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BY yifei zhan g

Invisible burdens: students talk accessibility challenges RISHAB RAMAPRIYAN & AJAY KUMAR NEWS EDITOR & FOR THE THRESHER

Each semester a Rice student will spend hours carefully crafting a course schedule that fills their major requirements, impresses future employers and avoids that dreaded 8 a.m. section. But students with disabilities often have to worry about another factor: accessing their classrooms. A pending case against Rice by the Department of Education for disability discrimination motivated a deeper investigation into the experience of students with disabilities on campus.


Shane DiGiovanna, a Martel College junior, said he had to change his major from physics to economics due to the inaccessibility of the second-floor Herzstein Hall physics labs. “I had to change my entire major due to severe accessibility issues,” DiGiovanna,

co-chair of the Student Association’s Students with Disabilities Council, said.

I had to change my entire major due to severe accessibility issues... That unfortunately drastically changed the direction of my life. Shane DiGiovanna MARTEL COLLEGE JUNIOR “That unfortunately drastically changed the direction of my life, because I was planning on being an aerospace engineer working in the space industry at NASA, JPL, SpaceX ...

That was my whole life plan ever since I was a child.” Alan Russell, director of the Disability Resource Center, said that Herzstein Hall has several complications in terms of accessibility, but they are working to improve those issues. “This office worked with [Facilities Engineering and Planning] to improve access into the building, which resulted in a ramped entrance instead of the old mechanical platform lift,” Russell said. DiGiovanna said the lack of proper infrastructure was the sole reason he had to change his major. “Twenty-nine years after the Americans with Disability Act was passed, students still have to factor in their disability when choosing what to major in, which I believe is not good and kind of unacceptable,” DiGiovanna said. However, DiGiovanna said he does not blame the physics department.

“It was 100 percent not their fault,” DiGiovanna said. “It was just the infrastructure that was the issue [which] couldn’t be fixed by them. And honestly, they were some of the best professors I’ve had at Rice.” Vidisha Ganesh, a Baker College junior, found herself in a similar situation during her first semester at Rice when she took differential equations in Herzstein Hall. “The stairs leading to the second floor of Herzstein are treacherous on their own, but with my additional lack of balancing abilities, I felt endangered every time I had to go up or down,” Ganesh said. “It got to the point where I literally asked the professor to accompany me down the stairs every day after class.” Felix Wu, a graduate student, also experienced poor accessibility during his time at Rice as an undergraduate. “Once when I was going to class, I couldn’t physically get in the building because the SEE ACCESSIBILITY PAGE 7


More than 2,000 signatures demand Entrance 23 crosswalk NICOLE LHUILLIER FOR THE THRESHER

A student’s petition for a crosswalk near the university’s entrance 23 on Rice Boulevard has gained more than 2,000 signatures — 2,052 at the time of print. Posted on on November 11, the petition is addressed to the city council, the city of Houston and the administration, faculty, parents and

students of Rice University. However, the potential crosswalk does not fall under the authority of Rice, Richard Johnson, Rice professor and chair of the Rice Mobility Safety Committee, said. “Rice Boulevard is a city street, so any decision about installing a crosswalk would have to come from the City of Houston,” Johnson said. “Rice University cannot make physical changes to Rice Boulevard.” Director of University Affairs Greg

Marshall said he discovered the petition as a post in a Rice alumni group on Facebook. He said the administration believes a roundabout, rather than a crossing, would provide the ideal situation for pedestrians and bikers on Rice Boulevard According to Marshall, a traffic signal on the Rice-Sunset [Boulevard] intersection would be ineffective due to the intersection’s triangular configuration.

“We have been told that the city now feels they can only build the roundabout at the corner of Sunset and Rice Boulevard (which they themselves originally proposed) if the church is willing to donate this property rather than having the city pay to acquire it as it would for any other city construction project that involves private land,” Marshall said. As an alternative to the roundabout, a SEE CROSSWALK PAGE 3




RYD, Baker Institute discuss event exclusivity KELLY LIAO THRESHER STAFF

The Rice Young Democrats met with the Baker Institute on Friday, Nov. 22 to discuss making Baker Institute-hosted events more accessible to students, according to Rice Young Democrats president Maddy Scannell. Since last year, high-profile speaker events including the visits of former President Barack Obama and current Vice President Mike Pence have been exclusive to students who are involved in high leadership positions of on-campus political organizations and those who are affiliated with the Baker Institute. Last month, the Baker Institute initially gave 12 tickets to the Baker Institute Student Forum for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s speech. After Rice Young Democrats requested the event be opened to more students, the Baker Institute added members of some politically engaged campus groups and Baker Institute interns to the invite list, according to Scannell. According to Stevenson, over 60 students ended up attending the event. On the Friday meeting with Stevenson, Rice Young Democrats proposed several reforms. According to Scannell, the Baker Institute rejected the idea of a campuswide lottery to distribute event tickets because they want to prioritize tickets to those who are connected to the Baker Institute, according to Scannell. Rice Young Democrats also suggested that the Baker Institute send invitations to a listserv for students with an interest in politics and open up a link to undergraduates to submit questions. “They [Baker Institute] expressed interest in this proposal,” Scannell said. “But they said this could operate as a lottery for those students who demonstrate interest in policy, and they think it should be managed by BISF.” The Baker Institute rejected the suggestion of a mandate quote or percentage of seats reserved for students at every event, according to Scannell. “They went back and forth talking about how setting a number was really hard for them, and that they were worried that students wouldn’t RSVP,” Scannell said. “But we assured them that we would obviously be able to fill those seats and it’s a question of them making room for us and not putting us last.” The Baker Institute will be working with the BISF leadership in the coming year and listening to their ideas for increasing student activity at the institute, according to Stevenson. “We welcome ideas from students and organizations on campus for potential speakers, student watch parties [...] and other initiatives to further contribute to student life,” Stevenson wrote in a statement to the Thresher. The Baker Institute also expressed interest in creating a new student engagement position at the institute, according to Stevenson. Scannell said she is concerned about the Baker Institute’s exclusion of students who are not involved in leadership positions of political groups. “It’s not appropriate for a research institution that’s on a college campus to be so clearly excluding the vast majority of undergraduates from hearing what these people have to say and asking questions,” Scannell said. “Not everyone has the resources or time to commit to being on the board of these organizations.” In a statement to the Thresher, Ben Stevenson, director of operations and planning for the Baker Institute, stated that high-level speaker events are often space-limited because the building’s

