The confirmation of Donald J. Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election set the stage for a political rollercoaster that lasted four years. It drove countless Americans to take a stand and voice their support for and opposition to the former president, whose controversial policies and actions sparked heated debates. On campus, those conversations served as fuel for movements and organizations that sought to politically engage and inform students. Rice saw a surge in voting rates in recent years and high engagement in the past election as a result of the efforts of various on-campus clubs and groups.
Evan Choate has always been interested in contextualizing literature and narratives — and the past year gave him quite the backdrop to do so. For Choate, a postdoctoral fellow in public humanities with the Humanities Research Center at Rice, a central element to the narrative of being out or being proud is about “living your truth” and “embodying this identity” — a large part of which is done by accessing community. Although Choate lives with his husband and dog, being at home and isolated because of the pandemic has made this identity feel “muted,” he said.
Last August, as students were bracing for their first full semester in the pandemic, the Thresher brought you a roundup of nine outdoor destinations perfect for a life defined by social distancing. Five months later, with the spring semester unfolding and social distancing measures very much still in place, we’re back with more. Close your laptop, grab your mask and check out these five outdoor spaces in Houston — your brain will thank you.
The first time Oria Wilson-Iguade stepped foot onto Rice’s campus for a tour, she felt a bit out of place. That feeling of unease, however, was temporary, as Wilson-Iguade quickly found her place among the Black community at Rice SOAR, an event for prospective students.
Before they became business partners, McMurtry College sophomores Saanya Bhargava and Myles Nobles met when they were assigned to the same orientation week group. Bhargava and Nobles shared “an invested interest in entrepreneurship,” according to Bhargava, and immediately knew they wanted to start a business together. Both of them were also huge foodies, ordering food together every weekend.
For most of the Rice community, the experience of the fall semester consisted of adjusting to a university that was nothing like it was before the pandemic. However, for freshmen, Rice in the COVID-19 era is all they know. Our newest class of students has navigated through a rather atypical college experience, from being separated from the rest of their college and struggling to connect with their virtual classmates, to being in quarantine through Thanksgiving break and losing family members to the virus. The Thresher checked in with five freshmen, selected at random, to find out how their first semester of college went.
Nikolas Lindauer didn’t think he was going to college until his senior year of high school. In his sophomore year, Lindauer wanted to be a construction worker. Junior year, he had his eyes on joining the Navy. But then, he took the SAT to beat a friend in a bet and applied to colleges on a whim.
The beginning of a semester can get costly. There’s the gas or the plane ticket it takes to get to campus. Sometimes there’s moving, which can mean lease application fees, security deposits, furnishing and more gas. Then there’s the cost of textbooks, school supplies, technology, granola bars, coffee and anything else that students need to get through the semester. These costs — and the immense barriers they can pose to some students — aren’t always talked about. Rice Mutual Aid, a student-organized mutual aid network, is trying to change that.
While the world watched the windows of the U.S. Capitol being smashed and offices of U.S. Congresspeople being vandalized with violent and unwavering conviction in the historic Jan. 6 riot, one of Rice’s own was on call with journalists and TV anchors for hours.
From garden-fresh fruits and vegetables to classic films and a spring break field trip to Cuba, Rice University is home to an assortment of interesting classes. With input from the Rice community, the Thresher has compiled a list of eight classes students should consider adding to their schedules while they’re at Rice — no matter what their major or interests.
Lighthearted chatter used to drift from booths filled with lush, leafy greens and fresh baked bread offered by local vendors at the Rice University Farmers Market. But what was once a mainstay on campus faced a screeching halt when COVID-19 cases started to appear in Houston. Now, the only visible remnant of the market is a street sign pointing out where the market once was.
The tower that used to house the Sid Richardson College community is quiet these days: hallways are bare and most floors are vacant. The only people living there are a handful of students from across the residential colleges, and they mostly keep to their rooms.
If you ask Vice President for Administration Kevin Kirby whether he's busy, he's likely to laugh it off. "Sherry makes me seem busy," he told me during our interview. And yet Sherry Ziegner, Kirby’s assistant, may well be right.
A gap semester was always part of the plan for Neil Chopra, the Lovett College sophomore said, but he had previously planned on taking it later in college. Then, the pandemic cast its long shadow over the fall semester, and Chopra decided it was the ideal time to take a break.
What initially attracted Richard Kim to leading the Sid Richardson College kitchen was the small, tight-knit community surrounding it. “I liked the idea of a smaller kitchen where I would be able to interact more with the students and get direct feedback about the meals we produce,” Kim said. “It has been a meaningful experience to be part of the Sid community, and the smaller kitchen has allowed us to experiment with different action stations to make it more fun for Sidizens.”