Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Friday, April 19, 2024 — Houston, TX

Naoki Shiba

NEWS 11/5/14 6:44am

SA solicits proposals for $40,000

 The Rice University Student Association is encouraging students to join the discussion on how to spend a leftover sum of $40,000. The money comes from the Rice Endowment for Sustainable Energy Technology’s $9 blanket tax, which was approved in 2010 and dissolved in 2013.  Leftover funds RESET was originally approved in 2010 as a blanket tax organization with a “sunset clause,” meaning its blanket tax status had to be reapproved in three years. According to a report published by the SA, RESET intended to use the $40,000 to fund any student-led initiatives to promote energy efficiency and sustainability on the Rice campus. However, the blanket tax ultimately failed reapproval in 2013. According to SA President Ravi Sheth, these funds are now under the jurisdiction of the SA. Sheth, a Martel College senior, said although the money was originally intended to go towards the promotion of energy efficiency and sustainability, the SA is willing to consider to any creative proposals from the student population. “How this money should be spent is a difficult  question, but also an opportunity for creativity,” Sheth said. “It [is] ultimately up to the student body to decide the best way to spend the money.” Archit Chaba, a Will Rice College senator and Rice Environmental Society member, said the funds should be returned to their original purpose of funding campus environmental projects.“Previous projects by RESET have positively impacted a significant portion of the student body while improving campus sustainability,” Chaba, a senior, said. “A survey conducted recently demonstrated continued student desire to improve Rice’s environmental infrastructure. We should use the former RESET funds to support these aspirations.”According to Chaba, RESET no longer exists due to ambiguous wording of policy and lack of quorum. However, the Rice Environmental Society, the umbrella organization for all environmental clubs on campus, is currently trying to achieve the same goal that RESET sought to accomplish: supporting and funding student environmental projects. Chaba said if chosen to receive the $40,000, RES — an organization that currently has no source of funding — would start an environmental initiative fund that could be used for any student-led environmental project.“According to a recent survey taken by the SA’s environmental committee, students have expressed an interest in installing more water bottle refilling stations, similar to ones in the RMC, recreation center and Fondren Library, improving the sustainability of older buildings such as Herzstein and Sewall and expanding the bike share program,” Chaba said. “This list is by no means exhaustive, and that is the inherent beauty of this proposal — any student with an idea for an environmental project will be able to gain the funding required to actually implement that idea.” Student Input According to Sheth, the SA Executive Committee will discuss options with the college senators and give them the freedom to engage the students in the discussion however they wish. Hanszen College Senator Nathan Andrus said he will be leading the senators in engaging students and is currently asking senators to not only talk to college residents, but to also encourage them to fill out an online form. Andrus, a senior, said the online form will help the SA understand how students wish to spend the $40,000. “The purposes of the online form are to gauge numbers and ask for specific proposals, which all the senators will be able to see and judge critically,” Andrus said. “What students want has a priority in determining what we will do.”Andrus said the most popular idea thus far is using the money for RESET’s original purposes, although other ideas have come up. “There have been ideas of starting up an initiative fund — investing the money for the long term to be used in physical improvements or in event programming,” Andrus said. “However, spending money towards RESET’s original purpose is still currently one of the frontrunners.”According to Andrus, when the senators sit down next week to review the proposals, they will look for ideas that are creative and sustainable.“We will be evaluating proposals based on their thoughtfulness,” Andrus said. “Proposals should describe how the idea will have a long-lasting, long-term impact on the students.”Hanszen College President TJ Patel said she agrees the money should not be spent on one-time events.“We should spend the [$40,000] on something sustainable, especially because it is rare to have so much [funding],” Patel, a senior, said.  Rice Environmental Society According to RES President Ashley Ugarte, the SA received $40,000 in RESET funds the same year students created a 100-year sustainability plan outlining their desire to make Rice more sustainable. Ugarte said the student population still supports sustainability, which is why RES should receive the funds.  “We hope [that the decision to give the $40,000 to RES] will honor all students — those whose initial intention for these funds was to be used for campus greening and those today who also hope to see the same outcome,” Ugarte said. “We believe this to be an incredible opportunity to expand environmental sustainability projects beyond just water and energy and to include other areas of need such as recycling, composting, expanding the Rice gardens and other similar ideas.” According to RES, the organization is actively raising awareness about their efforts, which includes running a photo campaign in front of Coffeehouse. Ugarte said the campaign invites students to offer their input regarding specific sustainability projects they’d like implemented. “We believe this will model the positive, lasting and sustainable change we can make with the [$40,000],” Ugarte said. Sheth said the discussions on how the $40,000 will be spent or whether the funds should be spent on RESET’s original purposes should strive to actively involve the whole student body, because an opportunity like this does not come often.“There are very few times in Rice’s history where students have had this magnitude of unallocated funding,” Sheth said. “[The executive committee] urges, with the utmost importance, that the discussions should be transparent, extensive and involved.”

