Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Friday, August 23, 2019 — Houston, TX 80°

Andrew Ta


NEWS 4/15/16 1:11pm

The Past Four and the Next 100

The past four years mark a new era for the Rice Thresher. The paper has transitioned into the age of digital media and now sits comfortably with a modern website, a dedicated social media presence and an eager mindset for embracing new mediums and reaching new audiences.


NEWS 9/29/15 4:36am

Rice remains top 5 in Niche ranking

Rice retained its No. 5 spot in the ranking of overall best college in America from Niche.com, which considers both quantitative numbers and student reviews. It ranked No. 10 for best value.


NEWS 6/8/15 4:17am

Texas student body presidents ask Abbott to reject campus carry

In a letter signed by 12 other Texas university presidents, Student Association President Jazz Silva called for Texas Governor Greg Abbott to not sign Senate Bill 11, which would allow licensed Texans to carry concealed handguns on college campuses statewide, including at Rice. Abbott has previously said he will sign the measure into law.“I know that it is quite atypical of a Rice SA president to behave ‘politically',” Silva said. “However, I feel that the letter is not only reasonable, but I trust that it is something Rice students would stand for.”The law, if signed, would take effect on Aug 1, 2016 and allow those age 21 or above to carry a concealed handgun at Rice, unless the university opts out. A provision in the bill allows private institutions to do so if they first consult their faculty, staff and students, Rice President David Leebron said in staff-wide email.“Should the governor sign the bill, we would engage in such consultation in the near future,” Leebron said. “Rest assured that, after those consultations, our expectation is to maintain [Rice’s current no-weapons policy] … In the coming months, we will take the steps needed to maintain [our] welcoming and secure campus.”Silva’s letter states all Texas schools, not just private institutions, should be able to opt out should they desire.“Not all university campuses are identical; they have different cultures, needs and beliefs,” the letter reads. “We trust that our administrators, students, and elected student representatives know how to create a safe educational environment. We should not only be enabled, but empowered to make these decisions on our own based on our individual needs, as universities.”Silva said she and University of Texas at San Antonio Student Government Association President Ileana Gonzalez drafted the opposition letter together and gathered support from other Texas university presidents, who altogether represent over 300,000 students.“I don't speak directly to whether or not guns should be allowed on campus; I only ask that public universities be given the right to choose for themselves - the same right that private institutions currently have,” Silva said.Although Rice, as a private institution, can opt out of the legislation, Silva said its students should still be concerned.“While this is probably unusual, I wouldn't stick my neck out for something I didn't believe in,” Silva said. “I wholeheartedly believe this issue affects Rice students. Our students go to conferences, attend sporting events, take summer classes, and even have siblings or friends who attend Texas public institutions. A large number of Rice students will attend public universities for graduate school.”Silva said she consulted the SA executive board and its faculty advisors before sending the letter.“They are all very supportive of this cause,” Silva said. “If one of Rice's initiatives is to create better leaders, we can't do so if we aren’t empowered to speak up.”The letter is also signed by the student body presidents of Angelo State University, Trinity University, the University of Houston, the University of North Texas, Texas Tech University, the UH Clear Lake, UT Austin, UH Downtown, San Jacinto College, Houston Community College and UT Dallas.Currently, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin allow concealed carry on campus, while 19 states specifically ban guns at colleges. Other states leave it up to each individual institution to decide. The full letter can be read below:Texas Student Body Presidents LetterFriday, June 5th, 2015Dear Governor Greg Abbott,The 84th Texas Legislature passed the campus carry bill, Senate Bill 11, on May 31st, 2015. This bill would allow concealed handguns in our respective university dormitories, classrooms, and other buildings on our campuses. This has sparked widespread concern from professors, administration, staff and of course, our Texas students.As Texas student body presidents, we respectfully ask you to not sign this bill as it is currently written. In total, we have been elected to represent over 300,000 Texas students and work closely with over 100,000 people varying from staff & administration. Our universities consist of individuals from all backgrounds, ethnicities, faiths, and ages. Because of our diverse communities, a unique culture and academic life at each of our respective institutions exists. As student body presidents, we know firsthand these unique cultures and can address the needs of our students better than anyone else. This includes, but is not limited to, the issue of public safety.We believe that both private and public institutions deserve an opt-in or opt-out of the campus carry policy. We appreciate the work our legislators have done in amending the bill in a way that allows our university presidents to have a say in which buildings are able to become “gun free” zones based on certain criteria. However, we believe that the entirety of our campuses should be “gun-free” zones if said institution sees fit. Not all university campuses are identical; they have different cultures, needs and beliefs. We trust that our administrators, students, and elected student representatives know how to create a safe educational environment. We should not only be enabled, but empowered to make these decisions on our own based on our individual needs, as universities.We tried to communicate to our legislators in the past that we, Texas Student Body Presidents, have publicly opposed this bill, however, you are now the only one who can help. We attentively ask that you have in consideration Texas students’ voices and not sign the Campus Carry bill as it is currently written.Thank you,Jazz Silva, Student Body President—Rice UniversityIleana Gonzalez, Student Body President—The University of Texas at San AntonioJarett Lujan, Student Body President—Angelo State UniversitySean McCutchen, Student Body President—Trinity UniversityShaun Smith, Student Body President—The University of HoustonAdam Alattry, Student Body President—The University of North TexasHolton Westbrook, Student Body President—Texas Tech UniversityRobin Aleman, Student Body President—The University of Houston-Clear LakeXavier Rotnofsky, Student Body President—The University of Texas at AustinJohn Locke, Student Body President—The University of Houston DowntownEmmanuel Quiroz Martinez, Student Body President—San Jacinto CollegeGodswill M. Muofhe, Student Body President—Houston Community CollegeCaitlynn Fortner, Student Body President—The University of Texas at Dallas


