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The Lorde has returned, but is it with full force? The cultural phenom, otherwise known as Ella Yelich-O’Connor, surprised fans earlier this summer with her first song in four years, a timeline that has become somewhat of a regular album cycle schedule. The titular track and lead single, “Solar Power,” was released without any promotion or announcement on Lorde’s part — instead the singer decided to stay off of social media and send fans exclusive emails throughout the album release — and was received with somewhat mixed reviews that ranged from slight disappointment to adoration. This isn’t too surprising. Lorde’s singles are usually pretty divisive. “Green Light” was criticized for its different sound and bold rejection of rhyme scheme. However, the rest of the album usually makes up for that initial judgement and earns her universal acclaim. That might not exactly be the case this time.
Since the construction of the provisional campus facilities in August 2020, the sides of the buildings have served as venues for murals as a part of Rice’s public art program, an initiative started in 2008. Three new large-scale art installations are now featured on the sides of the provisional campus facilities facing the inner loop and will be on view through May 22, 2022, according to the Moody Center for the Arts’ programming.
Top Tracks: “Heaven and Hell”
On Aug. 19, many members of the Rice community were disappointed, confused and angered by Provost Reginald DesRoches’s announcement that in-person instruction would be delayed by two weeks in response to positive cases during Orientation Week. Over this last year, the Rice administration has acted with foresight and wisdom to keep us safe in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic, but this announcement can only be described as a knee-jerk reaction to an entirely predictable situation. Unfortunately, COVID-19, the Delta variant and pandemic restrictions will not simply go away but will likely be with us for years to come. The Rice administration must adopt longer-term policies that will allow us to safely live with COVID-19 in the long term.
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 Management Advisory Committee and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduates have enacted an indoor alcohol ban effective immediately and until further notice, according to multiple emails from college magisters obtained by the Thresher.
Many people might think that in order to become an Olympian, one must dedicate every ounce of time and energy to sport. While reaching an elite level requires sacrifices, two Owl alumnae are shining examples that athletes can reach the Olympic level while excelling in outside pursuits.
The Rice volleyball team entered last season’s NCAA tournament on a tear. They were coming off of an undefeated conference regular season, ranked No. 24 in the country and just a few weeks removed from a win over No. 2 University of Texas, Austin. But just as they were set to take on the North Carolina A&T in the first round, they were met with some heartbreaking news. Due to a positive COVID-19 test within the team, they would be forced to drop out of the tournament. According to junior setter Carly Graham, the sudden end to their season was devastating for a team looking to prove itself among college volleyball’s best.
The Rice soccer team kicked off their season on Thursday, less than four months removed from their run to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament last season. After a season where they won the third Conference USA title in program history, the Owls entered this year ranked No. 22 in the country according to the United Soccer Coaches poll. However, according to junior goalkeeper Bella Killgore, the squad sees this upcoming season as a fresh start, and isn’t dwelling on last season.
For some, swimming is just a hobby. But for junior swimmer Ahalya Lettenberger, it is much more than that; it is her freedom. Lettenberger, who was born with arthrogryposis amyoplasia, a muscular-skeletal condition in her legs, will fulfill a lifelong goal as she competes in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in the coming days.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIVE CONCERT
The fall of 2021 marks the first semester in which Rice Dance Theatre will have professional dance teachers leading every class. Founded in 1970, RDT is the only organization on campus that trains students in modern dance technique and choreography. In the past, it has occasionally invited professional dance teachers from the greater Houston community to host classes, with fellow students leading the majority of classes.
Whether in-person or virtual, Orientation Week, the traditional rite of passage for incoming students, provides them their first taste of life at Rice. This year’s Orientation Week may have been closer to normal than last year’s, but it was no less unique, as changes occurred mid-week in response to the tenuous conditions of COVID-19 on campus and in Houston. To capture facets of the New Student experience in 2021, the Thresher reached out to the recent matriculants.
Before coming to Rice, Martel College senior Kendall Vining was part of the student government in her freshman year of high school. Vining said she didn’t enjoy her role there because students couldn’t do anything. At Rice, however, she found that that was not the case.
Last year, for their welcome letter, our Editors in Chief gave insight into what it looked like as they navigated leading a newspaper in the midst of a pandemic.
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.
Rice reported around 50 cases that were mistakenly detected by a specific testing site as positive for COVID-19, according to an announcement sent by Kevin Kirby, chair of the Crisis Management Committee. This situation led to several students unnecessarily isolating or quarantining during Orientation Week.
During Orientation Week registration, many new students faced difficulties securing seats in select core classes, according to Provost Reginald DesRoches. This issue was a result of a larger than expected enrollment for the Class of 2025, according to DesRoches.