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Opinion




OPINION 12/6/15 3:43pm

Letter to the Editor: Sexual assault from the perpetrator's perspective

The one thing that stood out to me in the SB#4 conversation, of Thresher op-ed fame, was Bridget Schilling’s courage. Instead of discussing the issue as a general problem in need of a general solution, as many politicized issues carelessly degenerates into, she reminds us that sexual misconduct is really an ambiguous umbrella term tagged to a broad range of very different and very specific problems encountered by vastly different individuals. As a victim of sexual assault, she might not have known how to react to an adverse situation. As a possible perpetrator of sexual assault, my problem is most definitely a fundamental misunderstanding of the meaning of love, sex and intimacy.


OPINION 12/1/15 5:09pm

Rice needs a journalism program

At Rice we pride ourselves on being at the cutting edge of various fields and offering our students a diverse and talented community.  Rice’s undergraduate architecture program is ranked third in the country according to Architectural Record’s 2015 rankings. According to US News and World Report’s 2015 national rankings, many of our engineering disciplines are ranked in the top 20 and as an undergraduate institution we are ranked 18th. The process of adding diversity and talent to our community is ongoing, and I believe the next step in that process is to create a school of or program in journalism. As the reach of mass media becomes increasingly global, journalists are among the greatest influencers of the tides of change, and they have a responsibility to present unbiased information to the electorate. The cover stories of the New York Times and the main news story on NBC Nightly News dictate political agendas and public feelings regarding issues of global importance. Investigative journalism has ruined presidencies and celebrities’ careers. As journalism permeates every hour of our lives, the responsibility of journalists to report information accurately and illuminate important issues is more crucial than ever. As such, I believe that Rice students should have a greater opportunity to pursue careers in journalism. Rice’s status as one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the country positions it to attract talented students interested in journalism and equip them with the skills to become leaders in the field. Rice has produced many great businessmen, lawyers, politicians and engineers, and has already graduated many accomplished journalists, such as David Rhodes, president of CBS News. If the university were to invest in developing either a school of journalism or a communications and journalism major, it would expand the talent of our student body and mold alumni who will have a positive impact on a potentially global level. The resources available to Rice would make this a feasible investment that would pay long-term dividends. In addition to the potential for the program as a major by itself, a school of journalism would allow students from all majors to develop skills crucial in almost all career fields. Scientific, engineering and policy reporting are potential interdisciplinary minors or classes that would add to the opportunities available to Rice students. Communication with media is a crucial aspect of the lives of many successful businessmen, professors and researchers. Interdisciplinary coursework in journalism and communications would equip students from all majors with the skills necessary to articulate their achievements and discoveries to the public and news sources. This would make the creation of a journalism program less costly as many current professors could teach journalism courses in addition to those hired specifically to teach within the major or school of journalism. Implementing the program would not require construction of new buildings specifically for journalism, though a broadcast studio would benefit those students studying broadcast journalism and provide them with invaluable experiential learning opportunities. The Thresher, KTRU and RVP would allow journalism students to develop their skills in real world settings. These organizations also illustrate that many students on campus are already interested in various forms of journalism, and their experience would be greatly enhanced by the availability of coursework in their area of interest. The main risk of creating a school of journalism would be the direct effect it could have on making Rice a more pre-professional environment. However, I disagree with this sentiment because the addition of journalism and communications classes would add to the breadth of our curriculum, allowing many students to explore for the first time into a completely foreign field or provide some students further education in a topic they are already passionate about. Creating opportunities for our students to learn and test new subjects will never be pre-professional as long as the students at Rice and the culture of the campus doesn’t change. Many peer institutions already have majors or schools in communications and journalism, such as the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication or New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. However, to maintain the intellectualism that defines a Rice undergraduate experience we should create the program in a manner unique to our school and student body. This will be accomplished by maintaining the admissions practices that admit students who are both ambitious and intellectually curious. I believe that the two qualities are not mutually exclusive and that these changes will add to everyone’s Rice experience. Rice must continue to expand its community and curriculum to maintain our spirit of intellectual inquiry and our reputation of educational opportunity. Through the creation of a major or school of journalism, Rice would take a significant step in building a diversity of talents in our student body and presenting our students with additional opportunities to learn and develop valuable skills that will serve them for the rest of their professional careers. Rice should make this investment. It will have a positive impact on our community for the foreseeable future. Maurice Frediere is a Duncan College freshman


