Rice hosted the author of its common reading book, "The Honor Code," this past Tuesday (see story, pg. 1). Unfortunately, many new students bypassed the opportunity to hear Kwame Anthony Appiah speak. Only a hundred students attended the talk; the poor attendance reflects the continued struggle of the common reading program at Rice to really captivate the enthusiasm of new students.
This past O-Week, Rice extended its long established tradition of reaching out to the community and serving the needy (see story, pg. 5). Outreach Day was a vast success; it drew 488 new students to a myriad of projects around Houston. The number of participants exceeds that of any past Outreach Day. Furthermore, 88 percent of those students who signed up for a project actually participated — an incredible ratio when factors such as peer pressure to attend Dis-O and fatigue from a long O-week are considered.
This coming week, students have the opportunity to participate in a campus-wide game of Assassins (see story, pg. 4). The recently busy RPC will be hosting the event which begins on Monday. The decision to host the event earlier than normal was a prudent one; it gives freshmen the chance to meet new people early in the year, and nothing starts a new friendship quite like a water gun ambush. While the game may seem mildly trivial, it is a sort of event that epitomizes what Rice culture. Rice is a fun and quirky place. Every student, every college, and even every professor, has some sort of odd tendency or characteristic that ironically puts them right at home at Rice. Similarly, this campus-wide Assassins battle will undoubtedly seem quirky to the bystander who watches a watergun-wielding freshman chasing someone across the academic quad; however, at Rice that sort of thing seems to fit in. Rice has the privilege of being a small and unique university, and hosting events such as Assassins helps explain Rice's perennially high quality of life rating. These commendations should not be taken out of context, in the end it is only a game; however, it is the combination of small, distinctive things such as Assassins that makes Rice into the school that it is.
Rice student life is mainly contingent on three things: the academics, the colleges and the relationship between the administration and the students. The first two of these items are as strong as ever, but last year we saw several major challenges to the third. Before first semester even began last year, the administration sold the KTRU radio tower in a manner that, no matter your opinion on the eclectic radio station, demonstrated a complete disregard to students.
As a college student watching the United States economy slide into an abyss, I am immensely worried. I am worried that when I graduate jobs may not be plentiful. I am worried that robust economic growth may become a bygone phenomenon for the United States. I am worried that Washington is lacking smart, courageous leaders. But, despite all these worries, I take solace in knowing that all is not lost — the United States can recover. By enacting the right policies, the United States can boost economic growth, can create jobs for Americans and can help the country reduce its deficit.
Events in Libya are being transformed instantly into political myth in order to pursue policy objectives instead of being treated as contextualized yet individual occurrences of modern history.
While the KTRU radio tower sale ruffled its fair share of feathers among the student body, students are now beginning to see the marginal returns on the nearly ten million dollars acquired in the transaction (see story, pg. 4). The Three 6 Mafia concert was funded partially by endowments from the KTRU money as are many other projects that are slated to begin shortly and in earnest in 2012. While ALFA fund expenditures are still pending administration approval, university funds are being used for expenditures that will ultimately come from the ALFA budget.The Thresher is anticipating the final approval of the ALFA funds for projects that will further improve student life quality.
In the August 19 issue of the Thresher ("New class size exceeds expectations") it was incorrectly reported that 169 students were expected beyond the planned class size. In actuality only 52 students were accepted over the ideal quota. Furthermore, the Class of 2015 consists of 1,019 freshmen, not 1,119 as originally reported. The Thresher regrets these errors.
This summer marked a number of changes in the RMC, many of which were long overdue (see story, page 9). Thanks in part to the efforts of Kevin Kirby, Boyd Beckwith and RMC renovation funds (not to mention years of student polling), Coffeehouse now sits in a larger location that will enable the student-run business to flourish, without having to sacrifice the study spaces in the Kelley Lounge. While not a part of the RMC, the dedication of a space in Hanszen College for Hoot South is another prime example of the administration working with student entrepreneurship for positive outcomes. The installation of Droubi's in Sammy's will invite a different flavor to campus along with a lot of potential that we hope the Mediterranean cuisine will bring.
