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Moody Vibes Claims of task force violations brought to UCourt ANNA TA NEWS EDITOR

Nick Jerge, Student Association parliamentarian, said he submitted a formal request for interpretation of the Student Association constitution to Noah Reich, University Court chair, last Friday regarding a possible constitutional violation committed by the SA International Student Financial Aid Task Force. Senate Bill No. 10, which created the task force, specified in a resolved clause that “an application will be sent out at the start of the spring 2019 semester to the general student body for two atlarge members,” which had not yet been done by the time the formal request for interpretation had been sent on Jan. 25. In response to Jerge’s emails detailing the matter, Reich, a Duncan College senior, responded that he did not find any investigatable issues, unless Jerge believed there was any wrongdoing. “I am concerned that this matter has not been resolved internally through the SA, whose purpose is to serve the student body,” Reich wrote in an email to Jerge.

I feel like this effort to derail us over a very minor thing without even coming to us directly appears to me as not in the spirit of SA. Joyce Chen TASK FORCE CHAIR “I hope that this route has already been taken in order to get this application out there, but perhaps this line of communication is where the problem lies and I am missing something there.” Jerge, a Sid Richardson College sophomore, said he believed that it was a constitutional violation for UCourt to refuse to investigate a formal complaint from a member of the SA. The SA bylaws state that in response to a formal complaint by an individual, the UCourt chair “shall convene an Investigative Panel” which would consist of a presiding member, an investigator and two members of the court. Reich, however, said he did not interpret Jerge’s request for interpretation as a formal complaint and therefore did not see a need to convene an investigative panel. According to Joyce Chen, task force chair, the task force intends to send out the application to the student body at the next Monday SA Senate presentation. Chen, who in charge of carrying out the duties of the task force according to the SA constitution, said the delay in sending out the application was in part caused by the need to find a replacement for a member of the task force who will have to be approved by Senate. She said although she received emails requesting updates on the application from Chief of Staff McKinzie Chambers, Jerge never reached out to her regarding membership concerns. SEE CONSTITUTION PAGE 4

christina tan / thresher


‘Sideways to the Sun’ brightens the Moody Center ARELI NAVARRO MAGALLÓN THRESHER STAFF

The Moody Center for the Arts reopened its doors this past Friday, ushering in a large crowd eager to experience the blossoming of its spring 2019 season. The collection consists of four diverse works, ranging from conceptual sculpture to virtual reality film, which, despite their variety, maintain a cohesive thematic thread. In an apparent response to the predicted global expiration date (2030), the Moody’s works all grapple with the fraught relationship between humanity and the environment. Featuring artists from as far

away as France and Japan, the collection challenges anthropocentric perspectives of nature, offering visitors alternate outlooks on such a universally pertinent issue. Houston-based artist and Rice Visual and Dramatic Arts Assistant Professor Natasha Bowdoin’s massive installation “Sideways to the Sun” is featured prominently in Moody’s central gallery, where her use of “poisonous colors” and graphic line-work catches visitors’ eyes from outside the building’s glass walls. Bowdoin’s creation greets visitors from as early on as the front lobby, where larger-than-life floral prints extend out onto the floor, leading guests towards a surreal paradise, a paper-cut wonderland.

Bowdoin’s focus on the floral subject stems from a desire to highlight nature in a culture that is seeking to control and destroy it. “I have great sympathy for nature in my work — for what we as humans do to it, how we contain, corrupt, appropriate, restrain and destroy the natural world both physically and symbolically,” Bowdoin said. “I try to conjure up a version of nature so that it can have the main stage. Maybe relocating a viewer amongst nature, even if it is my own artificial version of it, brings some awareness that might stick with viewers as they exit.” SEE SIDEWAYS PAGE 8


Esports takes root at Rice in class, club ELIZABETH RASICH FEATURES EDITOR

On Tuesday evenings, online gaming and academics are no longer mutually exclusive, contrary to many parents’ popular belief. This semester, Sports Management Department Chair Clark Haptonstall is teaching a course on a nine-figure industry: esports. Haptonstall said he offered the class in part because of the many ways esports are analogous to more traditional sports like football, baseball and basketball. “The competitions are viewed by massive crowds, both online and in person,” Haptonstall said. “The esports athletes are highly trained and they compete at an elite level. Plus, professional sports teams are now big investors in esports, including the Houston Rockets and New England Patriots.” Haptonstall said that Sebastian Park, who is vice president of esports at the Houston Rockets, is assisting him.

The Rockets own a League of Legends team called Clutch Gaming. Students in the class spend lectures interacting with people like Park who work as professionals in the esports industry.

The competitions are viewed by massive crowds ... The esports athletes are highly trained. Clark Haptonstall SPORTS MANAGEMENT CHAIR “This includes coaches, players, sponsors, investors, game developers and broadcast partners,” Haptonstall said. Max Boekelmann, a student in the esports class, said the course has changed his perception of the growing esports industry.

“I always imagined professional gamers just being people who just play the game online for hours because they love to play it without much structure,” Boekelmann, a Jones College sophomore, said. “In fact, there is a lot of structure including set practices, practice facilities, coaches and even academy systems. It certainly causes you to respect esports especially when you consider that it is an almost billion dollar industry.” Rice is also home to the Rice Esports Club. Every year, the club hosts a watch party for the World Championship of League of Legends. According to former club president Edi Danalache, Sid Richardson College ‘18, the party is well-attended even though the championship’s location in Korea necessitates that students wake up at the crack of dawn. Last year, more than 150 people came to the watch party, both from Rice and across Houston. SEE ESPORTS PAGE 6




New bikeway to ease navigation around Houston SANIYA GAYAKE FOR THE THRESHER

A new bikeway is being constructed around Houston as a part of a massive transportation project, according to the Houston Bike Plan website. The website states that the bikeway will start from Buffalo Bayou in the North, go through downtown, midtown, the Museum District, and end at Hermann Park and Brays Bayou. The network of bike lanes as a part of the Houston Bike Plan published in 2017, according to the website. The Houston Bike Plan calls for attractive, protected bikeways to achieve the vision of making Houston a safer, more accessible goldlevel bike-friendly city, a distinction given by the American League of Bicyclists for accessibility and safety, within 10 years.

According to the Houston Bike Plan website, the bikeway is being largely being funded by Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, who pledged $10 million in precinct funds for 50 miles of new bikeways. Luke Howe-Kerr, Rice Bikes general manager, said creating additional bikeways gives cyclists a safe path to ride on instead of within the lanes of traffic. “Increased bikeways will provide a huge benefit for Rice students by encouraging more off campus students to commute to and from campus by bike rather than by car as well as giving students access to a larger network of safe paths to ride on,” Howe-Kerr, a Lovett College junior, said. “Buffalo Bayou and White Oak Bayou are favorites in the cycling community, but there is currently no way to access that network of paths without riding through downtown or Montrose.” According to Margaret Wallace Brown, the Interim Director of the Planning &

Development Department, revising current street plans can be a difficult task. “Changing the layout of streets in metropolitan areas is always a contentious issues due to the various users of the same space,” Brown said. Brown said that the plan aims to ameliorate the issues of the varying needs of different street users including drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and emergency vehicles.

Changing the layout of streets in metropolitan areas is always a contentious issue due to the various users of the same space. Margaret Wallace Brown INTERIM DIRECTOR

charlene pan / thresher

The plan for a new bikeway around Houston will go through parts of downtown, midtown and the Museum District. It will be roughly 50 miles long and was planned with the goal of achieving the vision of making Houston a safer, more accessible bike-friendly city.

“[The Houston Planning and Development Department] has built relationships and connections with neighborhoods and advocacy groups that represent all the different users to strike a balance between all of those different communities,” Brown said. “Public transit works. Cars work. But not any one thing works entirely.” As Houston continues to grow in terms of population and area size, the need for alternative ways of transportation becomes more pressing, according to Brown. The announcement of the new bikeway follows calls to increase biker safety by members of the Rice community, as reported by the Thresher. After the deaths of two Rice community members who were biking near campus, Rice administration consulted with the city of Houston to discuss changes to infrastructure surrounding the campus, including the building of a roundabout.

NEWS IN BRIEF Rice offers financial assistance to those affected by shutdown ANNA TA NEWS EDITOR Rice University implemented plans to financially accommodate employees and students in the wake of the 35-day partial federal government shutdown. Students who were financially affected by the shutdown may request an extension on their student account bill payment from the cashier’s office, which will coordinate with them to create payment plans, according to the cashier’s office’s website. Joan Nelson, Rice’s associate vice president for human resources, sent an email to all employees informing them of the creation of a temporary financial assistance program. Benefits-eligible faculty and staff with affected partners or spouses may apply for a zero-interest loan up to $2,500 to alleviate immediate financial issues. Qualifying expenses include bills and rent or mortgage payments. “The government shutdown has had a major impact on our country and has affected members of the Rice University community,” Nelson wrote. “In order for our community to be successful, we must care for every member.” Loans will be repaid through payroll deductions over four pay periods beginning after the government has been reopened for 30 days. The email also included a comprehensive list of resources compiled by the human resources office, including locations providing free meals and bank policies to those affected by the government shutdown.



