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Saturday, May 18, 2024 — Houston, TX

Isabella Bender Zevallos

NEWS 4/22/15 7:29am

Real food revolution prepares for seventh year of Farm to Fork dinner

The upcoming spring 2015’s Farm to Fork Dinner has an expected attendance of over 80 students and discussion leaders, thus maintaining the success of the semesterly event that is now in its seventh year. Rice University’s Real Food Revolution, an organization which seeks to increase awareness in regards to local foods, is hosting the dinner on April 25.Incoming Real Food Revolution Co-President and Sid Richardson College junior Kathryn Hokamp outlined the details of the event, which will feature a meal cooked by a  chef on campus and food from local farmers and the Rice Farmer’s Market.“We’ll bring in discussion leaders from around the Houston area,” Hokamp said. “We’ll ask farmers, people in food policy, people who write about food, who cook food, who have promoted gardens in Houston, [...] people who are involved in the local foods movement in Houston.”Belle Douglass, who is co-president with Hokamp, said the discussions serve to provide students with additional information on local foods and where food comes from.“We like the conversations to be just that, conversations,” Douglass, a Martel College junior, said. “We have found that the best way to really facilitate discussion and learning is by making the discussions casual and allowing the students to ask questions and be engaged with the discussion leaders.”Hokamp said that while a number of discussion leaders have yet to confirm their presence, there will be representatives from MD Anderson’s Gardening Project, Plant it Forward and Last Organic Outpost. Richard Johnson, head of Sustainability at Rice and the official club sponsor, will also be attending, and the management team of the Farmers Market will serve as discussion leaders. According to Hokamp, the event has a three-pronged purpose.“The first thing is to expose the students and the chefs at Rice to the opportunities of local foods in Houston, to the diversity and amount of local foods in Houston,” Hokamp said. “There is a huge agricultural presence that people just don’t know about.”Hokamp said the second goal of the event is the education about the activism going on in food policy for students. Additionally, Hokamp said they hope the event will allow networking with students and between discussion leaders to possibly help students find jobs.Douglass, said this dinner will feature Edward Castillo, the executive chef at West Servery. “We are so excited to work with him and sample his delicious food,” Douglass said. “Some of the produce will be coming from as close as the Martel and Wiess gardens, [and] the furthest the food can come from is a 200-mile radius from campus.”While this is Real Food Revolution’s biggest event of the semester, Hokamp said the group puts together food stands on a regular basis, from which Rice students can take for free some local food items that Real Food Revolution brought from the Farmers Market or harvested from the Rice gardens. Hokamp also alluded to the possibility of a farm visit to either Cellar Farms or Sullivan Happy Hearts Farms at the end of the semester or during this summer, depending on student interest. Farm to Fork Dinner will be held in the Duncan commons, starting at 6:30 PM, $10 for a meal and $15 for a meal and T-shirt. This year, Chef Ed (West servery) will be the guest chef. See the Facebook event for more information. 

NEWS 2/3/15 2:05pm

Committee considers two-week spring break

After gathering student opinions regarding possible calendar modifications, the Committee considering the 2017 academic calendar now contains a subcommittee considering the possibility of a two-week-long spring break. President David Leebron first presented this idea at a Faculty Senate meeting in November.The Academic Calendar Committee, which consists of student representative Lovett College Senator Aishwarya Thakur and several faculty members, was appointed by the Faculty Senate in early November, according to Thakur, a sophomore. Initially, the committee was told to consider a two-week spring break, but was later told to consider one-week options in which Rice’s spring break would align with that of the Houston Independent School District. Thakur said she sought feedback from college senators, then  briefed the Student Association to include student feedback in the decision. Thakur said the general student feedback reflected a preference for starting on a full week in order to not shorten class time. The Committee reported its three options of calendars to the SA on Jan. 14. “I heard that people really like the midterm break we have in April, so if we did move to the 10th week, we would have to put a break in February around the fourth or fifth week to break up those 10 weeks,” Thakur said. “[The 2017 Spring Calendar Committee] decided that we would get rid of that April break and just have a two-day break in February and then move spring break to the tenth week, start on a Monday [and] end on a Friday.” According to Thakur, the Committee has decided on a calendar, based on student responses, to propose to the Faculty Senate, and the Committee made their suggestion to the Faculty Senate, although the vote was not unanimous. The Faculty Senate then recommended the Committee return to considering a two-week spring break. Thakur said an extended break could potentially allow for more frequent and extended learning experiences outside the classroom, including internships and Alternative Spring Breaks.“Would we just expand these programs?” Thakur said. “You could go on the service trips in week one and have a break in week two, or have a break in week one and go on a service trip in week two. Or we could have programs that run one and a half weeks or two weeks, such as international trips, which require more time.”Thakur said the Committee is considering the possibility of providing academic credit for programs completed during spring break as well. However, the Committee may not begin or end the calendar earlier.Professor of mathematics and Faculty Senator Michael Wolf said students should see the positive aspects of moving spring break.“Particularly, one should not imagine that the situation is we align these spring breaks at the cost of many other things,” Wolf said. “Unlocking spring break from where it is moored between two apparent chronological halves of the class schedule provides all sorts of opportunities beyond the lining of spring breaks.”Wolf said he hopes the calendar will be finalized by March, and the Committee recognizes that the decision is important to multiple groups at Rice.“It affects everyone, and [all affected feel] they’re an expert because they live it — and they are,” Wolf said. “[We must] take all of the effects of the calendar on student life, on pedagogy, on family life for the workers, and try to weigh each factor in terms of its importance and in terms of the importance of the mission. There is no formula for that, but we’re sincerely trying to do an honest job.”