SA in review Senate bills passed this semester Nov. 4 To Charter the

Off-Campus Students Resources and Concerns Task Force

Nov. 11 To Charter the SA Channing Wang / THRESHER

Members of the Rice Young Democrats met with Baker Institute leadership in late November to discuss potential reforms for increasing student accessibility to high-profile speaker events.

main event space, Doré Commons, can hold a maximum of 300 guests. Therefore, invitations to the Rice community are limited. Decisions about the event location and audience capacity are determined by anticipated interest, venue availability and logistical costs, according to Stevenson. According to Scannell, in the meeting between Rice Young Democrats andthe Baker Institute leadership, Stevenson said most speakers normally choose to hold the talk in Doré Commons since they want a small venue to make the room look full. “[Stevenson] told us that Biden’s team wanted to speak at the Baker Institute, but the events team convinced them they could fill Tudor [Fieldhouse],” Scannell said. “Since the Baker Institute commons can hold a little over 300 people, they start looking at other spaces like Stude [Concert Hall] and Tudor [Fieldhouse] when there are more than 400 event RSVPs.” According to Stevenson, on-campus political organizations are prioritized when there is not much space. “For space-limited events, the institute prioritizes invitations to members of the Baker Institute Student Forum, the institute-affiliated, student-run, nonpartisan public policy club on campus,” Stevenson said. Providing BISF members with the opportunity to attend high-level speaker events strengthens the BISF and its ability to serve as the primary link between Rice students and the institute, according to Stevenson. According to BISF president Madison Grimes, BISF gives special preference to members who have a history of involvement in its events. “We typically offer those tickets to BISF officers first, then to members of our general board, and finally, we offer any leftover tickets via our email listserv,” Grimes, a Hanszen College senior, said. In the case of Pompeo event, the limited number of tickets offered to BISF meant that they were all taken by members of the officer team and general board, according to Grimes. Some students expressed concern over the lack of publicity aimed toward students regarding high-profile speakers like Pompeo at the Baker Institute. Sophia De Leon-Wilson, a Baker College freshman, said she did not learn about the event until she saw the protest flyers distributed by Rice Left on campus. According to Scannell, she had not heard about the Pompeo’s visit until Nishant Pradhan, the diversity and inclusion director of Rice Young Democrats, sent her a link to the event. According to Stevenson, the Baker

Institute advertised the event through ALLDEPTS mailing list. Scannell said a lot of people aren’t on the ALLDEPTS mailing list because it often gets spammed. She also thinks that was the only attempt that they made to inform students of the event. Students who are not on the leadership positions of political clubs expressed frustration of having difficulty accessing the Pompeo event. Although he was informed through the listserv, Josue Alvarenga, a member of the general board of BISF, said he did not have a chance to attend the talk. “You had to apply to be part of the BISF general board to even have access to one of the very few spots offered and those spots were taken within minutes,” Alvarenga, a Baker freshman, said. “It doesn’t seem right that only a dozen students out of thousands had access to this event.” Anthony Saliba, the president of Rice University College Republicans, said he individually received an official invitation from the Baker Institute Nov. 1, but he did not think many of his club members had received an invitation. “I imagine many members would be eager to attend if invited,” Saliba, a Duncan College junior, said. Scannell said Rice Young Democrats would follow up with the Baker Institute at the beginning of the next semester and that Stevenson said he will take the suggestions to other administrators. “I hope the momentum doesn’t stop,” Scannell said. “I’m hoping that Baker Institute will follow up and actually pursue these changes.”

Audit Task Force

Nov. 11 To Charter a Culture of Care Task Force

Nov. 18 To Create a Student Legal Services Working Group

Senate resolutions/ Bylaw changes this semester Sept. 9 To Create the

Association of Rice Alumni Liaison through a Bylaw Ammendment

Sept. 30 To Comment Rice Undergraduate Student Support for the Houston Climate Action Plan

Dec.2 To Issue a Statement

of Support for the Latinx and Immigrant Community at Rice infographic by dan helmeci





High intensity Activated crossWalK (HAWK), proposed by Houston Public Works and financed by Rice, was constructed at entrance 23 several years ago, Marshall said. Currently, Rice’s top mobility safety priority is to secure a signal light and safe crossing at gate 20, according to Marshall. “[HAWKs] are hand-activated crossing signals which will stop traffic when cyclists or pedestrians wish to cross a street but allow street traffic to proceed, unimpeded, at all other times,” Marshall said. “One of these HAWK crossings, the one near gate 23, is still installed and working today; although, as you can see from the frequency with which students choose instead to jaywalk across Rice Boulevard, it appears that many are choosing convenience over safety.” Houston Public Works is aware of the petition, according to Erin Jones, public information officer of Houston Public Works. A 311 service request for a crosswalk can be submitted to the city, after which an engineering study will be conducted, Jones said. “If the study finds there is a need for a crosswalk in the area, crosswalk markings will be installed with appropriate signage and signals,” Jones said. “The city traffic engineer has the authority to install traffic control devices like crosswalks.” Martel College sophomore Sukul Mittal said she created the petition after she began frequently crossing Rice Boulevard this semester. Like several other Rice students, Mittal parks her car at First Christian Church on Sunset Blvd. “In my personal experience and just from watching other people cross — I’m not expecting [drivers] to stop especially where there’s no crosswalk, right? But they are especially fast and I feel a lot of times not following the speed limit at all,” Mittal said. “It becomes very dangerous for students, anyone who’s crossing, bikers, pedestrians — it’s [even] dangerous for the drivers at some point.” When she shared her concern with fellow Martelians, Mittal said that other students, especially upperclassmen living off campus, had similar issues with crossing Rice Boulevard. She said she decided to create the

