Aparna Shewakramani was a freshman at Lovett College when she signed up for an introduction to Hindi class at Rice. She couldn’t have predicted what the class would lead to — that she’d meet one of her two closest friends in the class, and that eighteen years later, the two would briefly appear on Netflix’s reality TV show “Indian Matchmaking” to support her. Or that, during the show, Shewakramani would use her Hindi to communicate with a matchmaker.
While teaching about projectile motion in PHYS 125 this semester over Zoom, physics Professor Jason Hafner gave students a hypothetical scenario: A hunter is trying to shoot a monkey sitting in a tree. At the sound of the shot, the monkey falls from the tree — will the bullet hit the monkey? When teaching the scenario this semester, Hafner gave it a twist: Instead of teaching completely theoretically, he decided to make it real.
Calista Ukeh was in the middle of throwing at a track meet during her senior year of high school when she received her admissions decision from Rice. As far as the throwing went, she was not having a great day — but that changed after she read the acceptance letter.
In early May, as a challenging spring semester came to an end, the Department of Education released the final version of a new Title IX policy, leaving school administrations across the country scrambling to adjust their own Title IX policies to reflect the federal policy before an Aug. 14 deadline amidst navigating a global pandemic. With these new rules came a slew of student advocacy at Rice as students pushed administrators to implement the new policy in a way that minimizes the harmful effects the updated federal guidelines have for survivors of sexual assault.
This is the first installation of Keeping up with the Sidizens, a features series that checks in with various members of the Sid Richardson College community as they navigate a semester without a physical college to call home.
Wielding power in their respective commons and in the Student Association Senate, college presidents are perhaps the most visible faces of the student leadership that is essential to the Rice experience. But just a few weeks after this year’s cohort began their terms, their communities dispersed as students were sent home to study online. Now, the presidents must lead their colleges amid conditions completely unknown to all who came before: distancing rules, a ban on mass gatherings, students who may never actually be on campus and other pandemic-related changes. They may not have signed up for these new challenges, but they are surely stepping up to face them.
Traditionally, the end of August signifies an end to a summer of trips, getaways and parties. But the COVID-19 pandemic has put a hard stop to the romanticization of summer break this year, with most (responsible) human beings in the United States restraining their urges to throw a pool party and opting for a solitary swim instead. So it’s probably no surprise that college students who have returned on campus, jaded and sun-deprived, would feel an even stronger desire than before to escape their endless Zoom sessions on the weekends and have a little fun.
Mask-designing in tents by Rice Program Council, online dance workshops by Rice African Students Association, outdoor movie nights at Jones College and a Bachelor or Bachelorette-style online dating event at McMurtry College are just a handful of the events students are planning for this fall, which will be unlike any other Rice has seen before. With restrictions on social gatherings on campus, student organizers have been brainstorming ways to not just replicate traditional events online, but also introduce entirely new events.
The Thresher reached out to seven freshmen to understand what their experience was like. While these blurbs are not representative of all voices on campus, they provide a perspective from new students –– whether they’re on campus at their assigned residential college, staying at another college for the semester, or remote.
Every time Anna Margaret Clyburn gets a Slack notification, her computer plays the monotone sound of a British woman saying “hummus.” It’s fitting — Clyburn, a senior at Martel College, is a vegan, and gets very excited about hummus, as well as sweet potatoes and peanut butter. She enjoys eating the latter two together after coating the sweet potatoes in ginger, cayenne pepper, curry powder, cinnamon and salt, then baking them for 30 to 40 minutes at 400 degrees F.
“[Rice] was a very active community leader, a wealthy community leader who preserved and grew slavery in Houston. There’s no mincing words, it’s very clear that he did that,“ said Andrew Maust (Brown College ‘19), who wrote a research paper on William Marsh Rice’s involvement with slavery.
“He was a supremely honest person trying to tell difficult stories. It’s not Mr. Moore who was difficult, it’s the history he insisted on uncovering that many people have difficulty with.”
Early last month, three Rice students launched Rice for Biden, a group supporting Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s campaign for president. Harry Golen, one of the creators of Rice for Biden, said that one of the organization’s posts on Facebook reached over 4,300 people within the first week, including Rice students, alumni and staff members. Not all responses were supportive, however. A few hours after Rice for Biden launched its social media pages, another page appeared on Instagram: Rice Against Biden (@riceagainstbiden).
Last month, a group of Black students published a list of demands for the administration to “address the systemic oppression and inequity that is embedded within Rice’s history by acknowledging and amplifying voices, experiences and communities that have historically been unheard.” One of the six demands is to remove Founder’s Memorial, the statue of William Marsh Rice found in the Academic Quad, on the basis of Rice’s enslavement of 15 people and involvement in the cotton trade. This demand received particular attention with “Down With Willy,” a student-led social media campaign to demand the administration remove the statue.