NEWS 2/3/15 2:02pm

LGBTQA advocacy finds home in Queer Resource Center

After a kick-off party and first official meeting, the Queer Resource Center has been newly inaugurated at Rice University. The launching event was held on Jan. 29 and attendees included LGBTQA+ community members and allies from the undergraduate and graduate student bodies, as well as staff members.According to QRC co-founder Nick Hanson-Holtry, the event served as a thematic continuation of the Queer State of the Union event hosted by Queers and Allies,  which occurred the day before the inauguration. “The purpose of it was to get everybody on campus who [might not] usually come to events on campus to come out and give us input,” Hanson-Holtry, a Sid Richardson College junior, said. “We are a resource center and we want to be getting at what resources people care about and which ones they don’t.” To conclude the initial activities of the QRC, the QRC task force held its first official meeting on Feb. 3. Hanson-Holtry said the purpose of the meeting was to organize committees and allow any interested members to get involved — as facilitators to a committee or solely as members who contribute with their presence and opinions. Hanson-Holtry also said the QRC aims to work with as many diversity groups on campus as possible, but their closest relationship will most likely be with the Women’s Resource Center. While the QRC is officially located in an office in the Rice Memorial Center basement, members of the QRC will volunteer with the WRC in its more visible office. “The QRC has a three-pronged mission statement [including] activism, visibility and support,” Hanson-Holtry said. “Visibility is huge, and if we are underground, no one is going to see us, no one is going to know who we are. [But we will] start doing speaker events and start doing activism and more — and having a space is kind of a secondary concern.”Hanson-Holtry said the QRC is not a completely new initiative; another Queer Resource Center was founded about 15 years prior, but, upon merging with the current Queers and Allies group, eventually disappeared. Hanson-Holtry said the QRC aims to remain a part of Rice just as the WRC has in past years. “We wanted to make sure that queer activism [doesn’t] go away on campus,” Hanson-Holtry said. “Maybe four years from now Query will disappear, maybe four years from now Q&A will disappear, but we wanted to establish something more permanent.” Hanson-Holtry said the QRC will be sustained through direct oversight from both the Office of Student Wellbeing and the Office of Multicultural Affairs, who will provide them with $1,000 each year if they hold an annual event aimed at promoting diversity on campus. According to Hanson-Holtry, the $5,000 awarded to the QRC from the SA40k will be used to bring in speakers and host events that relate to activism, although the plans have not been completely finalized. Nonetheless, Hanson-Houltry said he is thankful for the support and reaction from the student body.“It’s amazing that the student body has supported us and given $5,000 and [been] on board with everything,” Hanson-Holtry said. “I think it’s really exciting, and I can’t wait to see what happens in the course of the next semester.”Duncan sophomore Maria Emilia Duno said the creation of the QRC impacts the discussion on queer issues on campus overall.“I think that because Rice is so progressive in so many ways, people assume that there aren’t still queer issues that need to be addressed,” Duno said. “This space gives people who need their voices heard a platform from which to speak.”

