Ah, the start of a new semester! With new notebooks in hand and the determination to make this a great semester, our student body attends its first week of classes. While "syllabus week" is one of the most enjoyable weeks of the semester, with the opportunity to shop for classes and limited homework, it does bring along one annoyance: buying textbooks. After most of us have finally decided which classes we will attend, or at least stay enrolled in, it comes the time to dive into the frustrating process of buying the required materials for our next semester of learning.
I am an ardent supporter of President Barack Obama and have often used this space to praise him and his policies. Yet I cannot be a blind supporter; when they err, it is our responsibility to criticize those we admire. As such, today I write to express my fundamental disagreement with the president.
The alcohol policy probation has been lifted effective next semester by Dean Hutchinson after nine months of efforts by student leadership to make the university environment more conducive to safe drinking (see story, pg. 1). The probation rules varied among the residential colleges, but the greatest impact it had on the university party scene was the deprivation of punch and shots at private parties around campus. While the probation seems to have been effective in reducing the ease of binge drinking at private parties, liquor use in private quarters was still quite prevalent. In short, the probation did not seem to stop individual students from drinking heavily if he or she desired to do so; it did, however, serve as a stark wake-up call for students around campus.
Many Rice students from outside the Southern United States can attest to the fact that our university is not exactly the most well-known or prestigious school on the coasts. Indeed, when telling someone from Massachusetts or Oregon about Rice, you are likely to be asked whether it's a small liberal arts school or to receive a blank stare. While there are some who have heard of Rice and a few who know what a great institution it really is, the fact of the matter is that our eventual alma mater simply does not carry the same weight as schools such as Stanford or the supposed Holy Grail known as Harvard. Here's a thought though: so what?
Palestine was accepted into the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as a member state on Oct. 31, 2011. President Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel reacted first, condemning UNESCO's acceptance of Palestine. His policy provoked intense criticism from the Israeli people and the international community. As an act of solidarity with Israel, the United States withdrew its own funding from UNESCO, a sum of $80 million constituting 22 percent of UNESCO's total funding.
This past Friday, Rice commemorated Veteran's Day and recognized the university's veteran community. The event was made doubly special as this year is the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Rice Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps program. The program and university have together produced many officers who have had distinguished careers in the armed services.
In the Homecoming photo spread in last week's issue, caption number one should have referred to the Rice Program Council. Caption number six should have acknowledged Peter Boie. Caption number seven should have included the RPC's collaboration with SpoCo for the Upright Citizens Brigade. The Thresher regrets these errors.
As my high school teachers know, I have a soft spot for being disruptive. I firmly believe that causing the occasional ruckus serves a purpose of not only creative expression but the simple joy of expression. However, I found the behavior of protesters who last week disrupted Eric Cantor, Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, in the midst of his speech utterly reprehensible.
On Oct. 31, 2008 I ran Baker 13 for the first time. That night I trotted around in all my glory, proud to be participating in such a storied tradition. After all, Baker 13 on Halloween is one of the few chances in your life where you can run naked with over 250 of your closest friends. Otherwise, you have to wait until your 60s when you join that nudist colony outside of Boca Raton that your awkward uncle always fantasizes about. In any event, I was proud to participate in the former instead of anticipating the latter.
Among many of its recent upgrades, the Office of the Registrar has added a waitlist feature to ESTHER's course registration (see story, pg. 1). While the waitlist restored some order to the special-registration frenzy that inevitably follows normal ESTHER registration, it was not without problems. Most notably, seniors needing a class to graduate were initially unable to special-register for a class with priority because pofessors were prohibited from signing any forms whatsoever.
Eric Cantor's appearance at Rice last Thursday marked the second on-campus talk given by a prominent politician in as many weeks (see story, pg. 1). However, the storyline quickly shifted from the Majority Whip to the "99% protestors" who mic-checked him within the first few seconds of his speech.
Watching the events at Pennsylvania State University unfold over the last two weeks, I find myself surprised by how strong my reaction has been. I've always liked Penn State. My grandparents met there and I have friends who grew up Nittany Lion fans, but I've never been super attached to the school or the football program.
The Rice Thresher would like to bid the Rice Men's and Women's Basketball team the best of luck as it begins its season this Friday and Saturday (see stories, pgs. 20-21). The Men's team opens at home against the University of New Orleans, and the Thresher encourgaes students to attend the game.