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NEWS 10/28/13 7:00pm

IT warns students about dangers of downloading

Downloading Game of Thrones, Parks and Recreation or The Legend of Korra can garner a $20,000 fine, but that has not stopped Rice students from doing it. According to Information Technology Security Officer Marc Scarborough, those shows are some of the few that have recently had a large amount of downloads.Scarborough said Rice's IT department does not monitor student activity and responds solely to notices from companies directly contacting him regarding copyright infringement from downloading on the Rice Owls network."[The IT department doesn't] detect illegal activity," Scarborough said. "It's not Rice. It's [the content provider] deciding how they want to distribute material."Scarborough said he has previously received notices for illegal downloads of music, movies, games, software, and textbooks or e-books through programs including BitTorrent, uTorrent, Ares and eMonkey."It's all over the place. It seems like there are patterns of 'today it's HBO and Game of Thrones,' next week it's e-books, some days it's movies, some days it's music," Scarborough said. "There's not a consistent thing about it ... There might be three [notices] a week, or there might be 15 a week. I'd say on average, [we receive] three or four [notices] a week."Scarborough said the notices he receives contain information on the material downloaded and the time and date it was accessed, as well as the Internet Protocol address of the computer used for downloading. He said he then connects the IP address to a specific user on the network - almost always a student - and passes the case on to Student Judicial Programs.Senior Associate General Counsel Joe Davidson said Rice receives 300 to 350 copyright infringement notifications per year for illegal downloads.Due to the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, every source that acts as an Internet service provider, which includes Rice University, must have an individual who can act as the agent of service and process. Davidson acts as the contact for Rice University and thus receives the notices from companies."For music and movies, the notices come from the rights holders, while pornography copyrights are typically enforced by umbrella organizations," Davidson said. "You're seeing a lot of increased enforcement [over the past six years] because the enforcement is [no longer] done manually; it's done by Web crawlers."Davidson said there has been a large increase in the enforcement of pornography copyright laws in the last two years.He said that unlike music, television and movie copyright holders, which typically send a warning letter, pornography enforcement companies directly send a settlement letter meant for the person who downloaded the material. In such cases, the student would then have to pay the associated fines to the company and possibly seek legal counsel. "I encourage students to be very careful with their activities on the Web," Davidson said. "Copyrights can be enforced against you, and you can be liable for statutory damages, [which are] mandatory minimum fines [that may be] $20,000 per violation. It's not worth it. Go buy the copy."Charlotte Larson, a Jones College sophomore, said she was fined $100 because she had illegally downloaded music in spring 2012. As a result, her computer was placed under quarantine, which invalidates a student's Rice Owls network connection. Once she paid the fine, the quarantine was removed, but she was fined once more a month later for illegally downloading music again. Larson said she later realized a program in the "Trash" folder in her computer had been uploading music without her knowledge. "The fine had increased [since the first violation], and I didn't think it was fair," Larson said. "[I was willing] to pay $50 [of the increased fine] for the fact that it was my mistake, but at the same time, I was not actively downloading any music. [SJP] basically said that I could go through the appeal process, which could waste a lot of my time and cause my fine to actually increase."University Court Chair Evan Austin said students who dispute sanctions recommended by SJP have the right to request that their case be referred to UCourt, but such a referral requires the agreement of both the student and SJP."I've never heard of [increased sanctions for appealing a case] being a procedure, and if that's true, I would be concerned, but I've never heard of that," Austin, a Duncan College senior, said.Larson said she paid the fine in full and chose not to appeal SJP's decision. However, even after she paid the fine, her computer was still under quarantine. According to Larson, she visited the IT department at least three times a week over a period of two to three weeks before her computer was unquarantined."IT kept saying it was my computer's fault, and in the process of trying to get my Internet [access] back, they actually caused my hard drive to crash," Larson said. "One of the higher-ups in IT had failed to communicate to the person in charge of [removing the quarantine on] the computer that I was, in fact, ready to be unquarantined."According to Larson, for most of her ordeal, she received help from students at the IT Help Desk. She said she was happy with the aid she received from the students at the IT Help Desk but said she would have preferred to speak with someone higher up in the IT department much sooner than she was able to."It was extremely challenging for me to be quarantined because all of my homework assignments and notes were online. I wish that the process had happened quicker," Larson said. "I'm not trying to attack IT - what happened was a genuine mistake - but there could be some improvements in the communication within IT."Baker College sophomore Victor Prieto said the punishment for illegal downloading should reflect the circumstances surrounding it, regardless of the material."Textbooks are still intellectual property, and if you need it for a class, you should pay for it," Prieto said. "I don't think that downloading music should be penalized more than downloading textbooks, even [in] an academic context."Student Computer Consultant Wesley Fan, who an employee of the IT Help Desk, said a distinction should be made between what the Help Desk can and cannot do."The Help Desk is part of IT, but the network administrators are in charge of [the quarantine] process," Fan, a Martel College junior said. "If you have questions about what is considered illegal or legal, the IT Help Desk can answer those questions."Scarborough said students who have questions about the legality of downloading on the Rice Owls network should approach IT."Generally, my advice to people is 'if it's something you normally have to pay for, then it's something you should be wary of,' " Scarborough said. "We have one policy from IT that directly impacts students: Don't break the law. Don't infringe on anyone's copyright."

