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Friday, April 19, 2024 — Houston, TX

Madeleine Tibaldi

NEWS 10/28/13 7:00pm

On-campus housing for new transfers proposed

The Rice University Student Association plans to vote on a resolution advocating guaranteed housing for all first-year transfer students on Nov. 4, according to Transfer Student Association President Ryan Kim.The resolution, introduced by Kim and Brown College Senator Larisa LaMere at the Oct. 21 Student  Senate meeting, states that it is important to ensure on-campus housing is available for all first-year students, including transfer students.During the summer, the Office of the Dean of Undergraduates assigns transfer students to colleges when a space for on-campus housing becomes available, according to Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson. "In general, we cannot predict in advance how many spaces will be available, as there are many factors that we cannot plan for," Hutchinson said. "These factors include continuing students who, for any number of reasons, determine that they are not returning in the fall, as well as freshmen who, having agreed to come to Rice, decide not to come during the summer."Hutchinson said while his office tries to accommodate as many transfer students as possible, limited space on campus requires some students, either transfer or returning, to move off campus."For every additional person who is assigned a space on campus, there is another student who will therefore not get that space," Hutchinson said. "The real challenge is determining the priority system for who gets the spaces we have."Currently, each individual college decides how to handle the process of allocating rooms on campus and determines whether to prioritize availability of on-campus housing for new transfer students or for returning students."If the colleges' wish were to assign the top priority to guaranteeing housing for new transfer students, I would be happy to help them implement such a system," Hutchinson said.According to the resolution, which used results of a survey of Rice transfer students conducted by Kim, approximately 50 percent of new transfer students end up living on campus. But of those offered housing, 78 percent were notified less than three weeks before the start of Orientation Week, according to the survey.Transfer Student Association Vice President Cristal Tan said on-campus living is essential for fully integrating first-year students into the Rice culture. "It is already challenging enough for transfers to integrate into the community because they have to put in the extra effort to get to know their graduating class as well as their matriculating class," Tan, a Duncan College senior who matriculated in 2011 as a transfer student from Malaysia, said. "If transfers don't get on-campus housing, they pretty much become 'deep OC' immediately after O-Week, which is a terrible way to start a new experience in a new university." Tan, who is a campus tour guide, said the residential college system is one of the main qualities of Rice she highlights to prospective students.Kim, a Duncan senior, said he agreed with Tan about how living off campus can lead to isolation and loneliness for first-year students.  "It is very widely accepted that living on campus is a key component of really enjoying your time at Rice because Rice strongly promotes the residential college system to foster interactions within the college you belong to," Kim said. "If you are not on campus, especially as a transfer student, you can feel ostracized."LaMere, a Brown College Sophomore, said all first-year transfers should be guaranteed housing."Giving all new students a chance to get settled and experience a community is, in my opinion, the responsibility of the University," LaMere said. "Rice's residential college system is about integration and inclusion, and living on-campus is an important part of being exposed to the full benefit of the academic, social, and personal resources that each college strives to provide." Hutchinson said he understands the importance of the residential colleges for students."The residential college experience is clearly the core of the Rice undergraduate experience," Hutchinson said. "Although we believe that students can gain all or nearly all of the benefits of the residential college experience while living off campus, we would of course prefer to accommodate on campus every student who would like to be on campus."Kim said many transfer students who are forced to live off campus during their first year feel emotionally rejected and seldom make the move on campus."If we could provide housing to first-year transfers, they could immediately get plugged into their own college," Kim said.Kim also said he was lucky enough to receive on-campus housing his first year at Rice, and this helped him to fully integrate socially at Rice.  According to the resolution, 92 percent of all first-year transfer students living off campus were dissatisfied or highly dissatisfied with the housing process.  Will Rice College Sophomore James Henriksen, who matriculated this year, said the process was unnecessarily confusing and caused undue stress."I was originally told I wouldn't be able to receive on-campus housing, so I found an apartment and signed a one-year lease," Henriksen said. "I was quite surprised when, only a few weeks before O-Week, I got a phone call from Housing and Dining asking if I wanted a spot on campus. Since I had already signed the lease, I wasn't able to accept. It was quite frustrating." According to the resolution, 30 percent of transfer students were in the same situation as Henriksen and were unable to accept offers of on-campus housing due to binding lease contracts.Kim said transfer students go through a similar matriculation process as freshmen, participating in O-Week and other orientation activities, but are excluded from on-campus housing privileges."When it comes to housing, suddenly [transfer students] are very discriminated against, whereas it is guaranteed 100 percent to all incoming freshman."Hanszen college Junior Laura Krannich, who transferred from University College London this fall, said she received on-campus housing shortly before the start of O-Week and found the transfer housing experience difficult and frustrating.  "I assumed I would find out in [early or mid-summer] whether or not I would have a spot on campus and have time to go to Houston and find an apartment if necessary, but this was not the case," Krannich said. "All of my inquiries with Rice led to only vague answer. This was an incredibly confusing and stressful experience, and I realize I'm one of the lucky ones who did eventually get a room."

