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NEWS 11/18/15 9:16am

Fondren south to reopen by Thanksgiving

Minor setbacks during renovations to Fondren Library’s south reading room pushed its expected completion date to Nov. 23, according to Vice Provost and university librarian Sara Lowman. The renovations were originally expected to be completed over midterm recess.The south reading room has been closed since May for renovations aimed at creating a study space that is more representative of what students want, Lowman said. According to Lowman, the completion was postponed due to delays in carpet and furniture delivery. “[Students] wanted more comfortable furniture, better lighting, better window coverings, not necessarily just technology and different types of seating,” Lowman said. “A lot of time has been spent trying to figure out how to best use our resources to support how students want the library to function.”The GIS/Data Center began studying where students prefer to study in Fondren Library in response to feedback that students were having difficulties locating places to study. It counted the number of students every hour and mapped the usage of almost every study space, according to Lowman.The library staff used this information to determine where students like to study and what furniture they prefer. According to Lowman, the staff’s goal was to provide for the possible needs of students in a range of situations.“We try to provide a wide variety of seating arrangements to reflect how you may want to sit in a lounge chair when you’re reading a book, or you may want to have a study room or a two-person carrel,” Lowman said. “We’ve tried to update the library spaces to reflect the current study experience that students have.”Duncan College freshman Sam Boyle said she thought the renovations will be a positive addition to the library’s existing study spaces.“[The south reading room] is kind of out of the way, and I’m usually in the library at night, so I haven’t really noticed it being worked on,” Boyle said. “But it’ll be great to have more large tables for group work on the first floor.”Lowman said she hopes that the newly renovated south reading room will become popular among students.“At night, students tend to study on the first floor. I think it feels busier and more active, and probably a little safer,” Lowman said. “So I predict that this area is going to be very popular for studying.”


NEWS 11/18/15 9:15am

Decision nears on campus carry

President Leebron will decide by Thanksgiving whether to allow licensed handgun owners to carry concealed weapons on Rice University campus based on feedback from Rice community members, according to Rebecca Sanchez, a member of the Staff Advisory Committee.Earlier this semester, a student task force was founded by the Student Association to address the Texas Senate’s campus carry bill, Senate Bill 11. S.B. 11, which was passed last June, will allow campus carry with the exception of colleges that legally opt out after consulting their students and staff.The student task force collected feedback through an online survey where Rice students were able to vote “for” or “against” allowing concealed carry on campus. The student survey closed Sunday evening.Lovett College President Griffin Thomas explained that the constituent groups will report their feedback to the campus-wide working group. The group will then communicate the input to President Leebron, who will make a decision. The closure of the survey representing undergraduates, in addition to the closure of three other surveys representing graduate students, faculty and staff respectively, marks the end of Rice’s legally required discussion period of campus carry. According to Sanchez, all feedback will be processed and analyzed by Nov. 20. Thomas, a junior, explained that the task force was formed after Rice’s General Counsel attended a meeting of residential college masters and presidents earlier in the semester to discuss how best to assess student feedback on S.B. 11. This initial conversation ultimately led to the SA passing a bill to create the task force.Hanszen College New Student Representative Nikolas Liebster described the selection process that led to his joining the taskforce. He volunteered to join at one of Hanszen’s weekly college government meetings when the position opened.“Individuals were chosen by presidents of the colleges and we had one representative from each college other than Will Rice,” Liebster said. “We sent the survey to the SA senator of Will Rice and he then distributed it because Will Rice was otherwise not represented.” Thomas voiced appreciation for the administration’s efforts to foster conversation on campus around S.B. 11. “Personally, I am glad Rice is taking these steps to discuss Senate Bill 11 as the safety of our campus is paramount,” Thomas said. “If nothing else, it raises the level of public debate around an issue that is not generally discussed.” Liebster said the task force has worked to remain unbiased.“We’re being as transparent as we can,” Liebster said. “We know that this is a very divisive issue and that people have strong opinions on it so we want to make sure that people feel like they have the opportunity to be heard.” 