OPINION 12/1/15 5:08pm

Let’s help launch commercial spaceflight

Just over 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy stood less than a mile from where you stand and galvanized a nation. His words, “We choose to go to the moon … not because [it] is easy, but because [it] is hard,” led to one of humanity’s crowning achievements and the 20th century’s proudest moments, and Rice is still known as the university where the space race began.Two weeks ago, Will Pomerantz, the vice president of Virgin Galactic, visited campus with a similar but fundamentally different challenge. He spoke of the coming commercial space race and very pointedly asked that Rice students join his team. I firmly believe Rice has the chance to continue its legacy as the national epicenter where extraterrestrial dreams are realized and challenges are answered. Rice alumni from all over the aerospace industry have sought to recruit more Rice students. Josh Earnest, a Sid Rich alumnus and the current  White House press secretary, ventured, “The United States is on an ambitious and sustainable path of space exploration, and the development of a commercial space industry in this country has had significant economic benefits for communities all across the country … The president continues to believe overall in the value of investments in our space program and in space exploration.” From the mechanical engineering department to the Baker Institute, professors and scholars from around campus recognize the growing importance of space policy and education. In 30 years, companies like SpaceX, Planet Labs and Blue Origin (all wildly successful start-up spaceflight companies) will stand as giants beside Boeing and Google, and a new kind of space race will be underway. Profit and nonmilitary competition will drive the industry instead of politicians, and costs of spaceflight will decrease sharply. When a company begins cutting corners and falters, another commercial venture will rise to take its place. Earnest has also said, “[The burgeoning private aerospace industry] also is something that has led to important innovation — that this kind of competition has yielded innovative results and advancements for the space industry.” Already in the last 10 years, the cost of putting one pound of technology in orbit dove from $10,000 to $3,000, with more savings on the way. In the next 50 years, human planetary exploration, space tourism and even asteroid mining will be within reach of our earthbound culture. Imagine being alive when the first human puts boots on the ground on Mars instead of Iraq, or Europa instead of Ukraine. Spaceflight is the act of discovery that inspires nations and the world to undertake missions that are seemingly impossible, missions that will captivate the our imagination.Although Rice already has a multitude of opportunities for those who are interested in joining the commercial space race, you can take three simple steps that would revolutionize the campus attitude and awareness. Firstly, look up the Rice Space Institute (many students have never even heard of it), an offshoot of the first space science department ever established in this country. It has an amazing staff who are filled with a passion for education. Secondly, reach out to more aerospace companies and alumni. Even if many aerospace companies do not visit Rice campus, a Rice education is one of the best in the nation, and many students every year graduate into the aerospace industry. Many alumni, from Josh Earnest to Peggy Whitson (one of our eight alumni astronauts), deal with the aerospace industry on a regular basis, and they can provide unique insight and motivation for developing Rice students. Lastly, find your passion. Rice is unconventional not because of any physical aspect, but because each and every student has a passion, and the passions of today lead to the dreams of tomorrow. When Kennedy spoke that warm September day, the world changed, and I cannot wait to see how Rice will respond to the changing space industry.Andrew Gatherer is a Brown College sophomore


OPINION 12/1/15 5:07pm

Athletes and nonathletes stronger together

Rice isn’t so big at all. It’s not the University of Texas, or Baylor, or Texas A&M. Rice is a small campus where you see the same people just about every day. Each semester we walk, skate and pedal past the same peers to and from the same classes. Because of this, Rice has the beautiful potential to build and cultivate a compassionate community that reflects the ideals of its conception. However, there exists a prevalent schism among our general student population that threatens the greatness of our community. At Rice, so many barriers and borders bleed together to create diversity that marks our university in almost every facet of campus life. Yet, the disunion between athletes and nonathletes persists and continues to infect the collective strength of our community. Obviously class schedules, practice times and extracurricular events create logistical clashes bound to occur between nonathletes and student athletes, but the simple virtues of kindness and amiability still play a crucial role in uniting the two groups. Support and participation should come from both sides. Nonathletes should support their athlete peers at sporting events and competitions, while athletes should strive to increase their visibility and participation in their residential colleges and the lives of their peers. Rather than viewing this as an exchange, it should be seen as a way of promoting the health of our community and improving our individual experiences here at Rice.Many students who don’t participate in Division 1 sports at Rice feel that athletes come off as intimidating and unapproachable. Likewise, athletes share similar feelings toward nonathletes. “Jock” and “nerd” stereotypes aside, the issue at hand is larger than insensitive labels. The issue isn’t a matter of two sides making amends, but that the two groups are ignorant of their commonalities and the little effort required to richly enhance the quality of the lives lived here on Rice’s campus. Here the phrase “culture of care” is thrown around in O-Week groups and informational sessions. While this maxim, simply put, refers to one’s citizen duty to aid in the care for his drunken brother or sister, the phrase in our ideal society should extend toward the overall atmosphere of compassion that ought to characterize our students, faculty and staff.Rice, like any great place, is made greater by the people who make up its body. Athletes and nonathletes are components of the body, not separate elements. We all are residents of Houston. We are students and Rice Owls. Rather than focus on how our course schedules, practice schedules, friend groups or hobbies make us different, we should focus on how they make us unique and how they help add to the story of Rice University. This may seem ultra-idealistic, or a tad bit cliche some would say, but amid the attempt to strive for this ideal, even in failing, we may land in a better place that still addresses the silent tension between nonathletes and athletes at Rice.Nahshon Ellerbe is a Wiess College freshman