NEWS 10/28/13 7:00pm

Rice's religious communities

Faith. You think you have it in full, you have lost it again, there is little in you and you utter "amen." In my first two months at Rice, I found the most startling characteristic of the Rice student body to be its strength of faith. The sheer number of religiously and spiritually affiliated clubs speaks volumes - 23 different opportunities to seek guidance and to learn. Yet when we look closely at the way religion at Rice has both unified many and alienated some, we see there is by no means a resource for everyone.As a rather sheltered Californian, I had not known many young people my age who were particularly or very openly religious. So, when I came here, I began to observe and effectively formulate the idea of a Culture of Christianity. Out of the 23 religious organizations on campus, 21 are based on and teach from the Bible. Christianity comes in many shades; Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists and Catholics can all find a niche in at least one of these clubs, if not more. These clubs are not just for religious guidance, either - many are social and support groups as well. A typical Friday night Chi Alpha meeting involves an hour of spiritual learning, after which the second half of the meeting is devoted to a frozen yogurt trip or an outing to a restaurant. After weeks of sampling churches and fellowships, students can choose a place where they have found their own. In these clubs, not only is the soul satisfied, but also friendships are fostered and relationships are refined. And as such, Christianity develops from a religion into a culture, with clubs unifying their members in a way akin to that of the residential college system.My only problem: What about the rest of us?The only two other religiously affiliated clubs on campus are based on Islam and Judaism,  respectively. There is no freedom of choice, no variety in beliefs. If a student does not like the way the club is structured, so be it. Moreover, those who do not adhere to one of the Big Three religions are offered no centralized group at all; Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs are left on their own. There are also little to no avenues for spiritual fulfillment outside of a religious context, either; agnostics and atheists could use a network as well. Everyone should have the opportunity to explore their spirituality and to be a part of the unifying culture of faith, whether they identify with a particular religion or not. College is often the first time one has the independence to develop one's beliefs, and it is necessary that students have a support group to turn to in trying times. As the student body, it is up to us to continue embracing the diversity Rice emphasizes so much. By promoting religious tolerance and mitigating ignorance, we can ensure all students have a chance to be a part of their own culture of faith. Anita Alem  is a Martel College freshman.