NEWS 11/18/15 9:13am

SB#4 passes, moves to Faculty Senate

The Student Association Senate passed Senate Bill #4, creating a task force charged with developing a mandatory Critical Thinking in Sexuality course for new students, by a 19-7 margin at the Nov. 11 Senate meeting.Before voting on the bill, the Senate approved an amendment requiring Senate approval of additional members of the task force, whose first five members were named in the legislation. SA President Jazz Silva, who proposed the course to combat campus sexual misconduct, will chair the task force.“I’m very excited,” Silva, a Sid Richardson College senior, said after the vote. “That was awesome — we have a lot of work to do.”The course proposal will be presented to Faculty Senate, who will make the ultimate decision of whether the course is implemented and made mandatory. The course’s details will be developed by the task force with Faculty Senate, the Provost’s Office and the faculty and students of the Committee on Undergraduate Curriculum, according to the bill. Silva said she hopes the course will be approved in time for it to be ready for next fall’s new students.After its original presentation to the SA Senate on Oct. 28, Brown College President Tom Carroll introduced an amendment to the bill calling for Senate approval of the course once it is developed in addition to the initial vote creating the task force. In its final form, Carroll’s amendment states that the task force must “present details of the course for Senate support through voting procedure” once the curriculum has been outlined. However, the outcome of this vote would not have legal effect on Faculty Senate’s final decision.At the Nov. 11 meeting, immediately before voting on SB#4, the Senate voted on an amendment proposed by Duncan College Senator Reagan Kapp. After revision, the amendment changed the wording of the section of the bill describing more task force members from “additional members to be appointed by the Student Association president” to “additional members to be appointed by the Student Association president and confirmed by the Student Association Senate or by majority vote of the Student Association Senate.”“Part of the reason why students felt they could not support the course was they felt the way the task force was created was unfair,” Kapp, a sophomore, said. “From someone who doesn’t know what’s going on inside student government, it just seems like it’s all being controlled by one sector.”The Senate approved the amendment almost unanimously, with only Lovett College President Griffin Thomas voting against it, then moved on to voting on the overall bill. Kapp said the amendment helped prevent procedural concerns from dragging down the proposal itself.“The goal of this amendment was just to alleviate those concerns so that we can talk about the actual bill, and what it is and what it isn’t, and not just focus on some procedural worry that people have,” Kapp said. “[Also, the task force] should be as representative as possible of the diversity of opinion that we have here at Rice.”The presidents and senators of Baker, Jones and McMurtry Colleges voted no on SB #4, as did Sid Richardson President Lauren Schmidt. All other presidents and senators, as well as the four members of the SA Cabinet, voted yes.Sid Richardson Senator Justin Onwenu said he and Schmidt agreed to split their votes to reflect the divided opinions at their college, where 58 percent said they supported the class and 42 percent said they opposed it in a non-mandatory survey.“Other colleges [voted such that] the majority won out,” Onwenu, a sophomore, said. “We just thought it would be a better idea to split the vote that way to be equally representative. There were more ‘no’s than we anticipated, so we just thought giving them a voice would be helpful.”McMurtry President Elizabeth Finley said she and McMurtry Senator Mishi Jain voted against the bill after a slight majority of their college’s survey opposed the proposal. “These responses, along with our concern regarding how rushed the process was and the SA’s minimal communication with relevant stakeholders, caused us to vote against SB#4,” Finley, a senior, said in an email sent to McMurtry members.Finley said she and Jain personally supported the concept of a sexuality class for all students.“Though we feel that education is extremely important, we want to ensure that this initiative is done thoughtfully,” Finley, said in the email. “We felt that it was imperative to vote how the college wanted us to vote, regardless of how that may or may not have conflicted with personal views.”Hanszen College President Angela Masciale, in contrast, said she voted in favor even though Hanszen’s poll was almost evenly split. Masciale is one of the task force members named by the bill.“Hanszen [is] about 300 students,” Masciale, a senior, said. “And 100 voted. So if you’re [trying to be] completely representative, you can’t, because two thirds didn’t even vote.” Masciale said comments from the Hanszen survey showed that much of the opposition was due to logistical concerns or misinformation.“A lot of what was negative was very mis- and ill-informed,” Masciale said. “There was a post that said, ‘They should do another survey of sexual assault of only the penetration because I think unwanted kissing and touching isn’t sexual assault.’ That’s obviously wrong. That is sexual assault.”Hanszen Senator Olivia Hsia said fears of the Faculty Senate disregarding student input when approving the developed course are unfounded, even if the SA Senate does not have the power to actually reject the final product.“If there’s something in there that we don’t like and are not receptive of, then if we — the Student Association and student body — pool our support, I firmly believe the class will not come forward,” Hsia, a junior, said. “There is historical precedent that Faculty Senate has only done these initiatives because the students had wanted it.”Thomas said he voted for the overall bill because he supports the underlying proposal of a mandatory sexuality class.“Procedurally [the bill] became problematic throughout the debate, but I’m glad that ultimately students put the sexual well being of the campus first,” Thomas, a junior, said.Masciale also said she voted yes because she supported the proposal’s spirit, even if she disagreed with some aspects of its implementation.“I was very surprised that there was such a backlash against [SB #4],” Masciale said. “It’s all in good spirit. It’s not to make anyone feel like they are cornered or that their voice isn’t heard. It’s about tolerance of people from different backgrounds. That’s why we have this vote of the spirit.” 


NEWS 11/16/15 5:34pm

Public speaking trainer software wins OEDK Elevator Pitch Competition

A total of 45 student teams – an all time high – presented 90-second pitches to an audience that included 99 judges from the Houston community in this year’s undergraduate Elevator Pitch Competition, held on Nov. 12 in the Shell Auditorium.Coming in first place, and the recipient of $1,500, was team SpeakEasy, founded by Brown College senior Abhipray Sahoo and Hanszen College senior Zichao Wang.According to Sahoo and Wang, SpeakEasy is “a software-based personal trainer to assist people during their preparations for public speaking.”The product uses speech analysis and computer vision to analyze body language and facial expressions. It also incorporates virtual reality to simulate the audience experience and help individuals get rid of public speaking anxiety.In second place, and the recipient of $1,000, was team Comfortably Numb, pitched by Jones College sophomore Matthew O’Gorman, whose product helps combat a different phobia: fear of needles. The device numbs the skin at an entry site by cooling it prior to the administration of a vaccine.“I found the pitch was a great opportunity to hone my delivery skills and get feedback on our product from judges,” O’Gorman said.Comfortably Numb already has a 3-D printed prototype of their device and would like to proceed to clinical testing soon.“The [Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen] has been very instrumental in the success of our product,” O’Gorman said. “With the 3-D printer there, we have been able to rapidly prototype our device.”Rounding out the top five were teams Tube Much, OutSTENTing and RevIVe, all of which created medical devices to make medical procedures either easier or less expensive.Director of Rice Alliance Brad Burke commended this year’s competition for including more independent teams than ever before.


NEWS 11/10/15 3:42pm

Campus carry working group to survey students

The campus carry working group has released a survey available on their website to gauge student opinion on whether the university should allow the carrying of concealed handguns on campus, as per Texas Senate Bill 11. The survey is open to all undergraduates and closes at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 15.The bill, signed into law on June 13, authorizes a concealed handgun license owner to carry a concealed handgun on university campuses effective Aug. 1, 2016. Private and independent institutions have until then to decide whether to set regulations prohibiting license holders from carrying weapons on campus after consulting with students, staff and faculty. The survey is a component of a long term consultative process to decide whether Rice will opt out of the provision for private institutions. The working group has also met with the Faculty Senate, Student Association, Graduate Student Association and Staff Advisory Committee for input and will present the feedback to President David Leebron, who will make the final decision. Vice President for Administration Kevin E. Kirby said in a letter to the Rice community that the working group hopes to complete the consultative process by the end of the fall semester. More information about the bill, Rice’s weapons policy and forums for discussion can be found at ugcc.blogs.rice.edu.