OPINION 12/1/15 5:05pm

Drug education, transparency necessary

On a campus where both alcohol and drugs are a reality, we emphasize safe consumption of the former while all but ignoring the latter. From the allegedly drug-linked disappearance of a Rice student during spring break two years ago to the expulsion of Wiess’s president last spring on allegations of providing drugs, it is clear that this campus needs more discussion from both administration and the student body surrounding student drug usage.Every Rice student is inundated with information about alcohol use and its disciplinary consequences beginning in Orientation Week, but discussions of drug use are practically nonexistent. Silence about drugs, however, does not prevent them from affecting students. Although it is true that introducing new students to the punishments of dealing LSD on the second day of O-Week is inappropriate, it is necessary to dedicate time and resources toward preparing students to deal with the reality of drugs on campus, especially as some new students may be entering with prior experience using drugs. RUPD, UCourt and chief justices instruct new students during O-Week about the Rice amnesty policy with regards to alcohol to make them comfortable with calling EMS. If new students are unaware that drug overdoses also fall under amnesty in certain cases, they are unlikely to call for help or attempt to remedy their addiction through help from the Wellbeing Office for fear of administrative consequences. Abuse of hard drugs is a serious concern and affects the health of the overall campus, but students cannot get help if they do not know the resources available to them.Furthermore, the investigation and adjudication process for those involved with drugs remains poorly communicated. Regardless of whether students are guilty, the speed with which these cases are adjudicated is concerning, as the accused may not have the time they deserve to fully develop a defense. The fact that the accused can neither record the interview nor access Student Judicial Programs’ recordings has been a recurring concern.The alcohol policy, as a document created with student input and based on community values, clearly outlines the policies and punishments surrounding the consumption of hard alcohol on Rice’s campus. Students lack a comprehensive, oft-cited, analogous document for the usage of drugs, leaving a gray area in students’ minds. This degree of standardization of disciplinary procedures has downsides; for nuanced situations such as sexual violence, dealing with perpetrators on a case-by-case basis is the fairest course of action. But even sexual violence is easily outlined into different classes of violations: sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, sexual assault, etc. Drug use, however, lacks documented stratification; the vast majority of students, for example, would have no idea whether dealing marijuana merits the same degree of a violation as just consuming LSD. The Rice community deserves an open and honest dialogue regarding student drug use. Transparency and clarity are just the first steps.Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the Thresher editorial staff. All other opinion pieces represent solely the opinion of the piece’s author.


OPINION 12/1/15 5:04pm

Vote Sylvester Turner for Houston mayor

Sylvester Turner has dedicated his career to improving Houston, and on Dec. 12 Houston will have the opportunity to elect him mayor for the next four years. I have spent the last three months interning on his campaign and have encountered people of all ethnicities, ages and party affiliations who work long hours in hopes that Turner is elected the next mayor of Houston. His qualifications for office are unmatched, and his plan to carry Houston into its bright future is sound. However, to understand Sylvester Turner and his passion for this city, first you need to understand where Turner is from and the obstacles he overcame to become the man he is today.Sylvester Turner was born on Sept. 27, 1954. He grew up with nine siblings in a two-bedroom home in the Acres Homes section of Houston. The Acres Homes district is one of the poorest in Houston, where 37 percent of residents fall below the federal poverty line. His father was a commercial painter and his mother was a maid. He graduated valedictorian and was the senior class president at Klein High School, attended the University of Houston and graduated summa cum laude before going on to Harvard Law School. After graduating he returned to Houston and established his own law firm in 1983. Turner’s spent 26 years in the Texas House of Representatives fighting for Houston and fiscal responsibility. He is on the Legislative Budget Board, is the vice chairman of the Appropriations Committee and has directly overseen the balancing of the Texas State Budget twice. He secured funding to renovate a run-down park in the Acres Homes community that has provided 2,000 inner-city youth with access athletic facilities and recreational opportunities. Turner fought in the House for tax incentives for companies to come to Houston as well as increased funding for local schools and lower insurance rates for low-income Houstonians. He has spent his life fighting to make Houston better.Turner bases his vision for the future of Houston on three main initiatives. He plans to revamp our infrastructure, make our communities safer and invest in Houston’s educational system. Turner’s plan will carry Houston into the future and make opportunity a reality for all Houstonians. The Road to the Future Initiative would allocate $300 million to the infrastructure budget to expand highways, fill in potholes and smooth out sidewalks. These changes would make it safer and more comfortable for Houstonians to get to and from school and work as well as prepare Houston for further population growth in the immediate future.The Partners in Safety Initiative is a multi-step plan to improve relations between poor and minority communities and the Houston police force to make this city safer. The first step is to increase Houston’s police force by 540 officers to 6,000 total officers by 2020, the first increase in the police force since 2005. Turner would also reinstate the D.A.R.E. program to increase drug and alcohol awareness and personalize the relationship between police officers and students. Turner would also implement legislation to subsidize housing for officers in the communities they serve with the aim of increasing respect for police officers and for these officers to be wary of using excessive force, as they would be protecting their neighbors and friends. The last step in Turner’s Partners in Safety Initiative is to fund a body camera program for every officer in Houston. Increasing police accountability ensures that the communities historically affected by police brutality will feel safer in their neighborhoods, knowing that the officers protecting them will be held to the standard to which they should be.Turner’s last initiative is the Partners in Learning Initiative, aimed at providing opportunities for every young Houstonian to improve their lives and have access to a great education. His experience in the Texas State Legislature puts Turner in a strong position to secure the funding that Houston schools need as well as fight against potentially devastating school closures in the city’s most impoverished areas. His plan also includes after-school and summer programs so that students from single-parent households or households where both parents work can receive homework help and have structure in their lives to keep them off the streets and focused on getting an education. Sylvester Turner has been fighting for Houston his entire life. His campaign has been endorsed by the Houston Police Union, Houston Firefighters Union, Harris County Deputy Sheriff’s Union, the LGBT Caucus of Houston, the Houston Chronicle, conservative former mayoral candidate Stephen Costello, liberal former mayoral candidate Adrian Garcia and multiple other Republicans and Democrats throughout Texas who believe that his unparalleled experience and passion for improving this city makes him the clear choice to lead this city. On Dec. 12 get out and vote for Houston’s future. Vote for Sylvester Turner.Maurice Frediere is a Duncan College freshman and campaign intern for Sylvester Turner