NEWS 10/21/13 7:00pm

Rice discontinues new National Merit awards

The National Merit Scholarship Finalists in this year's incoming class were the first to not be offered National Merit Scholarships funded by Rice University since the program's inception at Rice, according to Vice President of Enrollment Chris Munoz. The $1,000 scholarship, renewable annually, is no longer listed as a possible merit scholarship on Rice's website. Students who matriculated in previous years and received the scholarship will continue to receive it for their remaining years at Rice, according to information available on Esther."This year, there are over 100 [students] in the entering class that are National Merit Finalists," Munoz said. "We still have National Merit award students. There are three different funding sources: the first is corporations, the second is the National Merit Scholarship Foundation and the third is colleges. [Rice is] no longer providing a college one."Munoz said the discontinuation of the Rice-funded National Merit Scholarship was considered for multiple years and was ultimately carried out because the criteria for awarding the scholarship were not representative of how Rice recognized merit among its students."It's too one-dimensional," Munoz said. "Awarding a scholarship merely on the basis of how well a student scored when they took a test when they were a junior in high school isn't really who we are. When we admit a student, [it's] on the basis of holistic review, which includes their academic performance in high school, the rigor of the courses [they] took and their test scores. But there are other parts of the variables based on how the students present themselves and what other attributes they would bring to Rice. It's multidimensional."Munoz said typical incoming classes contained 80 to 100 National Merit Finalists and that many of those students received financial awards from other sources and scholarships. "That's $400,000 to $500,000 dollars over four years we would be able to reallocate," Munoz said. "[Cost] was a factor, but the biggest [factor] that drove the discontinuation was ... [that] we were using Rice dollars just to recognize students for doing well on a single test."According to Munoz, the money saved from the discontinuation would be allocated to other scholarships, both need- and merit-based."Over the last five years, Rice has increased [its] profile of students in terms of socioeconomic status," Munoz said. "Rice is known to have a significant portion [of its students] from low-economic backgrounds. These dollars can be used for need-based aid."Munoz said he believes the decision to stop offering college-sponsored National Merit Scholarships will not disadvantage Rice in comparison to its peer institutions."Not very many [of the] universities that students who apply to Rice would be considering have [college-sponsored] National Merit Scholarships," Munoz said. "We were the exception."Duncan College junior Jordan Bley said he felt the lack of a college-sponsored National Merit Scholarship at Rice would discourage applicants from choosing Rice."I feel like the presence of scholarships tends to play at least a partial role in where high-achieving students elect to pursue their undergraduate degrees," Bley said. "Many gifted students [take the PSAT, and] it's a well-established fact that top-tier schools like Rice are expensive. For many students, the scholarships they receive ultimately determine where they spend the next four years. Eliminating a scholarship could be detrimental to the ideal student for Rice."Brown College freshman John King said that while he was surprised when he learned he would not be offered a Rice-sponsored National Merit Scholarship, it did not affect his choice to attend."The money they used to give out wasn't a great enough sum to make Rice competitive with some other schools I applied to in terms of scholarship money," King said. "The other things I loved about Rice couldn't be tarnished by having to pay an extra 4 percent or so."Jones College freshman Andrew Chen said the important point was that the money went toward other scholarships."I don't think it's that big a deal since the money is just being used for other scholarships," Chen said. "Some people might complain that they deserve money for their hard work, ... but that can be said for everyone who goes to Rice."

NEWS 10/21/13 7:00pm

SA renovates website to increase transparency

The Student Association unveiled its renovated website Oct. 7, according to SA President Yoonjin Min. "We've been thinking a lot about how to be more transparent and more accessible this year, and we feel that a website, if it's done correctly, is a great resource for people," Min, a Jones College senior, said. "We didn't feel that our previous website had those capabilities."The new website, still located at sa.rice.edu, features the SA's current projects, its members and ways of getting involved, as well as event promotions and Vines. The site also provides direct ways for students to offer their opinions and concerns via an online forum. A new Gantt Project Tracker allows students to see the progress on the SA's different ventures.External Vice President Ravi Sheth said he worked extensively on renovating the site and that his goal in creating the site was to benefit the student body as much as possible."We feel that the website is now a great way to communicate and spread information to the undergraduate body," Sheth, a Martel College junior, said. "We would certainly appreciate any input to improve in that regard."The site also provides a new online petition system. According to the site, the SA will guarantee a written response from an appropriate Rice University administrator if any petition gets at least 250 student signatures.Min said the creation of the petition system was sparked partly by the response to the parking petition started by Duncan College junior Laurel Bingman earlier this year. "[The parking petition] was a really good way students were showing what they were passionate about," Min said. "However, students were sending it to their friends via Facebook, and it didn't reach as many students as it could have. Since [the SA is] a centralized group on campus, we can use our reach to involve more students [in the petition process]."Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson said petitions have not been necessary in the past because students with concerns have always been able to access administrators such as himself and President David Leebron."My reaction is that this is neither good nor bad, but unnecessary," Hutchinson said. "It's not necessary to go through the difficulty of the petition process to be heard .... There are maybe more efficient ways to communicate. I don't know what would motivate the start of a petition as opposed to a normal communication process."Hutchinson said he encourages interaction from students via email and emphasized that there are many avenues for their voices. He said it may be easier for students to approach him or the SA directly with their concerns, as opposed to filling out a petition."Even if I get a petition from 250 students, my response will be 'How do other students feel about this?' because 250 students is less than 10 percent of the student body," Hutchinson said. "The SA is a centralized view of the student body, and that's why it is a more effective communication vehicle."Brown College sophomore Eric Yin said he did not know about the new SA website or the petition system. "I've never really looked for the SA website," Yin said. "There's been no reason for me to, and I never really hear about the effects of the SA in daily life. [The petition system] sounds like something that if I knew about previously, I would use."According to Min, the goal of the petition system is not to increase the number of petitions the administration receives, but to provide students with another avenue for advocacy."If a lot of students want to [advocate through] petitions, that's awesome," Min said. "And if it doesn't really take off and we only see petitions once a semester, that's fine, too. It's really about giving students the ability to say that they care about something or they find issue with something and being able to put it down and communicate it to the student body and the administration."

