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Friday, April 19, 2024 — Houston, TX

Jeremy Huang

NEWS 9/11/14 10:15am

EMS presents revised legislation guaranteeing housing for in-charges

After reviewing details over the summer, the Rice University Emergency Medical Services presented a revised version of legislation guaranteeing on-campus housing for In-Charges/In-Charge Trainees at the Student Association meeting on Sept. 3.According to Baker College Senator Nitin Agrawal, he and former EMS captain Patrick McCarthy first proposed the legislation in April, but the SA rejected it over concerns that EMS IC/ICTs might not be able to get housing in their own residential colleges.“The main difference [between the new plan and the original] is the removal of the rotation system in which two IC/ICTs stay at their original college, and the other IC/ICTs from that college are assigned to the next available college,” Agrawal said. “The problem was that college student bodies didn’t want their residents to have to live at another college.”Since the SA tabled the original proposal last semester, two IC/ICTs are currently living off campus. EMS captain Mollie Ahn reiterated the need for IC/ICTs to be constantly available on campus in order to maximize EMS’s capacity to respond in an emergency.“EMS can’t reach a medical emergency from outside of Rice,” Ahn, a Brown College senior, said. “EMS response time is usually around three to five minutes, while [the Houston Fire Department] response time is around 15 minutes.”Ahn said, since the nature of IC/ICT involves a large time commitment, having fellow IC/ICTs present on campus is necessary for the delegation of duties.“For six to seven times a month, IC/ICTs have to be available 24 hours, from noon to noon,” Ahn said. “[But they also have a] functionary role; IC/ICTs usually spend around 25 to 27 hours a week maintaining equipment and EMS education classes. If we get a call, all of the available IC/ICTs may already be [involved with] another medical emergency, so we need IC/ICTs to be able to pass the job to each other.”According to Agrawal, the legislation would also serve to provide a more unified housing system for IC/ICTs, as not all of the residential colleges have had a history of housing IC/ICTs.“In the past, each residential college had their own system in dealing with IC/ICT housing,” Agrawal said. “Some colleges did not have a policy, while the policies of those that did were varied. This legislation creates a unified policy that allows everyone to be on the same page.”Agrawal said the legislation would not impact or take away others’ ability to obtain on-campus housing.“The guaranteed housing works in the same manner by which members of the college cabinet receive guaranteed housing,” Agrawal said. “Rice EMS will notify each respective college early enough so that proper accommodations can be made.”Agrawal said the SA will make its decision on implementing the legislation on Sept. 17 and that the proposal in its current form will likely receive agreement this time.“There hasn’t really been any pushback,” Agrawal said. “We will likely have the on-campus housing next school year.”To accompany the article discussing the original proposal, The Thresher wrote an editorial in support of the legislation. 