OPINION 12/1/15 5:02pm

Don’t forget lives lost in tragedies like Paris

My hands shook as I held a lit candle, huddled among Rice students around Willy’s statue during the vigil organized by the Boniuk Council on Sunday, Nov. 15 to honor the victims of the tragedies in Paris and Beirut on Nov. 13. As my body trembled uncontrollably and I struggled to keep my composure, I realized I was responding to a very real and palpable fear: I am afraid of the global community’s tendency to forget. How long will it be until we forget about the attacks in Paris and Beirut? We are sensitive now because the pain and fear are fresh. I panic when I think of how disengaged the general public may become with the passing of time. When I first heard about the attacks in Paris, I recalled the tragedies on Sept. 11, 2001 in my hometown of New York City (as well as the Washington D.C. area). As time passes, 9/11 seems more like history and less a tangible memory. On the night of Sept. 10, 2015, while thinking about the tragedy, I broke down in tears in my dorm room. The next day at lunch, I decided to talk about 9/11. While I would be performing in the Rice Chorale’s Sept. 11 concert later in the week, I hadn’t heard anyone on campus discuss the concert or even 9/11 itself. I mentioned this fact to the table of people I was sitting with, and one of them responded, “Well, maybe it’s not as big of a deal here.” I was shocked and disgusted, especially since the speaker didn’t acknowledge the gravity of the historical events.So why do we forget about 9/11, or choose to think it’s not a big deal? The problem partially lies in how we react to tragedies. Thoughtless or politically motivated reactions distract us from the basics of the tragedies. After the Paris attacks, some politicians on Twitter used the attacks as propaganda for their own beliefs. For example, American politician Newt Gingrich tried to use the timing to make a case for the Second Amendment, tweeting, “Imagine a theater with 10 or 15 citizens with concealed carry permits. We live in an age when evil men have to be killed by good people.” How can anyone possibly think it acceptable to manipulate, twist and forcibly associate tragedy with ulterior motives, political or otherwise? In the direct aftermath of an attack, especially when limited details are available, the only appropriate response is compassion. Much like public responses, state responses to terrorism can also unintentionally distract from the loss of human life. Each state’s political push to show their resilience and unity, as well as a tendency to avenge their loss, has cultivated an international  “War on Terror.” The idea of a “War on Terror” groups terrorist attacks together, generalizing terrorist activity as a whole. The media typically covers the war as a cohesive idea so that we remember the general and forget the individual events. The media should certainly cover the political aftermath of terrorist attacks, but it must separately honor the innocent lives lost. We saw the shift to political ideals during the 2001 Iraq War after 9/11, and the shift can easily happen again with France’s bombing ISIS strongholds, unless the media changes its approach.May we always commemorate the date, Nov. 13, 2015. I challenge you, reader, in the recent aftermath of these events to hold those who died in the light, and remember to mourn them every year in the future. Regardless of how you think the international community should respond to terrorism, regardless of your ethnic background, regardless of how you even define the word terrorism, I challenge you to perform a simple task: Recognize the value of the lives of those who perished. It doesn’t require a revolution, or even a Facebook post. Remembrance is simple: Spend some time recognizing how lucky you are to still be alive, and think about how will use your gift of life to honor the innocent ones we have lost.Abagail Panitz is a Hanszen College freshman


OPINION 11/18/15 10:55am

Speaking the language of PC

On my resume, I wrote that I am proficient in three languages, including Chinese, Korean and English. However, I now feel the need to add one more: PC.


OPINION 11/18/15 10:48am

Homecoming Court too conventional

In 2013, the Rice Homecoming Court consisted of three students, two squirrels and one Dean Hutch. Since then, the court has had zero squirrels, zero faculty members and only students. In essence, the Rice Homecoming Court now resembles your high school court.


OPINION 11/18/15 9:01am

Blanket Tax Committee bears too heavy a load

The presence of unaccounted rollover in Rice Television’s budget (see p.1) is indicative of a broader issue with the procedures and responsibilities of the Blanket Tax Committee.  A failure to provide proper oversight of and clear communication with blanket tax organizations has resulted in the same issues with rollover that were apparent in the previous blanket tax system. As the BTC reflects on its past year and determines what constitutional amendments to implement, it should consider restructuring to lighten its load to focus simply on blanket tax organizations.While the Thresher agrees that RTV should have reported the existence of an unreported surplus from its previous year, the onus ultimately lies upon the BTC to verify organizations’ budgets and ensure proper allocation of student funds. The BTC’s failure to follow up on how over $14,500 of student funds were spent is concerning, especially considering the BTC specifically implemented oversight of C-funds and D-funds to be able to easily check on blanket tax organizations’ budgets. There is no reason to require clubs to allow the BTC access to its funds without ever utilizing this capability. Moreover, this change created a false sense of oversight.The confusion over the entire process indicates that the BTC should meet with each of the blanket tax organizations to explain the new procedure specific to their budget, regardless of whether they presented anything concerning in their budgets. This is the best way to ensure a smooth transition to the new blanket tax system and allows for accountability if a club makes a mistake. Otherwise, blanket tax organizations will simply continue budgeting as they have for the past several years. This is exemplified by RTV, which is in the same position it would have been last year, under the old blanket tax system, with both rollover and newly allocated funds.With its current list of responsibilities, the BTC cannot perform its due diligence in ensuring proper allocation and expenditure of student funds. However, the committee is undestandably bogged down by Student Association initiative reque sts and evaluating the creation of new blanket tax organizations. The committee would be better served by separating into separate entities, with communication between the committees facilitated by the SA treasurer, who has an overall sense of the total student funds available. This would allow a committee entirely devoted to current blanket tax organizations to checking up with organizations throughout the year and fully utilizing all resources for oversight. No entity can do its job properly if given too many responsibilities. To ensure proper expenditure of student funds, the blanket tax committee must prioritize clarity in communication and dedicated oversight.Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the Thresher editorial staff. All other opinion pieces represent solely the opinion of thepiece’s author.