NEWS 4/22/15 7:28am

Alumni vote Shamoo for Excellence in Teaching award

Recent Rice University alumni voted professor of biosciences Yousif Shamoo as the 2015 recipient of the George R. Brown Prize for Excellence in Teaching.Alumni who graduated two, three and five years ago were asked to nominate professors, according to Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson. The professor with the most votes receives the excellence in teaching award, Rice’s top award for teaching. Nine others, chosen by the University Committee on Teaching and the Center of Teaching Excellence based on number of votes, class size and subject, receive awards for superior teaching. All faculty, include non-tenure-track and lecturers, are eligible for the awards, which also carry a monetary prize.Shamoo, who teaches Biochemistry I (BIOC 301) and II (BIOC 302),  previously received the award for superior teaching in 2009, 2011 and 2013, but said he never expected to win the top prize for excellence in teaching.“Biochem is such a hard course; I’m always surprised and honored,” Shamoo, who is also the vice provost for research, Wiess career development chair and director of the Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering, said.Jones College junior Felix Yang said he was unsurprised Shamoo earned the top prize, and that he completely deserved it.“He’s a bro,” Yang, who is currently in BIOC 302, said. “He’s engaged and [cares] about what he teaches and the students he’s teaching.”Shamoo said he was flattered by the award.“This award comes from our alumni and that is especially gratifying,” Shamoo said. “It means that when they get to grad or med school they value all our hard work together. Many of my students are pre-meds and too often they are portrayed in an unflattering light, but my students have real discipline and passion. I’d put my undergrads up against any school!”According to Shamoo, his teaching methods are tried and true.“I am unabashedly old fashioned,” Shamoo said. “There is a huge amount to know for this course series. It is a lecture course and I try to keep things funny and insightful despite the pressured nature of the course for my students. It would be very easy for the course to go off the rails.”Jones College senior Kevin Li said Shamoo was his favorite teacher in the biochemistry department.“He lets students punch him in the arm every year to demonstrate the effects of hemoglobin breakdown,” Li said.All 10 recipients will be honored on April 28, at Rice’s Teaching Award Ceremony. “Amongst the hallmarks of the Rice Education are the excellent faculty and close relationship of the faculty with their students,” Hutchinson said. “The faculty enjoy honoring their students at the end of the year, and this is the best opportunity for the students to honor their faculty. These awards are highly coveted and highly prestigious. All the faculty who receive them feel very honored.”A number of other awards are given out at the event. The George R. Brown Certificate of Highest Merit, awarded for earning multiple George R. Brown prizes for teaching, will be given to professor of psychology Michelle “Mikki” Hebl. The Nicholas Salgo Distinguished Teacher Award, voted on by current juniors and seniors, will be given to professor of bioengineering Ann Saterbak.