Channing Wang / THRESHER

Over 2,000 students have signed a petition for a crosswalk to be established at Entrance 23, a popular intersection for students commuting to off-campus residences.

petition as visible demand for the crosswalk. Romi Lee, a Martel junior, said she was proud that Mittal, her Orientation Week new student, had gone through the steps of contacting city council members and the Rice administration. “Because I live on Bolsover, I, along with several other Rice students, have to play a game of real-life Frogger every time we try to get to and from classes,” Lee said. “Houston drivers are unnecessarily aggressive, and there are several instances where I’ve been grazed by cars that speed up as I am crossing the street.” Sid Richardson College senior Christen Smajstrla said that lack of a crosswalk has consistently led to difficulties in crossing the road to get home. “I live on Rice Boulevard and have had multiple instances these past two years where I had to wait upwards of 5 minutes just trying to cross the road. This is not good especially when it is raining or really cold,” Smajstrla said. Graduate student Mary Natoli provided Mittal with direction on advocating for transportation safety. Natoli has been involved previously in other initiatives for

pedestrian safety around the Rice campus, such as crosswalk signs and zebra striping at entrance 20. Natoli said she thinks that the crosswalk should be accompanied by better lighting along the road, a sign that says “State law: yield of pedestrians in crosswalk” and RUPD presence to strictly enforce yielding behavior along Rice Boulevard. “I think that the crosswalk Sukul is advocating for should absolutely be installed,” Natoli said. “Rice has huge potential to become a model of a welldesigned urban area in Houston.” Mittal said she initially posted her petition on the Martel Facebook page, where it was shared by other students and eventually to a Rice parent Facebook page. “I think that’s when it really took off because parents care about their kids’ safety. And then I know it got shared to the page of general Houston moms, which I think it also got sent to other moms of Rice students,” Mittal said. “The mom network really took it off.” According to Mittal, the petition’s popularity was a surprise to her. “I honestly was like, 200 [signatures],

that’s my goal. We got to 400 in like, a day-ish. Then I was like, ‘Oh, maybe I can aim a little higher,’” Mittal said. “It’s been nice to know that there is more support than I expected.” Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, Mittal said. Comments on Facebook and reveal support from students and parents. Mittal said she contacted the two candidates for district C councilperson who demonstrated a concern for pedestrian safety in their campaign materials. Both candidates, who are proceeding to runoff elections this December, have support for her petition. Since the runoff elections will be held next weekend and the winner will take office in January, Mittal said she does not anticipate any physical changes to Rice Blvd. to occur immediately. “In terms of actual getting a crosswalk, I really don’t anticipate anything happening until next year,” Mittal said. Mittal said she has a meeting with Vice President for Administration Kevin Kirby scheduled this December. The office of Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Cohen of District C did not respond to the Thresher in time for print.

First cohort of student leaders receives Doerr stipend SERENE LEE THRESHER STAFF Only 11 student leaders out of 135 received stipends ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 to compensate unpaid leadership positions from the first cycle of the Doerr Leadership Stipend Initiative. The first round of applications were due on Sept. 19, and applicants were notified about their status on Oct. 24, 2019. According to Sarah Sullivan, an administrative specialist at the Doerr Institute, applicants were selected based on demonstrated financial need, leadership responsibility and leadership plan. “The recipients were very representative of the Rice campus,” said Sullivan. “It was extremely well split between student government and student clubs and organizations. It was also almost a 50/50 split between men and women, and we had no majority ethnicity-wise; it was almost a perfect representation of Rice’s campus. “ Started in the fall of 2019, the Doerr Leadership Stipend was created in order to allow students with complicated financial situations to run for leadership positions

at Rice. The stipend is available to any student that holds an elected or appointed leadership position at a residential college, the Student Association, the Graduate Student Association or any club or activity on campus that is officially registered through the university, according to the application. One recipient, Jones College sophomore Ozioma Ozor-Ilo, said that the stipend has allowed him to pursue new activities while supporting himself financially. “[This is] due to the lack of hours that I am able to work because of my leadership activities,” Ozor-Ilo, the treasurer for the National Society of Black Engineers, said. “I am also able to put more of myself into the leadership opportunities with a rigor that I could not before knowing that I have [financial] security through [the stipend].” Duncan College sophomore Channing Wang said that he is glad the stipend exists even though he did not receive it this cycle. “It’s about time someone recognizes the students who do so much work for literally nothing,” Wang said. Disclaimer: Channing Wang is the photo editor of the Thresher. This story has been condensed for print. Read full story online.

infographic by dan helmeci

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Pop-up coffee stand in McNair stands in for cafe under construction BRIAN LIN SENIOR WRITER A new coffee shop is set to open next January at the west end of the Woodson Courtyard at McNair Hall, according to Peter Rodriguez, dean of the Jones Graduate School of Business. According to Rodriguez, the initial launch date in September was delayed by issues with obtaining permits. “We had a couple of permitting setbacks that put us in the back of the queue at the city of Houston,” Rodriguez said. “There wasn’t anything very serious, but because it’s a location that’s going to serve some foodstuffs, we needed additional [permits].” Audrey’s, the new coffee shop, will be the latest installment by entrepreneur David Buehrer, who has also founded Greenway Coffee, Blacksmith and Susu Kopi, his newest location that recently opened in Rice Village’s Politan Row. “There’s going to be a by-the-cup slow coffee area where, if you had more time, you could have a fuller coffee experience,” Buehrer said. “Then there’s going to be a volume area if you need to get back to your class. There’s also gonna be some elements of savory and sweet food.” While Audrey’s is still being built, there is a pop-up shop serving free espresso-based drinks to visitors in the McNair space in the west end of the Woodson Courtyard until Dec. 20, according to Timothy Mok, a barista at the stand. Mok said the stand can serve espresso-based drinks, such as lattes, flat whites and cappuccinos. The popup shop attracts around 70-80 visitors per day, according to Mok, who said, so far, the clientele consists mostly of grad students, professors and administrators.

