Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Saturday, December 02, 2023 — Houston, TX


OPINION 1/14/15 3:49am

Cheer Battle cancellation solves nothing

I am not surprised that the administration has decided to remove Cheer Battle from Orientation Week. As any O-Week 2014 Coordinator can tell you, it was clear that there was push back on Cheer Battle from the administration. The time allotted to teaching and performing cheers was shortened and the traditional cheer routes were changed so that fewer colleges met up. The changes to Cheer Battle were simply presented to the O-Week Coordinators, and despite a majority disagreement, the changes remained. Some of our opinions were heard but not taken seriously. I quickly learned that our voices as student leaders are not as strong as they are advertised to be.

OPINION 12/3/14 1:23am

Rice should beat down ever-rising tuition

When I heard about students at University of California, Berkeley organizing a sit-in to protest the UC system’s approval of a five percent increase in tuition per year, amounting to a $612 increase next year, I actually scoffed. This laughter was not in belittlement of the tuition increase or in disregard for the plight of UC students; rather, I was bitterly amused at how much publicity this increase was receiving when Rice University has routinely increased student tuition by over three times that amount for the past decade.

OPINION 12/3/14 1:22am

Need a semester leave? Take it and don’t look back.

Like many Rice students, I am Type A. Since middle school, I’ve done everything at full intensity — pulled more all-nighters than I could possibly count, competed at the highest level of my sport of choice, completed hours of community service, etc. I had every next step planned and worked for it with all of my being. We’re all like this to some extent; that’s why we’re here, and that’s how we know it paid off.