NEWS 9/3/14 2:56pm

New hardware in January to help Wifi

Rice Information Technologies will perform a hardware refresh in January that will provide new security tools and improve wireless internet performance, according to Barry Ribbeck, Director of Systems, Architecture, Infrastructure, Cloud Strategies and Initiatives at Rice University.


NEWS 9/3/14 2:48pm

New Adobe licensing policy limits CS

The Adobe Creative Suite is no longer available at many computers throughout campus. Due to changes in Adobe’s licensing model, the software is now available only in classrooms in Anderson Hall, the Visual and Dramatic Arts’s Media Center, Fondren Library’s Digital Media Center, and several general use computers on Fondren’s ground floor, according to Barry Ribbeck, Director of Systems, Architecture, Infrastructure, Cloud Strategies and Initiatives at Rice University.“[Adobe] is following a pay-per-use model,” Ribbeck said. “In previous years, software was released through Adobe in what is called a perpetual license. In a perpetual license, you buy the software and you own it, and it’s yours to keep for that version."According to Ribbeck, Rice owns 25 perpetual licenses of Adobe’s CS6, originally purchased by the architecture department. Previously, Rice could use those licenses across campus, so long as there weren’t more than 25 concurrent users, as monitored by a license server. Under current license structures, the software can only be installed on specific machines for which licensing is paid on an annual basis.“We used to take the 25 perpetual license and spread them across a large group of people using a license server,” Ribbeck said. “We still keep those 25 [licenses for CS6]. Any new licenses go on this new subscription type where you pay per year.”Ribbeck said Adobe offers a site license that would allow Rice Information Technologies to maintain the Creative Suite on all computers that could access it previously, but that the cost and lack of use was prohibitive. Rice only uses site licenses for products like Microsoft Office.“The cost before was a lot less, it was just the maintenance fee for 25 licenses,” Ribbeck said. “Now, we pay $180 per seat, per year. To buy 800 seats, it would be $144,000 per year. So we’re not doing that. We don’t use enough of the product to warrant the cost.”According to Ribbeck, the remaining licenses are being used in combination with new licenses to maintain the Creative Suite’s availability at specific locations where it was used in the past.“What we’re doing right now is putting it in spots that are very strategic on campus and seeing what kind of activity we get,” Ribbeck said. “The good news is that if we find there’s this huge demand, and we have to buy more, we can deploy it very quickly, it’s just a matter of getting the funds to cover the cost.”Computers that no longer have access to the Creative Suite will now have open-source alternatives like Gimp, LibreDraw, and Scribus, Ribbeck said.Ribbeck said new licensing models have already arrived, and that Rice IT will handle changes as they come.“That’s our fear, that more and more software companies will switch over to this new licensing model, and maybe even make it only available on the web,” Ribbeck said. “Then what do we do? This is nothing unusual with software companies. Nothing unusual with IT. Our business is about change, and this is just a change in how software companies are starting to move.  This is just another change that we’re going to have to go through.”Ribbeck said any feedback from students about this change or other IT topics should go to Manager of  IT Tech Communications Carlyn Chatfield, who can be reached at carlyn@rice.edu.


NEWS 9/3/14 2:43pm

IT streamlines websites for students

In early May, Rice University Information Technologies released streamlined versions of two websites, mynetid.rice.edu and it.rice.edu, which will make finding frequently used information and tools quicker and easier, according to Manager of IT Technical Communications Carlyn Chatfield. Much of what could previously be found on the two sites has been moved to docs.rice.edu or removed completely, and obvious links to the most popular pages have been added.