NEWS 10/8/13 7:00pm

Rice Wi-Fi complaints increase

In recent weeks, Rice University Information Technology has seen an increase in the number of complaints associated with the Rice Owls Wi-Fi network, according to Director of Networking, Telecommunications and Data Center Operations William Deigaard. Deigaard said IT tracks the number of complaints through a ticketing system, in which patrons who contact the IT Help Desk can open a ticket so that their case is properly managed."We have noticed a general trend toward a larger number of tickets coming in, with people saying that [they] can't get connected or [their] signal is weak," Deigaard said. "There are lots of causes that all sort of converge at the same time."The reasons for the Wi-Fi difficulties include power failures, interfering devices and old drivers on computers, according to Deigaard. However, Deigaard said the main issue was a large influx of wireless devices."Everybody's showed up with a laptop, an iPhone or an Android device, [or] a tablet of some sort," Deigaard said. "One of the big problems is the sheer number of devices competing for the shared space. Think of the wireless as a fixed-size freeway. With four cars, everybody gets all the lanes they want. [With] 500 cars on it, they're still moving, [but] it's just a lot slower, and your experience is not as good."Senior Network Architect Danny Eaton said there are several devices that connect to the same radio frequency as that of networking devices, resulting in interference."Microwave ovens, Xbox controllers, Bluetooth keyboards, wireless speakers - all of that can contribute to interference and very poor performance," Eaton said. "[With] an Xbox 360, communication from the controller to the bay station is all in the 2.4 gigahertz. So if you have an [access point] in your room, you could be causing anybody using the 2.4 gigahertz on that access point ... to have problems."Martel College senior Denis Leahy said he recently had a new access point installed outside his dorm room."I've been having poor connection, and [the Internet] has been randomly disconnecting pretty frequently," Leahy said. "I haven't had any problems since [they installed the access point]."Deigaard said IT has made several improvements by adding access points in particularly problematic areas where students reported having connectivity issues. He said IT will be able to make the most effective adjustments if students report their connectivity issues along with where and when they occur. However, Deigaard said there is a limit to the effectiveness of adding access points in easing the connectivity issues."We are always looking for ways to advance the wireless network," Deigaard said. "Just about every enhancement requires money. Every time you add additional access points, you use up some of the [radio frequencies], and sometimes there isn't enough [radio frequency] to make that work. So one thing to do is to add more wireless."Deigaard said students also have another option besides wireless: an Ethernet connection."[A patch cord] is more inconvenient, but if you want to have a very, very good connected experience, you've got to think about using it," Deigaard said. "It takes you off the wireless road and pretty much gives you your own personal HOV lane. We're not saying that's the fix, but it's not like wireless is your only choice."Users can report issues with connecting to the Internet by emailing helpdesk@rice.edu or calling the IT Help Desk at 713-348-4357.