Working group seeks to address transfer credit SAVANNAH KUCHAR THRESHER STAFF A group within the Student Association’s Academic Committee is gathering feedback from transfer students about their experiences in trying to earn Rice equivalent credit. Bert Odinet, one of two students in charge of this initiative, said the project exists to address transfer students’ difficulty in receiving credit at Rice for the courses they already took at their previous institutions. “The goal of this project is to improve the general experience of students transferring to Rice,” Odinet, a freshman at Hanszen College and New Student Representative, said. According to Sam Shzu, a transfer student and a member of the SA’s Academic Committee, when transfer students come to Rice, their credits are automatically registered under TRAN 100 or TRAN 300, which he said is not very helpful for most students because it only counts towards their total number of credit hours and does not satisfy any distribution or major requirements. According to the Office of the Registrar, Rice equivalent credit generally is only automatically given to select introductory courses. There is no equivalency guide for prospective transfer students; according to the Office of the Registrar, the best way

to determine transferability of credits is by signature of approval from the appropriate department, which Shzu said can be difficult reviewing the course catalogue. Shzu said transfer students can apply or impossible depending on the department. The biosciences, business, chemistry, to receive equivalent course credit for the classes they took at their previous school, economics, English, history, physics and but that process can be lengthy and difficult. political science departments will not “There’s a lot of barriers in making grant Rice equivalent credit to coursework those TRAN 100 generic courses count,” completed at community colleges or twoShzu, the president of the Transfer Student year institutions, according to the Office of Association (TSA), said. “And when I say the Registrar’s website. Other departments count, I mean making it labeled and listed will not grant Rice equivalent credit to online coursework in your transcript and including civil your Degree Works as a engineering, sociology department and a level.” and anthropology. According to Odinet, But [the difficulty of “What this means is Shzu started the project transferring credits they will not consider any in the fall of 2018. application to have these “It’s kind of been from other schools] transfer credits become in the works since the has been an issue course equivalent beginning of the school that’s impacting a lot acredit,” Shzu said. year,” Shzu, a McMurtry According to Shzu, the College senior, said. of transfer students SA’s project is intended to “But [the difficulty of for a while. address the variations in transferring credits] accepted transfer credits has been an issue Sam Shzu between departments. that’s impacting a lot SA COMMITTEE MEMBER “This is a point I’ve of transfer students for been stressing to all a while.” According to the website for the Office the people who I’ve talked to about this, of the Registrar, the process of converting because it’s often misunderstood as us transfer credit to Rice equivalent credit trying to ensure that all transfer credits includes submitting an “Undergraduate from two-year community college or forRequest for Transfer Credit” form to profit colleges become equivalent credits the Registrar. In order for the form to at Rice,” Shzu said. “That’s not what be complete, the student must obtain a we’re asking for or really setting out to do;

what we’re doing is talking to individual departments and schools.” Shzu said that he wants the experiences of transfer students to be the project’s driving force, and that he and Odinet are collecting responses to a survey as both their primary source of data and as a starting point for the rest of the project. “Once we know which departments and/or classes are providing the most trouble, we can lodge our complaints to the administration itself with some data to back it up,” Odinet said. Odinet said their current strategies for getting more responses to the survey includes having the SA senators share it with their colleges. The project is a collaboration between the SA and the TSA, according to Shzu. Shzu said that in addition to the current survey, he and Odinet may use other means of data collection in the future. He said that one possible avenue is investigating data by the Office of Registrar on the amount of general transfer credits that are assigned Rice equivalent course. Shzu said one of the a major goals of the project is making people more aware of the issues faced by transfer students, including future applicants to Rice. “It’s not widely advertised, and maybe there are reasons for that, but we’re hoping to make this something that’s more visible so people can know about it before they try to come to Rice,” Shzu said.

NEWS IN BRIEF Hanszen College toilet bursts due to excessive pressure AMY QIN ASST NEWS EDITOR

“There was a hairline crack in a toilet in Hanszen from wear and tear,” Glenn said. “Over time, the pressure due to the crack caused the porcelain to break and resulted in overflow. Our custodial staff cleaned the mess and staff from Facilities, Engineering and Planning worked into the evening to repair the sewer line impacted from the pressure.” According to Byrnes, water pressure has long been a problem at Hanszen. “The water pressure at Hanszen is super variable the whole year,” Byrnes said. “But over the last week, pressure in the toilet had been building so that it was flushing for a minute at a time.” Byrnes said that although H&D was extremely helpful in the incident with his suite’s toilet, Hanszen’s facilities are generally in need of more attention. “Administration needs to take student concerns seriously when it comes to lack of maintenance at Hanszen,” Byrnes said. Disclaimer: Byrnes is the Thresher sports editor.

A toilet in a suite of the new section of Hanszen College burst due to high water pressure on Friday, flooding the bathroom and an adjacent room, according to Hanszen junior Michael Byrnes. Byrnes said that he heard a loud bang after flushing the toilet early Friday afternoon. “I went back to check — there was water gushing onto the floor,” Byrnes said. “It ruptured a hole somewhere in the toilet — there were a couple pieces [of toilet] on the ground and there was water everywhere. Gravity did its thing and water started coming out of the bathroom [into the room].” Byrnes said he then called Housing and Dining, who sent two people over to fix the toilet. “The first thing they did was [take] one look at the toilet and [flush] it again,” Byrnes said. “And so more water started coming out. Over the next few hours, it was a fiasco of trying to get the room dry.” Byrnes said the H&D representatives brought industrial fans, towels and watersucking machines to mitigate the flooding. They started to install a new toilet but did not finish until Monday morning, according to Byrnes. Because the suites in the new section of Hanszen have concrete floors, the flooding did not cause any water damage, Byrnes said. Susann Glenn, the Housing and Dining director of communications for administration, acknowledged the michael byrnes / thresher incident in an email, attributing the burst The toilet was removed from the Hanszen to the water pressure. College bathroom following the burst.

Ants rain down from Lovett College bathroom ceiling ANNA TA NEWS EDITOR Ants are still falling from the ceiling of a Lovett College bathroom as of Tuesday after Housing and Dining exterminated a nest of ants living in a light fixture last Wednesday, according to Bailey Covell, who lives in the suite, which is in a Lovett building colloquially called “Stinky” by students. “Initially, a few live ants fell out of the ceiling and our suitmate submitted a work order and also called the [H&D] office to get it looked at,” Covell, a Lovett junior, said. “H&D sent someone to spray ant killer in the nest and soon afterward the ants started pouring out alive and dying on our sinks and counters.” According to Susann Glenn, the H&D director of communications for administration, the ants were coming from a room above theirs. “A work order was created to treat the problem which was generated from the room above,” Glenn said. “Our staff has treated the area twice and cleaned the rooms impacted on Friday.” According to Covell, she and others in the suite cleaned up the initial fallen ants themselves, along with the others that continue to fall afterwards. Covell said someone from H&D came by on Monday to continue maintenance on the issue, but did not indicate whether they finished. Biz Rasich, who also lives in the suite, said that it was “one of the grossest things” that have happened to her. “[One of my suitemates] was calling her sister, trying to describe in words what it looked like to have hundreds of ants raining from our light,” Rasich,

a Lovett junior, said. “They made this sound that was almost like the popping of Rice Krispies in a bowl of milk. It was like a hiss as their little ant bodies hit the edge of the sink and our trash can. We just watched as they accumulated.” Rasich said they were not warned that the ants would begin falling from the ceiling, along with debris. According to Rasich, at one point the light fixture stopped working. “We didn’t move any of our bathroom supplies,” Rasich said. “My toothbrush was out and we had a mug that just filled up with ants during the process. Eventually, it just looked like it wasn’t going to stop and so we decided to let the process take its course. We didn’t want to go in and move our stuff because we didn’t want to get live — but soon to be dead — ants in our hair.” Disclaimer: Rasich is the Thresher features editor.

claire telfer/ thresher

Ants fell from the ceiling light of a Lovett bathroom, accumulating on the counter and in the sink.