NEWS 11/10/15 3:42pm

Students weigh benefits, drawbacks of small majors

In the five years from 2009 to 2014, the number of undergraduate students with declared humanities majors decreased by over 200 students while the number in the natural sciences division has increased by a similar amount.Some students majoring in smaller academic schools and degree programs have expressed concerns about the repercussions of majoring in areas with few students. However, others said there are benefits to being part of a small community. The School of Humanities contains the fewest undergraduate majors, according to the Office of Institutional Research: The entire humanities division held only 157 declared majors in fall 2014; comparatively, the psychology major alone, a part of the School of Social Sciences, had 209 declared students and mechanical engineering had 163. After registering for Asian Religions in America (ASIA 230) in spring 2015, Asian studies major Radhika Sharma said she was concerned the course would be canceled due to lack of enrollment, since it only had three students after the first class.“I started to ask my friends to sign up for the class before the two-week add deadline passed because we needed at least five students to be registered or the class may be cut,” Sharma, a Brown College sophomore, said.Sharma said her friends added the course the day before the deadline and dropped it soon after so that the class would not get cancelled.Some departments may cancel courses with low enrollment, according to University Registrar David Tenney (Sid Richardson ’87), but unlike many institutions, Rice does not in fact have a policy requiring a minimum number of students to enroll in the course to prevent its cancellation.“I’ve heard that some academic departments closely monitor their course enrollments during registration in order to monitor and measure demand,” Tenney said. “Our office will see a few courses cancelled before the semester starts, but very, very few.”According to Sonia Ryang, director of the Chao Center for Asian Studies, there are 25 to 30 students majoring in Asian studies at any given time and roughly 15 students graduate with a bachelor’s degree in the major each year. Sharma said she feels the largest issue with the department is the relative lack of resources present for Asian studies majors, though she said the department was working to improve.“A lot of our peer universities ... have established opportunities for Asian studies students that help them gain real-world experience and a much deeper understanding of a culture, but we are lacking in [these opportunities], which is unfortunate,” Sharma said.Likewise, medieval and early modern studies major Henry Bair said the biggest drawback of being in a small major was the smaller number of opportunities offered.“Rice already provides very little for the humanities, and being a tiny major in the humanities certainly doesn’t help,” Bair said. “This lack of resources is manifested in the dearth of publicity, guest lectures, relevant material in the library, funds for students and variety in course offerings.”Medieval and early modern studies is Rice’s smallest major; the major is interdisciplinary and has only two to three declared undergraduate students each year, according to program director and art history professor Diane Wolfthal. In 2011, there was only one MDEM major. “The highly interdisciplinary nature of the major makes it easy to see how literature, art, history, linguistics, philosophy, religion and music are all interrelated,” Bair said. Asian studies is also interdisciplinary, which Ryang said allows for faculty in both the School of Humanities and School of Social Sciences to be affiliated with the Chao Center. French studies, another small interdisciplinary major, currently has only 20 declared undergraduates. French studies major Alex Mardock, a Lovett College senior, said a small major can sometimes actually increase the resources available to each student since there is less competition. “The department awards generous scholarships to several students who hope to study abroad in France,” Mardock said. “The small size of the student population makes such opportunities attainable for most people who apply.”Asian studies major Karen Resnick said the connections students can easily build with their professors is the another advantage for the divisions with so few students. “Classes are much smaller and the program itself cares a lot about each student individually,” Resnick, a Duncan College senior, said. “They are able to devote a lot more time and resources, as well as listen to student feedback.” Additionally, Ryang said the Asian studies B.A. is well-suited for double majoring with other subjects, including math, science and engineering. Double majoring is common in many small majors. According to Deborah Nelson-Campbell, a French studies professor, out of the 20 declared majors, most of the students are double majoring. “We have a large number of majors who are pre-med and enjoy their French courses because they are so different from science courses,” Nelson-Campbell said. “Many of our majors use French after graduation as a way to increase the options that they have in the job they get with their other major.”Mardock, who is majoring solely in French studies, said the stigma that French studies is an easy major or produces graduates with poor job prospects is a drawback to majoring in a less-popular major. “I was once asked, upon telling someone my major, ‘So, what’s your other major?’” Mardock said. “Personally, I’m truly passionate about my classes and my major.”Mardock said he felt that negative perceptions of many small majors may be preventing them from enrolling more students.“I will forever be grateful for the knowledge and perspective on the world that I’ve gained throughout my time at Rice,” Mardock said. “It makes me sad to know that many of my peers are turned away from smaller majors by the external pressure of these stereotypes.”


NEWS 11/10/15 3:41pm

SA considers support for climate change resolution

The Student Association will be voting on whether to add its name to the Resolution on Climate Change, a petition put forth by the Texas Drought Project. The SA’s endorsement would make it one of 120 organizations and groups who have signed the resolution, bringing the Texas Drought Project closer to its 250 signature goal. According to the Texas Drought Project’s website, the resolution calls for the U.S. government to take a stance against the emission of greenhouse gases and in support of the movement away from fossil fuels at the 2015 United Nations Climate Conference, to be held this December in Paris. The conference aims to arrive at a universal agreement on climate change, following a similar conference in Copenhagen in 2012 that postponed the signing of an agreement until this year, to go into effect in 2020.The SA legislation would also call upon the Faculty Senate and the Graduate Student Association to join the SA in their support of the resolution, as well as for the university as a whole to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.The resolution would be in line with the 100-Year Sustainability Plan passed by the SA in its 2011-2012 session. According to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, that plan led to a series of actions and resolutions aimed at improving campus sustainability.


NEWS 11/10/15 3:41pm

Demand for boba spurs new student business

Rice students struggling with bubble tea addiction can say goodbye to any chance of kicking their habit. The goods will soon be domestically produced: Five students are hard at work creating a boba business here on campus.Hanszen College senior David Cooper, Lovett College senior Tommy Bennett, Martel College senior Leo Meister, Martel junior David Warren and Jones College senior Drew Sutherland created, manage and own the still-unnamed business.The students plan to begin operations selling its tea in bulk to Rice clubs for club fundraisers at the beginning of the spring semester. These flavors include plain milk tea, thai tea, coffee, taro, jasmine, oreo and other monthly flavors.According to Sutherland, the business will sell boba tea to clubs at $2.25 and deliver the drinks 10 minutes before sales begin. The tea will be made the same morning for freshness. The business will sell teas to clubs at variable quantities, instead of in orders of 100, which according to Sutherland, is an advantage over other vendors of the Taiwanese drink when selling to Rice clubs.“The clubs currently buy tea from Teahouse at $2.50 per tea in bulk orders of 100,” Sutherland said. “That provides limited flexibility. They have to bring their own coolers to Teahouse, load it all up, take it back to the campus.”Retail sales are planned to begin later in the spring semester. Sutherland said the business will sell teas in college commons.“You don’t have to walk off campus,” Sutherland said. “We’ll bring [the boba] to you.”The business began as a project for their Marketing (BUSI 380) last March, and the students spent the summer and fall semester working on research and development. The business will be privately owned by the students and will not register as a Rice-affiliated student-run business.Jones College sophomore Wesley Yee helped with taste testing and gave positive reviews.“[The] boba tasted amazing,” Yee said. “I particularly noticed how the tea wasn’t overly sweet and how the boba was soft and tasted fresh.”Eileen Huang, vice chair of the Rice Asian Pacific American Student Alliance, said that convenience will be a major factor in deciding to which business’ boba the club will sell at fundraisers.“We have used boba sales as a way to raise money in the past,” Huang, a Martel senior, said. “Most of our boba right now is from Teahouse and we usually have to drive to pick them up. Recently, [Teahouse] has not been accepting orders and it has been very inconvenient for us.” Sutherland estimates that the business will employ five to ten additional students to make and deliver the tea. The business plans to lease one of Martel College’s kitchens to prepare the tea. Martel Vice President Itzak Hinojosa said the kitchen was identified as underutilized and that the college voted to lease the space in Parliament after discussing the proposal within the college.“The vote passed and we are currently working to build a contract and the terms in which Martel will rent the space to the business,” Hinojosa said. “So far, Martel does not foresee any potential problems.”Martel senior Jonathon Stach was initially concerned about noise and space issues arising with the business’ machines, but was informed that neither would present a problem.“[I] have been told that the noise level should be minimal, and that the machines would only be operational during specific hours.” Stach said. “So long as the information proves credible, I really shouldn’t have an issue, and would welcome the easy access to boba.”Warren said the students have enjoyed strong support from faculty and staff, including Vice President for Administration Kevin Kirby, Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson, Chemistry instructor Lesa Tran and Housing and Dining. “Their assistance along the way has made this possible,” Warren said. “We are very grateful for the opportunity to make our dream a reality.”