NEWS 9/23/13 7:00pm

Duncan-based websites aid students with books, dates

One Duncan College student has gotten creative with his college's website. Matthew Schurr, the Duncan website committee head and webmaster, expanded the Duncan website last spring to include features that all students can use.Schurr, a Duncan sophomore, is the lead programmer behind the Book Exchange service and the Screw-Yer-Roommate profiles hosted on www.duncancollege.net. "We had [over] 1,300 people log in [to the site] with their NetIDs," Schurr said. "Most of [the users] are from Duncan, and we had an even split between the other colleges."Schurr said Duncan's website committtee chose to expand the site to include a book exchange because of the hassle students experience every semester when purchasing textbooks. He said that although the exchange was available to students late last year, the committee began advertising it more heavily this semester."We wanted to make it easier for people to find the books they want to buy [as well as to] sell," Schurr said. "We decided to make our own [book exchange], and it created a lot of value because people could just search and find students who they knew they could trust because they were students at Rice. It just made things a lot easier."Martel College freshman Neethi Nayak found her textbooks through the site and said the site was particularly useful because she could search for books by course rather the ISBN."I was able to purchase my textbook," Nayak said. "It was nice because there was a search engine, and [I knew] what the condition was for the book. I would definitely use the Duncan book exchange applet in the future to buy my textbooks."According to Schurr, Duncan created a separate site for Screw-Yer-Roommate profiles last year but chose to integrate the service into its main website this year. Schurr said that this year, the site has 122 profiles and approximately 7,000 total profile views. Lovett College freshman Aishwarya Thakur said she still appreciated the usefulness of the site. "Posting on the site was fun, and I certainly got a lot of people to contact me for my roommate," Thakur said.Duncan website committee member Sanjay Gadasalli said he worked on providing content for the site. According to Gadasalli, a junior, he and Schurr updated the website last year by changing the format and moving it to Amazon Cloud Drive to improve loading times.According to Schurr, the book exchange site will be available again next semester, and additional services may be added to the site."We are considering expanding the book exchange to encompass other things that students might want to buy like furniture, bikes, etc.," Schurr said. "We know there's other places that offer this, but we believe that students at Rice will be more willing to use our system because access is restricted only to people within the Rice community ..., and we now have a pretty large user-base within Rice, which means people will be more likely to find [buyers and sellers] on our system than anywhere else."Gadasalli said the website committee has been considering an expansion of the alumni section but is unsure of whether it will continue to supplement Rice Program Council events such as Screw-Yer-Roommate."We're looking to offer services to alumni and to students who want to get connected to alumni," Gadasalli said. "In terms of RPC, if we get ideas, we'd love to host them on our website." Schurr said he encouraged students to contact him with ideas for other additions to the website. He said he plans to advertise the site more as the committee continues to add more features."We want people to use it. It's a kind of network," Schurr said. "The more people who use the services, the more valuable they are. We're also planning on improving the Screw Your Roommate application a lot before next year, taking into the account the feedback we've received from the students who did use it."