Emily Wang, Will Rice College junior, said she stumbled upon the pop-up shop through a Facebook post by her residential college. “I was like ‘Oh, it’s free coffee’ and that’s what got me to come here,” Wang said. “But I’ve been coming here more often because it’s close to the Baker Institute [of Public Policy] where I have a lot of my classes.” Rodrigo Duluc, an accounting student at the Jones School, said that having the kiosk is convenient. “My classes are upstairs in the Jones School,” Duluc said. “It’s a nice place to gather with friends and classmates to get work done.” Audrey’s is not the first time Buehrer’s been involved with Rice; he said 11 years ago he was in a bid to open a coffeeshop in Brochstein Pavilion, where Flo Paris currently operates. “I think my name kept getting brought up over the course of 11 years in conversations,” Buehrer said. “Rice University [Jones] School of Business brought me in about a year and three months ago as a consultant to talk about the coffee shop that was getting built.” Audrey’s is currently working with Housing and Dining to incorporate Tetra into the coffee shop’s payment systems, according to George Andrews, associate dean of degree programs at the Jones School. The process of implementing Tetra as a payment option could take several months, according to David McDonald, the senior business director for Housing and Dining. According to Buehrer, Audrey’s is designed to be transparent and educational; students will be able to see everything operating behind the coffee bar and baristas will be trained to discuss aspects of running a coffee business.

Channing Wang / THRESHER

While Audrey’s Coffeeshop is being built, a temporary pop-up shop is serving free espressobased drinks to visitors at the west end of the Woodson Courtyard in McNair Business School.

“Over the course of the last 12 years, I’ve probably helped out 15 students with their thesis or helped them with some kind of project,” Buehrer said. “So when I started designing the cafe, I had education as a foundational element.” Rodriguez said he had initially reached out to student-run business Coffeehouse to take over the space, but management at the time declined due to logistical challenges. Coffeehouse management declined to comment for this story. Bueher said Audrey’s will be his 10th location, the culmination of over a year designing and constructing the space. “I play one song and one album every time I open one of the shops. [When I opened Blacksmith], I played ‘The

Unforgettable Fire,’ which is a U2 song, and I played an album from the Future Islands just to get the vibe right inside the space.” Although most of Audrey’s customers will most likely be from Rice or the campus’s surrounding areas, two visitors to Audrey’s next spring will be from Ethiopia, Buehrer said — the father and son owners of a small Ethiopian coffee vendor. “When Rice opens they’re gonna be there visiting, because they’re so in tune with our operation,” Buehrer said. “They’re sharing their hard work and labor with new customers. We work together very closely and all of our coffee is built on relationships.”




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Improving accessibility requires creative solutions Ask any Rice student why they chose this university, and they might say they were excited about the residential college system, the small class sizes or even Beer Bike. But every student is ultimately here to get an education, and most of us are privileged enough to take that for granted. A student should never have to change their major because their classrooms are inaccessible to them, like Shane DiGiovanna did (p. 1). If students can’t even reach their classroom due to a physical disability, their university has already failed to provide students with what they are here for: an education. While some issues with accessibility on campus are clear, like the lack of an accessible entrance to rooms at the current Sid Richardson College building and the old building at Hanszen College, other issues are often afterthoughts for ablebodied students, such as the stairs leading to the second floor of Herzstein Hall. When complaining about how annoying it is to walk through the grove at the south colleges when it rains, consider how it feels to try and navigate through mud for students who use a wheelchair. Even less apparent on campus are hidden disabilities, such as epilepsy and ADHD, that are hard to disclose and seek assistance for, given the stigma surrounding mental and neurological illnesses and the tendency to pass judgment on appearance. Though we might meet legal standards

(and an ongoing case against Rice might show we haven’t even done that), we should strive to go beyond the legalese for students with disabilities. The administration, faculty and fellow students should be proactive about accommodations for students rather than waiting to fix a problem after it becomes a legal issue. While it’s difficult to update hundred-year-old buildings, classrooms, lab spaces and offices should be rearranged to ensure that all students have access to every class. Last year, ramps were added to Herzstein Hall, showing that spaces can be modified to be more inclusive. The university should continue to increase accessibility — not just to meet legal standards, but to provide necessary support all of its students. Additionally, student leaders should continue to make college activities available to everyone and inclusive of differing levels of ability and uphold the culture of care. The residential colleges are a place where students can find community and feel welcome, especially when the infrastructure of campus can make other places on campus feel closed off to them. Students should also be more aware of hidden disabilities on campus and consider how their rhetoric can impact others. Given that most of our campus is able-bodied, students with that privilege should leverage it to bring awareness and assistance to accessibility issues that remain on campus.

‘Changing climate change discourse: Focus on solutions’ “What we need now is greater attention and support for practical and attainable solutions that have widespread academic, governmental and public backing.”






we take submissions through email at! & we recently updated our opinion policy. find it at www.ricethresher. org/page/opinion-policy


What can Rice do to show that they believe that Black lives matter? “If Black lives matter to Rice then we would not have to ask that question to begin with.” As members of professor Anthony Pinn’s Religion and Black Lives Matter course, we were challenged with the task of applying what we learned in a unique way that engages the Rice community. One of our responses to this challenge was to survey Black voices on campus: “What can Rice University do to show you that they believe your life matters?” The relationship Rice has had with Black people has been a peculiar one. It was only in 1964 that Rice University accepted its first Black undergraduates. Before this, even Asian and Hispanic students were considered “White” and were thus allowed to attend the university. While progress has been made in the last 55 years, minimal effort has been shown to validate Rice’s claim to “diversity and inclusion.” A common theme found in the survey responses showed a desire for more Black representation on campus. One student called out the lack of progress saying: “Rice University can back up all of the rhetoric surrounding ‘diversity and inclusion’ with representation in faculty across disciplines, increased minority representation in residential

college core teams and academics that reflect the equitable valuation of the history and promise of African American scholasticism.”