NEWS 11/10/15 3:39pm

Missed Meals: Plan Under Review

The Student Association is working with Housing and Dining to find ways to improve the current meal plan system, which has been criticized by some students for being inflexible, according to Wiess College Senator Hannah Todd. 


NEWS 11/10/15 3:37pm

Houston defeats HERO, split on mayor

The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, a proposition to guarantee various anti-discrimination protections, was voted down by a significant majority in the Nov. 3 election. In the mayoral election, out of a field of 13 candidates, Sylvester Turner and Bill King gained enough votes to advance to a runoff election to be held Dec. 12.Turner, a Democrat, won 31.5 percent of the mayoral vote and King, a Republican, won 25.4 percent, according to the Harris County Clerk’s Office. At 16.8 percent, Democrat Adrian Garcia was the only other candidate to capture more than 1/10 of the vote. Proposition 1, supporting HERO, was defeated 61 percent to 39 percent.HERO, a measure initially passed by the Houston City Council in 2014, prohibits employment, housing and public space discrimination based on 15 characteristics including race, marital or military status, sexual orientation and gender identity. The final two were additional protections beyond what is already established by federal law.After HERO opponents submitted a petition to the city against the ordinance, legal challenges ensued that culminated in a ruling by the Texas Supreme Court requiring Houston to either repeal the law or include it on the election ballot. The campaign surrounding Tuesday’s vote gained state and national attention, including comments in favor of the proposition by President Obama.According to the Houston Chronicle, Rice University had the highest percentage of voters in favor of HERO of any precinct, with nearly 95 percent of voters at the Rice Memorial Center polling station voting yes. However, Rice had relatively low turnout at 25 percent.Austin Bae, a voting liaison, said many Rice students focus on larger elections such as the presidential contest instead of local decisions.“It seems that university students mainly focus on the ‘bigger’ elections,” Bae, a Jones College sophomore, said. “I think a lot of students nationwide forget that there are many other opportunities, in some case, necessities, to participate in elections that are crucial to making that presidential election actually mean anything.”Sam Herrera, chairman of the Rice College Republicans, said he believed King was the better mayoral candidate. According to Herrera, the Rice College Republicans will soon make an official endorsement for the runoff.“[King] addresses the biggest problems for Houston [the pension crisis, crime and the state of the roads] with effective plans,” Herrera said. “He would bring a new vision to city hall in that he is a businessman and not a career politician.”Turner has served in the Texas House of Representatives since 1989. Sid Richardson College sophomore David Cirillo, an intern with Turner’s campaign, said Turner’s experience on the House’s appropriations committee would help him deal with Houston’s debt. Cirillo also pointed to Turner’s support for HERO.“Integration and equality are tenants of who Sylvester Turner is, and his policies reflect that,” Cirillo said. “King is opposed to an equal rights ordinance. He is for a Houston in the past. Houston can’t go back. It needs to move into the future and prove that it is the city of true opportunity. It needs Sylvester Turner.”Kathryn Hokamp, public relations representative of campus advocacy group Queers & Allies, expressed surprise at HERO’s defeat. “Even after hearing the results, even after talking to opponents, I still can’t process that so many people were against HERO,” Hokamp, a Martel College senior, said. “It’s extremely eye-opening to the amount of prejudice toward LGTBQ people in this city. HERO was a bill that should have helped everyone.”Hokamp, who served as Queers & Allies president last year, said the reason for HERO’s defeat was opposition to transgender rights. Campaign for Houston, an anti-HERO organization, widely distributed advertising during the campaign alleging that HERO could allow men to pose as transgender women in order to gain access to women’s restrooms.“When the opposition to HERO became about bathrooms, it became about transphobia,” Hokamp said. “We live in a hugely transphobic city, and the election results confirm that in a scary way.” The successful opposition to HERO has caused Hokamp to rethink plans of staying in Houston after graduation.“I’ll probably end up leaving Houston because I am tired of hiding my sexuality and gender identity in professional contexts,” Hokamp said. “In Houston, any of my employers could fire me if they find out I’m gay or genderqueer, and Houston voters made it that way.”Cirillo, who is also the campus leader of pro-HERO organization Houston Unites, said he believes the vote does not reflect Houston’s values. “Houston turned out based on fear and based on lies, but I know Houston does not value discrimination,” Cirillo said. “Equality is a Houston virtue and it will not be ended by a vote of ignorance.”Cirillo said he is confident another version of HERO would be introduced to the City Council.“Thank you to every Rice student who voted,” Cirillo said. “I know, with the support of every Rice student, that an equal Houston will soon become a reality, regardless of any vote tonight that may say otherwise.”