Engineering department outlines ‘Vision to 2025’ CHRISTINA TAN A&E EDITOR The George R. Brown School of Engineering has released a strategic plan that that sets a goal of doubling the number of Rice undergraduate engineering students participating in study abroad opportunities. The plan, “Vision to 2025,” was established by Dean of Engineering Reginald DesRoches and developed in alongside the university’s Vision for the Second Century, Second Decade. Other key components of the plan are developing new and current spaces on campus for research, increasing faculty hires and expanding the intersections between art and engineering. The plan states that expanding study abroad for engineers will come through more flexible engineering curricula, a student global travel fund and development of service learning courses abroad. Lucy Fox, a computer science major, said she developed her own “unofficial

study abroad guide” after seeing an absence of study abroad resources in the CS department. “The computer science department did not have a central resource of classes that had been previously approved for transfer credit; this made the process a bit more difficult as I didn’t really know which classes were feasible to get transfer credit for and which weren’t,” Fox said. “However, the transfer credit advisor was very helpful and responsive even as I asked him about a large number of courses at numerous universities.” DesRoches said that few Rice engineering students participate in study abroad because engineering programs can be too restrictive, with classes offered only once a year. Fox said that this problem is one of the most challenging aspects of studying abroad in addition to rigid prerequisites for required classes. “One change that the computer science department has made in the past couple of years is to offer COMP 310, a major requirement, in both the fall and

in alignment with Vision for the Second Century, Second Decade

Vision to 2025

expand the intersection between art and engineering

increase faculty hires in the engineering accomodate department and encourage engineering students to study abroad

develop new and current spaces on campus for research infographic by sumin hwang

just for the sake of having a case and being in the way of SA politics is concerning to me.” Jerge said after receiving Reich’s response, “At the end of the day, the point of student government is to be able to he was surprised to see that Chen was the represent and help our peers,” Chen, a McMurtry College UCourt representative. “She also serves as an SA senator, which McMurtry College senator and junior, said. “I feel like this effort to derail us over a very sent out a red flag to me because I know for a minor thing without even coming to us fact that there are conflict of interest policies directly appears to me as not in the spirit of both in the elections rules under the SA bylaws and written into section two of the student government.” Jerge said the addition of at-large SA constitution,” Jerge said. “So I observed, I think, two apparent members to the task force and one possible was important to the senate in violation of the order to ensure transparency SA constitution in and long-term community If the student body a short period of buy-in for the products of the really thought this time.” task force. The SA “Seeing that there had was a matter of constitution states been communication between consequence, then that someone may the chief of staff and the we would look at it not run for two committee chairperson and positions that may that that hadn’t been fruitful, and have the public cause a conflict of I’d seen that there was some meeting. interest. However, issue with the internal SA unlike at other process and that that could Noah Reich colleges, the UCourt potentially be an issue that UCOURT CHAIR representative at might be brought to UCourt’s McMurtry is appointed, so Chen did not have attention,” Jerge said. Chambers, a Sid Richardson College to run for the position. Reich said that in any case in which a junior, said she emailed Chen over winter break encouraging her to set a timeline for conflict of interest was present, he would have Chen recuse herself. Chen said if this the working group and received a response. Chambers said she emailed again on Jan. case were to go to UCourt, everyone may 21 when she had noticed a lack of activity in need to recuse themselves as they all know the working group’s Google drive and did not her and may be biased. “It is process that if a case comes to UCourt receive a response. She then followed up on where if we know the person personally, Jan. 28 and received a response from Chen. Eli Mensing, who co-sponsored the task they’re from our college or whatever, and force, said he believes the membership we could be potentially biased, we recuse application will still comply with the time ourselves,” Chen said. “Logistically, I don’t constraints. Reich agreed that it is currently even have any idea how UCourt would handle this in terms of people who would still the start of the semester. Reich said that his ultimate goal is to hear the case.” Chen said she was transparent with serve the student body in matters of grave infractions against the code of student everyone on UCourt about her position as conduct and this would be an atypical case McMurtry College senator. “As of now, this what we’re dealing with for UCourt to hear. “If the student body really thought this and this is the situation that we’re in right was a matter of consequence, then we would now, so it’s up to whatever UCourt wants to look at it and have the public meeting as is do,” Chen said. Editors-in-chief Emily Abdow and Andrew usually done for this matter,” Reich said. “The thought of potentially having a case Grottkau contributed to this report.

spring, and this has offered a lot more faculty through the establishment of 20 flexibility for [computer science] majors new endowed chairs. Listed strategic hoping to study abroad,” Fox, a Wiess areas in the plan include Engineering & College senior, said. “It might be useful Medicine, Molecular Nanotechnology & for other departments within engineering Materials, Cities of the Future and Energy to consider a similar change; it could & the Environment. The plan also includes a focus on potentially make a big difference.” The plan also proposes enhancement engineering outreach and diversity. of existing engineering spaces in It calls for the creation of an office of conjunction with the possible creation engineering outreach and engagement to “ensure best practices of a new space focusing for diversity, equity on interdisciplinary and inclusion” in research. addition to structured “This will be key to It was important programs to help accommodate the growth for the School of retain diverse students that we anticipate in and faculty. engineering, but also Engineering to have DesRoches said will be important for a plan that can feed that the planning changing the culture of into align with the process involved a 30 how research is done,” overall university’s member committee DesRoches said. “For including faculty, example, we would like plan. staff, students and to have more space for alumni. According external visitors from Reginald DesRoches to the plan, the other universities or DEAN OF ENGINEERING engineering school industry to spend time working with our faculty and students, gathered feedback through detailed as well as incubator space on campus for surveys and focus groups, resulting in faculty that want to launch companies data from several hundred respondents. “It was important for the School of from their research.” DesRoches said that he is particularly Engineering to have a plan that can feed excited about developing programs to link into and align with the overall university’s engineering and art together. Specifically, plan,” DesRoches said. “We formed a he said that the school aims to continue strategic planning committee shortly after current endeavours like the Oshman I arrived at Rice in July of 2017.” DesRoches said that the final plan Engineering Design Kitchen’s upcoming Engineering + Art competition. He also should be viewed as a living document to said that the school will create a joint be assessed every year. “As is the case for any plan, some of lecture series focused on engineering and art as well as hire a joint faculty the goals will be achieved completely member that will teach at the “interface while some will not,” DesRoches said. “It depends on our ability to get external of engineering and art.” In terms of faculty, the plan sets a goal support for some of the goals and of a 30 percent increase in engineering objectives that we highlight in the plan.”


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Student gov’t relies on you Owliver Twist

Petitions for the campus-wide Student Association ballot are due Sunday, and it’s not too late to consider running for a position. Often, the same individuals who served in the government their freshman year are the ones who ultimately run for SA or college leadership positions. But the fact of the matter is every Rice student has experience and skill sets that qualify them to serve in an elected position. While student government positions such as the New Student Representative program should not be discounted, they are not the only ones that prepare students for office. Candidates with diverse backgrounds, even those who have never held a leadership position in any organization, bring new ideas and the potential for fresh leadership. And even when a student loses an election, just by running for a position, they can influence the platforms of fellow candidates, making a difference even without an election victory. Don’t get us wrong, familiarity with the SA or college cabinets is necessary for those seeking office, but this familiarity can be achieved without the formal title

through attending open meetings and even introducing legislation. Regardless of whether or not one runs for a position, now is the time to start following the races. Voter apathy is prevalent among Rice students. In last year’s general body election, only 2,047 students of around 4,000 total undergraduates voted in the SA presidential election — that’s just about 50 percent. Out of those 2,047 votes cast, 320 were for Morgan Gillis, a candidate who ran on a platform including making Rice’s mascot a minion and offering free Chegg. Gillis’ success in almost edging out a fellow serious candidate is further proof that a significant portion of the student body is apathetic to student government. It is vital that students take these elections seriously. In the past four years alone, the SA has influenced the creation of the Critical Thinking in Sexuality course, the addition of on-campus Saturday dinners and the lowering of the distribution requirement, among other initiatives. By running for office, or even just by making informed votes, every student can have a say in Rice’s future.

Correction In our Jan. 23 issue, we misidentified Rebecca Richards-Kortum as a Baker College Senior. She is instead the head of Rice 360° Institute for Global Health, founder of Beyond Tradtional Borders, a 2016 MacArthur Fellow and a University Professor teaching in two departments.

cartoon by dalia gulca


Dropping out of Rice was the best decision I’ve ever made It was at 59 Diner that I decided to drop out of Rice. I hadn’t been to a class in weeks. I was going to fail every course on my schedule. There was no hope. It had been a long time coming. I had never been ready to go to college. When I applied, I thought I was ready. Like many Rice students, middle and high school had been a breeze for me. I was used to feeling like the smartest person in the room, and that was a large part of the way I defined myself. I lived by a code: do the least possible work for the most possible gain. At the end of my senior year, I had managed to square my grade in AP Biology, taking my midsemester grade of 9 to 81 by the end of the year. School was not something that I needed to take seriously. As some of you may know, that’s not a strategy that works at Rice. The classes are designed to be challenging. Keeping up with required reading and homework requires a good deal of self-motivation. Trying to skate by simply doesn’t work. My freshman year was a telling experience. I was a mathematical economic analysis major, so I needed to take Jim Brown’s ECON 200, which was the first course in the major at that time. It’d be a breeze – I’d taken AP Economics, so how hard could it be? The first day of class confirmed my suspicions: it was almost exactly the same material I’d learned my last semester of high school.