Black people at this university experience these issues every day but it sometimes feels like our voices are muted. When looking at the residential college system, this mission of “diversity and inclusion” has occurred at the expense of Black students. The organization of the residential colleges has further marginalized an already marginalized group. There are 11 colleges that are microcosms of the greater university’s racial demographics. In spring of 2018, only 7 percent of undergraduates identified as Black or African American. Because of this small proportion, when the Black population is split 11 ways, it creates issues of representation and increases the difficulty of finding a community at one’s residential college. This is just one of the many issues

highlighted by Black students on campus. We also received responses that focus on a multitude of issues that Rice is embedded in, such as addressing the indigenous land it resides on and the culture of apathy and inaction by the administration regarding racism. One statement in particular was clear in the steps Rice could take to start addressing these issues: “Rice can admit publicly that it is built on land that was stolen from the Karankawa Indians. Rice can admit publicly that it procures and procured contracts with companies that benefited from chattel slavery. Rice can double the number of tenure-track [underrepresented minority] faculty. Rice can fire administrators who support diversity but refuse to do anti-racism work. Rice can build a brand new [multicultural center] and stop asking me to get by in the basement of the [Rice Memorial Center]. Rice can double the number of [underrepresented minority] undergraduate students and graduate students. Rice can write me a check for reparations. So basically, Rice cannot and will never be capable of showing me that my life matters. As has always been the case, I rely on ‘us’ for that affirmation.” There were issues present before

Rice was established as an academic institution, such as the way in which William Marsh Rice acquired this land. However, Rice’s passivity toward addressing many of these issues is unacceptable. Black people at this university experience these issues every day but it sometimes feels like our voices are muted. We have learned to rely only on “us,” which unfortunately makes it harder to create institutional change. So what can Rice University do to prove to us that they believe our lives matter? Real change at Rice cannot happen without a concerted effort by the administration. We understand that Rice will never be a historically Black college or university, but it can at least become a place that truly includes, celebrates and listens to the Black community it does have.





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The power of clothing

How one student is spreading Culture of Care through T-shirts



People often say that clothing has power: what someone wears can send a message about anything from their personality to their belief system. Now, thanks to McMurtry College sophomore Mel Xiao, Rice students can wear a T-shirt that sends the message: “You R Welcome Here.” The white long-sleeved shirt, features the slogan “You R Welcome Here,” with a stylized letter “R” borrowed from the Rice logo. Xiao said the shirt was designed in response to the growing xenophobic sentiment, particularly the racist flyers found around campus before this semester. “This isn’t what we want to be communicating to people who are in those communities,” Xiao said. “We want to be supporting you and not scaring you away or telling you to go home because this is your home.” Xiao spoke about how she wants to, through the shirt, spread the Culture of Care across campus. “People are very open to saying things like ‘you are welcome here’ or ‘you have my support,’ but sometimes you would feel a lot better just to see it and to know that it’s there,” Xiao said. “So I thought making a shirt would help better support

Civil Liberties Union of Texas, a nonprofit that message of ‘you are welcome here.’” Alexus Arizola, a Will Rice College organization that supports immigrants, sophomore, said the shirt serves as a the LGBTQ+ community, racial equality reminder to students that they deserve to and reproductive rights. In light of the recent national discussion about be at Rice just as much as anyone else. “Even as a sophomore, I still sometimes inclusion, equity and safety, Xiao said feel as though I don’t entirely belong at Rice she hopes to spread the message beyond Rice’s campus. as a first-generation, “The profits are low-income Hispanic going to support an woman,” Arizola organization that said. “Seeing works to defend and students wearing [The shirt] shows preserve individual the shirts will the solidarity of Rice rights and liberties reinforce [a] sense in Texas, [which is] of belonging, and I students in the fight a really good way hope that students for inclusivity and of showing that the put forth efforts that against hate. classic Culture of go beyond simply Care that we try to wearing a shirt to promote,” Xiao said. ensure their peers do Alexus Arizola Since Rice has not feel out of place WILL RICE COLLEGE SOPHOMORE a large portion at Rice.” of international Since September, about 60 people have expressed interest in students, Xiao said she also hopes to the shirt, and more than 30 students have allocate a portion of the profits to them in the future. already ordered it, according to Xiao. Amna Ali, a diversity facilitator, The shirts sold for $14 each. Xiao said because almost 40 students bought the expressed her support for the idea and shirt, the retail company lowered the cost said she would be happy to promote the of each shirt from $13 to $11, increasing shirt by spreading the word. “[The shirt] shows the solidarity of Rice the profit. With the profits, Xiao said she would students in the fight for inclusivity and donate most of the profits to the American against hate which is especially relevant

not only on campus, but in the current political and social environment beyond the edges,” Ali, a Wiess College junior, said. Siyu Liu, an exchange student from China, spoke about how she looks forward to seeing more inclusive messages around campus. “As an exchange student from China, I sometimes feel [it is] difficult to fit in because of cultural differences, even though everyone around me is super nice,” Liu, a Hanszen College senior, said. “With the shirt, the message of inclusion can be spread to more places and make international students like me feel more assured that we are welcomed here regardless of our identities.” Xiao said she was disappointed to see students who wore the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement costumes on Halloween spread the opposite message that her shirt tried to promote. “It was upsetting to me because the same population that inspired me to start designing and wanting to help ACLU was being targeted, because someone thought it would be funny to make fun of a very legitimate fear that others probably face on a daily basis,” Xiao said. “But I think this is pushing me to try to work harder and further and find more ways to be involved.”