NEWS 9/23/13 7:00pm

Salinger offers insight but no answers

J.D. Salinger is famous for writing arguably the most influential, contentious and critically appraised book of the 20th century, The Catcher in the Rye. While readers of this timeless classic are made to feel they know Holden like a best friend, the author devoted considerable effort to keeping his life as private and isolated as possible, even ending publishing after selling over 65 million copies of his famed book.Salinger, the new biopic released nationwide Sept. 20, attempts to uncover one of the greatest mysteries in American literary history by addressing the questions on many people's minds: Who was this man who gave birth to one of the most iconic literary characters in history? Why was he so private? Why did he abruptly stop publishing after such strong sales?Salinger provides a thorough description of Salinger's upbringing and early life, attempting to deduce from his personal life the struggles which shaped his characters. The film focuses on some of the highly concealed aspects of Salinger's private life, including his fascination and obsession with underage women, his struggles with fatherhood and his attempt to escape from post-traumatic stress disorder following his experiences in World War II. The documentary, directed by Shane Salerno (Armageddon), uses a series of interviews, photographs and dramatic re-enactments to peel back each layer of Salinger's mysterious persona. The difficulty in achieving this task lies in the lack of evidence available to expose this great mystery of the literary world. Perhaps the biggest problem with the film is that it depicts Salinger only through the extremely minimal collection of photographs that have been made available to the public. The film relies largely on secondhand accounts and the scarce amount of personal information available to paint a multifaceted and vivacious picture of the man so many fans have yearned to know. Yet it is this lack of clear firsthand detail that validates Salinger's odd privacy; it helps viewers understand the extent of Salinger's reclusiveness and the struggles the filmmakers faced in uncovering any information about the elusive author.It is unfortunate that melodramatic music, punchy subtitles and character re-enactments are dispersed throughout the footage, helping to maintain the audience's attention but ultimately cheapening the quality of this otherwise tasteful documentary. These sensationalized aspects cause the film to seem more like a 20/20 news segment than a high-quality investigative documentary. In directing a highly dramatic and overly hyped portrayal of Salinger's life, Salerno has created a product Salinger himself would probably loathe were he alive to see it.It is likely for that very reason that the documentary was not released until after Salinger's death on Jan. 27, 2010. According to Deadline.com, which broke the news of the film's existence two days after the author's death, Salerno began conducting extensive research and interviews in secret in 2005 while self-financing the documentary. The film remained shelved for three additional years until The Weinstein Company acquired the rights Feb. 27, 2013.Despite its shortcomings, Salinger is a must-see for any fan of his work. Perhaps the most important lesson gained from the film is that Salinger himself did not have the answers to all the deep questions he posed in his books. Salinger teaches us that this world-famous author was in fact a deeply troubled man who found refuge from his demons by creating his own reality through his beloved characters. Salinger wrote for sheer pleasure, keeping dozens of completed manuscripts under lock and key. According to Salerno, some of Salinger's manuscripts will begin to be published in irregular installments in 2015. After 50 years, readers will once again be faced with the existential questions posed by Salinger's work, but this time, they will be on their own to answer them. 

NEWS 9/16/13 7:00pm

Search for new Student Center director underway

The Rice University Student Center has started off the 2013-14 year missing a piece of its operation - a director, according to Associate Dean of Undergraduates and interim Director of the Student Center Catherine Clack.Clack said Boyd Beckwith, who had served as Student Center director for 15 years, resigned late this summer and that other members of the Student Center staff have taken on more active roles since to pick up some of the slack caused by Beckwith's resignation.Clack said Beckwith's decision to leave Rice prompted the administration to consider restructuring the position."When we found out that he was leaving, we decided that this was a good time to enhance campuswide programs," Clack said. "What we've done now is taken the campuswide programming aspect out [of the position] and moved that to [the Office of Student Activities] under [Director of Student Activities] Kate Abad."Clack said a job posting for the position will remain online for 30 days, after which a committee will review the applicants and aim to have a new director in place by Jan. 1. According to Clack, a search committee, chaired by Director of First Year Programs Shelah Crear, will have student representation from the Student Association, Graduate Student Association and the Student Center staff. "Both [the SA and GSA] sent emails and said, 'We want to have representation in the search committee,'" Clack said. "[Crear] is meeting with them this week."Student Center Assistant Director for Student Businesses Kerim Davis has taken over Beckwith's role in approving liquor licenses for both Willy's Pub and Valhalla while the student managers of both establishments have increased their responsibilities, according to Clack.Willy's Pub General Manager Helene Dick said she had worked closely with Beckwith and was saddened by his departure."[Beckwith's] legacy is extended over more than a decade of service," Dick, a Martel College senior, said. "He will be sorely missed." Beckwith is now listed as director of the Georgia State University Student Center on its website, according to Clack. She said he believed he could not pass up the opportunity to work at a larger, more comprehensive student center.Clack addressed increasing concerns over the future of the Student Center. She said aspirations to renovate or even replace the current building are being considered in order to accommodate expanding student needs. "It's on the agenda for the university; I just don't know where it is because it's not my place to decide where it is in the overarching plan," Clack said. "We're hoping that the university moves forward more quickly on funding a new Student Center and making it priority. It would be nice to have somebody to come in who could really hit the ground running with that."Duncan College junior Carly Biedul said she did not see the necessity for renovating the RMC and thought money could be better used elsewhere. "[The RMC] is fine just the way it is," Biedul said. "I'd rather see improvements to colleges or campus infrastructure like the drainage along roads."KTRU DJ Sam Love said there is room for improvement."The KTRU studio needs to be bigger," Love, a Lovett College sophomore, said. "There needs to be more meeting space and room to study. There's a lot of unused space, and the space that is used is too small."