks. Things seem to be going well, so we implore everyone at Rice: don’t let up now.


Say something: Administration should respond to Willy’s statue sit-ins

(09/23/20 2:56am)

Rice administration has yet to publicly respond to the demonstrations to remove Willy’s statue that began in the academic quad three weeks ago. Shifa Rahman, the first student to begin protesting regularly and primary organizer of the sit-ins, says administration has not reached out to address the situation in a private fashion either. As more students join the “Down with Willy” cause, pressure is mounting for the administration to respond. Why have they stayed silent for so long? 


To the administration: Reevaluate unpaid student labor

(09/16/20 3:24am)

This March, when students across campus received an email announcement that classes were shifted to a remote format for the rest of the semester, many of us had one preliminary concern: How will we move out of our dorms? With piles of personal belongings remaining in empty dorms, the job of packing and moving boxes was relegated to students, most of whom did the job without pay. In an interview for an article in our features section this week, one student said he spent approximately 75 hours on the task.


Want to vote this November? Register and make your voting plan today

(09/09/20 2:58am)

Voting may be a constitutionally guaranteed right for most American citizens over the age of 18, but that right is infringed upon year after year by voter suppression tactics employed by legislators across the country. This November, that infringement is poised to be only more severe due to the ongoing pandemic and President Donald Trump’s consistent undermining of the United States Postal Service. Although the grim reality is that most voter suppression tactics are out of an individual voter’s control, there are some steps you can take to protect your vote.


To our essential workers at Rice: Thank you

(09/02/20 4:24am)

On a typical morning this fall, on-campus students might drop by the servery for breakfast on the way to a class and pass contracted construction workers building the new Sid Richardson College dorms. We take weekly COVID-19 tests at centers staffed with volunteers, attend classes led by professors with little to no prior experience in online instruction and receive emails from student leaders who have had to take on enormous responsibilities beyond their job descriptions. Behind our daily actions are hundreds of people working hard and going above and beyond to ensure that we can maintain a semblance of normality in our college experience. 


Admin’s own actions need to reflect the Responsibility, Integrity, Community and Excellence they demand of students

(08/26/20 3:12am)

When you visit return.rice.edu, the university’s online hub for information about reopening plans, you’re redirected to coronavirus.rice.edu. It’s a seemingly harmless swap — “return” becomes “coronavirus” — but one that is indicative of the two incompatible narratives the administration has been feeding its students, staff and faculty. The first is a shiny campaign about how much we’ve all missed campus, how ecstatic we are to return to something familiar and how we will all persevere, together, through these tough times. The second is the story of a global pandemic that has fatally attacked Houston, the country and the world, one that requires taking extreme precautions and punishing those who don’t.


Administration’s communications should be clear and realistic, not cautiously optimistic

(07/07/20 11:02pm)

On July 1, Dean of Undergraduates Bridget Gorman sent an email detailing Rice University’s fall semester plans to the undergraduate student body. However, this email — like the previous emails updating students on fall plans — had a caveat: these plans could be subject to change, depending on the evolving coronavirus situation in Houston. 


Demands, not suggestions: When it comes to anti-racism on campus, the administration must listen to Black students

(07/06/20 3:48pm)

On June 19, an anonymous group of Black students released a list of demands for the administration called “Tangible Ways to Improve the Black Experience, as Demanded by Black Students: Inaction is Not an Option.” The six-page document was circulated widely by current students and alumni on social media, and went on to catch the attention of Fox News, who ran a biased story on the demands that was riddled with inaccuracies, including the false claim that the group behind the demands was associated with the Black Student Association. The story, which incorrectly named certain students as leaders of BSA, led hundreds of people to flood the organization’s Instagram and email with racist criticisms — some of them containing racial slurs.




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.