Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Tuesday, May 21, 2024 — Houston, TX

Opinion



OPINION 3/7/23 10:05pm

The Student Association is DEAD, long live the Student Association!

The Student Association in this past year has been disappointing to say the least; the discourse and lack of engagement I have seen reflects that disappointment. The Student Association’s reckoning has been a long time coming. The organization is in need of urgent reform in order to be more receptive to all the students it represents.


OPINION 3/7/23 10:03pm

Rice should expand free laundry detergent sheets program

Over the past year, Rice has piloted a partnership with Generation Conscious, offering zero-waste and toxic-free, refillable laundry detergent sheets to students during a pilot program at Hanszen College. The program consists of a central dispenser, in which students can refill a reusable container with 10 individual sheets at a time. These sheets are packaging free and plastic-free, and require 97% less water and 95% less carbon to produce and distribute than the average leading detergent. 


OPINION 3/7/23 9:45pm

RWRC presents possibilities for campus

The Rice Women’s Resource Center is now officially a blanket tax organization, joining the ranks of the Thresher, Rice Program Council and University Court, among others. RWRC will now receive funds from the $85 “blanket tax” that each student pays with their tuition. With their new designation, RWRC needs to expand the resources they offer to meaningfully reach every student they’re meant to serve.


OPINION 2/28/23 10:47pm

The case for letting the SA burn

In his 1995 essay “The Case for Letting Malibu Burn,” historian Mike Davis advocates for a “controlled burn” of the opulent — and wildfire-prone — California city. Continuing to pour resources into attempts at shielding Malibu from the natural fire cycle, Davis argues, is an unsustainable practice with numerous opportunity costs to the greater community.


OPINION 2/28/23 10:46pm

It’s time for Rice to be serious about its climate pledges

Rice is not serious enough about its climate pledges. On February 11, when Rice’s campus was enmeshed by the Rice Marriage Pact, Rice’s 2030 Carbon Neutral pledge celebrated its one year anniversary. Rice hasn’t yet published any progress towards emissions reduction or other sustainability metrics. Missing data is not just an administrative inaction, but reveals how the pledges are actually built on flawed “net zero” frameworks and problematic “carbon offsets.” What counts as carbon emissions? Do historical emissions count? How about the increasing social cost of carbon? Rice must make a public commitment to publishing measurable sustainability goals and data and supporting student-led sustainability initiatives. 


OPINION 2/28/23 10:45pm

Beer Bike accommodations are common sense

During the Student Association senate meeting on Monday, Feb. 27, student leaders shot down a proposed resolution calling for the Faculty Senate to prohibit midterm exams or major assignments being scheduled during both the week of and after Beer Bike. Though we agree with the SA that this proposal is far too unrealistic to ever get through Faculty Senate, there is some merit in the intentions behind it. As part of the Rice community, faculty should understand the cultural significance of Beer Bike as the ultimate Rice tradition — for all of campus — and consider avoiding scheduling exams or major deadlines immediately after it.


OPINION 2/21/23 10:18pm

Solomon Ni for Student Association president

The Thresher endorses a Student Association presidential candidate every year. This year, to no one’s surprise, the Editorial Board endorses Solomon Ni — not only because he is the only option, but also because he has expansive plans to make changes. However, in a time of exceptionally low engagement both externally and within the SA, many of his plans are overly ambitious without laying a solid foundation.


OPINION 2/21/23 10:17pm

ChatGPT is far from the villain it’s made out to be.

Last week’s issue of the Thresher included a letter to the editor that discussed the use of ChatGPT by Rice students. Felicity talks about how the reason we came to Rice was “to grow as a student and individual,” and I believe that in this regard, they are absolutely correct. Where she errs is when she implies throughout the article that this growth and intellectual stimulation are completely incompatible with the use of ChatGPT as an online tool. She is most certainly not the only one who holds that view. Many professors at Rice and across the world are currently grappling with how to handle the rise of A.I. I firmly believe that ChatGPT does have a place in academia and that the vast majority of Rice students are using ChatGPT in a positive manner that actually contributes to their educational pursuits. 