NEWS 9/16/13 7:00pm

West Lot parking causes headaches

Rice University parkers experienced difficulties in recent weeks due to the ongoing construction of the George R. Brown Tennis Complex in parts of West Lots 2 and 3, planned to be completed in June.The loss of 641 spots in these lots, accompanied by the loss of 350 spots in West Lot 4 due to the construction of the D. Kent and Linda C. Anderson and Robert L. and Jean T. Clarke Center, the new building for the Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies, resulted in the congestion, according to Parking Manager Michael Morgan.Morgan said those with permits for West Lot 3 are now allowed to park in West Lot 4 due to the parking obstructions. Previously, West Lots 2, 4 and 5 were open only to student, faculty and staff parkers with commuter permits. West Lot 3 had been reserved for resident permits.Morgan said this year, the Parking Office oversold West Lots 2, 4 and 5 by 12 percent but that in former years, these lots were oversold by more, so parking issues were not anticipated because the calculations of the available parking spaces and permits sold did not conflict with each other."By the numbers that we're seeing and what's happening out there, we're not exceeding what we have for [West Lot] permits," Morgan said. "I don't personally know of an overflow to Greenbriar [Lot]. Never have I known yet for us to have exceeded West Lot 5. A lot of the frustrations that I'm hearing are that, 'I used to park in West Lot 2, and it's [full] all the time now, and now I'm seeing myself in 4 or 5.' And that's a part of the permit."Duncan College senior Evan Austin said he had to purchase a permit for Greenbriar because permits in West Lot were sold out."I think there should be some sort of parking system that privileges seniority [in obtaining permits]because I don't know of many freshmen or sophomores that have the time, desire or necessity to engage with off campus opportunities to the extent that upperclassmen do," Austin said. "I go off-campus for an internship three times a week, and the trip out to Greenbriar makes that a lot more difficult. When I was an underclassmen, I used my car for the sole purpose of going to Target. Now, I'm using it to avoid unemployment next year."In a discussion on the parking issue hosted by the Student Association at its Sept. 9 meeting, several students expressed their frustration with congestion at the entrance of West Lot 4. Members proposed increasing shuttle services to Greenbriar and strengthening security.Duncan College junior Laurel Bingman said she expressed her discontent by creating the "Petition to Resolve the Commuter Parking Issue," which requests Rice University make amends by opening parking spaces closer to West Lot than Greenbriar or by reimbursing students who paid for West Lot parking. "I've had to park right next to the stadium, getting there at 9:30 a.m," Bingman said. "Some of my friends were telling me that they had to park in Greenbriar, [which is] more dangerous, and ... not what we paid for." Bingman said she believes the administration did not provide sufficient warning to students about the decreased number of parking spots when students were purchasing their permits."This felt like a decision that we were not even informed of until it was upon us," Bingman said. "What has bothered a lot of us even [more] than just the loss of parking is the fact that we felt like we weren't being told the whole truth from the beginning." Bingman said her petition gained more than 120 signatures in less than three days and that she presented the petition to President David Leebron during his office hours Sept. 10. Leebron said he was aware of the situation and that the university was seeking potential solutions. According to Leebron, some parking issues will most likely remain until the opening of the Glasscock School. He said Rice administration hopes to construct additional parking garages in the future to prevent shortages in parking but that current parking permit costs would not cover the price of a new parking garage."There are some shorter-term issues for parking and some longer-term issues, Leebron said. "We need to address the shorter-term issues ... before the end of the semester." Morgan said the parking issues stemmed not from the Parking Office overselling spots, but from people parking outside of the lots for which they purchased permits. Morgan said the Parking Office has been more strictly enforcing permits to ensure that only people with the proper permits are parking in the West Lots. "When [cars] are in the improper location, enforcement can be called by anyone to say we have people parking here that shouldn't be," Morgan said. "That happened very early on to make sure that people were getting notified that they were not in the right place."According to Morgan, the Parking Office has also improved the situation within the past week by painting 60 new spots distributed across West Lots 2, 3 and 4. Moreover, 90 people who no longer need to park in West Lot 4 have been relocated to Hess Lot. Morgan said students can also enter West Lot 4 quickly via Entrance 44, next to the practice field north of the Rice Stadium, which does not require students to scan their proximity cards to enter.Morgan said the Parking Office is always open to input from students and encouraged them to contact the department with any questions or comments. He said he hopes to increase the department's social media usage to keep students updated in real-time about different issues that might arise.Bingman said she would appreciate student involvement in Parking's decisions."In the future, it would be a lot better if we were kept informed and, if possible, parking issues were brought to the table, not only so that we can know about them ahead of time, but so that maybe we can even put in input to resolve future problems that might arise," Bingman said.

NEWS 9/5/13 7:00pm

Helene Gayle to speak at graduation

Dr. Helene D. Gayle, president and CEO of the Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere USA, one of the largest aid organizations in the world, will speak May 17 at Rice's 101st Commencement."I was thrilled to accept President [David] Leebron's invitation to speak at the 2014 commencement," Gayle said to Rice News and Media. "I'm honored to play a part in sending another class of Owls out into the world and [to] be a part of their special day."According to committee member John King, five undergraduate students and one graduate student formed the Commencement Speaker Committee that selected Gayle, while Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Robert Griffin and Senior Assistant to the University President David Vassar advised the group. The committee submitted and ranked possible speakers until they came to agreement on Gayle, member Catherine Yuh said."Some of the qualities and characteristics we were looking for in our class speaker were a commitment to serving the broader good, a wide and far-reaching impact and, finally, a dose of star power," Yuh, a Brown College senior, said.Griffin said Gayle duly met those requirements."I think [Gayle] is an incredible role model for our graduates," Griffin said. "Her commitment to service and her experience in the medical field should appeal to many of our students, and I am positive that her address will be inspirational, memorable and enjoyable."Since 2006, Gayle has served as president and CEO of CARE USA. CARE's 2012 Annual Report said that the organization's combined 997 international programs aided 83 million people in 84 countries last year. According to CARE USA's website, its programs include emergency relief during disasters, education and water sanitation.According to an interview Gayle had with Womenetics magazine, Gayle said that while CARE USA had always played a significant role in global aid, her leadership has emphasized the empowerment of women in poverty through campaigns which aim to reduce maternal mortality, improve education and expose women to microfinance.According to her CARE USA biography, Gayle earned her bachelor of arts in psychology at Barnard College, her medical doctor degree at the University of Pennsylvania, and her master of public health at John Hopkins University. She worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 20 years and then directed programs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which combated HIV/AIDS, other STDs and tuberculosis, according to her Bloomberg Businessweek biography. Gayle has been listed on Forbes magazine's "100 Most Powerful Women" for three years in a row and was most recently credited by the magazine for aiding over 750,000 people during the severe food crisis in the West African Sahel region last year."She is a world-class leader on issues that Rice students care about, in places where Rice students have served," committee member Andrew Amis, a Martel College senior, said.Yuh said she believes Gayle will resonate with the student body."I think [Gayle] embodies what we strive to be at Rice," Yuh said. "As we expand our reach beyond the hedges, we'll have to think more critically about what's happening beyond our borders." According to committee member Shaan Patel, Gayle will provide valuable lessons for seniors to cherish. "As this group of seniors begin to chart their futures, it is important for them, as well as all members of the Rice community, to keep her message of philanthropy in their minds and hearts," Patel, a McMurtry College senior, said.