OPINION 11/26/14 3:42am

Ich bin ein Berliner

25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, professor in the practice in mechanical engineering D. M. McStravick remembers his run-in with the Wall.Returning to my office after a Rice University baseball game last June, I stopped to look at the section of the Berlin Wall outside the Baker Institute. Contemplating the wall section and reading the inscription on the plaque brought back memories of some 50 years ago, when I worked in Germany "als Practicant." I went to Germany on an exchange program sponsored by IAESTE (International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience) and found myself working on a drilling rig, which belonged to a German oil company. I lived in the country, renting a little room in a farmhouse. When I say little, I mean it was more like an oversized closet with a strange V-shaped bed, which I actually found to be quite comfortable.While working on the drilling rig, I frequently read “Das Bild,” which at that time was a four-page newspaper, mainly pictures with short articles — just right for my level of German. In the top right-hand corner of the front page, it had the number of days the Berlin Wall had been up. Each day the number increased by one.About midway through the summer, all the foreign Practikants working in Germany went to Hanover for a meeting. At the conference, five of us decided to rent a VW microbus and drive to Berlin after the conference. We were all foreigners: one Brit, one Fin, two Yanks, a Swede and the Fin's girlfriend, plus one German girl who wanted to see her boyfriend in Berlin.We drove on the autobahn to the East German border, where we had to go through "access control." We then entered one of the three land access routes through East Germany into Berlin. It was a narrow strip of land with autobahn and railroad tracks confined by barbed wire fences on either side. Beyond the fences were minefields, or so they said. It was about 100 miles through this no man's land until we reentered the "West," or West Berlin. At this transfer point guards with submachine guns inspected our car, and we finally got through. We found the youth hostel where we had planned to stay and discovered that there was room only for our female passengers. After a rather miserable night sleeping in a construction lot sitting up, the Brit and I set out on the elevated train with an address and some general directions to a different youth hostel. While riding the elevated train, we noticed in the distance a sawhorse and barbed wire barricade. It seemed to snake along next to us and then go away, only to return. Then it became more substantial, like a wall. I began to wondered if it was “The Wall.” We stopped at several stations and as we continued, the wall was still there. Finally, we made a hard left and crossed over this "thing." I thought this could not be The Wall as we did not go back over it. We came to a station and the train stopped. People began getting off. After a while, the Brit and I noticed that we were the only ones left on the train. We looked at each other and wondered what to do. This was the Friedrich Strasse Station, and we were going on to a stop near "Checkpoint Charlie." No one was getting on the elevated train. Finally, we decided this train wasn’t going on any time soon, so we decided to enter the station. As we walked the platform, we saw the submachine-gun-toting guards like we had seen at the border crossing.Finally, we saw a sign in several languages and, unfortunately, I recognized one as definitely Russian. As unbelievable as it seemed, we were in East Berlin. But you can’t just ride the elevated train into the Russian sector, can you? Although it was a puzzle how we got there, we were more concerned about how we were going to get to our next stop. I was hesitant to admit we were non-Germans that had gotten into East Berlin. But after much wandering through the station, I finally asked someone in my limited German where we were and how do we get to Checkpoint Charlie. After some discussion, we were told that we were indeed in East Berlin and should go down to the Unterbahn (subway) to go back out to Checkpoint Charlie and West Berlin.We were very relieved to be back in the West. We found the youth hostel and signed up to spend the next night in relative comfort. That afternoon, we went to Checkpoint Charlie and crossed "properly" into East Berlin. Checkpoint Charlie was the one place where non-Germans could enter East Berlin.The difference between East and West was dramatic. As we traveled the streets of East Berlin, it looked like WWII had just ended a few years earlier. Many of the buildings were still skeletons with the rubble just tossed into the remains of the structures. If you have seen any of the old newsreels of the Berlin airlift, East Berlin looked like it had not made much progress since then, although the airlift took place almost 17 years earlier. West Berlin, on the other hand, was vibrant and fully restored except for a few landmarks like the Kaiser Wilhelm Church Tower, which were intentionally left in partial ruin.The next day we rejoined the group and spent the day sightseeing and swimming in a lake. Because of our sleeping accommodations we planned an extended night of bar hopping. We went to the Kurfurstendamm and watched the street artists drawing with chalk. We had a special beer of Berlin which was a wheat beer mixed with fruit syrup.After having many beers, we were still not ready to sleep in the van. As we walked "home," we saw an illuminated portion of the Wall. At this point we decided it would be fun to take a night walk along the Wall. The first part of the walk was well lit, but as we got farther along, the lighting diminished. At one point we passed a weathered sign on which we could make out, "You are now leaving the British sector." I vaguely remember wondering what sector we were entering, but we went on undaunted. Our goal was the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is in the East, but very near the Brandenberg Gate and visible from the West. We had seen it when we visited the Gate earlier in the day and thought it would be interesting to see at night. We finally ended up heading toward a well-lit area (the Tomb), walking along a narrow path that was overgrown with hedges on both sides. We were joking and having a great time. As we proceeded, we began to make out a figure walking toward us. All we could see was a silhouette, but one thing was clear: He carried a submachine gun. We wanted to walk off the path, but the hedge was so thick that it would have been very awkward and would look like a panicked attempt to avoid the oncomer. We decided to play it cool and just keep walking forward.At this point, the "you are now leaving the British sector" sign loomed heavily in my mind. We all sobered up very quickly and tried to look very casual, really hoping this guy spoke English and was not trigger-happy. When we got within earshot, he shouted, "Halt." We stopped, and I wondered, "How do I explain what we were doing?" Even in English it didn’t sound very sensible. In my best German I tried to explain we were just walking the Wall and wanted to go to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The guard quickly realized I was not German and responded in English. Much to our relief, it turned out that he was a West Berlin wall guard (something I did not realize even existed). He cautioned us that it was unwise to walk the wall at night, and, of course, we heartily agreed at this point. We made our way back to the van and decided to get a few hours sleep and then head back to Hanover.When we started out, it was still the middle of the night. As we pulled out of West Berlin, we again went through the guarded barricade and into the access corridor. I have driven a number of lonely roads in South Texas at night, but this no man's land road seemed the most desolate of all that night. We did not see any other cars on the road, going or coming. After an hour or so, we approached a sign announcing a split in the autobahn. We had slowed to a stop to read the signs, and at this point we were passed by the only car we had seen the whole night. We were apprehensive because we did not want to take the wrong path to the West since there were no crossovers and the other corridor went to southern Germany and was considerably longer. We had not gotten gas in Berlin because it was quite expensive. For sure, we did not want to run out of gas on this road. We approached the split in the road, and the car that passed us was waiting for us on the Hanover exit with its lights blinking. I assume they could tell we were from Hanover by our license plates. We fell in behind them and followed them back to West Germany.We arrived in Hanover, and I caught the train and bus back to the location of the drilling rig. In the “dog house” during break, I saw a copy of the Das Bild, and as usual they had on the front page: “Die Mauer ist 10XX Tage alt” (The Wall is 10XX days old). That brief item in the paper now meant so much more to me than it had before my trip. In fact, with my encounters and misadventures, I felt, as Kennedy had said several years earlier, that I too could say: “ICH BIN EIN BERLINER”.I would never forget the stark contrast between East and West Berlin. The “craziness” of ordinary life in such a divided city was hard to imagine unless you had seen it first hand. This tiny outpost of the West in East Germany was like a besieged island in a sea of Communism.When I got back to Rice and compared my summer work with rest of my fellow MECHs, I realized this had been a special experience that most of my classmates would never have. Some 25 years later, watching TV, I remembered those thoughts while watching the Germans knocking down that same wall on November 1989. I really looked in disbelief as sections of the wall fell. What a wonderful sight, and how happy I was to be witness to its demise.