NEWS 10/21/14 4:10pm

Rice strengthens quantum materials research focus

Rice University has launched a Center of Quantum Materials to strengthen quantum materials research. Quantum materials are substances that show unique and novel physical properties, such as high temperature superconductivity, when subjected to extreme pressures and temperature.According to Qimiao Si, director of the Center for Quantum Materials, Rice has established itself as a leader of quantum materials — the new department of materials science and nanoengineering is just one example. Si, a Harry C. and Olga K. Wiess professor of physics and astronomy, said the center started as a multidisciplinary effort to collaborate across the Wiess School of Natural Sciences and George R. Brown School of Engineering, specifically in the four departments of chemistry, physics and astronomy, materials science and nanoengineering, and electrical and computer engineering.“We would like to set up a physical and intellectual infrastructure that makes it easier for graduate students and dedicated undergraduate students to have meetings across departments,” Si said. “The work that won the Nobel Prize by Rick Smalley, Bob Curl and Harry Kroto grew out of a culture of interdisciplinary research, and the center seeks to continue that tradition.”According to electrical engineering major JJ Allred, who is currently working in Dr. Junichiro Kono’s laboratory, he realized how reputable Rice is in the field of quantum materials when he was accepted to the NanoJapan program in the summer of his freshman year. “Rice is extremely reputable in this area of research — the buckyball was discovered here, two people who were involved in the discovery of the carbon nanotube are here and [in my laboratory] they have made a new carbon nanotube terahertz detector, the first of its kind,” Allred, a Martel College junior, said. “Dr. Kono has networks all over Japan and around the world — he is always traveling to present his work at conferences.”Si said the center aims to make Rice even better known for its research in quantum materials to other institutions across the world. “We will invite distinguished lecturers to visit Rice and give talks, try to attract more postdoctoral researchers and have workshops for the students,” Si said. “We will also focus on international collaborations with institutions in Europe and Asia — we already have new enhanced partnerships with institutions in Germany, France and China.”According to Si, although the center is currently oriented towards research faculty and graduate students, it aims to engage undergraduate students as well, particularly students who are interested in research in the natural sciences or engineering. “The center hopes to create more research opportunities for Rice undergraduates on campus,” Si said. “We also believe that the center will enhance the intellectual atmosphere that will trickle down to the undergraduate population.”According to Allred, the number of undergraduate research opportunities is currently sufficient in terms of student demand in the electrical engineering department. However, Allred said it may not be enough if the number of electrical engineering majors who wish to do research increases, for example, due to the department’s focus on graduate school.“The electrical engineering department is currently pushing for more people to go to graduate school for various reasons,” Allred said. “In this case, it is good to have more undergraduate research opportunities.”According to a recent Rice News release, Rice’s Office of the Provost and the vice provost for rhesearch have funded the center and are optimistic about the center’s future. Howard R. Hughes Provost George McLendon said the center will help Rice continue to grow in quantum materials research and hopefully spur new breakthroughs and major discoveries.

NEWS 10/1/14 3:52am

New cloud-based CampusPress to host Rice blogs

The IT department has signed the contract to switch from WordPress to CampusPress, a specialized blogging platform designed for schools, this month. According to Rice University Director of Enterprise Application Andrea Martin, the switch was discussed in October 2013, and will be made later this year. Martin said CampusPress will address student demand for additional plug-ins and custom themes and provide for greater storage and unlimited blogs, users and bandwidth since it’s hosted online instead of Rice’s servers.“It’s a very good deal for the campus,” Martin said. “[Bloggers] will be getting much more functionality through the cloud offering compared to what we were able to provide on campus.”In addition to the new features that CampusPress will make available, Martin said using CampusPress’ cloud offering will be less expensive than providing the blog services through Rice. Martin said the change will occur seamlessly by December, after a short three-month test period done by the CampusPress company. “The names of [all the existing blogs] will remain the same and you won’t really know that it is hosted on the cloud versus here at Rice,” Martin said. “We will also keep our old server for a while, so there will be opportunity and time [to fix] any issues that are to come up.” Martin said she will send out notifications to administrators of any blog.rice.edu site and ask them for their feedback. She said she hopes CampusPress can be integrated with OwlSpace course blogs to improve learning experiences.“They have a module that we are going to try once we go into production and see whether it will work with Owlspace,” Martin said. “We are hoping that is the case, but that is something that we will consider in the future.”

NEWS 9/25/14 6:58am

Competition prompts boba sale limits

Rice University student clubs need to start looking for new fundraising ideas, due to new limits placed on boba tea sales this academic year. According to Rice Taiwanese Association President Tim Chang, three years ago the only clubs that sold boba tea were the Chinese Student Association and RTA. Chang, a McMurtry College senior, said when other clubs discovered the $200 profits boba tea fundraisers were raising, they started to sell boba tea as well, creating competition over boba tea customers amongst clubs.