OPINION 11/18/15 9:00am

SA too hasty, did not represent students

Last Wednesday, the Student Association passed the Senate Bill #4 for the Critical Thinking in Sexuality class. “What? They voted already? It’s over?” were many students’ reactions. Many still had questions unanswered, concerns unexpressed and misconceptions unclarified. Given this bill’s controversies and implications, why was it voted on so quickly? The bill’s outcome and your stance on it aside, this legislative process reveals a more troubling issue that the student body needs to examine: Whom does the SA represent?Before I begin, I would like to point out that most college presidents and senators held information sessions to shed light on the bill. I applaud their efforts and commend the presidents and senators who voted in accordance with the majority stance of their college. However, I question whom the SA represents because students were given only two weeks to thoughtfully form and express their opinions on this bill. Moreover, many information sessions were not held until mere days before the vote. As a result, misconceptions ran rampant among the student body because people had little time to process the information. By the time people formed knowledgeable opinions, it was too late to voice them. Ongoing discussions were vibrant and the Thresher posted three op-eds about the bill the night before the vote. But all these voices were cut short by the actual vote. With many in the SA and the task force admitting that there was tremendous misinformation, why didn’t the SA postpone the vote to address the misinformation more attentively? Why was there not a school-wide town hall to address misconceptions and questions? By rushing to vote without hosting a town hall, the SA chose to ignore the problem of misinformation. Furthermore, there was little student body input throughout the whole legislative process. The SA president introduced and advocated the bill and later changed the amendment on it. She will also head the task force that already consists of five members she selected. Since this task force will represent the student body, shouldn’t the student body as a whole have more of a say in its member selection? While the SA can now choose task force members (due to a last-minute amendment before the vote), how many members can they add to the six already selected ones before the task force becomes inefficient due to overcrowding?Lastly, while the student body was divided on the bill, the vote did not reflect this. According to surveys, Duncan was 50 percent yes, 50 percent no; Wiess 66 percent yes, 34 percent no; Martel 60 percent yes, 28 percent no, 12 percent undecided; Sid Richardson 60 percent yes, 40 percent no; and Baker 43.1 percent yes, 49.4 percent no, 7.2 percent undecided. Yet, the vote last Wednesday was an overwhelming 73 percent yes and a meager 27 percent no.This is a rare time when “apathetic” Rice students are actually passionate and vocal about an SA bill. Unfortunately, the SA cut the debate short with the vote and failed to show us they believe every student’s opinion matters. This whole process started with the “It’s Up to Us” campaign, calling each of us to help solve the sexual assault issue. At this point, however, I am very doubtful that “Us” means the student body. In the end, the student body must consider: Who does the SA represent?Aaron Huang is a Baker college sophomore.


OPINION 11/18/15 8:59am

To be Woke and a Woman and Black

I woke up this morning thinking about last night. I woke up this morning thinking about what was going to happen at Mizzou today, what we needed to say about Mizzou, what was happening at Yale, what needed to be said at Yale, what was going to happen at Rice today, what we needed to say at Rice.Woke refers, in my definition, to those persons of color that are constantly plugged in. We know about the latest injustices. Some talk about the ails of a capitalistic society. Some talk about power structures meant to keep people of color down. Some talk about the effects of racism on their day-to-day life. Some speak out. Some have one-on-one conversations with the perennially ignorant on their college campuses. Some work to educate other people of color around them about how the injustices our brothers and sisters face in California affect us here in Houston. Some just cry in their rooms. Some have to take an information break. Some can’t even speak.Some cannot bear the weight of staying woke.Today, I rest here. I rest fed up, too sad, beyond angry, unable to do homework, can’t think about that thesis, wishin’ I could just go get some ice cream with the besties or cuddle up with the boo thang and pretend that the world is going just the way it should and injustice is not threatening to break down my door.But I can’t. Even when I’m fed up, I still come face-to-face with injustice because I am a Black female body that just doesn’t mix it up well all the time in a white male society. Every day, even without checking my Facebook feed for the latest on injustice in America today, I wake up “woke” and I can never go back to sleep.James Baldwin so aptly said, “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”What happens to that Black woman at the back of the classroom who is faced with so much violence by being at an institution of higher learning that she can’t bear to read the next assignment for class? What happens to that Black boy whose brother was shot and killed last week, yet his teacher is yelling at him for not turning in his paper and he can’t even manage an answer because all he will do is cry? What happens to that black girl who just lost her mother and grandmother, is depressed, doesn’t want to give up her cellphone and as a result gets slammed to the floor by a school police officer?What does this mean for the Black college student trying to get into DuBois’s esteemed Talented Tenth to lift up the community who walks into her residential college commons at Rice University’s Brown College to see “most likely to be a bitch ass nigga” posted on the wall?To live in a constant state of rage is also to live in a constant state of the unknown. It is necessary, but it is unhealthy. The Black body does not suffer from the disease of rage, rather, rage is the symptom of constant exposure to the toxicity of a racist, sexist, homophobic, elitist environment. We suffer because white middle-class cis-hetero able-bodied society has chosen to hate those who are not them. Yet I, not they, am forced to come face-to-face with the realities of injustice every day.We wake to the pathologizing of the bodies we inhabit for being perpendicular to “the privileged.”Our screams, yells, cries and demands that we be recognized as human are used against us to prove just how valid the claims to our inhumanity are and the necessity of our invisibility.We are in a constant state of rage.Some cannot bear the weight of constantly being “woke.”What happens then? Blaque Robinson is a Weiss college senior.Note: I identify as a cis black able-bodied woman. So, when I say “we” I am referring to those areas of my identity that are targeted and recognize those areas which are privileged from having to be perpendicular.