I skipped the next few classes, figuring spring of 2014, I was circling the drain. that I’d just drop back in when the class I had spent the holidays telling relatives moved on to things I didn’t already know. I was going to work in insurance or Those of you who have taken Jim Brown’s finance – what do you do with a CAAM economics classes know how the next degree, anyway? – but I had no interest in scene goes. I showed up again just before pursuing either field. I wasn’t leaving my the first exam. I understood almost bed. It was becoming clear I wouldn’t be nothing and bombed the test, vowing not back for the next semester. That brings us back to 59 Diner. I told to make the same mistake again. The next my mom I was done. I semester, I did almost gave up, and that was the same thing. the right decision. I At this point, I was was at school for all starting to realize that I gave up, and the wrong reasons. I wasn’t the smartest I had no idea what I person in the room that was the right wanted to do with my anymore. So I decided decision. I was at life. I was choosing I’d add a double major school for all the classes because my in statistics. Then, a friends were in them, friend of mine told wrong reasons. I had me statistics wasn’t no idea what I wanted or because they seemed hard (and thus a good real math, and, in my to do with my life. way to flex on my mind, I wasn’t a real friends) — not because man if I wasn’t doing real math. I wanted to show everyone they pertained to anything I wanted to do I was the smartest person at Rice. I with the rest of my life. So I dropped out. I spent three years switched again, this time dropping my economics major to add computational doing the things I’d always wanted to — bumming around the western U.S. in my and applied mathematics. This is about the time I started to figure minivan, working as a chairlift operator out that I was not, in fact, an exceptionally at a Colorado ski resort, teaching sailing smart person at Rice. I’m sure many of to Boy Scouts in Galveston — but I started you have had similar experiences. It’s to feel unsatisfied during my third winter not a fun feeling. Around the start of my in Colorado. I was struggling to pay my sophomore year, I began to emotionally bills, cook for myself and do the other withdraw. By the next semester in the thousand things that come with living on

your own. Though the jobs I worked were fun, they were usually menial, and I felt like there was more I could do with my life. I had dreams. I finally knew what I wanted to do with my degree: I wanted to be a reporter. It was at that point, and not a moment before, that I was ready to go to college. I never had been. When I matriculated in 2012, I was after prestige, popularity and creative ways to intoxicate myself. Today, though, I’m chasing my dream career. I have a vision, and college is the only way to make it a reality. The everyday minutiae of life in college don’t bother me so much anymore. After years dealing with bad bosses, harsh weather and overdraft fees, papers and problem sets are a relief. Most importantly, though, I was prepared to work hard. So, if you find yourself wondering why the hell you’re at Rice, maybe the answer is to get away for a little while and figure it out. There’s no shame in taking life at your own pace.



STAFF Emily Abdow* & Andrew Grottkau* Editors in Chief

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT Christina Tan* Editor & Designer

NEWS Anna Ta* Editor Rishab Ramapriyan Asst. Editor Amy Qin Asst. Editor

BACKPAGE Simona Matovic Editor & Designer

SPOTLIGHT Elizabeth Rasich* Editor Ella Feldman Asst. Editor SPORTS Michael Byrnes* Editor Madison Buzzard Asst. Editor OPINION Eric Stone* Editor

PHOTO Charlene Pan Editor Sirui Zhou Editor COPY Vi Burgess Editor Bhavya Gopinath Editor ONLINE Ryan Green Digital Content Editor Charlie Paul Web Editor Nick McMillan Video Editor

DESIGN Sydney Garrett Director Sumin Hwang News Designer Jennifer Fu Features Designer Tina Liu Sports Designer Dalia Gulca Opinions Designer Esther Tang Illustrator BUSINESS OPERATIONS Mai Ton Social Media/Marketing Manager Isabella Gandara Distribution Manager Karoline Sun Special Projects Prad Biswas Advertising Manager *Editorial Board member

The Rice Thresher, the official student newspaper at Rice University since 1916, is published each Wednesday during the school year, except during examination periods and holidays, by the students of Rice University. Letters to the Editor must be received by 5 p.m. the Friday prior to publication and must be signed, including college and year if the writer is a Rice student. The Thresher reserves the rights to edit letters for content and length and to place letters on its website.

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So they decided to apply to become magisters again, and found a home in Sid. Although they appreciate how all of the Michel and Melanie Achard have an easy, colleges are tight-knit communities, they fell natural rapport. From the way they finish in love with Sid for its unique culture — with each other’s sentences to the way Michel Radio Free Sid, the commons culture and the teases Melanie about “selling out” by leaving fact that there are no singles at Sid. “They have a definite identity,” Melanie teaching to work a corporate job, it’s easy to understand why Sid Richardson College said. “They know who they are, and they’re proud of it.” claimed the couple as their new magisters. As future magisters of Sid, Melanie and The Achards first met when Michel was an exchange student at San Diego State University, Michel will face a challenge they didn’t where Melanie was attending graduate school encounter at Jones — navigating the new Sid for French studies. Much like in a romantic building, which will be completed during their comedy, the two met when they were cast as tenure. But the Achards said they are excited to leads in “La Leçon,” a French language play. see what the new building brings to Sid. Michel and Melanie aren’t looking to They faced their ups and downs — Melanie signed up for a one-year exchange program in recreate the memories they made at Jones — France, not knowing that Michel had done the rather, they’re looking forward to the unique same in San Diego — but they have now been experience of being magisters at Sid. Although they held cooking events at Jones, many of the together for 33 years and counting. Sid resident associates If their names sound also cook, giving the familiar, it’s because the Achards the opportunity Achards were magisters to explore other hobbies at Jones from 2011 to 2017. You need to bring and find new events that When Michel first accepted a team approach to Sid students will enjoy. the job as a linguistics “You need to bring a professor at Rice, being this. You want to fill team approach to this,” a magister wasn’t on in where there are Melanie said. “So you the horizon. But slowly, gaps and help the want to fill in where the idea crept into their team work together. there are gaps and help minds thanks to Michel’s the team itself work students. After class one Melanie Achard together.” day, a student approached INCOMING SID MAGISTER However, their Michel and told him to consider applying to be Jones magister, but experience has informed their approach to he wasn’t enthusiastic about the idea. Two being magisters at Sid. Namely, Michel and weeks later, two more students came in with Melanie have learned that planning ahead of the same request, but Michel still said no. But time has its drawbacks. Instead, the couple when the students returned a third time with tries to observe and adapt to the needs of the a gift basket, he decided it was time to discuss community. While she was still a magister at Jones, Melanie was sitting with students at the idea with his wife. Sure enough, they landed the role, and lunch one day when some students mentioned spent six years as magisters at Jones. But after that they wanted to make Christmas gifts for finishing their term, they decided to switch their families. Melanie offhandedly suggested directions completely. They remodeled a that they could knit scarves, but when the house, Melanie switched jobs and they had students revealed that they didn’t know how their minds set on starting a new chapter in to knit, she ended up hosting knitting sessions their lives. But when classes began again in the so they could learn. “The only thing that we learned is that, in fall, Michel felt like he was missing something. Without an affiliation to any particular college, a sense, you have to allow yourself to remain flexible,” Michel said. he felt less connected to the students. Although they enjoyed their time at Jones, “I realized that I like teaching better when we’re affiliated with a college,” Michel said. Melanie and Michel are looking forward to the “Somehow you know the student[s] better, future. In six short months, they’re excited to [and] you understand what they go through.” call the tower their new home. THRESHER STAFF

I realized that I like teaching better when we’re affiliated with a know the student[s] better, [and] you understand what they go through. Michel Achard

magisters, take two!

courtesy the achards

Online games provide social, competitive hub FROM PAGE 1

Competitive online gaming has grown in recent years. According to an article in Forbes, revenue from esports went from $493 million in 2016 to an estimated $900 million in 2018. “Originally the prize pools for these tournaments weren’t very big, but now teams are getting sponsorships from organizations such as the Houston Rockets and rappers like Drake,” Charles Davis, a Brown College junior and member of the E-Sports Club said. Davis thinks part of the attraction for Rice students is that esports are so competitive. “It’s pretty satisfying to rank up in the respective games,” Davis said. “I feel like this give[s] us Rice students another outlet to succeed in our competitive college culture.” That competitiveness makes watching esports entertaining for Sofia Yi, a Baker College senior and longtime Rice Esports Club member. “Although I enjoy playing League, being able to watch the pros go head-to-head is exhilarating because it’s a completely different level of skill, mechanics and teamwork than what you see on a regular basis,” Yi said. Yi said she isn’t very good at traditional sports, but esports are where she can enjoy the competition.