NEWS 11/10/15 3:36pm

CS town hall confronts growth issues

A town hall organized by computer science majors drew over 50 students and faculty members to address the opportunities and challenges associated with an increasingly large CS department. Students voiced concerns about discrepancies between expectations and the reality of the department, but also optimism about an undergraduate advisory board the Computer Science Club plans to form. The undergraduate population of the CS department has soared in the past six years, growing from 107 declared majors in fall 2009 to 282 in fall 2014, according to the Office of Institutional Research.Department chair and professor of computer science Vivek Sarkar said the entire school of engineering is growing but the speed and scale of the CS department’s expansion exceeds that of the other departments.“The change has been much more dramatic for CS,” Sarkar said. “The current seniors who matriculated in 2012 have seen our major more than double in just the last three years.”Students who attended the town hall formed small groups to discuss questions provided by moderator and Associate Dean of Engineering Education Ann Saterbak. The meeting culminated in a discussion about the issues that the advisory board should address, which range from collecting data from peer institutions to working with professors on course feedback mechanisms.Saterbak said that some of the problems raised are not unique to the department.“Class size is seen as an issue in several departments,” Saterbak said. “There are two other departments where enrollment in upper-level core courses is fairly high: [chemical and mechanical engineering].”CS Club External Vice President Raymond Cano, who organized the town hall, said the presence of faculty members broadened the scope of the conversation.“The professors all brought their own unique insights, definitely making the students think about what the core issues are,” Cano said. “They also helped to clarify many misconceptions that the student body had about the department.”Wiess College freshman and CS major Tim Skaras said he attended the town hall out of concerns for the future of the department rooted in his negative experience during registration. Skaras, who had hoped to enroll in Computational Thinking (COMP 140) in fall 2015, said he was forced into Introduction to Game Programming in Python (COMP 160) due to space constraints. Skaras said this scenario was alarming because it contradicted the advertised image of Rice.“I came to Rice expecting the often quoted 6:1 student to faculty ratio,” Skaras said. “It is troubling to know the CS department struggles to fulfill that image, in the introductory classes and the upper level courses.”Lovett College junior Karin Diamond said she participated in the discussion because the issues being addressed have a personal impact.“I am feeling the effects of this growth particularly acutely at this point in the semester as I try to figure out my schedule for next semester, because I do not have a major advisor,” Diamond said.Brown College senior and CS major Jake Kornblau said the meeting was not organized as a forum where students could discuss their grievances and potential solutions. Instead, participants created a list of both the pros and cons of growth and only shared one or two.“While I applaud Dr. Saterbak for attempting to create a discussion that was balanced... I found the organization of the meeting to almost stifle discussion,” Kornblau said.Kornblau said the way the town hall was organized also limited opportunities for professors to contribute, although their input was significant when they did participate. For instance, in response to students’ concerns about not getting into COMP 140, the class’s professor, Scott Rixner, pointed out that the lenient add-drop system is part of the problem.According to Kornblau, Rixner said so many students have dropped COMP 140 that there is now more than enough space for those who originally could not register for the class.In fall 2014, the Committee of Undergraduate Curriculum proposed a limit on the number of drops per semester, but the proposal was dropped due to opposition by the student body and the Student Association.Wiess College sophomore Ethan Perez said the meeting helped him comprehend the complexity of the issues faced by the CS department. “I got a better understanding of the problems CS at Rice faces... and some of the reasoning behind decisions the department and various professors have made,” Perez said.Sarkar said he encourages students to express the problems that they are facing, but to be more careful about proposing solutions.“In my opinion, students have more credibility when they focus on stating what issues they are facing, rather how those issues should be addressed.” Sarkar said. “Because [issues are something] nobody can argue with. Those are the facts. If we agree that the ‘what’ is a problem, then we have a basis to collectively figure out ‘how’ the problem should be addressed.”According to Sarkar, the solutions can take one of two approaches: either restrict the number of CS majors, or hire more faculty members. He said the current faculty is split between the two options, but he is hopeful about investment in faculty since it is a national trend among universities. “My position is that we need to find the teaching resources to meet the increased demand of Rice students, both majors and non-majors, who want to take CS classes, rather than cap our enrollments,” Sarkar said. “That’s what all the other leading computer science departments are doing. So why should we be left behind?”Kornblau said after talking to fellow students, he feels their real complaint is that they are not given the experience promised to them.“The administration tried to present a lot of facts and spin to make it seem like the growth in CS wasn’t bad by comparison,” Kornblau said. “[Meanwhile] the CS professors were staying way later than normal hours to try and figure out what students felt they were missing out on and how to best proceed going forward.”The administration will have to step in with the resources necessary for solutions, Sarkar said. “As a department, we are limited as to what we can do to address many of the issues brought up during the CS town hall,” Sarkar said. “I look forward to a dialog at other levels of the university to discuss what can be done.”Dean of the School of Engineering Ned Thomas said the student-faculty ratio in engineering has grown too high, and new resources as well as reallocation of existing resources are needed to balance students’ freedom to pursue their aspirations with Rice’s traditional strengths. “The Data Science Initiative that was endorsed by the Board of Trustees last May will help CS through some hiring of tenure track faculty and non tenure track instructors,” Thomas said. “But still more needs to be done in order to provide a superior educational experience here at Rice.” Sarkar said the advisory board adds a structural component to running the department, which he sees as a shared responsibility. Diamond said she is optimistic about the advisory board despite concerns that it will lack in momentum of power to affect real change.“I appreciate the efforts of the CS club to find a constructive way to address the students concerns instead of just complaining about the department,” Diamond said.


NEWS 11/4/15 3:49am

Student health services issues warning on asp caterpillars following increase in EMS calls for venomous stings

Squirrels are no longer the only species on campus that students should watch out for. According to Student Health Services, Rice Emergency Medical Services has handled a large number of cases of asp caterpillar stings over the past week. Asps, also known as flannel moths, reside primarily in trees and shrubs during the fall months and are characterized by their teardrop shape and yellowish or reddish brown fur. But don’t be fooled by their furry appearance. Asps are coated with venomous spines that sting the skin upon contact, causing a painful rash. Health Services said that if stung by an asp, it is best to rinse the affected area with soap and water, use tape to pull out remaining hairs, apply ice to the area, take an oral antihistamine (such as Benadryl) and apply a topical hydrocortisone. If the symptoms persist or are more severe, such as shortness of breath, Health Services said EMS should be called immediately. Those with a history of allergies to insects should seek immediate care. Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson warned the Rice community about the asps on his Facebook page.“These things are quite unpleasant,” Hutchinson said.



