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For a student body that is often self-described as uninformed and apathetic, Rice has proven in recent weeks just how powerful and outspoken our voices can be. In light of the conversations taking place all over campus on Senate Bill #4, which would create a task force to develop a course for new students on critical thinking in sexuality, we call upon more students to join the conversation on these pages. If you feel your voice is not being heard, reach out to us and use the Thresher as a platform to challenge the status quo.
On Monday, the Survey of Unwanted Sexual Experiences results were released (see “Sexual Misconduct,” pg. 1), providing the first concrete quantitative insight into this campus-wide issue. The Thresher concurs with the statement President Leebron released in his email to Rice: These numbers are completely unacceptable.
Like clockwork, the U.S. News and World Report have released their annual college rankings. Rice improved one spot: It is now tied with the University of Notre Dame at 18th after ranking 19th last year.
Due to a new Texas state law, Rice University Police Department will now be subject to open records requests (see p. 1) for information on their policing activity, which includes correspondences, activity logs and other documents. This requirement marks a continuation toward increased transparency in RUPD, following the introduction of body cameras to its officers in April (see “RUPD implements body cameras” in the Sept. 2 issue of the Thresher).
Rice University Police Department recently adopted the policy of equipping all officers with body cameras. Many support the implementation, including faculty, graduate students, undergraduates and Rice’s attorneys.
Some returning students have been asked to move off campus to make room for an over-enrolled class of new students. In a few cases, new students were switched between residential colleges after already receiving their assignments or had to live in a college different from the one into which they matriculated.
The Student Association plans to begin a discussion in the coming fall about departmental grade inflation policies. These discussions come on the heels of legislation passed by the Faculty Senate in April 2014, which called for faculty-wide discussions about grading standards every five years, among other stipulations (see p. 1).
The Student Association will continue to accept proposals for the Student Initiatives Program. The program is tied to an initiatives fund populated by $18,000 Honor Council was forced to return following a Blanket Tax Standing Committee investigation into their finances. In the future, the fund will receive money from an increase in the blanket tax from $79 to $85 (see p.1).
The Student Association facilitated a student-only forum with residential college presidents about what constitutes a safe environment on campus, among other concerns, last Wednesday, March 12 (see p.1). More than 70 students attended the forum, which was held after the Senate meeting.
Rice recently announced they will increase undergraduate tuition by 4.2 percent for the 2015-16 school year (see p.1). The announcement came in a press release that touted Rice’s status as a Kiplinger’s “best value” education and its relative affordability compared to peer institutions.
A recent incident at McMurtry College involving a stripper and the college president-elect has set into motion a debate about Title IX’s application and the sexual climate on campus (see p.1). Behind closed doors, the future college president was surprised by a stripper that a friend had hired for him and did not turn her away. According to an email sent to McMurtry on Feb. 22, multiple students filed complaints under Title IX alleging harassment after the circulation of photos and a video of the event. The president-elect announced his resignation in an email to McMurtry on Feb. 20.
Sid Richardson College junior Jazz Silva will be the Student Association’s next president. She received more than twice the votes of both Lovett College sophomore Aishwarya and Jones College junior Sandra Blackmun in the general election to secure the position (see p.1).
The Student Association presidential debate revealed a clear choice for SA president. After responding to questions from the Thresher editorial staff and the audience, Sid Richardson College Senator Jazz Silva emerged as the most viable candidate. Though Lovett College Senator Aishwarya Thakur and Jones College Treasurer Sandra Blackmun showed passion for issues of importance to Rice students, Silva inspired confidence in her ability to enact change on these issues through the SA.
The Student Association presidential debate, initially scheduled for Monday, is instead being held today, Wednesday, Feb. 11 in the Kyle Morrow room in Fondren Library at 8 p.m. in place of the SA senate meeting. The SA initially planned to host the SA presidential debate on Monday, before elections began. However, according to SA President Ravi Sheth, the debate was moved to Wednesday to increase the event’s turnout.
The SA Blanket Tax Crack Team has petitioned a revamp to the existing blanket tax system with a new “pot of gold” proposal. 200 student signatures are required for the petition to be included in the General Election ballot, where a 20 percent referendum and a two-thirds majority vote will put the measure into effect (see p.1). The Thresher strongly supports the Crack Team’s new proposal and encourages students to sign the petition and to vote for it in the General Election.
Rice has a scalability problem. As undergraduate enrollment at Rice has grown rapidly in the past 10 years, many students and faculty have questioned if the undergraduate experience has lost part of its value: its educational intimacy (see p.1).
At the most recent Student Association meeting, the SA senate discussed legislation guaranteeing on-campus housing for Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps members (see p.1). Supporters argued that the midshipmen’s early-starting, rigorous schedule and service to the nation justified the guarantee. Those in opposition felt on-campus housing was not required for NROTC students to fulfill their training, as it might have been for Emergency Medical Services in-charges to perform their duties. Ultimately, neither side understood the others’ argument, and the two sides could not reach a middle ground, underscoring the fact that cases like these cannot be legislated by the entire student body.
Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson has made an executive decision to not allot time to Cheer Battle during Orientation Week 2015 (see p.1). However, O-Week coordinators will retain the option of organizing an unofficial Cheer Battle during O-Week. According to Hutchinson, Cheer Battle “doesn’t represent who we are at Rice anymore” and violates Rice’s harassment policy requiring a non-hostile environment.
The Honor Council Blanket Tax Contingency Committee found Honor Council “in violation,” giving Honor Council one of the three necessary strikes for the committee to begin considering reducing or removing their blanket tax. The Contingency Committee did not hand Honor Council an “aggravated violation,” which would have counted as to strikes (see p.1).
During his speech to the Student Association on Oct. 1, President David Leebron presented a graph that showed an increase in average course quality and instructor effectiveness from Fall 2007 to Fall 2013 in all five academic schools that offer undergraduate degrees. However, the graph also showed that the school of engineering consistently had the lowest score in both course and instructor evaluations over time.