Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Monday, November 28, 2022 — Houston, TX

Guest Opinion


OPINION 11/15/22 10:21pm

Where we must agree: the politics of humanness

The words “free speech” will likely elicit groans from Thresher readers. Over the last three years, there have been three articles in the Opinion section bemoaning the need for a “classically liberal” political discourse at Rice. Unfortunately, between their self-righteousness and needless wordiness, they read more like whiny lectures than conversation starters. However, despite their condescension, their existence does suggest something unsettling about not just our campus politics, but politics at large. As the electorates of democracies around the world have become more sharply divided, the way we speak to each other, not just across the aisle but to our similarly minded partisans, has become more accusatory, exclusionary and violent. Put simply: we do not want to talk to each other, and understandably so. It is exhausting, and, more than that, we just don’t seem to know how to.


OPINION 11/8/22 11:39pm

The Honor Council needs to act more responsibly

For the past year, I have served as an at-large representative on the Rice Honor Council. I have sat through dozens of cases, read hundreds of pages of evidence and spent countless hours working to improve the transparency and fairness of the Honor System. While there are a myriad of issues with the Honor System, as there are with any institutional system, there is one in particular that needs to be addressed with expediency. The Honor Council is currently not an effective deliberative body due to the general lack of engagement from some of its members, which include elected representatives.  


OPINION 10/18/22 9:52pm

To prevent suicide, we need to talk about it

In December of last year, I drafted an opinion entitled “Dear Rice, We Need to Talk (about suicide).” I chickened out on submitting it to the Thresher because I believed, against my own written argument, that talking about suicidality wouldn’t do anything — wouldn’t prevent death or injury or start the right kind of conversation. I was mostly worried about sending previously-suicidal students back into their own memories, or worse, forcing currently-suicidal students to endure a dialogue so close to their pain. But I believe if we continue in relative silence, the wound will scar, not heal. Rice, we need to talk about suicide. 


OPINION 9/27/22 10:56pm

Rice is not your average school. We don’t want an average band.

Starting this season, Rice’s Marching Owl Band, longtime instigators of musical shenanigans at various Rice sporting events, will no longer play at basketball games — a role the university intends to fill with the traditional-instruments-only, student-only, audition-only, near-perfect attendance-required Owl Pep Band. To the three of us, this is a slap in the face to everything the MOB, and indeed Rice, stand for. 


OPINION 9/27/22 10:54pm

Universities should support the public good

What is the purpose of universities, in general, and Rice University, in particular? This is a subject of much debate these days. Let me first offer a disciplinary perspective. I am an active member of the Association for Computing Machinery, the oldest and largest professional society dedicated to computing. The Associations’ Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct states: “Computing professionals’ actions change the world. To act responsibly, they should reflect upon the wider impacts of their work, consistently supporting the public good.” So ethical computing has a responsibility to support the public good. Going back to the opening question, I believe that the core purpose of universities is to support  the public good.  What is the public good? My favorite definition was provided by Hammurabi almost 4,000 years ago: “to further the well-being of mankind.”


OPINION 9/20/22 11:46pm

The Rice career fair fails Rice students

Comments like “What’s with the suit? What’s the occasion? Who’s getting married?” surrounded me as I strolled into my college commons one day last fall. It caught me off guard; why am I the only one dressed up on career fair day? My bioengineering friend quickly answered my question. “Why should I bother going to the career fair?” he said. “There’s no bioengineering companies there.” He’s absolutely right. But the problem extends beyond just bioengineering.


OPINION 9/20/22 11:44pm

Dare to be wise

In the 18th Century, Immanuel Kant (often considered the central figure in modern philosophy) used the phrase Spaere aude in a 1784 essay titled “Answering the Question: What is Enlightenment.”  Translated from Latin, it means “dare to know,” or in some cases, “dare to be wise.”  Kant argued our inability to think for ourselves was due to fear, not due to a lack of intellect.  In the opening paragraph of his essay, Kant states “Have the courage to use your own reason—that is the motto of enlightenment.”


OPINION 9/13/22 11:10pm

Don’t skip the 2022 midterm elections

With no presidential election at stake in 2022, do this year’s midterm elections even matter that much? I wasn’t sure until I saw the complete list of offices up for election in Texas this November. Most notably, the midterm election will determine the next Texas Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, both chambers of the Texas Legislature and all 38 U.S. Representatives. 


OPINION 9/13/22 11:07pm

Start your service on the ground

Rice undergrads often treat "community service" as a box to tick for graduate school applications or a story to impress interviewers. It is easy to conduct our service within the Rice bubble – researching and designing solutions without venturing beyond the hedges to the community members we are trying to help. However, to truly make an impact, students need to identify community needs and find service opportunities that act with, and not on, the community. As we enter the school year and begin scouting volunteer opportunities, we want to share an experience that taught us the value of grassroots involvement.