OPINION 11/19/14 1:59am

Engineering evaluations deserve attention

During his speech to the Student Association on Oct. 1, President David Leebron presented a graph that showed an increase in average course quality and instructor effectiveness from Fall 2007 to Fall 2013 in all five academic schools that offer undergraduate degrees. However, the graph also showed that the school of engineering consistently had the lowest score in both course and instructor evaluations over time.

OPINION 11/12/14 4:38am

Housing and Dining cup policy must necessarily adjust to student laziness

Rice University students have reached a new level of laziness. This semester, Baker College Kitchen and West Servery have already replaced all 3,200 of their cups. Additionally, last year the serveries collectively purchased, lost and replaced 8,000 cups. To combat the problem, Housing and Dining has suggested adding 16-ounce disposable cups to the servery. and Tierra Moore, SA Environmental Committee co-chair, has proposed H&D not replace the cups to discourage students from stealing them (see p.1).

OPINION 11/12/14 4:35am

T-shirt business sustainably serves campus need

Rice students need a huge number of custom T-shirts — for Beer Bike, Orientation Week, public parties, clubs and organizations, and more. With a custom apparel business on campus, Rice students would become independent of outside T-shirt companies like ROJO Ink and CustomInk, and could be directly involved in the design and creation of the apparel so ubiquitous on campus.

OPINION 11/12/14 4:33am

Rice needs Queer Resource Center

When the Princeton Review ranked Rice as one of the Top 20 Most LGBT Friendly schools this year, frankly, we were shocked. Rice severely lacks the dedicated staff, programming and resources for our queer* students when compared to our peer institutions. In a student-led effort to remedy this, we at Query have founded Rainbow, a Queer Resource Center for the greater Rice community.

OPINION 11/12/14 4:32am

40k should be spent on sustainability, as intended

The $40,000 remaining from RESET should continue funding student-driven environmental projects. These funds originated from a 2010 SA bill, which allocated a $9 per student blanket tax “to combat rising energy costs and combat climate change.” That same year, students passed a 100-year sustainability plan, expressing a desire to make Rice more sustainable. Because of a sunset clause, the RESET blanket tax was voted on twice more, but ambiguous wording and the lack of a quorum caused it to fail.

OPINION 11/5/14 5:50am

Attend the Homecoming football game

Rice University is hosting its annual homecoming football game this Saturday, Nov. 8. The team is competing for its sixth win of the season, which will essentially guarantee a spot in a bowl game for the third-straight season and the fifth time in the last 40 years. Additionally, Rice is currently riding a five-game winning streak, has won 11 of their last 12 home games and looks as if they could be contenders for the Conference USA title.

OPINION 11/5/14 5:49am

Institutionalized activities don’t define Rice experience

I remember the first time I got rejected from co-advising. Having just left my FWIS class, I was on the steps of Fondren Library, heading toward the quad, when I got the email informing me I had not been selected. I slumped my way back to McMurtry College; I had really wanted to advise. This was not the first, nor last, rejection I received. Advising is one of the institutionalized experiences that Rice students apply for, and get disappointed if they are rejected.

OPINION 10/28/14 4:49pm

Honor Council should stop defending spending

The Student Association Blanket Tax Contingency Committee held their first meeting with Honor Council on Monday, Oct. 27 to discuss the documents it submitted for review. During the meeting, Honor Council defended its choice to allocate $50 per head to its yearly changeover dinner and other expenses that include the purchase of 15 tablets at $350 each and a new computer every three years (see p.1). 

OPINION 10/28/14 4:47pm

Students should consider unconventional paths after Rice

Every time someone asks me how senior year is going, I just laugh and say, “It’s going.” Because it is going. And it keeps going, adding to the time that has passed since I should’ve figured out what I’m doing with my life after graduation, or at least it feels that way being at Rice. People at this school are so good at having their lives together.

OPINION 10/22/14 5:43am

Students must respect alcohol policy at NOD

Following the 2012 Night of Decadence, during which 11 students were hospitalized, as well as other similar instances of unsafe behavior, Rice instituted a new alcohol policy. According to the Student Handbook, the policy “encourages with both regulations and sanctions a shift away from distilled spirits toward beer and wine, which pose a less serious danger of abuse.”

OPINION 10/22/14 5:41am

Sexual activity should not confer status

Saturday night, hundreds of scantily-clad men and women will file into the Wiess commons with one thing on their minds. Perhaps, even more importantly, the next day’s stories of who “got it in” will dominate conversation.