NEWS 11/4/15 3:25am

Teaching consultations draw faculty interest

Rice’s Center for Teaching Excellence offers services such as teaching consultations, in class observations and workshops to help individual instructors develop effective teaching methods. According to CTE Director Joshua Eyler, 34 percent of instructional faculty utilized these services from the center’s founding in 2012 to March 2015. “We always want more, but we are very pleased with that figure,” Eyler said. “In comparison with our peers, that’s high. We are at least on the same curve as our peers like Northwestern [University], which has a very established center that’s been around for decades.”Faculty schedule appointments with the CTE on an individual basis and can have CTE members sit in on their classes to follow up. All consultations are confidential and operate independently of the university’s official evaluative structure, which deals with tenure, promotion and student evaluations, according to Eyler.“Faculty can come to us without any worry about how it will affect their career,” Eyler said. “For someone to talk about their teaching, that’s a very personal thing.” Due to the confidentiality policy, there is no public record of courses that have been changed or restructured through consultation services. Baker College sophomore Alex Hayes said he wants to see more transparency in how teaching consultations may improve courses. “I would like to know if utilization of CTE services actually results in improved courses,” Hayes said. “We have course review data, so this shouldn’t be difficult.” According to Eyler, there are no reliable ways to measure course improvement. “There are methods to measure effectiveness of our services but none are perfect,” Eyler said.Steven Cox, a CTE fellow, said the center does not gather data on course improvement. “The CTE is a resource for teachers at Rice,” Cox said. “Those that seek consultations with the CTE expect and deserve a consultation fitted to their unique station rather than to a generic rubric. As no metric is applied, no data is gathered.Baker College sophomore Emily Rao said she would like to see the effects of student feedback.“Increased transparency especially in large intro classes would be really helpful,” Rao said.Cox said student evaluations of courses are sometimes used in CTE consultations. “As each consultation is tailored to the individual, it is up to that individual to bring student evaluations into the mix,” Cox said.Student feedback has been incorporated into several of the CTE’s counterpart programs. Northwestern University’s Searle Center for Advanced Learning and Teaching, established in 1992, offers discussion groups for students to provide constructive feedback directly to their professors, according to the Searle Center’s website.Duncan College sophomore Manlin Yao said she is in favor of a dialogue between professors and students about the quality of instruction.“Even with the end-of-semester course reviews, there might not actually be a change in instruction,” Yao said. “Students would also be more honest if they knew that their reviews are actually being considered.Hayes said the faculty are inconsistent in considering  student evaluations.“I was frustrated to learn that one of my professors from last year didn’t even know she had received student feedback,” Hayes said.According to Eyler, the best route for a student is to raise concerns about a course directly with the professor first, with the department chair second and with the school dean third. “Because the CTE is not an evaluative office, we would not be involved with complaints in this way,” Eyler said. Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson said students have approached him with such complaints in the past. “There are a number of cases of students letting me know of their concerns about the teaching in a specific course, Hutchinson said. “Students do come to me for advice or assistance, and we are always able to work through a process that results in improvement.”All statistics available at the CTE are presented publicly at the annual Advisory Board Meeting in March. 


NEWS 11/4/15 3:24am

Senate bill raises concerns

Student Association President Jazz Silva officially introduced a bill creating a task force to spearhead the design of a mandatory Critical Thinking in Sexuality course for incoming freshmen at the Oct. 28 Senate meeting. Since her presentation, an amendment to mandate a second round of SA voting has been added to the bill.  The vote, which was originally scheduled to Nov. 4, will now take place on Nov. 11. Students across campus continue to express concerns to their representatives before they vote on the bill. The task force created by Senate Bill #4 is charged with developing a course addressing healthy relationships, sexuality perspectives, safe sex, bystander intervention and sexual assault prevention. Silva, a Sid Richardson College senior, first announced her proposal on Oct. 21, following a campus-wide discussion of the results of Survey of Unwanted Sexual Encounters on Oct. 7.  Task ForceAccording to Silva, the task force will work with the Committee on Undergraduate Curriculum to develop the course outline, which will then be presented to the Faculty Senate for approval. The legislation names three initial members of the task force from the SA: Duncan College President Colin Shaw, who co-proposed the legislation with Silva, Hanszen College President Angela Masciale and Sid Richardson College New Student Representative Ramee Saleh. The initial task force also includes Women’s Resource Center Co-Director Cristell Perez and Brown College junior James Carter, referred to as a “General Student Body Representative.”“The task force members consist of students who are highly informed about the SUSE results, bring a variety of perspectives to the table, feel passionately about the program, and can think critically about the program,” Silva said. “Most of these people have been working on the proposal for quite some time.”Carter said Silva asked him to be on the task force for his perspective as a black male and role as a past Orientation Week Coordinator. “While I don’t have an official position that entitles me to have an opinion, I think that was something else Jazz wanted to have on the task force: someone who doesn’t have a pointed position, who wasn’t already on the SA, someone who’s just a community member,” Carter said. Recalling the task force’s first meeting, Carter said the five members brought different perspectives and opinions, though they were all appointed by Silva.“Everyone in the room was critical, not in a bad way – there was a lot of thought that went into the conversation we had,” Carter said. “It wasn’t like everyone in the room was on board with how everything was being presented already.”Perez, a Baker College senior, said she gave feedback as Silva was developing the class proposal, leading Silva to invite her to join the task force. “We kind of had the same visions for certain initiatives and approaches for addressing different issues,” Perez said. “I think I do bring a lot of different aspects to this task force, but definitely we still need more diversity. I think we need more people of color as well as more queer people.”Silva said the task force will add more members, though she said it could not add too many without losing effectiveness, with a hypothetical maximum of seven or eight members. She said students who are not on the task force can still get involved in the process by submitting feedback.“I’m going to make sure every single piece of feedback, whether it be completely in line with what I believe, or completely outlandish, it’s all on the table,” Silva said. AmendmentAfter the presentation of the bill, the Senate added an amendment requiring the task force to present a detailed course outline to the SA for approval before final approval by the Faculty Senate. The amendment was proposed by Brown College President Tom Carroll. Carroll, a senior, said the amendment’s goal is to allow students the opportunity to stand not just behind the spirit of the course but also its logistics, which he said seems to be many students’ major concern.“Some students are wary of giving final support before they know more about what the final structure of the class would look like,” Carroll said. “This amendment results in a proposal which better balances the urgency of getting this course implemented in a short time span with the critical need for student engagement and buy-in throughout the unprecedented process creating this course would involve.”Silva said while the task force may not be able to present a detailed course outline before meeting with the Faculty Senate, it will provide updates to the Senate later in the development process.“The spirit of the amendment is that throughout the process the task force will be reporting and [Senate] will have some sort of voice of whether they agree with how the process is going,” Silva said. “As a governing body that is trusting, we are just going to respect what the spirit was.”Carroll emphasized the function of additional voting by the SA under his amendment is simply to gauge student opinion, not halt the process of creating the course. “This final vote will not be a restriction for the working group going forward with the [Faculty] Senate,” Carroll said. “It would just be to get an idea of where the students stand on this.”Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson said in the meeting the administration is willing to support whatever initiatives the student body decides to implement. He said the language of the legislation is similar to the initial proposal to create First-Year Writing Intensive Seminars in 2012, which was also voted upon before the curriculum was completely outlined. DelayAt the Oct. 28 meeting, voting on the bill was planned for the Senate meeting a week later on Nov. 4. However, in an email distributing the agenda for the Nov. 4 meeting, SA Secretary Brianna Singh announced that voting would be delayed. According to a website created by Silva supporting the bill, voting is now planned for the Nov. 11 Senate meeting.“Timing is everything, and we wanted to make sure you all have adequate time and notice to discuss this at your colleges,” Singh, a Hanszen College sophomore, said in the email.Jake Nyquist, the Senator from Will Rice College, said minor revisions were made to the legislation before and after the bill’s presentation on Oct. 28, but a full copy of the revised bill was not distributed at the meeting or posted online immediately afterward. Nyquist, a sophomore, said he reached out to the Cabinet and SA Parliamentarian Annabelle McIntire-Gavlick, for a final copy but did not receive the final text for two days. The SA Constitution states that a full copy of a bill must be provided at a Senate meeting at least a week before voting occurs. So, according to Nyquist, the delay in voting was required because a vote on Nov. 4 would be unconstitutional. McIntire-Gavlick, a Lovett College junior, and Perez confirmed that the constitutional requirement of prior notice was the reason for the voting delay. ResponsesAt the SA meeting, Duncan College Senator Reagan Kapp said she is concerned about how to evaluate the course’s success. “We need to be concerned about the practical implementation and effectiveness of the course in the long run,” Kapp, a sophomore, said. “It is crucial that we be able to ascertain whether or not our response is helping fix the problem.”In response to Kapp’s question, as well as others regarding implementation, Silva said she would defer practical judgments to the task force.Silva also addressed the suggestion that the course should include general well-being topics.“What we have at Rice is a lot of catch-alls,” Silva said. “Right now what we’re trying to solve is this problem of sexual assault on campus. We are going to give that its own attention.”At the meeting, Wiess College freshman Avery Johnson questioned whether lack of knowledge is the real cause of sexual assault.“Are these high rates of unwanted sexual experiences at Rice University due to under-education about consent or due to Rice being a ‘wet’ campus?” Johnson asked. “This proposal, although having good intentions, may be unnecessary.” Carroll said he thinks solving sexual assault requires a novel and aggressive approach, which is why he supports the legislation and wants to ensure its smooth passing.“What we’ve seen around the country is that traditional programming has not been sufficiently effective at combating sexual [misconduct],” Carroll said. “This is the only potential solution I’ve heard of that brings everyone to the table in a way [to] allow for meaningful discussion and creation of a shared understanding of community values.”Senators from several colleges, including Duncan, Lovett, Martel, Wiess and Will Rice Colleges, have been seeking feedback from their constituents. According to Kapp, who initially believed Duncan to be generally in support of the proposal, results from the anonymous survey revealed an alarming split. Kapp said she is concerned the current discussion atmosphere is making dissenters reluctant to share their opinions for fear that their views will not be respected or considered seriously.“The conversations that we are having in public about the proposed course might not be representative of the opinion split of the entire student body,” Kapp said. “The fact that these results surprised me so much makes me worry that those who do not support the course do not feel comfortable sharing their opinions in public discourse.” Martel College Senator Marisa Hudson said she has received mixed responses from Martel. Hudson, a sophomore, said most concerns revolve around a few aspects of the class: enforcing mandatory attendance, finding appropriate teachers, course duration, inclusion of LGBT classes and  students who may be triggered by these topics.