NEWS 8/28/13 7:00pm

EMS amnesty policy changed

The medical amnesty section of the Rice Alcohol Policy was amended over the summer to reflect the prohibition of possession and consumption of hard alcohol by those under 21 announced last semester, according to Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson. The Thresher previously covered the changes proposed to the alcohol policy in the spring in its April 19 issue ("Changes to alcohol policy announced").

NEWS 5/14/13 7:00pm

Tennis complex construction to start this summer

Tennis at Rice, for recreational, club and varsity players, will soon have a new home. Construction will begin this summer for the George R. Brown Tennis Complex, which held its groundbreaking ceremony on May 7, according to Director of Athletics and Recreation Rick Greenspan. 

NEWS 4/18/13 7:00pm

Students to launch bike share system

In fall 2013, Rice Bike Share will enable students to rent bikes on a per-semester or per-year basis. According to McMurtry College junior Sena McCrory, one of the organizers of Rice Bike Share, the idea for a bike-sharing program at Rice University emerged from a group project in the class ENST 302: Environmental Issues: Rice Into the Future, taught by Department of Sociology chair Elizabeth Long and professor in the practice of environmental studies and sociology Richard Johnson. "Each group had a project in the class," McCrory said. "We decided to make a bike-sharing program at Rice, and we decided to continue working on the project even after the semester was over."To further this program, the original project group made up of McCrory, bioengineering graduate student Allen Chen and Brown College junior Clement Ory added other members such as Martel College EcoRep Denis Leahy, Student Association Environmental Committee members Woojin Lee and Oscar Xu, and Rice Bike Shop employees Matt Makansi and Ben Sachs.Chen said the original goal of the project expanded in order to provide more opportunities to students."At first, we were interested in it because we wanted to make it more convenient to move around campus," Chen said. "Then we decided to establish a bike-sharing program at Rice to encourage students to travel off campus in an environmentally friendly way."Chen said the group researched other bike-sharing programs in cities or at other universities as well as previous unsuccessful attempts to establish such a program at Rice.According to McCrory and Leahy, the main reasons previous attempts were unsuccessful were that student accountability for the bikes was low, the bikes were of poor quality, the programs did not have access to bike maintenance, and the attempts were organized by individual colleges rather than as a centralized, campuswide effort. To avoid these mistakes with Rice Bike Share, the project organizers involved the Rice Bike Shop to help with maintenance as well as bike selection. With Rice Bike Share, students will be more accountable for the bikes they use since they will be borrowing the bikes for a longer term than in previous programs, McCrory said. "The students will check out the bikes once they sign up, will have to go through safety and maintenance training, and will sign liability forms," McCrory said. "They will return them during the finals before winter break, and if they are renting for a year, they will pick up another bike the second semester. They can get check-ups and maintenance at the Bike Shop, which is what $40 of the $50 they pay for bike rental goes toward. We also provide baskets and locks."Additionally, partner rentals are an option, in which a student can rent a bike and share it with a friend, according to McCrory. This option costs $70 total per semester, $35 per person.Martel senior Anna Meriano said she likes the concept of Rice Bike Share."I think bike renting is a great idea, especially for people who don't have cars but occasionally need to go off campus to somewhere nearby," Meriano said.