ACCESSIBILITY accessible entrance with a ramp was blocked off by maintenance staff,” Wu said. of this, I was late to class since I needed to wait for them to be there to let me pass, which went on for about three weeks.” Wu thinks that there should be awareness training for faculty to understand accommodations. He said he once had to drop a course due to a professor who did not make accommodations for him. “When I broke my leg, I needed to attend classes virtually through Skype or receive lecture notes/presentations from professors or other students,” Wu said. “One professor, who I will not name, would not work with me regarding this. A big part of the class was participation and she refused to let me Skype in to participate. She basically told me she will allow me to drop the class, but if I continued the class I would have 20 points deducted to my final course grade since I couldn’t participate in person.” Unsure what steps to take after being denied accommodations, Wu eventually dropped the class. “This dissuaded me from selecting that major since that was a required course and I already completed halfway,” said Wu. Russell said that students with disabilities must notify the Disability Resource Center with documentation from a professional about their needs. “If a student with a disability has an issue with accessibility in a particular building, we work with the Registrar’s Office to move the class to an accessible building,” Russell said. DiGiovanna said that the DRC has been very helpful in obtaining accommodations for him. “I will email them the names of my professors for the next semester, the classes that I’m taking and whatever accommodations I need and then they’ll give

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2019 • 7 me you know an accommodation letter,” DiGiovanna said. “Also because I’m deaf, I will often get a professional transcriber to transcribe my classes and disability office is wonderful at getting those.” DiGiovanna found that almost all of his professors at Rice have been helpful and given him all the accommodations he asked for. “But then again, you know, part of that is because my disabilities are so obvious,” DiGiovanna said. “Nobody can deny that I have a major disability just because it’s so physically obvious. I do know that there are some students with invisible disabilities who have faced some issues with professors and their accommodations. And so, I think I’ve avoided some of that.”


DiGiovanna said that social life at Rice has been more accessible than academic life for him. He attributes this to both his residential college as well as his supportive friends. “Martel is very accessible,” DiGiovanna said. “I haven’t had any issues at Martel. Whenever I go to a party, I usually have a friend with me or a couple of friends who know my physical issues. My friends are really good at making sure that I can do whatever I want at a party. They’ll help me get a chair [and] find a place for me to sit down.” Russell said that the DRC works with the Office of the Dean of Undergraduates to place matriculating students with disabilities in colleges appropriate to their needs. Russell said that they do not place students with physical disabilities in Sid Richardson College or Hanszen College due to their current lack of accessibility. Wu said he felt limited at many social events because a lack of accessibility to functions at night or off-campus. “There were a lot of nighttime activities that I wasn’t able to attend,” Wu said. “Because of my disability, I get tired easily, so I couldn’t stay up too long. Because of

this fact, it became difficult to attend those social events. Additionally, sometimes, when events were off campus, it was difficult for me to go because of a lack of transportation.” Ganesh said she commends students and staff for fostering an inclusive community. “Thankfully, nobody at Rice has made me feel weird, different or like I didn’t belong here,” Ganesh said. “I still feel nervous going to events where I’d meet new people, but I think that’s more just normal nerves.” DiGiovanna attributes the accessibility of social life at Rice to the Culture of Care. “When it comes to social events at Rice, I think that accessibility is not as much of an issue because the Culture of Care really helps students with disabilities overcome most of the challenges,” DiGiovanna said.

there I was literally so tired I just remember collapsing onto a chair or bleacher,” Ganesh said. “Even after Beer Bike was over, I hadn’t recovered energy and had to ask a friend to drive me back to my residential college.” Ganesh teamed up with Rebecca Chen (Brown College ’19) to form the Disability Advocates and Allies club in order to make Beer Bike more convenient for students with disabilities. This past Beer Bike they provided golf cart rides to and from the races. “We strived to make Beer Bike more accessible,” Ganesh said. “We added an accessible seating area. I also provided a golf cart chauffeuring service for any student/staff member that required assistance getting to or going back from the venue.”


Russell said that the DRC has been working with Rice to make the campus more accessible to everyone. The center is specifically working with Facilities Engineering and Planning to recommend accessibility improvements to the building, according to Russell. “The campus is over 100 years old so there are some buildings which are not accessible to persons with physical disabilities,” Russell said. “Making these buildings accessible takes time and resources.” Benjamin Lamb, Will Rice College junior, said that the administration lacks transparency and opportunity for student input when it comes to making the campus more accessible. “Though admin is working hard to make the changes needed […] currently that’s a process that university is doing on their own and so students don’t really know what the plans are and don’t really have input in that,” Lamb said. “That means that students don’t know what options are available to them in the future and don’t have a say in the problems they see on campus that they’d like to get fixed.”

DiGiovanna said that he had a wonderful Orientation Week experience, praising his advisers for including him in the activities and ensuring he didn’t miss out on anything major. “My O-Week advisors were wonderful in making sure that I could fully participate in everything I wanted to,” DiGiovanna said. “There were some things I couldn’t do but that was okay. My O-Week advisors really put in so much effort into making sure I could do almost everything.” Ganesh said O-Week was accessible for her because her coordinators and advisors took initiative to make accommodations. “They knew it would be physically demanding, so with the A-team, they rented a golf cart from the Disability Resource Center,” Ganesh said. “They also helped me rent a scooter for the first few weeks of classes when they knew I’d need time adjusting.” However, Ganesh said her Beer Bike experience did not go quite as smoothly. “My friend and I took the Target Shuttle all the way to the closest parking lot. The actual races were still really far away, and when I got

‘TIS THE SEASONING ACROSS 1) Pranksters with Smirnoffs 6) Decorate a Christmas tree 10) Eavesdropping org. 13) “Pineapple Island” of Hawai’i 14) Title role for Ellen Page 15) Tiebreakers, for short 16) Middle Eastern spice blend to accompany a kinara 18) World’s largest religious monument, Angkor __ 19) Word that may slangily follow cuffing 20) Nitroxyl, briefly 21) “Ahhhhhhhh” alternative 22) Possible introduction made by Han of “Star Wars” 25) Like many 10-Across communications 27) Productions with “Dance of the Spice Plum Fairy” 28) Language suffix 29) “That’s __ Raven” 30) Fratty shirt feature 31) Antismoking ad, e.g. 32) Bawl

DOWN 1) Type 2) Crow’s call 3) “Bling” prefix for spoiling someone 4) Kidnapper’s demand 5) Imitates a plate of fajitas 6) German yes variant 7) U.S. President Hayes 8) Where to find University of Michigan

33) Thing checked at Pub 35) Danson of “The Good Place” 36) Baseball player accused of sign stealing, colloquially 37) Gazpacho server 40) “I have a ____, I made it out of herbs” 44) Breakfast chain that briefly rebranded as a burger restaurant 45) Some Burt’s Bees products 46) Ball drop locale in the “Sprig” Apple 51) Possible mansion complement 52) Many a snorkeler’s destination 56) “__ Barbie girl, in the Barbie world” 57) First word of a selecting rhyme 58) America’s national tree 59) “__ out”: groovy 60) Like some profs 61) Org. that attempts to shoot down some legislation?