NEWS 11/18/13 6:00pm

Fondren plans changes for finals hours

In light of student concerns, the Fondren Library staff plans to improve the student experience during the finals weeks from Dec. 2-17, implementing a number of changes to maximize student study space and limit visitor access to the library, according to David Bynog, Fondren's assistant head of acquisitions. "The [pilot] project aims at increasing available spaces in two ways," Bynog said. "The first is by reducing the number of hours that the library is available to visitors, particularly during the evening and nighttime hours that are popular with students. The second is to temporarily increase the [amount of space] for student use."According to Bynog, an often-voiced concern has been the large presence of visitors at the library, who number about 600-800 a week."[There are] ... visitors who spend many hours studying at Fondren for medical exams [and] take up many of the large tables near windows," Bynog said. "[Rice] students have to search for tables for their studying."Bynog said a key concern is the availability of space for student use, especially as the demand for space heightens."Rice's student population has increased dramatically since 2005 as part of the Vision for the Second Century," Bynog said. "[Students] have increasingly expressed a need for more study space, and we have added more study rooms, tables and chairs in response ..., [but] students [continue] to raise concerns."According to Bynog, new rooms will be open for students to use for studying during finals."[We will open] up the Kyle Morrow Room as a study space during evening and weekend hours and [provide] extra tables and seating in various locations throughout the library," Bynog said.Former Fondren student employee Omare Okotie-Eboh said he felt the number of visitors in Fondren was never a significant issue."Overall, I feel like it is OK ... that we are not the only students in the area," Okotie-Eboh, a Will Rice College junior, said. "The problem is that there are people who come to take advantage of free access to [computer resources] for nonacademic reasons. It's never fun to be distracted by a random visitor loudly playing games or music on the computer next to you."Okotie-Eboh said he is nevertheless mainly in favor of Fondren's handling of visitors."But [it] is important to remember that there are many people outside of Rice who benefit from access to Fondren," Okotie-Eboh said.Bynog said the library also plans to provide stress-relieving activities, such as a number of study and snack breaks in the weeks leading to finals week."On Dec. 4 and 11, granola bars and other snacks will be provided in the fourth-floor Sarah Lane Lounge at 8:30 p.m.," Bynog said. "And on Dec. 9, coffee and popcorn will be available at the circulation desk from 10 p.m. to midnight."According to Kerry Keck, the assistant university librarian for research services, volunteer animals will visit the library from Dec. 12-14 as pet therapy for worn-out students - an event brought back by popular demand."[In past semesters,] students have been very happy with the pet therapy program," Keck said. "They enjoy having a bit of distraction and the stress relief of petting a dog for a few minutes. There have been animals of all shapes, sizes and breeds - mostly dogs, but we might have a kitty or two."According to Keck, many students indicated they wanted the pet therapy program to continue, and the few who did not mainly had concerns about the sanitary aspect of having animals in the building. Keck said that to address these grievances, pets would be confined to a specific area and earplugs would be provided to those who might be disturbed by the animals' presence. Baker College sophomore Mini Bhattacharya said she enjoyed interacting with pets during the stress of studying for finals."I love that Fondren organizes the pet therapy event for us because it's such a good way to take a break and relieve stress," Bhattacharya said. "It's refreshing to interact with living beings that aren't panicking about finals, and I leave feeling so much happier."

NEWS 11/5/13 6:00pm

National Philanthropy Week to thank donors

Rice students, faculty and staff will be able to celebrate the donors who sustain the Rice experience during National Philanthropy Week happening the week of Nov. 11. Participants will be able to write thank-you notes to donors, receive free T-shirts and partake in a Rice trivia contest throughout the week sponsored by the Rice Annual Fund for Student Life and Learning, according to Annual Fund intern Anastasia Bolshakov."A lot of people don't realize how important philanthropy is," Bolshakov, a Duncan College junior, said. "Philanthropy is what started Rice, with William Marsh's gift. While our tuition is higher than is it has been in past years, it is still very low [in comparison] to other universities of our caliber. Philanthropy makes up some of that difference."According to Rice Annual Fund Assistant Director Erika Moul, the fund, which consists of donations from alumni, families, seniors and friends of Rice, is an essential resource for Rice."The Rice Annual Fund is the university's immediate-use fund, meaning that every dollar donated to [the Annual Fund] in a fiscal year is spent in its entirety the following academic year on campus programs and maintenance, research stipends, scholarships and more," Moul said.According to Moul, the Annual Fund goes not only toward students' scholarships and coverage of educational costs, but also to their social and lifestyle resources such as residential college budgets, intramural sports, and the Barbara and David Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center."Full tuition covers less than half the cost of undergraduate attendance at Rice, and the Annual Fund is one of the sources of funding that covers the remainder of these costs," Moul said.According to Moul, participants in National Philanthropy Week will learn about the giving culture that the university encompasses. "We hope that [participants] will see the importance of every gift of every size and its impact," Moul said. "Not only in new structures and improvements to campus, but also through scholarship support and the influence of giving participation on rankings and the university's receiving of substantial gifts from corporations and foundations."Moul said that by writing thank-you notes, students will recognize people who contribute to the Annual Fund, as well as to other areas such as Leadership Rice, Rice 360 and the Alternative Spring Break program."The hope is, by educating students about philanthropy while they are on campus, that they will understand its importance ... and give back themselves, particularly as seniors and alumni," Moul said.  According to Bolshakov, one way for students to get involved in the philanthropic community is to join the Rice Annual Fund Student Initiative. She said philanthropic endeavors come in more forms than cash donations."RAFSI has helped plan and organize events like the Senior Class Gift, NPW and Jar Wars," Bolshakov said. "Most people think philanthropy only encompasses monetary gifts, but it also includes volunteering time and other resources."Bolshakov said it is never too early to donate or give to the funds that furnish the Rice student experience - even in small amounts."The more people who choose to give, the greater the collective impact will be," Bolshakov said.