NEWS 11/5/14 6:43am

Esperanza tickets sell out again

Due to demonstrated student demand for more tickets, Rice Program Council decided to rent the second floor of the Museum of Natural Science, thus providing 425 more tickets for Esperanza. RPC President Aisha Jeeva stated that while RPC had always considered renting this extra space, they did not want to book it without knowing the demand for tickets and then losing money due to an overestimation. The opening of the second floor has enabled RPC to add new elements to the homecoming dance. “There will be a photo station with props and a karaoke set-up on the second floor,” RPC Socials Committee Co-chairs Jodie Nghiem and Audrey Smith said. “While we have had similar photo areas at past Esperanzas, we have never had karaoke. However, we believe that the main attractions of the second floor will be the five additional exhibits that attendees will be able to explore, including the Hall of Gems and Minerals, the Hall of African Wildlife and more.”Given the additional space, RPC had to re-adjust the budget to cater to additional costs. Nghiem and Smith said costs were mostly incremental and were easy to calculate on a per-person basis, such as food and drinks, which amount to about $9 per person. Jeeva explained that other flat fees costs were also easily predictable, such as the additional $2,000 needed to rent the second flood.“Additionally, the cash bars were both incremental and step function cost increases,” said Jeeva. “The cost of alcoholic drinks are a combination of a flat fee per bar which increases on a per-person basis, only taking into consideration attendees over 21 … Ultimately, we were able to get the venue cost, HPD, RUPD, EMS, food, cash bars, non-alcoholic beverages, activities for the second floor, tables, chairs, table linens and decorations covered for about the $8,500 we made on ticket sales.” Thus, Nghiem and Smith said RPC did not need to increase its blanket tax contribution to the formal. The RPC Socials added that extra tickets had to be limited to 425 not only because the caterers could only prepare food for the current amount of guests, 1,800, but also due to the fact that the Museum imposed a limit of 1,000 guests on the dance floor at any given time and because the caterers could only prepare food for the current amount of guests, 1,800.  “If it starts to exceed that capacity, the HPD officers present to keep an eye on the fossils according to our contract will start to remove people,” Jeeva said. “We didn’t think it would be fair to sell 2,000 tickets when only [a half] of the attendees could be on the dance floor at one time.” Nghiem and Smith said ticket sales have been going well, as an increasing number of students have been taken off the waitlist in several rounds.Initially, there were over 1,000 students on the waitlist, and now there are less than 600 remaining.However, RPC  remains confident they will allow the majority of students to buy tickets. Jeeva admits there were many issues previously  surrounding the sale of tickets, but hopes that students will acknowledge the work that RPC has dedicated in making this event happen. “We know it was a frustrating time for students,” Jeeva said. “We really appreciated the people who were patient and understanding while we were trying to work through the issues and find reasonable solutions, and hope that students will keep in mind that the people they are so harshly criticizing are their peers who have put significant time and effort into making this event as successful as possible.”

NEWS 10/28/14 4:23pm

SA examines teacher evaluation system

In accordance with the post-centennial vision, the Student Association University Standing Committee on Teaching is reassessing teacher and course evaluations. The new subcommittee collected results of its survey on how to improve the current evaluation system and asked for feedback from SA members at the second SA Senate meeting on Oct. 21. The survey had a sample size of 72 students and consisted of multiple choice questions and free-response space for suggestions. Student representative Amber Lo said the Esther course evaluation survey offers the Committee license to implement any changes it may seek to make.USC student representative Alexandra Franklin said many students suggested mid-semester evaluations. She also said changes may be difficult to institute in light of the differences between course and exam structure, midterm dates and class sizes. She said some evaluations may be outliers that are not representative overall.“One really bad review — even if all other reviews are really great — can really affect how your ratings come out in the spreadsheet,” Franklin, a Brown College junior, said. “One of the ideas is to cut the ‘extreme evaluations’…so that the students have a more accurate view of what a typical student feels about the class.” Currently, teachers must generate their own questions to conduct mid-semester surveys, which are rarely conducted. Lo, a Hanszen College sophomore, said the Committee is looking into a possible standardization of these mid-semester surveys. Franklin said a likely obstacle is that there is no foreseeable way to penalize students who don’t complete mid-semester evaluations, whereas viewing grades may be put on hold for incomplete end-of-semester surveys.Franklin said while the Committee is still gathering feedback, they have been discussing with Registrar David Tenney (Sid Richardson ’87) the option of adding a survey question at the end of the add/drop form related to why the student decided to drop the class. Franklin sees this as a solution to the current exclusion of opinions of those who left a course. “In this committee, we’re really advocating for the student voice, and we’re making sure that the students are able to continue seeing what they want out of the evaluations — and getting even more out to them,” Franklin said.Lo said all 72 surveyed students consider the course evaluations an important factor in choosing their classes, and the Committee’s ultimate goal is to make this tool more effective. Both student representatives said, while changes will not be made this semester, the University Standing Committee on Teaching will continue to meet to set an action plan for future modifications.