“Online games help me relieve stress and engage in some friendly competition without too much intense physical exertion,” she said. “It’s still exhausting if you play for too long, though.” Yi said esports and traditional sports are also similar in, perhaps surprisingly, the realm of fitness. “It takes a lot of mental and physical strength to compete at the highest levels of esports, and many organizations even set up strict fitness regimens for their players to hone their reaction time, stamina and fortitude.” In Yi’s view, esports and traditional sports offer the same benefits even on a more casual level. “It's a fun recreational activity that you can engage in with your friends, it's easy to pick up and put down whenever you want a break from work or studying, and it lets you compete or watch professional teams compete,” Yi said. “I think the choice

between esports and traditional sports just comes down to personal preference.” According to Danalache, the club is just as much about fostering a gaming community as providing a platform for competitive gaming. In addition to watch parties, the club hosts events for students to game together and provides access to competitive collegiate gaming leagues for video and computer games like Overwatch, Hearthstone and League of Legends. “League of Legends is a great game because of the heavy teamoriented play, where teams of five players play against each other,” Danalache said. “League stresses illustration by esther tang communication skills as well as general awareness, strategy and dexterity.” Davis said that esports has helped him stay connected with his brother. He started playing Team Fortress 2 and League of Legends so he could beat his brother, and

even when the two of them were apart, esports meant they could could still play against each other. Yi was also able to take advantage of the social aspect of esports when she started playing League of Legends at Rice. “Many of my friends play League [of Legends] so I picked it up as a conversation starter and to have something to do when we all hang out together,” Yi said. “The internet is full of YouTubers, streamers and professional players to watch, so it wasn’t long before I started following teams and watching esport competitions.” Danalache’s hope for the club is that it expands into the collegiate competitive leagues where students compete against those on other college teams, but being at Rice makes that difficult. “This has been an issue in the past due to the highly rigorous academic demands of Rice — as opposed to other colleges where esports is a varsity sport, complete with stadiums and scholarships,” Danalache said. David Pham, Baker ‘18, is another alumnus of the Rice Esports Club. He has played League of Legends and Overwatch competitively and travels to different local conventions for competitions. “I think that Rice students love competition and many of them love games as well, and I wish that students had more time to pursue unorthodox passions like this industry.”



Tattoo artist in training talks body art ELLA FELDMAN ASST FEATURES EDITOR



















Crossword by Carolina Hatanpaa Thresher Staff














and the tattoos are part of the Butterfly Project, a movement that encourages individuals who self-harm to draw a butterfly on the place they harm themselves. “If you self-harm, it’s supposed to kill the butterfly, but you want the butterflies to be protected,” Atkins explained. “And if you get a butterfly tattoo, it’s gonna be on you forever. So you’re supposed to never self-harm again, because it’s always there.” Atkins’s passion for tattoos goes beyond just getting them. When she was in high school, she shadowed at a tattoo parlor in her hometown and began to learn how to give them herself. She started practicing tattooing on a grapefruit, then moved to synthetic skin. Now, she’s in the selfdescribed “find a person who’s willing to risk it-stage” — she said she’s tattooed 10 such people. Atkins said she encourages anyone who’s thinking about getting a tattoo to go ahead and get it. “It shows that you care about something so much, or that you’re so passionate about the way it looks on your body, that you’re ready to have it forever,” she said. “People who have tattoos seem to know who they are. Obviously that’s a huge generalization, but whenever I see tattoos I have a lot of respect for the people who are able to get them and commit. Also cause it hurts.” Read more online at

ACROSS 1 Theban king who married his mother 8 Hephaestus was thrown off of Mt. Olympus because he was ____ 9 Stock market debut, initially 11 Statement to news media (abbr.) 12 King of the Titans 14 Author Rand 15 Cycle on washing machine 16 Bismarck state (abbr.) 17 Org. where teams can win the Stanley Cup 18 Spielberg alien movie 19 Phallic object 21 On fire 22 Poseidon reigns over these 24 Lead prosecutor 25 Scarlet or vermillion 26 By that very fact; ____ facto 28 In Greek mythology, the daughter of Aeolus who drowned herself in grief at her husband's death and was transformed into a kingfisher

courtesy alp yakici

When Libby Atkins was in elementary school, her mom would take her on Sunday morning drives through the woods near their New Brunswick, New Jersey home. They played a game her mom called “cardinal hunting” — everytime they spotted a cardinal, they got a point. “She loved cardinals. Especially the male ones, the bright red ones,” Atkins, a Lovett College freshman, recalled. “Female cardinals, half a point.” Cardinals, which Atkins said she took for granted as a young girl, are now her favorite species of bird. And as of a few weeks ago she has one, wings wide open, tattooed across her torso. The cardinal is Atkins’s ninth tattoo. Her other ones include a stick and poke constellation on her back, a lamppost on her forearm and an explosion of flowers starting on her left shoulder and extending down to her elbow. The latter is her largest tattoo to date and features all the flowers that were in her mom’s wedding bouquet surrounded with freehand drawings by the tattoo artist. “It’s also not completely finished,” Atkins said. “I wanna add to it, and I kinda want a full sleeve.” Although two of her largest designs were inspired by her mother, Atkins said her mom

actually hated tattoos. It was her dad — who has around 25 tattoos himself — who sowed the seeds of her love of ink. “[My mom] told my dad that when she got married to him, he wasn’t allowed to get any more tattoos. So it always something that was kind of forbidden, but badass,” Atkins said. “I used to sit on my bed in the morning with him and just trace them.” Atkins said her favorite of her dad’s tattoos is a dragon he has across his chest — the only tattoo he has with any color. She said she’d like to get a large dragon on her hip one day. “It’s just a matter of not spending too much money on tattoos, and also like, spacing it out. Cause if I get this many tattoos when I’m just 18, when I’m 25 I’m not gonna have any space,” she laughed. Atkins said she’s adamantly against the notion that tattoos need to have some deep meaning. “I think if it’s special to you, that’s wonderful. But I also think that getting tattoos that don’t necessarily have like a deep, personal meaning, that’s also okay,” she said. “From my point of view, if it’s art and you love it, and you’re not gonna regret having it on your body forever, then go for it.” But one of Atkins’s tattoos — a butterfly on her leg — has an extremely special meaning. The stick and poke, which Atkins tattooed on herself, matches a stick and poke that one of her best friends from New Jersey has. Atkins’s friend struggled with suicide and depression,

DOWN 2 3 4 5 6 7 10 11 13 17 20 23 27

Orpheus' love Tenth of a gram (abbr.) Lot or type Relating to famous Greek skeptic philospher of Elis ___ Féin, Republican party in Ireland _______ Stone; famous stone with hieroglyphic, demotic, and Greek script Neptune's equivalent in Greek mythology First mortal female in Greek mythology Black gold Document to keep corp. secrets Queen of Sparta and mother of Helen of Troy One who engages in espionage "That's ___ Raven"

Answers will be posted on and on the Thresher Facebook page. Bolded clues correspond to the theme.



ARTS&ENTERTAINMENT VADA prof Bowdoin explores human-nature relationship


‘Trigger Warning with Killer Mike’ redefines activism JOSIAH JONES FOR THE THRESHER

TRIGGER WARNING Genre: Documentary series Run time: 8 episodes, each 46 - 52 minutes Find it on: Netflix

christina tan / thresher

The Moody Center’s spring exhibitions include French artist Michel Blazy’s “We Were the Robots,” a site-specific installation engaging in consumerism, energy consumption and human waste. “We Were the Robots” can be seen in the Brown Foundation Gallery.

SIDEWAYS FROM PAGE 1 And take the main stage it does. Bowdoin’s flora is the delightfully complex protagonist of its own show, a deftly interwoven amalgam of painting, papercutting and sculpture whose sheer scale dwarfs visitors. The layered collaging dominates the gallery’s walls, ground and several free-standing platforms, expressing a density of vegetation which refutes humankind’s control. The process behind this site-specific installation further reflects Bowdoin’s commitment to emulating nature’s generative spontaneity. “My work is made intuitively,” Bowdoin said. “I don’t plan anything out ahead of time. It’s more that I generate a lot of small pieces in the studio, bring them to the space and start to improvise from there.” The eventual deconstruction of “Sideways to the Sun” will continue the cycle. “When the work comes down, most of it will come back to my studio, be disassembled, deconstructed and pieced back together into some[thing] else,” Bowdoin said. “The idea behind the installations is that they really rarely go together the same way twice. Instead, pieces come down and get transformed into something else, resisting any ultimately finalized form.” In this way, nature’s capability for sustainable transformation is reflected as each new iteration bears seeds for her next work. “It’s my own version of recycling, I suppose,” Bowdoin said. Couple this context with Bowdoin’s experimental, rolling cart platforms (which


KING LEAR Hosted by the Rice University Theatre Program, the Actors From The London Stage will perform “King Lear” on campus at Hamman Hall on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The touring group offers a minimalistic approach to theatre and encourages audience interaction. Tickets are $15 for students. Hamman Hall

will be activated in later Moody events), and one can begin to better appreciate the organic dynamism characterizing Bowdoin’s art.