OPINION 11/10/15 3:33pm

Vulnerability an essential component of college experience

Avoiding the odors of a communal bathroom, side-stepping vomit or watching the defiant nakedness that is Baker 13 isn’t all that enjoyable. In fact, my list is relatively demure. Yet, we all manage to cope in this microcosm of the real world that is both extremely small and incredibly close. College seems to be a long-respected tradition of throwing together a group of freshly branded “adults” while they attempt to figure out life. I don’t doubt that the potion of Rice was prudently brewed by the admission council: a little chaos, stress, intellect, quirkiness, recklessness, impulsivity and a hint of sexual tension. I had already anticipated a lot of this from college, but it’s the other half of the equation that isn’t widely broadcast: the vulnerability when practically every part of your life is exposed. I remember the first time I awkwardly watched someone cry. The culmination of stress, frustration and even confusion as to the origins of the meltdown led to the depletion of an entire bag of dark chocolate and Kleenex box. I observed as a bystander, feeling both incredibly out of place and fascinated at how abruptly I had advanced from acquaintance to newly acquired friend. This wasn’t as enjoyable as the time I watched people I had met sober during Orientation Week dance decidedly less so as that first party progressed. However, in a way, both experiences are the same. It took one instance for their exterior to crack, but once the initial level of intimacy was broken they suddenly became more accessible.We all watch each other stumble through experiences, both pleasant and painful. The way we maintain sleep deprivation, inebriation, waking up late, heartbreak or a difficult problem set aren’t difficult to find. Unlike any other time in our lives, we no longer have the option to exist under a veil of formality and ignore basic truths about ourselves. I have yet to find a more effective way to expose the true nature of a human being than to watch them undergo midterms. It’s that formative stage in any budding friendship. Some people show a more caustic, aggressive side, others an unexpected resilience and control, and even better perhaps a warmth or empathy.However, it is increasingly difficult to vilify or idolize when the identity of our acquaintances and friends unravel a little further, as their imperfections, abilities, failures and fascinations are made clearer. It gives us an opportunity to be vulnerable that few people would willingly choose. And in these relatively extraordinary circumstances, we manage to adapt. Vulnerability is an awkward word, but it’s one of the few that seems to truly characterize college life.This is my justification for the importance of a real, illustrious and slightly flawed college experience. During this time in our lives, we manage to refine our understanding of what “living” is to so many people that are drastically different than us. Our experience here allows us to embrace a more accurate representation of humanity. Perhaps this is little consolation for having to do your own laundry, waiting in that long line at Coffeehouse, or having to tolerate that one dorm that won’t turn down their music. It seems like that’s the point.Eilzabeth Myong is a Hanszen College freshman. 