9) “Casablanca” setting 10) Type of man in a Beatles tune 11) Gridlocks 12) Regarding 17) “It’s __”, declaration made before a scrubbed launch 21) Quick pronunciation for the Oshman Kitchen 22) Amateurish 23) Mighty sounding mollusk






Crossword by Sam Rossum Thresher Staff















19 23










































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

24) __-cam, tool used for tracking shots 26) Loc. where the Thunder play 32) Marriage acquisitions, for some 34) Lana __ Ray 36) Plods through a puddle 37) One with pants on fire 38) Romantic interest for Holmes 39) Sum preceder 41) Burton and Cook

42) “Spill __!”: gossip request 43) Online lover, jokingly 46) Pre-weekend sentiment 47) Building where one may take a HIST class 48) 687 days, for a Martian 49) Go cold turkey 50) “__ it or lose it” 53) Long stretch 54) Mr. Potato Head piece 55) “___ twigs”




An explosion of vivid beats and animated dancing emerged from the South Asian Society Dhamaka showcase that occurred Saturday, Nov. 23. This year’s sold-out Dhamaka showcase celebrated South Asian culture with an unforgettable night of dance and vocal performances by talented Rice students at the Rice Memorial Center. The journey to Dhamaka began with preparation months in advance. According to emcees Vikram Aggarwal and Nithya Gillipelli, it was a collective effort among the SAS members, performers and supporters that made the night so successful. “The most rewarding part of the night was seeing everyone come together. It was awesome that people from all cultures and backgrounds, not just South Asian students, came together to appreciate our efforts,” Gillipelli, a Brown College junior, said. Although Aggarwal and Gillipelli said they are grateful for all the support they received to turn Dhamaka into a success, they said they were frustrated by the absence of a performance arts center at Rice. “It is ridiculous how much extra work and money we have to go through in order to bring a stage and have a sound system and

lighting and everything else,” said Aggarwal, a Hanszen College junior. According to Aggarwal, the organizers of Dhamaka were unable to fit all the people who wanted to attend in the Grand Hall. “We felt bad because we wanted to be inclusive and foster cultural exchanges, but if we can’t give that opportunity to people due to the lack of facilities, I think this goes against Rice’s mission as an institution of higher education,” Aggarwal said. According to Aggarwal and Gillipelli, all the cultural club presidents are currently working with the Diversity Council to move forward with a performing arts center at Rice. With support from students, staff and faculty, they may be able to bring next year’s Dhamaka to a larger audience. This year, Dhamaka was kicked off by Aag the band, an informal musical group at Rice, stirred up the crowd with their beats. Using a variety of instruments ranging from a guitar to traditional South Asian drums, Aag presented a fusion of classic South Asian bangers and modern English hits from the last 20 years. This group was the ideal opener for the night, setting the stage for Rice’s South Asian dance teams to perform next. Riyaaz, Rice’s bollywood fusion dance team, delivered a crowd-pleasing performance that blended hip-hop, classical and contemporary Indian

channing wang / THRESHER

Left to right: Duncan College sophomore Neha Singh and McMurtry College sophomore Vibha Sastri participate in Dhamaka’s inaugural fashion show on Saturday, Nov. 23.

dance into their unique choreography. The students danced in perfect synchronization while filling the entire stage with passion. Rice Bhangra came on stage next to showcase a different style of South Asian dance. The traditional Indian folk dance team owned the stage with their athletic choreography, lively music and vibrant costumes. Bhangra was followed by Rice Rasikas, an all-female South Asian dance team. This year, the team focused on their theme “Rasikas Rewind” by featuring popular childhood hits in their performance. After the succession of dance groups, the final music group of the night was up. Basmati Beats, a South Asian a cappella group, performed a medley of songs from several genres. After

Indymedia celebrates 20th anniversary at Rice Cinema SANVITTI SAHDEV SENIOR WRITER

Last weekend, Rice Cinema hosted Indymedia 20th Anniversary Encuentro, a celebration of a global journalism movement featuring an art and memorabilia exhibit, film screenings and panel discussions with prominent journalists and creatives. Indymedia, or the Global Network of Independent Media Centres, was an open publishing network and movement of journalist collectives across the world that reported on political and social issues. The movement sprung to life during the 1999 Seattle World Trade Organization protests against the launch of new trade negotiations and economic globalization. Since then, the organization has also collectively produced documentaries, hosted radio shows and published newspapers that resist monopolization of the media and promote non-corporate media activism. Approximately 30 people, mostly past members of Indymedia, attended the threeday anniversary event which took place at the Rice Media Center from Nov. 29 to Dec.1.Both floors of the Media Center were transformed into an art and ephemera exhibit full of memorabilia that showcased the twenty-


Indymedia, or the Global Network of Independent Media Centres, displayed photographs, memoribilia and art from protesting citizen journalists at their 20th anniversary Encuentro event at Rice Media Center which ran from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1.

year history of Indymedia. Downstairs, walls were covered in issues of the Brooklyn-based newspaper Indypendent, a photographic chronicle of protests in cities across America. The exhibit also featured headphones to listen to archived recordings of the Houston Indymedia radio show, which still airs weekly on KPFT 90.1. The second floor was adorned with the remnants of old protest gear such as maps, patches, banners and two protest dresses painted by panelist Danielle Chynoweth, as well as a room screening Indymedia documentaries. The first film screened on Friday was a short documentary titled “Subcomandante Marcos’ Message to Freeing the Media Teach-In.” The introductory film consisted of a single close-up shot of a monologue delivered by Subcomandante Marcos, the former military leader and spokesperson of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation in Chiapas in Mexico.