NEWS 11/4/15 3:23am

Honor Council seeks student feedback

The Honor Council Working Group may consider major structural changes depending upon the responses gathered from the Survey of All Students, released on Monday, Nov. 2. According to Honor Council Chair Alex Metcalf, the working group hopes to hear from both student and faculty experiences to explore the Rice community’s understanding of the honor system.


NEWS 11/4/15 3:22am

Demonstration in solidarity with black women draws professors, students

Rice University students held a demonstration in the academic quad to show support for black females following an incident of a school sheriff throwing and dragging a black female student at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina. From noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30, students held signs bearing statements such as “Black female lives matter,” and black women linked arms in front of Willy’s Statue. Several students also performed spoken word, sang and wrote cards to the student who was thrown by the officer, as well as her friend, who filmed the event and has been charged with disrupting school, a misdemeanor in South Carolina. About 80 students attended, including black males and females as well as other student and professor allies.The main organizers of the event were Martel College senior Chavonte Wright and Wiess College senior Blaque Robinson. At the close of the event, Robinson said a few words to summarize their goals.“We will not just be angry women,” Robinson said. “We will not just be your booty-popping party girl. We will not just be the girl you have sex with to see what black ass is like. We are black women and we are human.”Robinson said she wanted students in attendance to not walk away having just supported black women for the day but to continue to recognize black women.“Thank the black women who cook your food and clean your room,” Robinson said. “Don’t just walk by like they don’t exist. Smile and say hello. Thank the black women administrators and staff who work behind the scenes to make sure your Rice experience is all that it can be.”According to Director of Multicultural Affairs Catherine Clack, the Office of Multicultural Affairs provided the supplies for posters and cards but was not involved in organizing the event itself, which was part of Wright and Robinson’s Activism Initiative under the OMA.“This is a beautiful event [and] a worthy event,” Clack said. “I’m tremendously proud of Rice University for responding in the way that it has today because this issue affects all of us. We need to all be aware and all care about what’s going on.”Wright said she hoped the demonstration would not be seen as a response to an isolated case of police brutality.“The purpose of the Black Lives Matter movement is to call attention to underlying issues in this country that are produced by racism, capitalism and patriarchy, and how those come to victimize black people more than [they do] any other demographic,” Wright said.Videos of the incident at Spring Valley High School have gone viral since they were first released Oct. 26. According to reports, after the student refused the teacher’s request to leave the classroom, a white sheriff’s deputy who served as a coach on the football team, was called in. The officer wrapped his arm around the student’s neck, flipped her out of her seat and dragged her across the floor. The officer has since been fired with no charges; the charges against the two students have not been dropped. On Friday, approximately 100 students at the school staged a walkout in support of the officer.