OPINION 11/10/15 3:33pm

Don’t let misinformation and uncertainty sway SB#4 vote

As noted with the rejection of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance last week, fear, uncertainty and misinformation swayed the uninformed, resulting in a majority rejection of Proposition 1. The same can be said about the current climate surrounding the “Critical Thinking in Sexuality” course here at Rice. From conversations I’ve had with various individuals, many are not well-informed on CTIS, Senate Bill #4, or the legislative process of our SA Senate. With a few days left until the vote, let’s not let misinformation, fear and uncertainty drive the opposition for Senate Bill #4.Addressing misinformation about the vote for SB#4Voting on Senate Bill #4, “Recommendation to Support First-Year Critical Thinking in Sexuality and Charter Related Task Force,” is not a vote on the curriculum for “Critical Thinking in Sexuality.” I can’t emphasize this enough. The SA is not voting on curriculum. All SA voting members will decide whether or not to support the recommendation of this potential course to the Faculty Senate. The legislation proposes the creation of a task force representative of the student body that will present a detailed outline of the course to the SA before Faculty Senate’s vote and final recommendations of the course to all other appropriate stakeholders. It does not lay out the syllabus for such a course. It does not specifically mandate certain aspects of what will be discussed in this programming.This legislation is not simply recommending a course about sex nor one that encourages all students to start having sex. The recommended course discusses much more than consent and takes Texas state law into consideration. SB#4 is not recommending a course that disrespects your beliefs, religious or otherwise.SB#4 recommends programming that would tackle six problems with six proposed tactics (shown to the right).Tackling fear about student body representationThe passing of SB#4 creates a task force made up of student representatives to work with the Faculty Senate, the University Committee on Undergraduate Curriculum and the Office of the Provost to develop and implement such programming. The current unofficial task force is made up of individuals who reached out to the SA president prior to SB#4’s public presentation on Oct. 28. They would ensure all opinions are heard and ask critical questions relating to underage students, religious values and beliefs, survivors of sexual assault, the LGBT community and the international student population, among other important topics.At this stage, details such as who will teach this course, what the curriculum will entail and whether or not an opt-out will be available have not been finalized. That is why the task force would represent the student body by asking for feedback and opinions and working with different campus resources in addition to the necessary stakeholders.Uncertainty surrounding programming should not be a deterrentNo one has brought up a solution or idea that can tackle these problems until now. SB#4 gives us the opportunity to recommend a solution to the Faculty Senate and create a task force that represents the student body. SB#4 is legislation that supports the idea of a first-year seminar that focuses on fostering community values and sexual assault prevention.Discussing community values means addressing what comprises healthy and unhealthy relationships with one’s self, friends, family and intimate partners, learning about bystander intervention and being a part of a culture of care. This includes many aspects of well-being and critical thinking about diversity — where all voices, regardless of religion, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, abilities and disabilities are valued and respected.  Focusing on sexual assault prevention necessarily addresses community values. In effective prevention programs, students address skills like conflict resolution, assertiveness and relationship equality. Such a program would reduce stigma and address myths surrounding dating and sexual violence. It would address norms that perpetrate domestic and sexual violence such as power over others (privilege and oppression), masculinity (gender norms surrounding the classic “boys will be boys,” violence, anger, “man up,” etc.), and femininity (objectification, women as passive and gatekeepers of sex, etc.). Addressing violence as common and pervasive (in the media, for example) and types of sexual and domestic violence that are not talked about (myths around blame) are included in the programming.A portion of the opposition believes that a semester is too long for such a course or that we should simply strengthen our current O-Week session on Project SAFE. The fact of the matter is that a single session is not enough. The Center for Disease Control’s Injury Center recommends the length of such programming to be nine to 12 sessions and facilitation should use interactive conversation and activities, hence the recommendation for the programming to be spread over a semester. Speak up about SB#4We don’t simply study at Rice University. We live here. We party here. We work here. We form lifelong bonds and communities. I want to be a part of a community that not only cares about issues like preventing sexual assault and misconduct, but also takes action. That is why I am asking you to reach out to your friends to vote “YES, I support this recommendation” in your college’s poll. Reach out to your college president and senator to vote YES, reach out to your friends to join you in supporting this legislation. It’s on YOU. It’s on ME. It’s on US. Be informed, express your opinions and uncertainties and get your answers questioned before the vote for SB#4 on Nov. 11.Cristell Perez is a Baker College senior and a director of the Women's Resource Center.


OPINION 11/10/15 3:32pm

We must reframe SB #4 discussion

In recent days, debate has reached a fever pitch about Senate Bill #4, a bill recommending the creation of a mandatory “Critical Thinking in Sexuality” class to combat sexual assault on Rice’s campus. This debate has grown increasingly personal and centered on process over substance. Recently, many arguments have focused on petty attacks against individuals without substantive discussion of the bill itself. These personal attacks have no place in the arena of public discourse as they cheapen the debate and distract us from the goal of combating sexual assault.


OPINION 11/10/15 3:32pm

LinkedIn is not the place to look for potential dates

Looking to broaden your career network? Trying to connect with business partners? Searching for that special someone to take your company to the next level? These are all perfectly reasonable expectations to have on LinkedIn, a social networking site with the mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.” Therefore, it should go without saying that LinkedIn is not the place to look for potential dates. Surprisingly, this is not common knowledge, particularly with older men. In fact, a recent article on Inc.com argues that LinkedIn is the “next online dating site” and actually encourages users to seek out dating partners on a website designed to facilitate career networking. While searching for dates on LinkedIn may seem relatively harmless, it can create quite a dilemma for individuals on the receiving end of the solicitation. For example, Charlotte Proudman reported in Independent that many young women, including herself, have recently been receiving sexist messages on LinkedIn from older men asking them out on dates and inappropriately commenting on their profile pictures. Proudman argues that like everyone else on the website, these women were looking to “improve their career prospects,” not to be approached by random strangers. When Proudman called these men out for their sexist remarks on LinkedIn, the men responded with antagonism. They were rudely interfering with these women’s chances for job success by commenting on their appearances and asking them for dates instead of building real career connections that could lead to job success. Furthermore, there could also be an element of danger to this type of interaction. The information people post on LinkedIn is often much more personal and publicly available than information they post on other social media sites, because they want to be easily sought out by companies. In the wrong hands, contact information and personal history on LinkedIn profiles can become more of a liability than a convenient online resume. I used to think behaviors like these were just isolated incidents until I also received a similar message on LinkedIn. I was talking to one of my mentors at a Rice Business School networking event, when a man in his mid-30s approached me and talked to me about the consulting company he worked for. Before leaving, he gave me his card and told me to email him my resume so he could see if I would be a good fit for the company. I was excited about having a possible job opportunity at an interesting firm. Therefore, I was shocked to receive the following message on LinkedIn later that week:“Hey, How’s it going? Congratulations on your job — good on you! I didn’t exchange contact details the other day, so glad I stumbled up on (sic) your LinkedIn. It was fun chatting with you the other night at the RICE event. Do you want to get a drink sometime? Let me know, and I’ll be sure to take your number :). Cheers, ______”After reading his message, I had multiple questions going through my head including: How did he “stumble upon” my profile? Why is he asking me out, when the only thing we talked about was his company and possibly working there? Does he expect me to accept his invitation in order to get a job?In my response, I tried to politely turn the conversation back to my interest in working for the company: “Hi, ______! Thank you for your well wishes! I’m sorry I took so long to email you. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks! I emailed you my resume today, as I am really interested in possibly working in environmental consulting after I graduate this May. Could you please let me know if you received my email? I’d love to meet up for coffee sometime and learn more about the company and how I can bring value to the team. Thank you, Komal.”Not surprisingly, I did not receive a reply. To the men asking women out on LinkedIn, they might view this interaction as a man harmlessly complimenting a woman. However, as an article in The Atlantic put it, “receiving a compliment is one thing, but being put in an awkward position by a powerful person in the same industry is something else entirely. The act of networking is plenty obnoxious enough already even without considering all the gender, age and status dynamics that go into seeking career guidance from another human being.” Hence, this type of behavior creates a dilemma for female job seekers, especially those of us who are just starting to enter the workforce as college graduates. We need support from men in powerful positions in a company in order to secure jobs and start our careers on the right foot. Getting asked out and catcalled on a platform intended to build relationships to further our careers is therefore not only inappropriate but also frustrating.Komal Agarwal is a Mcmurtry College senior.