NEWS 9/17/14 5:18pm

LoL and Smash networks emerge

Rice LoL ClubEach year, a few passionate Rice University students take the initiative to create their own clubs. This year, students have formed Rice’s first  electronic sports club, called the Rice LoL club. According to Club President Tung Nguyen, the club has obtained approval from Assistant Director of Student Activities Julie Neisler and seeks to unite students across campus who play League of Legends.Nguyen, a Sid Richardson College junior, said the club currently has 108 members and has previously organized intramural events.“Our mission is to bring people with similar interests together through tournaments and similar events,” Nguyen said. According to Nguyen, last year, the Rice LoL club participated in ivyLoL’s open league and the collegiate star league, competitions in which the club plays groups from other universities. According to the ivyLol ranking website, last year Rice’s team was ranked fifth in its division, which contained 43 teams. Rice Smash CommunityLast semester, Brian Lee, the external vice president of Rice LoL club, created the Rice Smash Community, a Facebook community for Rice students who enjoy competitively playing Super Smash Bros., a popular fighting game on Nintendo video game consoles.According to Lee, a Jones College junior, the group currently has 64 members and organizes meetups and tournaments.“Our community exists to provide friendly competition for every skill level, from the newest players to the best players in the region,” Lee said. “A few of our members often attend the weekly tournaments run in Pasadena, and our sessions here are meant to help us stand up a little better against Mojo, the number one player in Texas.”According to Lee, the Rice Smash Community has no intentions of becoming an official club in the near future and currently exists solely for students to enjoy playing the game with other students on campus.

NEWS 9/30/13 7:00pm

Powderpuff showdown, week three

Jones vs. GSAJones College recorded its first win of the season, defeating the Graduate Student Association 6-0. The only touchdown of the game was scored when Jones sophomore Alex Brown threw a 25-yard pass to Jones senior Sara Nydick. "We were able to out-speed the GSA and consistently get yards," Jones Coach Nicolas Semon said. "Our blocking was also very good."With the win, Jones improved to a 1-2 record, while the GSA went down to 0-2 for the season. Jones vs. BakerBaker College recorded its first season win 18-0 against Jones, which played two games this week."We need to make sure that the team stays aggressive," Semon said. However, Semon said he was still impressed by the new members of the team. "We had some good contributions from the freshmen, and the future of the team is hopeful," Semon said. Wiess vs. SidAfter a tied game at 12-12, Wiess College scored in the last two minutes of the game, defeating  Sid Richardson College Thursday night. Wiess junior Andie Eikenberg was the key player who sealed Wiess' victory."Sid was able to score on reverse plays," Wiess Coach Bobby Prengle said. "I thought we were almost about to go into overtime, but the last field-length drive won us the game."With the win, Wiess improved to a 2-1 record, while Sid went down to 1-1.  Wiess vs. McMurtryOn Sunday afternoon, Wiess also played against McMurtry College. McMurtry made skillful passes, winning the game 21-6. "It would have helped to have practiced," Prengle, a senior, said. "We had many opportunities to score, but we didn't capitalize." Martel vs. DuncanMissing a couple players from its team, Duncan College could not overcome Martel College's defense and lost 24-2. Duncan was still able to score two points on a 101-yard interception return by Duncan freshman Michelle Won off an extra-point attempt by Martel. "When Martel was on offense, we had a hard time pulling flags and keeping their running back contained," Duncan Coach Jordan Bley said. "She broke off a couple of great, long runs where we couldn't catch her."Martel is now 2-1 this season, and Duncan is winless at 0-2.Bley said that, despite the loss, he is optimistic about the future."I was really proud [of] the way we played," Bley said. "We fought hard until the very end." Hanszen vs. BrownAfter a tight game, Hanszen College was finally able to clinch the victory 19-6 against Brown College to win its  second game of the season. Brown's record fell to 2-1. "We need to work on the little things," Brown Coach Miles Wilson said. "Football is a game of inches, and we didn't get enough inches today."Wilson said he was proud of the team's efforts nonetheless."We showed a lot of heart," Wilson said.  Lovett vs. WRCOn Friday evening, Will Rice College defeated two-year reigning powderpuff champions Lovett College 12-7. Will Rice senior Brittany Carter scored both touchdowns for Will Rice, bringing its record to 1-2."Our defense was able to shut them out," Will Rice Assistant Coach John Robertson Lopez said. McMurtry vs. BrownAfter a defensive struggle through three quarters, McMurtry returned an interception for a touchdown to take a 6-0 lead and never looked back, winning 13-0. McMurtry Coach Ross Michie-Derrick said the defense was extremely motivated to beat Brown."Many of our defenders had troubled childhoods," Derrick said facetiously. "They are filled with hatred and anger. But in the Brown game, they channeled their aggression. Brown never had a chance of scoring. Rebecca Maher was especially good. Some said we should have suspended her after the armed robbery, but she proved us right to believe in her this weekend with three interceptions, including a pick six." Duncan vs. WRC (Postponed)On a rainy Sunday morning, Will Rice started play against Duncan, leading 18-0. The game was postponed due to the rain and will be rescheduled. Carter scored all three touchdowns in the game.