When the Survey of Unwanted Sexual Ex-periences proved that, much like other college campuses, sexual misconduct and assault are prevalent at Rice, many in the student body rallied around the cause and proposed change in the form of a mandatory Critical Thinking in Sexuality Class for new students.
In an email sent to the student body to clarify concerns surrounding the credit hour cap proposal recently passed by the Faculty Senate, Provost Marie Lynn Miranda and President David Leebron referenced the Thresher when describing past student input.
Rice students often joke about how they seem to be taking more classes than their friends at similar universities; it turns out that for many, this observation is actually true.
All three Student Association external vice president candidates brought big ideas to the table during Friday’s debates.
This year’s Student Association presidential race has been a competitive one. Lovett College junior Griffin Thomas has leveraged his experience as Lovett president to position himself as an outsider willing to be a strong figurehead for student opinion.
A flourishing athletic environment fosters campus culture and unites the community. Unfortunately, Rice’s lack of appreciation for university-wide athletics is evidenced by the low attendance at games, which strains relations with student athletes. Although promotions from Rice Athletics have certainly made strides towards improving attendance at games, marketing campaigns can only go so far, and they may not be sustainable (see p. 9). Improvements to Rice’s athletic environment should be driven by the student body as well as the faculty to encourage support for our athletic programs and build a stronger relationship between athletes and the rest of the undergraduate community.
Sid Richardson College is embroiled in controversy after a female undergraduate reported that she was sexually assaulted by a male undergraduate at a private party on the college’s seventh floor. The Rice University Police Department sent an email Saturday announcing an investigation into the assault that allegedly occurred at 12:30 a.m. the same day before announcing later that night that they had identified the suspect.
Due to a new Texas state law, Rice University Police Department will now be subject to open records requests (see p.
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. Recently, at Wesleyan University, students voted to cut the newspaper’s budget due in part to the publishing of an op-ed critiquing the Black Lives Matter movement, while at Yale University, hundreds of students protested following a master’s email questioning sensitivity in regards to Halloween costumes. Both events reflect the precarious balance on college campuses between promoting free speech, challenging traditional thought and maintaining empathy towards peers. The incidents at Wesleyan especially exemplify the importance of an undergraduate paper that stimulates ongoing conversation on sensitive topics and of students being able to critically differentiate between news and opinion. The Thresher believes it is your responsibility to challenge your peers’ ideas, and it is our responsibility to provide you a platform to do so. In line with this belief, although we reserve the right to withhold submissions, we choose to publish any opinion piece that is sent to us. It is not our place to determine the validity of an individual’s opinion. Rather, students must understand the corresponding news behind an opinion piece, and formulate their own opinion after fully examining the nuances and perspectives of the story. Students who remain largely uninformed by choosing to use opinion pieces as their sole source of information do a disservice not only to themselves but to their entire community, especially if they go on to propagate these opinions as fact. That being said, while we do try our best to report unbiased, comprehensive news, we are not infallible. It is easy to miss the quieter voices of a news story and even easier to entirely neglect those that are silent. We work hard to prevent our personal opinions from influencing the news we report, but the topics and perspectives we cover are undoubtedly shaped by the networks and connections we hold. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of you reaching out to us if you feel we are neglecting to include your voice or provide coverage of news that matters to you. This campus is more than capable of being informed, critically examining issues and engaging in debate, but we cannot allow the conversation to begin and end with SB#4. Together, the Thresher and the student body can ensure that pertinent issues garner the coverage and conversation they deserve. Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the Thresher editorial staff. All other opinion pieces represent solely the opinion of the piece’s author.
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. We do not care about this. Or, rather, we should not care about this. Gallup and Purdue University have been conducting a multi-year study of college students and the satisfaction they derive from their education and employment outcomes — in other words, what we should care about. The product is the Gallup-Purdue Index, a measure of recent college graduates’ beliefs that they have “great jobs” and “great lives.” New York Times columnist Frank Bruni received advance access to the findings and detailed them in his Sept. 12 column. Of the five dimensions of life the survey attempted to measure — relationships, physical health, community, economic situations and senses of purpose — 10 percent of all college graduates described themselves as “thriving” in all five dimensions. 11 percent of graduates of U.S. News’ top 50 universities and 13 percent of graduates of U.S. News’ top 50 liberal arts colleges said the same. What, then, is the purpose of the U.S. News rankings if they seem to be a bad predictor of long-term satisfaction? Why do both academia and non-academia continually perpetuate this system of value? It’s probably driven by a combination of factors, including the impressionability of prospective students. Universities are incentivized to capitalize on this impressionability — assuming they want the best students, which they do — by rising in the rankings. Rice is not immune to this phenomenon; it’s subject to the same system. The U.S. Department of Education has semi-concurrently released their own college “scorecard” that subverts the U.S. News method. Instead of ranking colleges, the government guide provides data about average cost of attendance for federal financial aid recipients, four-year graduation rates and salary 10 years after matriculation for federal financial aid recipients. Rice falls around the average annual cost, way above average on four-year graduation rate and significantly above average for salary. The scorecard does not generate rankings; instead, it encourages comparison. It presents data that allow users to make value judgements. Rice should take a cue from the Department of Education scorecard and the Gallup-Purdue Index. Instead of participating in self-perpetuating systems that reinforce problematic notions of hierarchy and prestige, it should prioritize and refocus on what matters most to students: the university experience and Rice’s uniqueness. Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the Thresher editorial staff. All other opinion pieces represent solely the opinion of the piece’s author.
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). The passage of this law is an important development for all Houston media, particularly Rice student media. We will now be able to more thoroughly investigate RUPD’s policing when complex situations requiring civilian oversight of police arise. For instance, open records requests would have been useful when we were reporting on the controversial RUPD bike theft incident that occurred in August 2013, in which officers hit a man over 30 times with a baton in an attempt to subdue him for arrest. According to a March 17 article in the Houston Chronicle (“Bill would make private university reports public”), requests made by the media organization KPRC for information on the incident were not honored. Following the passage of this bill, Rice must be subject to the same requirements of transparency as all other officers of the state. Considering RUPD polices areas just outside campus and often arrests individuals who are not affiliated with Rice, as in the case of the bike theft, this ruling affects not only the “Rice bubble” but also the local Houston community. This should not be seen as an occasion for fear or panic among the student body regarding the effects of disclosing police records on future educational or career endeavors. Although one’s slate may now only be hidden as opposed to wiped clean, there is little reason for future employers to seek out one’s record through the Open Records Act. Public institutions of higher education have been subject to this law for decades and this has not been a pressing issue for their students. Additionally, no information that violates the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act will be made public. Information on particularly sensitive topics such as sexual assault, suicide and mental health, as well as juvenile records, will continue to be kept private. From the exemptions of these topics, it is clear that this change is not intended to compromise students’ right to privacy and confidentiality but to create a more safe and equitable campus. Just as with RUPD’s implementation of body cameras, this situation presents an opportunity for Rice students to become more aware of their policing rights, and moreover, to engage within their community. We are uniquely privileged to have access to a full-fledged police force that serves only a few thousand people, providing focused and expedited policing. We have a responsibility to educate ourselves on how to proceed with placing an open records request, both in order to be engaged within our community and to be better equipped in addressing situations involving student judicial proceedings.