The idea behind the installations is that they really rarely go together the same twice. Instead, pieces come down and get transformed into something else, resisting any ultimately finalized form. Natasha Bowdoin PAINTING AND DRAWING PROFESSOR While undoubtedly in dialogue with its neighboring installations, “Sideways to the Sun” remains singular in its approach to the collection’s overarching environmental concerns. “We Were the Robots” and “Planet Infinity” provoke visitors by speculating about a post-apocalyptic future where nature reclaims its primacy in our absence; in these works, a ecocentric perspective spotlights our current anthropocentric tendencies. Bowdoin, however, signals the human subjectivity in our relationship to nature by magnifying it, asking visitors to face its lulling illusion. Inspired by disparate attempts to interpret and capture nature, Bowdoin

turns to human knowledge production — such as historic scientific illustrations, film, exploration narratives and music — to inform her creations. “I intentionally don’t even look at images of actual nature,” Bowdoin said. “I’m more interested in looking at other artists’ and authors’ renditions of nature. Earlier naturalists, artists and writers were out in the world trying to document and reflect on nature, but they often got it a bit wrong or got it at least a bit strange. Animals and plants were partially documented and described through drawing and writing, but there was also a mysterious element that crept in where science and myth could be of equal presence and importance.” Melding these alternately romanticized and mistaken interpretations confronts the beauty and danger in the meaning humans project onto nature. Bowdoin, then, only not acknowledges the subjective human perspective but wields its inherent fallibility to depict an rendition that resists our instinctive categorization and objectification. “I try my best to present an image of nature that is harder to pin down, harder to decipher and one that doesn’t need human beings necessarily to complete it,” Bowdoin said. “Maybe an iteration of nature that could exist independently on its own from the definitions we try to affix to it. One that hopefully remains in a visible flux both materially and in meaning. I think meaning can be more powerful that way.” On display until May 18, “Sideways to the Sun” is a must see.



Spend Saturday evening (6 - 9 p.m.) at the Chinese Student Association’s annual Lunar New Year show. The show is a collaboration with other student groups on campus, such as the Vietnamese Student Association and the Korean Student Association. Entry is free to all, with pre-sale dinner tickets for $8.

Join the G Spot Gallery and its Qollective Self Exploration exhibition featuring seven queer artists who work in mediums ranging from paint to metal. The reception is on Saturday from 6 - 8 p.m. and the show is available until Feb. 24.

RMC Grand Hall

G Spot Gallery 310 East 9th St.

“Trigger Warning with Killer Mike” is one of a kind, engaging viewers in its unique documentary-style — a new gold standard has been set. The show follows Michael Render, known as Killer Mike of the band Run the Jewels, as he travels around America looking for ways to improve the communities around him. In “Trigger Warning,” Render takes audience interaction to the next level, placing himself in the viewer’s shoes instead of vice versa. “Trigger Warning” is to the black community as “Queer Eye” is to the LGBT community. Instead of doing a personal makeover as part of a team like “Queer Eye” does, Render decides to make over all of America, starting with his home community of Atlanta. His radical, idealistic vision for the world makes Kanye West’s look like a one-foot-tall LEGO castle. Although his vision is easy to disagree with at first glance, Render is ambitious in his methods. Time and time again, his ideology becomes centered in the interests of the common people as opposed to the wealthy people found in the music industry.

‘Trigger Warning’ is to the black community as ‘Queer Eye’ is to the LGBT community. Render sees holes in the society around him and “Trigger Warning” revolves around his desire to fix them. From spending three days solely consuming goods and services from the deprived black economy (see episode one) to forming a new religion combating “White Jesus,” Render’s solutions are out-of-the-box and wildly entertaining to watch. While one might consider more traditional policies to reform education, Render makes an educational porno (inclusive of different sexual orientations) that teaches trade skills such as how to fix a door and do plumbing. “Trigger Warning” is Render’s unabashedly honest way of showing SEE TRIGGER PAGE 9

SIN MUROS Join Stages Repertory Theatre for their Latinx theatre festival, running from Thursday at 6 p.m. to Sunday at 2:30 p.m. The festival will feature solo shows, workshops, readings and networking opportunities. Some events are ticketed; others are free to the public. Stages Repertory Theatre 3201 Allen Parkway



‘Step and Screw!’ brings fresh comics to the Menil MOSES GLICKMAN THRESHER STAFF

“Trigger Warning with Killer Mike” follows Michael Render (Killer Mike) around as he tries to fix the societal problems he sees around him. courtesy netflix

TRIGGER FROM PAGE 8 that he’s willing to make a change. Later in the show, he attempts to bridge divides by forming a diverse musical supergroup consisting of both a Black Lives Matter activist and a white nationalist related to Robert E. Lee. So if you feel offended or triggered while watching, but uncertain as to why, it means you must be watching it the right way. In a way, what this show truly becomes is productive activism, critiquing not just closed-minded conservatism but also

hyper-liberal cancel-culture. Render’s willingness to talk to different groups of people shows a better way to approach diverse viewpoints as opposed to the increasingly unproductive divides seen on social media platforms like Twitter. The show might be offensive to some because it points out the hypocritical disconnect between seeking peace and inaction. Render actually tries in this show. So if 2016 showed that a reality television show host can be president, Killer Mike as our national leader doesn’t sound too crazy now. Buy me a Crip-a-Cola.


Stringing Melodies: Featuring senior violinist Marin Osawa SUNNY LIU SENIOR WRITER

When it comes to playing the violin, Marin Osawa often finds inspiration in non-musical aspects of her life, from artwork to her peers. “Just the other day I was walking around in the practice room hallway and there was this guy practicing, so I looked inside and I was like, ‘I need to play like that,’” Osawa, a Duncan College senior, said. “I sometimes think of artwork that would relate to music. When I’m walking outside and there’s this mood or atmosphere, [it] reminds me of a piece I know.” Osawa also lists classical violinist David Oistrakh and modern violinists Clara Jumi Kang and Lisa Batiashvili among her sources of inspiration. Although Osawa started playing the violin at a very young age, she said she did not become invested in it until high school. “I started when I was four,” Osawa said. “When I started, I was really into it, and then a year later — I’m like five years old — I [didn’t] want to do [it] anymore. It [was] so annoying. My mom [would yell] at me. So I didn’t want to play violin until I was like 16.” She said that starting at four wasn’t necessarily beneficial to her, because she was unable to appreciate the practice until she was older. “People who start later [are] more aware of their life, they can be like ‘Oh,

I actually really like this’ and can really be into it from where they start, instead of having this gap where they’re hating [it],” Osawa said. “I ended up liking it when I was 16 because I went to a summer classical music festival where we played orchestra stuff. I met a good friend that really inspired me to be better and actually be invested in it. Before that, I didn’t even think of [music school] as an option.” According to Osawa, her experience living in countries on several different continents influences her music. “My American background does affect the way I play because that’s the way I learned it — the American style of playing,” Osawa said. “European styles are more musical and a little bit more rough. American styles are more ‘perfect,’ but less musical.” When it comes to her own creative process, Osawa said it can take many tries and a lot of frustration before a piece eventually comes together. “When [I] start a new piece, at first, it’s overwhelming,” Osawa said. “I listen to the music first to get the overall feeling of [the] piece. Then I learn the notes, and it all kind of happens at once — while you’re learning the notes, the music also comes in with it.” Currently, Osawa says she is in the midst of auditions for graduate schools. After Rice, she plans to continue her studies in music. “For every spot, there’s 100 or 200 people auditioning,” Osawa said. “So that’s the future after graduate school that I’m looking at. Honestly, the audition process is not a creative process — it’s grueling. Everything has to be perfect.”