OPINION 2/14/23 11:39pm

Election demonstrates need for SA to self-examine

When petitions finished filing in and the candidates for Student Association executive positions were announced, the Thresher Editorial Board was disappointed to learn that out of five executive positions up for election, none were contested. In fact, no one is running for the secretary position, necessitating a special election process.


OPINION 2/14/23 11:39pm

Focus on the science

Over the past year, the back-and-forth between science educator Professor Dave and Rice’s own James Tour has reached a new level of fervor, accompanied by name-calling, accusations of dishonesty and hordes of angry YouTube comments. To Professor Dave, Dr. Tour misunderstands origin-of-life research and purposely misrepresents the field.  Dr. Tour, on the other hand, claims his issues with OOL are based on the science itself and expresses concern that the public and students are misled about OOL research. Beneath all the incivility are two people who seem to care very deeply about science and science education. I encourage the Rice community to focus on the science itself, not any of the personal attacks.


OPINION 2/14/23 11:37pm

Letter to the Editor: When you talk about AI, remember what we’re in school for

Yes, this article was written by a real person. The most recent issue of the Thresher included an opinion piece about the use of the artificial intelligence technology ChatGPT in academic contexts. The article, which was generated by the program itself as a display of its writing capabilities, highlighted ChatGPT’s efficiency and usefulness for “students at Rice University who are short on time and need to quickly finish an assignment.” As Rice and many universities grapple with AI’s place in their classrooms and plagiarism policies, I want to contribute a perspective that I found absent in the original article: efficiency is not the point of higher education.



OPINION 1/31/23 10:53pm

Will Rice adapt to AI or be left at its mercy?

ChatGPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) is a form of artificial intelligence technology that has been growing in popularity amongst students, especially those in academia. Rice University has seen a recent surge in students utilizing ChatGPT to help them in their coursework, raising questions about its usefulness and appropriate usage. 


OPINION 1/31/23 10:51pm

Do the bare minimum and return your plates

Housing and Dining recently spoke out about an unacceptable number of missing ceramic plates from serveries across campus, prompting several college presidents and coordinators to remind students not to throw these plates away or leave them in shared spaces. The issue has gotten so bad that H&D has stated that they will begin charging colleges each time they find one in the trash. 


OPINION 1/24/23 10:14pm

Rice should allow more than 8% of graduate students to eat at campus serveries

Everyday, many graduate students are struggling with meals, because Rice offers very limited on-campus servery dining opportunities for them. Many students have expressed concern over this policy including Yajie Liu, a bioengineering Ph.D. student. Her day is filled with coursework, research and mentoring undergraduates in the lab. Though Yajie is on campus from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day, she enjoys her busy life. This semester, she applied for the graduate meal plan but failed to get selected. She is very disappointed and has to spend extra time and effort preparing affordable meals herself. The on-campus graduate meal plan is very important to student life, Ph.D. students in particular. Rice should expand the on-campus meal plans to cater to the demand of increasing graduate students.  


OPINION 1/24/23 10:13pm

Bring Sunday brunch back to campus

At the very first Editorial Board meeting of this school year, the seniors on our board got on our high horses to inform the Rice community of the way things used to be done vis-a-vis selling tickets to public parties. We’ve held our tongues since then, as we can appreciate that circumstances change and growth is good. But the time has come for us to speak again, this time in support of resurrecting the greatest of all pre-COVID traditions: Sunday brunch.


OPINION 1/17/23 11:49pm

The RMC needs to reread their mission statement

We reported at the end of last week that popular late-night food spots YoYo’s Hot Dog and Oh My Gogi are being forced out of Rice Village by the end of the month. Justifiably, Rice students and the local community were outraged — a petition to the Rice Management Company titled “Save Yoyos and Oh My Gogi” has over 4,500 signatures as of publication.


OPINION 1/17/23 11:47pm

Too many people are comfortable with their fatphobia

On Dec. 21, the following message was posted on Fizz:  “Fat people are disgusting and I’m tired of people like you sugar coating it saying it’s ok. If you don’t want to be disgusting eat healthier and go to the gym. Yes of course some people will have it harder than others but that’s life, that doesn’t mean you get to hide under your ‘genetics’ and pretend you don’t look disgusting when you’re clearly obese and unhealthy.”