NEWS 4/18/13 7:00pm

Beer Bike coordinators to vote on reduction in biker numbers

 Beer Bike coordinators are voting on a reduction of the number of bikers per team from 10 to eight, according to Campuswide Coordinator Soorya Avali.Avali, a Brown College junior, said each college has one vote and that voting would conclude Friday, April 19. Each college is represented by its college Beer Bike coordinators, who were told to gauge their college's opinions, Avali said. "[After Friday], we'll decide what's going to happen," Avali said. "We're leaving it up to the vote, [but] there are policies in the rulebook. We'll just make a decision when it comes down to it."Avali said the decision was an informal issue that comes up annually."It's not an official proposal," Avali said. "It's just what we talk about at meetings. If someone brings up a concern, we talk about it. It's one of those things someone always brings up. It gets re-debated on a regular basis."Last year, the proposal came up at a time when newly selected coordinators who did not have any experience held the vote, Avali said."It was contentious, with a lot of meetings and debate," Avali said. "We ended up rejecting the change. Now, the people who just got done with Beer Bike are the ones on the decision."Avali said he had received the most amount of feedback from Will Rice College students opposed to the idea of reducing the number of bikers.Will Rice Beer Bike Coordinator Shayak Sengupta said he and his college were against the reduction and that they plan to vote against it. "We're all randomly assigned to the colleges, so that seems logical and fair," Sengupta, a sophomore, said. "There's no reason why we need to cut down on the number because every college has a fair shot at picking bikers and chuggers."Baker College Beer Bike Coordinator Andrew Stout said he and his college would appreciate the reduction in bikers."I'm speaking on behalf of my experience at Baker .... It's hard for us to find riders," Stout, a sophomore, said. "As you probably know, Baker is not very good at Beer Bike. Sometimes, we have to have riders go multiple times. I voted yes [to] switching to eight. It will make it easier for next year's [college Beer Bike] coordinators. But if [the vote] went the other way, it wouldn't be a big deal to me."

NEWS 4/18/13 7:00pm

Gustin wins George R. Brown teaching award

Rice University alumni from the past decade have selected professor of biochemistry and cell biology Michael Gustin as this year's recipient of the George R. Brown Prize for Excellence in Teaching.According to Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson, alumni who graduated two, four and five years ago vote to nominate their professors. The awards are then given to the 10 professors with the most votes, one of whom receives the award for excellence in teaching. The remaining nine professors receive awards for superior teaching.Gustin, a professor at Rice since 1988, said he feels honored to receive his award."Teaching is being challenged by new ideas about how to teach students, particularly in the sciences," Gustin said. "An important part of teaching a course is to try to build a community. It's an opportunity to learn together. Every time I teach, I'm always learning."Gustin said the increasing number of online courses can sometimes lack this sense of community.Gustin said he began to ask himself last year about the purpose of a university and came to the answer that, in university courses, teachers can pass their interest in the material on to their students more effectively. "I'm a pretty enthusiastic guy," Gustin said. "I like what I'm working on, both in teaching and research. I think that enthusiasm is infectious for students."Gustin said his experience as a Wiess College master has been pivotal in his effort to learn all of his students' names in his introductory biology course this year. Hutchinson said all 10 recipients of Brown teaching awards will be honored at 3 p.m. Monday, April 22 at a reception in Keck Hall Room 100. Last year's winner, John and Ann Doerr Professor of Computational and Applied Mathematics Mark Embree, will give a lecture about his experiences teaching in the Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics. All Rice students are invited to attend, Hutchinson said.Hutchinson said the Committee on Teaching, which chooses the recipients from those nominated by alumni, takes class size and subject into consideration."There is a concern that large classes have more alumni, so [they] may attract more votes than small classes," Hutchinson said. "This method actually makes it possible for recognition for faculty teaching all kinds of classes."According to Hutchinson, the nine recipients of awards in superior teaching are professor of biochemistry and cell biology Yousif Shamoo, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science Brent Houchens, professor in the practice of bioengineering Ann Saterbak, professor of economics James Brown, associate professor of history Alexander Byrd, associate professor of sociology Rachel Kimbro, professor of architecture Carlos Jimenez, professor of English Helena Michie and professor of mathematics Michael Wolf.Kimbro said receiving her award was a major highlight of her career."I really thrive on in-classroom engagement with my students," Kimbro said. "I'm very proud to join the large cadre of other sociology professors who have won this award."

NEWS 4/18/13 7:00pm

Owlspark receives $200k grant for entrepreneurship

OwlSpark, Rice University's newest organization to further entrepreneurship by Rice students, recently received a $200,000 grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. The funding will go toward social entrepreneurship ventures that will be added to the program this summer, according to OwlSpark co-founder Veronica Saron.