NEWS 9/30/13 7:00pm

Sukkah tent near RMC celebrates Jewish holiday

Last week, passers-by might have noticed a white tent standing in the Central Quad near the Rice Memorial Center. This structure, called a Sukkah, stood at Rice from Sept. 18 to 25 to observe the Jewish holiday Sukkot, according to Duncan College sophomore Hannah Abrams.

NEWS 9/5/13 7:00pm

Rice Bike Rentals offers a new option for riders

This past Sunday marked the start of the Rice Bike Rental program as a group of Rice University students took hold of 30 gleaming new bicycles - theirs to keep for the rest of the semester.   Previously, the bikes were kept in the basement of Sid Richardson College, which houses the student-run Rice Bike Shop. Employees of the shop worked closely with organizers of the Rice Bike Rental program, helping to select and acquire the bikes.The program aims to reduce Rice students' dependence on motorized transportation by providing semester-long leases of quality bicycles at a reasonable price - $50 per semester, plus a $100 deposit, according to the group's website.General manager Sena McCroy said the number of applications greatly exceeded the number of available bikes. McCroy, a McMurtry College senior, said priority was given to applicants who have long-distance needs, such as those who live off campus.Rice Bike Rental was initially conceived by five students taking the course ENST 302: Environmental Issues: Rice in the Future. The original group comprised McCroy, graduate student Allen Chen, exchange student Clement Ory, McMurtry senior Tristanne Mock and Zach Casias (Wiess College '13).Rice Bike Shop general manager Matt Makansi said a hallmark of the program is the accountability it asks of its participants in their involvement with regular maintenance.   "Students will learn how to take good care of their bicycles even after their rental is over," Makansi, a Duncan College senior, said.According to the rental agreement, bikes must be brought into the Rice Bike Shop in Sid Rich once a month for a check-up and routine maintenance. Renters are also advised to refill their tires every two weeks, either by themselves or by visiting the shop, and may bring in their bikes for additional extra repairs such as those for major cosmetic damage or structural damage, which will incur an extra cost.However, repairs will not likely be a pressing concern, according to financial officer Denis Leahy."The bikes are of better quality than those offered in [Rice's previous] bike share program," Leahy, a Martel College senior, said. According to the website, the fleet consists of 30 Torker U-District single-speed road bikes, complete with lights and a front basket. Their black frames range from 48 to 56 centimeters to accommodate different heights and bear a special sticker to distinguish them from other bikes on campus. However, according to Makansi, such a distinction is hardly needed. "Torker is a West Coast company," Makansi said. "There probably won't be any others on campus." According to Makansi, Torker was chosen for its good quality and bulk prices.Crystal Olalde, a Martel Junior, said the bike rental program came at a perfect time."I moved off-campus this year, and even though my roomate has a car, I wanted to have the option of getting to campus without a ride," Olalde said. Olalde, who rented a bike for this semester, said she wasn't disappointed by the quality of her new bike, and appreciated the amenities provided with the rental."I love the bikes they provided - they're really nice," Olalde said. Olalde said the positive envinronmental impact is an important factor to consider when deciding whether to bike instead of drive."I think it's a good first step, and not just at Rice but in Houston in general." Olalde said. "I think it's awesome that they're trying to be environmentally safe."