TEDxHouston should have included students
On Sept. 12, 1962, United States President John F. Kennedy famously declared at Rice University: "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard." This statement inspired this year's TEDxHouston theme and location on Rice's campus. However, besides its focus on "the other things," something else was very different this time. While Kennedy spoke to a crowd of 30,000 members of the Rice and Houston communities, at TEDxHouston, there was a lack of both.TED's application process to earn a spot in the audience helps select a passionate, involved crowd, but its $100 ticket price also ensures there is another determinant in play: financial means. While it is understandable that ticket costs must reflect the cost of running the event, it is also undeniable that this price excludes a significant portion of the Houston and Rice community. Furthermore, to host the conference at Rice and not offer opportunities for actual Rice students to enter the event does not seem right. Our students surely have some "Ideas Worth Spreading." There is the woman who is changing the face of literacy in Africa, the group of students who created a startup accelerator and the engineering team that recently built a robotic arm. And these are just a handful of our undergraduates. I have seen the power of TED talks in the lives of others and my own. For that reason, I applied to TEDxHouston as soon as I heard about it and was accepted, only to discover the ticket price, which I could not afford as a student. After emailing the TEDxHouston curators several times about volunteering or other potential student opportunities, I finally received a short response: "Rice is working on setting up a free simulcast event separate from TEDxHouston at the School of Humanities."Students did not have a chance to interact with the speakers or audience - they were able only to watch the talks on a screen at a separate location halfway across campus. There were so many small ways TEDxHouston could have involved Rice students. Examples include an essay contest in which the top three writers win tickets to the event, a chance for students to have a meet-and-greet with one of the speakers or featuring a student presenter.Perhaps what upsets me the most is this missed opportunity for both Rice University and TEDxHouston. The possible cross-pollination of ideas or exciting conversations that could have taken place and even catalyzed collaboration between students and other Houstonians simply did not happen. Instead, after such an inspiring event was hosted on our campus without us, all we can say from the outside is: "Thanks for coming to campus. The pictures look nice." I sincerely hope that next year, besides discussing "the other things," TEDxHouston will also include the other people.Jennifer Ding is a Baker College Junior.