Coming off of the success of its recent Harry Potter movie screenings, RPC has once again found a way to live up to its name by organizing Three 6 Mafia and The Wild Moccasins for a back-to-school concert (see story, page 1). Not only has RPC managed to snag an Academy-Award winning group and tackle the problem of publicizing the event during the summer, but the concert will certainly make a positive impression of what student organizations are capable of to incoming students and returning students alike. The use of ALFA funds to create a concerts endowment have proven that at least some of the funds have been used successfully. We can't wait to see what else RPC has in store for future events.
The way I see it, if you believe that Officer David Sedmak's termination was entirely justifiable you're either joking, you don't know the story or you're about as sharp-witted as Rep. Anthony Weiner. Sedmak sprang into action after hearing the ominous "officer down" transmission on his radio. Disregarding the possibility of personal harm, Sedmak decided to risk himself by going into a "hot" area to help his uniformed brothers. He knew the Houston Police Department would have done the same for him. Officer Sedmak assisted in the resolution of the Greyhound Bus Station standoff and returned back to campus only to face the scorn of an administration devoid of humanity. Sedmak was terminated a month after his heroic actions. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Houston Business Journal's "Best Place to Work" for five years and running -- Rice University. It is unclear whether Sedmak called his location into dispatch; Sedmak says he did, while university officials dispute that claim. If, in fact, no call was made then protocol was broken. Officers are expected to check-in with dispatch and not leave campus without express permission; however, Sedmak simply did what he thought was right. Sometimes bureaucratic protocols and snap decisions just don't mesh. In the realm of law enforcement, life-saving, momentary decisions have to be made and a police organization such as RUPD should understand that. However for some uncertain reason, RUPD seems to be focused solely on Sedmak's "dereliction of duty." The man did not stroll down to Bombay Brasserie in the Village for some quality naan; he spent his shift trying to save the lives of downed officers. While the breach in RUPD rules may warrant a reprimand or suspension, the decision to terminate him is unbelievable. Sedmak's presence at the crime scene was voluntary and possibly not even necessary; but he was following his instinct and ultimately trying to be a good cop. Do the rules that Sedmak broke really outweigh that decision? Rice further defended its decision to terminate Sedmak by claiming that his departure from campus put its students at risk. However, anybody familiar with life at Rice will realize that this hollow defense is nothing more than a flailing attempt to give meaning to a meaningless decision. First, the May 7 episode took place after the conclusion of final exams and a majority of students had left campus. Those students who remained were still afforded protection by the other two officers on duty during Sedmak's shift. Second, Rice is notoriously safe. Our University isn't set in the middle of the projects, and RUPD is rarely forced to take action in order to preserve the sanctity of campus. Don't get me wrong, I believe that RUPD serves an instrumental role in ensuring that our campus continues to be one of the safest in the country; however, most would agree that the absence of one officer for one hour does not compromise campus security -- especially considering that other officers were on duty at the time. If anything, Rice's desperate outcry about compromised safety during that one hour erroneously paints Rice as a very unsafe place to the public. Relations between students and RUPD have become strained over the past 12 months. The alcohol crackdown has become a central policy debate at Rice, and RUPD's increasingly stern actions have drawn the ire of many students. Furthermore, many of the students aware of this situation are bemoaning the termination through social media, and the outcry would undoubtedly be much greater if this incident had occurred with school in session. Confidence in our police department seems to be declining, and this latest questionable decision will certainly not help that trend. The dynamic between the student body and campus police is an entirely separate discussion; however, it is obvious that the growing schism and distrust between the two sides is not optimal for campus safety. Had Sedmak's decision to go rogue saved the life of an officer on May 7, Rice would have undoubtedly tried to jump into Sedmak's national limelight and seize some of the credit being doled out by the national media. Plastered on the front of Rice's website would have been a predictable headline, "Who Knew: RUPD officers that protect Rice's campus could also protect Rice's city?" However, without a Hollywood ending to Sedmak's actions, RUPD administration was unable to come down from their Lovett Hall perch to see how heroic his actions were. Ironically, Rice's decision to fire Sedmak has yielded an entirely different type of national press, and Rice has to do some serious damage control to protect our otherwise pristine image. Unfortunately, no matter how Rice PR tries to frame this issue, RUPD administration will be on the losing side of the debate. The students know they are wrong. The public knows they are wrong. The media knows they are wrong. Rice must overturn this preposterous termination and return Sedmak's job -- if he even wants it back anymore.