Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Thursday, December 08, 2022 — Houston, TX

Moshe Vardi


OPINION 9/27/22 10:54pm

Universities should support the public good

What is the purpose of universities, in general, and Rice University, in particular? This is a subject of much debate these days. Let me first offer a disciplinary perspective. I am an active member of the Association for Computing Machinery, the oldest and largest professional society dedicated to computing. The Associations’ Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct states: “Computing professionals’ actions change the world. To act responsibly, they should reflect upon the wider impacts of their work, consistently supporting the public good.” So ethical computing has a responsibility to support the public good. Going back to the opening question, I believe that the core purpose of universities is to support  the public good.  What is the public good? My favorite definition was provided by Hammurabi almost 4,000 years ago: “to further the well-being of mankind.”


OPINION 12/9/20 11:05pm

Re-return to campus — but to what end?

The first wave of COVID-19 erupted in the U.S. in early 2020. Rice responded quickly: During March 9-15, classes for the week preceding Spring Break were canceled, students were instructed not to return to campus after Spring Break, and instruction after Spring Break was made fully remote. This quick reaction to the pandemic was typical of many organizations and localities all around the country, as it became clear that social distancing was then the only effective way to slow down the spread of the disease. This seems to have worked and, by early May, the first wave was somewhat subsiding. The Rice administration then tasked the Academic Restart Committee with the mission of “Return to Rice.” 


OPINION 8/4/20 4:00pm

Return to campus — but to what end?

“Even at this reduced risk, students and their parents need to know that the campus will not be safe, and the risk to health and lives should be evaluated against potential benefits. Therefore, it is worth examining what these benefits are,“ writes Professor Moshe Vardi.


OPINION 7/24/20 7:57pm

Letter to the Editor: Re-evaluate return to campus

During the past couple of weeks, Rice faculty have received various messages from Rice University administrators that explain in detail how Rice is working to provide a safe and effective learning environment for students in the fall semester. These plans are premised on the physical return to the campus of a significant majority of the undergraduate population. While I am grateful for the efforts of our colleagues in administration, I am also deeply concerned that these measures are not sufficient to provide the level of safety that Rice students and employees should be able to count on. In keeping with Rice’s long-standing commitment to life-safety and the well-being of the community, I feel compelled to convey my concerns.