NEWS 11/3/15 8:25pm

Houston voters reject equal rights ordinance

The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), a controversial law guaranteeing various anti-discrimination protections, was voted down by a significant majority in the Nov. 3 election.HERO, a measure initially passed by the Houston City Council in 2014, prohibits employment, housing and public space discrimination due to many characteristics including race, marital or military status, sexual orientation and gender identity. The final two were additional protections beyond what is already established by federal law.After HERO opponents submitted a petition to the city against the ordinance, legal challenges ensued that culminated in a ruling by the Texas Supreme Court requiring Houston to either repeal the law or include it on the election ballot. The campaign surrounding Tuesday’s vote gained state and national attention.With all voting precincts reporting, a total of 100,427 citizens or 39 percent voted in favor of Houston Proposition 1, supporting HERO, while 156,882 or 61 percent voted against, according to the Harris County Clerk’s Office.Kathryn Hokamp, public relations representative of campus advocacy group Queers & Allies, expressed surprise at HERO’s defeat.“Even after hearing the results, even after talking to opponents, I still can’t process that so many people were against HERO,” Hokamp, a Martel College senior, said. “It’s extremely eye-opening to the amount of prejudice toward LGTBQ people in this city. HERO was a bill that should have helped everyone.”Hokamp, who served as Queers & Allies president last year, said the reason for HERO’s defeat was opposition to transgender rights. Campaign for Houston, an anti-HERO organization, widely distributed advertising during the campaign alleging that HERO could allow men to pose as trans women in order to gain access to women’s restrooms.“When the opposition to HERO became about bathrooms, it became about transphobia. We live in a hugely transphobic city, and the election results confirm that in a scary way,” Hokamp said. “I’ll probably end up leaving Houston because I am tired of hiding my sexuality and gender identity in professional contexts … in Houston, any of my employers could fire me if they find out I’m gay or genderqueer, and Houston voters made it that way.”David Cirillo, the campus leader of pro-HERO organization Houston Unites, said he believes the vote does not reflect Houston’s true values.“Houston turned out based on fear and based on lies, but I know Houston does not value discrimination,” Cirillo, a Sid Richardson College sophomore, said. “Equality is a Houston virtue and it will not be ended by a vote of ignorance.”Cirillo is also involved with the Rice Queer Resource Center and Rice affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union as well as serving as a communication director for the Rice Young Democrats. He said he was confident another version of HERO would be introduced to Houston’s City Council.“Thank you to every Rice student who voted,” Cirillo said. “I know, with the support of every Rice student, that an equal Houston will soon become a reality, regardless of any vote tonight that may say otherwise.”


NEWS 11/3/15 12:42pm

HERO lobbyists risk violating Texas Election Code at RMC

Representatives of the Houston Unites coalition, a lobbying group supporting Proposition 1, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, were potentially violating Texas election code on Election Day at the Rice Memorial Center polling place. Two members of the group wearing shirts promoting HERO were situated within the RMC less than 10 feet from the entrance to Miner Lounge, where the polling stations were located. They asked passersby whether they were registered to vote and their stance on HERO and offered food to voters.According to Texas Election Code Title 6 Chapter 61.003, “a person commits an offense if, during the voting period and within 100 feet of an outside door through which a voter may enter the building in which a polling place is located, the person electioneers for or against any candidate, measure, or political party.” A violation is considered to be a Class C misdemeanor.Trevor Chandler, one of the coalition representatives situated within the RMC, said the group was hoping to get out the vote as much as possible in a race with a slim margin. When asked if he was aware of the legality of being located within the RMC adjacent to the polling place, Chandler said he would be happy to acquiesce if the election official requested they move.“We've been here and the polling officials have been here and no polling or election official has told us to move, so as of right now, we've been having a very uneventful time,” Chandler said.The presiding Election Judge Gwendolyn Claybon said she was unaware of the lobbyists or of the rules against electioneering for specific measures as opposed to candidates.“I was just told if [a lobbyist] didn’t have any candidate's name on [his] shirt, there’s no problem,” Claybon said. “All they have to do is turn it inside. Just go in the restroom and flip [the shirt] over.”Claybon, after being shown the Election Code and notified that the lobbyists were not Rice students, asked the individuals to move outside the RMC beyond the distance markers. The lobbyists were compliant."I have distance markers outside and they were like, 'I didn't see it,'” Claybon said. “How can you not see that big old sign?"


NEWS 10/31/15 8:15am

Rice students hold demonstration in solidarity with black women

Rice students held a demonstration in the academic quad to show support of black females following an incident of a school sheriff throwing and dragging a black female student at Spring Valley High School.From noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30, students held signs bearing statements such as “Black female lives matter” and black women linked arms in front of Willy’s Statue. Several students also performed spoken word, sang and wrote cards to the female who was thrown by the officer, as well as her friend who filmed the event and has been charged with disrupting school, a misdemeanor in South Carolina. About 80 students were in attendance, including black males, females and allies who were both students and professors.The main organizers of the event were Martel College senior Chavonte Wright and Wiess senior Blaque Robinson. At the close of the event, Robinson said a few words to summarize.“We will not just be angry women,” Robinson said. “We will not just be your booty-popping party girl. We will not just be the girl you have sex with to see what black ass is like. We are black women and we are human.”Robinson said she wanted students in attendance to not walk away having finished supporting black women for the day, but to continue to recognize black women.“Thank the black women who cook your food and clean your room,” Robinson said. “Don’t just walk by like they don’t exist. Smile and say hello. Thank the black women administrators and staff who work behind the scenes to make sure your Rice experience is all that it can be.”According to Director of Multicultural Affairs Catherine Clack, the Office of Multicultural Affairs provided the supplies for posters and cards, but was not involved in organizing the event itself, which was part of Wright and Robinson’s Activism Initiative under the OMA.“This is a beautiful event [and] a worthy event,” Clack said. “I’m tremendously proud of Rice University for responding in the way that it has today, because this issue affects all of us. We need to all be aware and all care about what’s going on.”Wright said she hoped the demonstration would not be seen as a response to an isolated case of police brutality.“The purpose of the Black Lives Matter movement is to call attention to underlying issues in this country that are produced by racism, capitalism and patriarchy, and how those come to victimize black people more than [they do] any other demographic,” Wright said.Videos of the incident at Spring Valley High School have gone viral since they were first released on Monday night. According to recent reports, the student refused the teacher’s request to leave the classroom, following which a white sheriff’s deputy, who also served as a coach on the football team, was called in. The officer wrapped his arm around the student’s neck, flipped her out of her seat and dragged her across the floor. The officer has since been fired, with no charges; the charges against the two students have not been dropped. On Friday, approximately 100 students at the school staged a walk-out in support of the officer.