OPINION 11/10/15 3:31pm

Campus discourse requires your voice

For a student body that is often self-described as uninformed and apathetic, Rice has proven in recent weeks just how powerful and outspoken our voices can be. In light of the conversations taking place all over campus on Senate Bill #4, which would create a task force to develop a course for new students on critical thinking in sexuality, we call upon more students to join the conversation on these pages. If you feel your voice is not being heard, reach out to us and use the Thresher as a platform to challenge the status quo.  Recently, at Wesleyan University, students voted to cut the newspaper’s budget due in part to the publishing of an op-ed critiquing the Black Lives Matter movement, while at Yale University, hundreds of students protested following a master’s email questioning sensitivity in regards to Halloween costumes. Both events reflect the precarious balance on college campuses between promoting free speech, challenging traditional thought and maintaining empathy towards peers. The incidents at Wesleyan especially exemplify the importance of an undergraduate paper that stimulates ongoing conversation on sensitive topics and of students being able to critically differentiate between news and opinion.  The Thresher believes it is your responsibility to challenge your peers’ ideas, and it is our responsibility to provide you a platform to do so. In line with this belief, although we reserve the right to withhold submissions, we choose to publish any opinion piece that is sent to us. It is not our place to determine the validity of an individual’s opinion. Rather, students must understand the corresponding news behind an opinion piece, and formulate their own opinion after fully examining the nuances and perspectives of the story. Students who remain largely uninformed by choosing to use opinion pieces as their sole source of information do a disservice not only to themselves but to their entire community, especially if they go on to propagate these opinions as fact. That being said, while we do try our best to report unbiased, comprehensive news, we are not infallible. It is easy to miss the quieter voices of a news story and even easier to entirely neglect those that are silent. We work hard to prevent our personal opinions from influencing the news we report, but the topics and perspectives we cover are undoubtedly shaped by the networks and connections we hold. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of you reaching out to us if you feel we are neglecting to include your voice or provide coverage of news that matters to you.  This campus is more than capable of being informed, critically examining issues and engaging in debate, but we cannot allow the conversation to begin and end with SB#4. Together, the Thresher and the student body can ensure that pertinent issues garner the coverage and conversation they deserve. Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the Thresher editorial staff. All other opinion pieces represent solely the opinion of the piece’s author.


OPINION 11/10/15 3:31pm

Don’t let voter apathy win

During Orientation Week, I registered to vote twice in the span of two days. A little strange, but let me explain. As soon as I turned 18, I registered to vote in my home state of Connecticut. Sure, I’m not living there for a while, and don’t care too much about my town’s elections, but it was the best option I thought I had. Then the Rice Vote Coalition told me that, with my on-campus Rice address, I could register to vote in Houston’s elections, so I re-registered to vote here. After all, I’m going to live on campus for four years. I care about the elections that decide who’s going to govern it.That’s not to say that I’ve been a perfect voter. Unfortunately there’s no cheat sheet for new voters — I had to figure out where to find the list of races on the ballot, research all of the candidates and figure out who to vote for. That’s quite a challenge for the average student, what with tests and homework taking up time. Most challenging of all, I had to remember all of those names on election day! But I walked into the voting booth on Tuesday with a strong understanding of the elections for mayor and controller, and a solid position on Proposition 1.As you might’ve heard, as it did manage to take the national stage, Proposition 1 — the referendum on the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance — failed by quite a large margin. I’m not here to talk about the benefits it would’ve offered, or what the next step should be — we have Google for that. I’m here to talk about the interesting trend that I noticed amongst Rice students. Rice showed an overwhelming support of Proposition 1, both through the administration’s statements and the many hours spent by volunteers helping to raise awareness on the issue. But despite all the attention that this election received, there were still plenty of eligible voters who had either not registered or simply not voted. I understand that it’s difficult, and not everybody is interested. But voting is important. This certainly was an issue that will deeply affect many Houstonians for some time. There’s almost 12 months left to register for next year’s election. Go, register and make sure to vote!Charlie Paul is a McMurtry college freshman.