Marin Osawa is a senior studying violin performance. After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school for music. charlene pan / thresher

The last six panels of the comic are painted large on the walls of the sidegallery. In the center of the room is a small chamber, the entrance (or, as Trenton Doyle Hancock has playfully scrawled, “In Trent’s”) of which faces away from the gallery’s door; a sort of inner sanctum, it contains the comic’s other 39 panels. Hancock’s new “Contemporary Focus” exhibit at The Menil Collection, “Epidemic! Presents: Step and Screw!” consists entirely of a single 45-panel comic; all at once an exhibition, a story and a single piece. The story would be too good to spoil if spoiling wasn’t inevitable; the ending is visible from the beginning of the comic. The comic revolves around black freelance superhero Torpedoboy, who receives a mysterious call from a faint-voiced (“It sounds like you’re breathing through a sheet!”) potential client. Arriving at the scene, he finds only a darkened house. His client asks him only to climb a footstool and plug in a lightbulb — to “step and screw.” Torpedoboy is outraged at the smallness of this request — “I’ll have you know I’m still charging full price!” — but complies; when the lights turn on, he finds that he has in fact been surrounded by Ku Klux Klan members and the lightbulb was a pretext to get him up on the lynching stool. The end of the comic, plastered in full color around the room, shows Torpedoboy using the power of a spoonful of ground beef to transform into a football player with inhuman strength. Subsequently, he beats up the KKK members and escapes. Hancock makes a lot of uncomfortable jokes; he is ambiguous but not subtle, letting the viewer wonder what his point is but never letting the viewer doubt that

he has one. He questions the relationship between the NFL and black visibility by having a superpowered football player beat up the KKK. He points out the peculiar and repulsive presence of deeply-held notions of southern honor by having a Klansman allow Torpedoboy a last meal of ground beef. Labeling the location of the attempted lynching only as “Somewhere in Texas,” Hancock finds the whole state guilty and culpable. As revealed in the exhibition’s accompanying pamphlet, even the name “Step and Screw” is an allusion to black actor Stepin Fetchit, who found fame through playing lazy, dumb, highly stereotypical characters. Hancock asks what a person owes his community, and attacks Fetchit for falling short of it; with his allegory of Torpedoboy, he warns of the dangers of being handsomely paid to “step and screw.” As a reminder, this is a small, one-piece exhibit, ensconced in a single gallery of a side-wing of the Menil. It’s very good, but it’s a three-minute experience from start to finish, a bit too small to serve as the focus of a museum-district trip. However, my fascination with “Step and Screw” led me to look up Hancock’s prior portfolio. Many of his works occur in the Moundverse, an imaginary realm populated by plant-animal hybrids, bizarre, allegorical enemies and, of course, Torpedoboy. In one of his prior pieces of comic art, alien enemies conspire against an ancient, bloblike Mound; in another, Torpedoboy steals tofu from a group of militant vegans. Whether you’re able to get down to the Menil or not, trust me — Hancock is a rabbit hole you want to fall down. Hancock’s “Epidemic! Presents: Step and Screw!” is showing at the Menil Collection from Jan. 25 to May 19. Hancock will speak about his work at the Menil on Feb. 6 from 7 - 8 p.m.

courtesy molly glentzer

Trent Doyle Hancock’s “Epidemic! Presents: Step and Screw!” is the Menil Collection’s newest exhibit and revolves around comic book superhero Torpedo Boy.


10 • WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 30, 2019


Keep the Streak Follow our Twitter account @ThresherSports to keep up with the action in women’s basketball.


Owls put C-USA on notice After Rice women’s basketball closed the 2016-17 season by winning the Women’s Basketball Invitational championship, outgoing senior Maya Hawkins, who had just been named the tournament’s most valuable player, made a bold statement. “I know,” Hawkins said to the Thresher at the time, “we are only scratching the surface of what this program can and will accomplish.” It’s safe to say she knew what she was talking about. This past weekend, the Owls swept two road games against the secondand third-best teams in the conference to put themselves in sole possession of first place in Conference USA. In doing so, they made a bold statement of their own: they’re no longer a team on the rise. Rice women’s basketball is officially a team to be feared. Rice didn’t just beat Middle Tennessee State University and University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB) this weekend. They destroyed them by 13 and 12 points, accordingly. They held the Blue Raiders and Blazers to 47 and 43 points, respectively. Did I mention that UAB is averaging 75.3 points per game? And Middle Tennessee 65.2? And that those two teams were a combined 12-1 in conference play coming into the match with Rice? The Owls didn’t care. They marched into their opponents’ gyms and obliterated them. The past two seasons have been outstanding for the program. The team has had consecutive 20-win seasons and two postseason tournament berths, including one championship. The one thing that has eluded the Owls, however, is a C-USA title. This year, they look ready to clear that hurdle and make it back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005. The key to this year’s team has been the mix of star power and depth. Sophomore center Nancy Mulkey was a human wrecking ball this past weekend, putting up eight blocks in each of the Owls’ wins. She also averaged 17 points and 8.5 rebounds in the victories. Her inside presence has complemented junior guard Erica Ogwumike’s perimeter game. Ogwumike, the preseason conference player of the year, has put up 16.2 points and 10.6 rebounds per game on the season. Together, the duo forms a dynamic onetwo punch. Outside of Mulkey and Ogwumike, the Owls have five other players averaging at least five points per game. This depth has allowed head coach Tina Langley to rest players like Ogwumike and Mulkey without sacrificing much on the scoreboard. Perhaps the main driver of the team’s success so far, however, has been its defense. Rice is allowing just 55.5 points per game, which is the second-best mark in the conference. Mulkey has added a new dimension to the Owls’ defense since returning from a wrist injury early in the season. She has provided elite rim protection by putting up 45 blocks in just 11 games. If the Owls’ stars and rotation players can keep up their current play, Rice should be among the last teams standing at the C-USA tournament in March. With a conference championship within their sight, it’s time C-USA took notice: The Owls have arrived.



cloris cai / thresher

Sophomore Sumit Sarkar pounds a serve over the net during his (6-1, 7-5) singles victory over the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley’s Yehonatan Kaufman, on Sunday at Rice’s George R. Brown Tennis Center. Sarkar also beat Guanarteme Nuez from the University of Texas, Arlington, (6-4, 6-4), and partnered with sophomore Jacon Eskeland and redshirt junior Eric Rutledge for two weekend doubles wins.


men’s tennis

women’s tennis

Men’s tennis extended its undefeated start to five straight victories, compiling a 27-2 overall record in singles and doubles play thus far. Rice’s first four opponents were Texas-based universities, but most recently, the Owls defeated Western Michigan University 4-0 on Monday at home at the George R. Brown Tennis Center. In all five matches, Rice claimed the doubles point. Against Western Michigan, sophomore Sumit Sarkar and redshirt junior Eric Rutledge earned a 6-3 victory in number one doubles to clinch the doubles point over the Broncos. Earlier against Western Michigan, sophomores Mohamed AbdelAziz and Conrad Russell lost 6-4 in number two doubles, but sophomore Jacob Eskeland teamed with senior Daniel Warren to win 6-2 in number three doubles. According to head coach Efe Ustundag, maximizing success in doubles often requires on-the-fly adjustments given that each match is played to a single set. “We felt like we had to make a couple of changes in the doubles lineup today,” Ustundag said after Rice’s victory over Western Michigan. “Sumit and Eric played a lot of tennis together last year and they gave us that grit and on-court leadership that we needed at [number] one [doubles]. It’s [also] a big change for us to have the quality we have playing at #3 doubles. It’s nice to have the personnel to be able to move things around and be able to get results.” Eskeland, Rutledge and freshman Adam Oscislawski each claimed victory in singles while Sarkar, Abdel-Aziz and Russell held off Bronco opponents to unfinished results, resulting in a shutout. This season, Eskeland has accumulated a perfect 5-0 record in singles matches. Next, Rice travels to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to face Louisiana State University on Sunday as part of a dual match where both schools battle in men’s and women’s tennis. Last season, the Owls narrowly defeated the Tigers in Houston 4-3, finalized with a three-set singles victory by Sarkar.

Women’s tennis improved to 2-1 on the season and bettered its overall singles and doubles record to 15-6 by defeating Sam Houston State University 6-1 on Sunday at the George R. Brown Tennis Center. One match prior, Rice suffered its lone loss this season away at Baylor University; in that matchup, Rice narrowly lost 4-3. The loss was an improvement over last year, however, when Rice was shutout at home against the Bears. In this year’s contest, Rice earned the initial doubles point over Baylor but lost four of six singles matches and succumbed to the Big-12 foe; each singles loss was in straight sets. Head coach Elizabeth Schmidt said the early-season loss exposes some areas for improvement for Rice. “We’ve been putting a lot of work in on our doubles and I was pleased to see that work pay off, but it was a shame that we could not carry that early momentum over into singles,” Schmidt said. “Early season matches always give you a clear idea of where [the team is] at this moment and what we need to work on.” Rice responded to the loss in its victory over Sam Houston State. To start against the Bearkats, at number three doubles, freshman Victoria Smirnova and sophomore Anna Bowtell raced to a 6-2 win. Then, at number two doubles, freshman Anastasia Smirnova and junior Priya Niezgoda earned a 6-1 victory to clinch the doubles point. Rice’s number one doubles pairing of sophomore Michaela Haet and sophomore Linda Huang led in their unfinished match 4-2. Then, five of six singles matches went Rice’s way. Huang earned the first singles victory with a straight-sets win at number three singles. Bowtell, Niezgoda, Victoria Smirnova and Haet also claimed wins over Bearkat opponents. Victoria Smirnova and Bowtell are undefeated in three singles matches this year. Together, the pair is also undefeated in doubles play. Next, Rice travels to face Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge on Sunday as part of the dual match. The Owls look to rebound from last season’s 4-3 away loss to the Tigers.


WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 30, 2019 • 11






SWIMMING FRI/SAT, FEB. 1,2 // 5 PM & 11 AM


Rice’s swim team travels to Baton Rouge to participate in a trimeet against Louisiana State University and the University of Houston. According to, the two teams are ranked Nos. 35 and 32 in the country, respectively. Keep an eye on sophomore Ellery Parish, who was named C-USA Swimmer of the Week the last time the Owls were in action after posting three individual victories in the 200-meter backstroke.

Both the men’s and women’s track & field teams will send runners to the Charlie Thomas Invitational in College Station, TX. Keep a particular eye on redshirt junior sprinter Hannah Jackson, who won the 200-meter dash at last weekend’s Houston Invitational and set a school record in the indoor 200-meter dash at last year’s Charlie Thomas Invitational before breaking it again at the 2018 C-USA Indoor Championships with a mark of 23.25 seconds.

WOMEN’S B-BALL THU/SAT, JAN.31/FEB.2 //7&2 PM This week, the Owls will continue their conference schedule against the University of North Carolina, Charlotte and Old Dominion University. Both teams have started the season well: Charlotte is 12-8 (4-4 in C-USA) and Old Dominion is 15-5 (6-2). Rice will look to continue its nine-game win streak through continued solid play from C-USA Player of the Week Nancy Mulkey, who has averaged 4.2 blocks over the team’s nine-game win streak.

WOMEN’S TENNIS SUN/WED, FEB. 3,6 // 12 & 1 PM Rice’s women’s tennis team will also travel to Baton Rouge, to compete against LSU in a dual meet. They then return home to the George R. Brown Tennis Center to face off against Texas Christian University on Wednesday, Feb. 6. So far this season, LSU is 3-0, including victories over Clemson University and the University of Tennessee. TCU is also undefeated, with a 4-0 record. Rice is 2-1, with its sole loss to Baylor University on Jan. 21.


MEN’S TENNIS SUN, FEB.3 // 12 PM The men’s tennis team is the third and final Owls team to travel to Baton Rouge this weekend, also facing LSU in a dual meet. The LSU men’s team is 4-1 so far this season, losing to Pennsylvania State University in their most recent action on Jan. 27. Meanwhile, the Rice men’s team remains undefeated to begin the season, with a 5-0 record. The team’s doubles pairings remain especially effective, a noticeable shift from last year’s results.

The men’s basketball team will try to rebound from a close loss to the University of Alabama, Birmingham with a pair of conference games against Charlotte and Old Dominion. Rice has lost four out of five of its last few games, but three were by three points or fewer, including a pair of one-point heartbreakers. Currently, the Owls sit near the bottom of the C-USA standings with a 3-5 conference record, but a pair of wins could put them back in contention.

The Thresher’s Guide to the Perfect Super Bowl Party ERIC BARBER SENIOR WRITER

This upcoming Sunday marks one of America’s most anticipated events of the year: the Super Bowl. The NFL’s two conference champions face off as the AFC champion New England Patriots take on the NFC champion Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII. According to Nielsen Media Research, which measures television viewership, the Super Bowl has been watched by more than 100 million people each year since 2010. People often host parties for the big game with a large group of friends and family. In fact, I have thrown a Super Bowl party every year since I was in first grade, so I know a thing a or two when it comes to optimal viewing of the biggest sporting event our country has to offer. So, whether you’re watching in your dorm room with a couple of friends or your residential college is having a party in the commons, here are my tips for a good Super Bowl viewing experience, from food to games to information for the casual fan.

FOOD Only on Thanksgiving do Americans consume more food than they do on Super Bowl Sunday according to United States Department of Agriculture statistics. It’s crucial to have a good mix of snacks, hot food and dessert. While it’s always nice to have some of the classics like pizza and chicken wings, it can be nice to change things up, too. Pulled pork, a barbecue staple, is a relatively easy meat to cook and is very forgiving. Put the pork in a slow cooker or in the oven and when it’s ready, shred it with a couple of forks. Make the meal easy to eat by putting the pork on buns and serving it as sliders. Turkey chili is a hearty dish that you can easily make in bulk. Throw your ingredients into a skillet and cook until it’s thick. Enjoy the many different textures that chili has to offer and spice it to your liking. For dessert, you can’t go wrong with some football-shaped cookies. If you’re

VIEWING GAMES Some people like to have a little extra incentive while they watch the game. For those people, there are some ways that you can make some friendly wagers even if you are not rooting for either team. And if you don’t understand football at all, keep your eyes glued to the screen for the best, funniest and most expensive (upwards of $5 million for 30 seconds, according to Sports Illustrated) television commercials of the year. Super Bowl Squares is a game that doesn’t require any real football knowledge. The game is based around a grid of 100 squares with the digits 0-9 written on x- and y-axes. The two axes represent the two teams playing and the digits represent the last digit of the number of points that the team has scored. A player purchases a place in the

competition and before the game, the organizers randomly assign a square. If at the end of the game (and/or quarters) your square has the correct digit for each team, you win. For example, if you had the square that was seven for the Patriots and one for the Rams and the score was 27-21 Patriots, you would win. Feel free to cut out the provided Super Bowl Squares grid at the bottom of the page and play along with your friends during the game! Prop bets are questions about events that will or might happen during the game. Organizers put a series of these questions together and host a competition to see who can answer the most correctly. Questions that show up every year include (but are not limited to): Will the coin toss be heads or tails? What color Gatorade will be dumped on the winning head coach? Who will be the Super Bowl MVP? Some are footballspecific and some require no football knowledge whatsoever. Get most of them correct, and you could have bragging rights over your friends.





The Super Bowl starts at 5:30 p.m. Central Standard Time at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. The Patriots have been one of America’s most dominant sports franchises of this century. Led by head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, New England has won five Super Bowls in nine total appearances since 2001. The Rams’ last championship appearance and victory came in Super Bowl XXXIV, when the team was located in St. Louis. L.A.’s current head coach, Sean McVay, 33, would become the youngest head coach in the history of the league to win a Super Bowl if his team wins on Sunday. Los Angeles features Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald, arguably the best running back and defensive lineman in the league, respectively. The Patriots are slightly favored in the game (current betting odds favor them by two and a half points) due in large part to their vast Super Bowl experience, but because both teams are loaded with talent, any outcome is possible.

creative, write the names of the two teams in frosting on separate cookies and have your friends eat who they think will win.

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infographic by tina liu






12 • WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 30, 2019

Throwbackpage This weekend is about both a look forward to your future with the Career Expo on Friday and a blast from the past with Y2K on Saturday. What better way to combine these than by taking a peek at what your LinkedIn would look like if you were in middle school? Education

Graduated from Elementary School with certifications in the water cycle, reading chapter books, multiplication tables and PEMDAS.


Trader at Silly Bandz Exchange

◦ From the opening bell to dismissal bell, traded Silly Bandz across classes ◦ Accrued wrist to elbow coverage before tight classroom regulations were implemented that disbanded the trade

Social Media Guru at Facebook

◦ Snuck behind parents’ back to create a Facebook account that claims to be born in 1990 ◦ Posted and responded to approximately ten “lms for a tbh!” statuses per week, offering peers constructive criticism coupled with positive feedback

Networking Manager at Twitter

◦ Tweeted at Justin Bieber roughly 45 times per day for one year straight before expanding marketing model to tweet at all five members of One Direction as well

Line Leader at Elementary School ◦ ◦ BPOC ◦ ◦

Led a team from Point A to Point B on several occasions Navigated the logistics and various ins and outs of an esteemed educational institution (Big Penguin on Club Penguin) at Club Penguin Assembled and coordinated a task force to tip the Iceberg Trained and raised soooo many puffles

Skills and Endorsements Languages Dinosaur

◦ Did you know RAWR XD means I luv u in dinosaur o_0?

Smrat Ppeole Olny

◦ I cnduo’t bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pwor of the hmuan mnid, it dseno’t mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, Aaznmig, huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghhuot slelinpg was ipmorantt! See if yuor fdreins can raed tihs too.

The Backpage is satire, written and designed by Simona Matovic, a Webkinz mogul. For comments or questions, please ask for a parent’s permission before emailing



TEACH FOR TESTMASTERS! Dynamic and Energetic teachers wanted. Starting pay rate is $20 to $32 per hour. Flexible schedules. We provide all training, all training is paid, and we pay for travel. Email your resume to


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The Rice Thresher | Wednesday, January 30, 2019  

The Rice Thresher | Wednesday, January 30, 2019  

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