OPINION 9/6/22 11:13pm

Shadows of anonymity: Fizz should fizzle out

Shortly after arriving at Rice for the fall semester, I noticed a piece of purple paper peeking out beneath my room’s door frame. “An app just for Rice Students!” announced the cardstock. The ad was for Fizz, a social media app launched by two Stanford University students my equal in age at their university just one year ago. Wary but curious, I downloaded the app. 


OPINION 8/30/22 10:37pm

Will a new student DJ please stand up?

Rice DJs are dead. Long live the Rice DJs. Seeing the first Texas Party since Fall 2019 happen is both a joy and a solemn reminder. Yet another public has come and gone and yet no student DJ has risen to prominence. It may not seem like a problem, but this is critical. Rice DJs play an integral part in campus social life, but they cannot survive and thrive without the help and advocacy of campus socials and the boldness of potential DJs rising to the challenge.


OPINION 8/23/22 9:23pm

Let’s show our gratitude for campus staff

“If Seibel serves PAOW one more time, I’m dropping out.” It’s all too common for Rice students to gripe about the food and facilities. I know I’ve been guilty of it. In my experience, complaining sometimes becomes an easy bonding opportunity amongst students: lulls in the conversation are frequently filled with hyperbolic jokes about food at North being inedible or about dorms the size of shoeboxes. I don’t want to dismiss the legitimate difficulties that students with dietary restrictions or accessibility needs face at Rice. However, the majority of complaints I hear seem to come from students who expect luxury but overlook the employees who work so hard to provide for our every need. Rice’s campus staff is incredible and I urge us all to show them more respect and gratitude.


OPINION 5/12/22 4:05pm

The Wellbeing Center should be transparent about its true confidentiality policies

Before you attend a counseling session at the Rice counseling center, you will be told that “the RCC maintains strict standards regarding privacy.” You will find statements from the university that your mental health record will not be shared with anyone outside of extreme situations of imminent harm, and only then that your information will be shared with only the necessary officials. This sounds great, except that these assurances bear no teeth whatsoever — no enforcement agency ensures that Rice follows its public confidentiality promises, and there are no penalties for Rice if they break them. The Wellbeing and Counseling Centers should more directly communicate the limits of their confidentiality policies when compared to unaffiliated counseling centers, and students in sensitive situations should take the necessary precautions to protect their information.


OPINION 4/19/22 11:02pm

Philanthropy doesn’t excuse slavery

In January, the Rice Board of Trustees announced plans to move the Founder’s memorial to another area of the academic quad as part of a whole redesign, adding additional context of his “entanglement” with slavery. This comes despite continual calls from the student body to not have the enslaver displayed in the quad regardless of the context provided. It would be just for these calls to action and the majority of the Task Force Committee who voted to not keep it there that the Board of Trustees decide to not keep the memorial prominently displayed in the quad at all.


OPINION 4/12/22 11:04pm

Rice must reconsider its partnership with Aramco

On March 21 in a recent press release, Rice University enthusiastically announced it had approved a five-year, $10 million bid for Saudi Arabian Oil Company’s (Aramco) involvement in Carbon Hub, a university-led research initiative committed to accelerating the energy transition toward sustainable hydrocarbons. In this same announcement, Rice’s Matteo Pasquali, a chemical engineer who directs Carbon Hub, construed the development in a positive manner, expressing his unequivocal excitement to “welcome the Aramco group” as “great partners” for facilitating a more sustainable future. 


OPINION 3/29/22 10:53pm

War in Ukraine: Blame America’s oligarchs as well as Russian counterparts

While life at Rice seems to return to normal, we must all comprehend that Russian President Vladimir Putin has unleashed hell on Ukraine. Countries including the United States are sanctioning Russia's oligarchs, whose concentration of immense wealth suffices to fund Putin’s war. But those rich Russian terrorists have not acted alone. Decades of wrongdoing by America’s oligarchs, due to our failure to control their greed and power, have also enabled Putin’s present holocaust in Ukraine. 




OPINION 3/8/22 11:35pm

Ensure student representation at Rice: Enforce the vote

I believe that at the heart of a thoughtful opinion piece lies an acknowledgment of its author’s blindness and that no opinion piece, especially those penned by cis white men, will ever wholistically convey a sociological issue’s full scope and importance. In that spirit, I would like to begin this writing with an admission: though I would like to spark discussion about compulsory voting within the hedges, I will not be able to address all of the nuances of a question as complicated as “How should we, as a community, vote?” in 1000 words.


OPINION 3/1/22 10:55pm

Students shouldn’t be exempted from minimum wage policy

A successful organization is far more than just a sum of its parts. As a leading institution, Rice likes to prides itself on its diverse and integrated community. Keeping with Rice’s future-paving spirit, faculty, staff and students all ought to be compensated sensibly. Rice University’s recent minimum wage hike is a step in the right direction for some employees, but falls short in securing reasonable pay for student workers.