“By not having to answer to the monster media monopolies, the independent media has a life work, a political project and purpose: to let the truth be known,” Marcos said, according to English subtitles in the film. “This truth becomes a knot of resistance against the lie.” The following film, “Zapatista,” tracked the Zapatista uprising firsthand from its origins, from the rebel group’s response to the North American Free Trade Agreement in January 1994 to the aftermath of the 1997 Acteal massacre of 45 people by a paramilitary group. The film featured interviews with prominent Zapatista leaders who emphasized the unique quality of the largely indigenous movement against global capitalism, and the invitation for all economically or socially oppressed people to consider themselves Zapatistas. “At the heart of Indymedia for me has always been a global movement and that

winning third place at Jeena, a national South Asian a capella competition, last month, Basmati Beats certainly lived up to this title during their performance. Musical performances weren’t the only talents on display at Dhamaka. The Grand Hall was transformed into a runway as students modeled beautiful South Asian fashion for the first time in Dhamaka’s history, according to Aggarwal and Gillipelli. For a cheap price, students were able to experience hours of live entertainment that culminated with a satisfying Indian dinner. By the end of this event, I was already awaiting next year’s Dhamaka. This article has been shortened for print. To read the full story, visit was framed by the Zapatista’s invitation and by their question,” Jacqueline Soohen, Indymedia co-founder, said. On Saturday, in a panel titled “Reflections on our Media Movement,” speakers Ana Noguiera, Chynoweth and Evan Henshaw-Plath discussed the important role of community building in physical and virtual spaces in the success of the Indymedia movement and for thinking about its future. This was followed by a documentary titled “Praha 2000” produced by Prague Indymedia and films from grassroots independent media collective Submedia TV. On Sunday afternoon, a panel called “Not Dead Yet: The Progeny of Indymedia” was held with speakers from The Indypendent, The Sanctuary for Independent Media and the weekly Houston Indymedia Radio Show on KPFT-FM. They discussed their journeys in building these Indymedia offsprings and the difficult work of financing them. In addition to celebrating the memory and accomplishments of the movement, Indymedia 20th Anniversary Encuentro was a call to contemplate the role of independent media in a present and future landscape ruled by social media. In a time where journalists constantly face scrutiny, its mission of “Don’t hate the media, be the media” clearly remains relevant. Soohen emphasized the importance of storytelling through documentaries, films and radio shows as a possible answer. “It’s the stories that we tell each other from our past and our future that are going to shape what becomes of the information,” Soohen said. This article has been shortened for print. To read the full story, visit


STORY LINES The department of visual and dramatic arts will celebrate the installment of a new student art exhibition, “Story Lines,” this Friday from 5 - 8 p.m. The exhibit features original work by students from professor Karin Broker’s fall semester drawing studio and will be on view at the Moody Center’s Flex Studio until May 17, 2020. The event is free and open to the public. Moody Center for the Arts 6100 Main St.

¡RITMO! This Saturday, join Hispanic Association for Cultural Enrichment at Rice for their annual cultural showcase, ¡Ritmo! Experience Latinx cultures with food, musical performances and a fashion show featuring Rice students and Houston community members. Dinner will be served at 6 p.m. and performances will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale now for $5 (members) and $7 (nonmembers) until Friday at 5 p.m. Tickets will be $10 at the door. Rice Memorial Center Grand Hall

KTRU COZY SHOW Bundle up and enjoy the sights and sounds of KTRU’s third annual Cozy Show this Saturday. Get in the spirit of the season with hot chocolate, snacks and a KTRU merchandise giveaway as local artist Juicebox Caviar performs at 8:15 p.m., followed by Los Angeles-based artist Lomelda at 9:15 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Valhalla courtyard

SEA OF OIL This Friday at 4 p.m., the Rice Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences will celebrate the release of “Sea of Oil,” a collection of stories navigating the cultural impacts of oil and gas on daily life in the face of global climate change, written by Houston artist Laura Napier. The book will be accompanied by a mixed media art exhibition which will be on view at Solar Studios until Dec. 13. The event is free and open to the public. Solar Studios Corner of Alumni Drive and College Way




courtesy young turks

According to my, I’ve listened to 2,767 albums this year — and there are still so many more to listen to. 2019 saw an enormous number of pivotal and groundbreaking releases. Here are 20 of my favorites, and why I think everyone should give them a listen. Also, don’t get on my back for not including insert-niche-pick-here. A girl has only so much time in the day. To listen to favorite tracks from the albums, mixtapes and EPs below, plus singles, check out my Spotify playlist online. At the top of the list is genre-bending, groundbreaking “MAGDALENE” from British singer and dancer FKA twigs, her first album in five years. Sorrowful and chock full of emotions, “MAGDALENE” will leave listeners breathless. Next, Houston-based singer Solange Knowles’ “When I Get Home.” As Houston residents, all Rice students should be required to give Solange’s fourth album a listen. Its rhythmic, melodic repetition and seamless transitions give the Space City a generous amount of credit for Solange’s musical success. Solange was not the only talent from Houston to shine this year. Rapper Megan Thee Stallion dropped “Fever” in the summer, a fast-paced mixtape that features Megan’s classic braggadocious rapping style

courtesy columbia records

and plenty of references to sex, money and partying. Houstonians can follow that with rapper Maxo Kream’s “Brandon Banks,” an album that features Megan on “She Live” and Travis Scott on “The Relays.” Returning to a more somber sound, listeners can head straight into their feelings with Angel Olsen’s “All Mirrors” or Weyes Blood’s “Titanic Rising,” both powerfully sentimental and complex records. Electronichybrid fans can find contemplative joy in multi-instrumentalist James Blake’s “Assume Form,” an electronic-based album heavy with hip-hop features. Although the album is sad in sound, “Assume Form” has a hopeful message, with a happy Blake who discusses his newfound love and purpose. For the inverse — an upbeat vibe with a depressing message — look no further than rock band Vampire Weekend’s first album in six years, “Father of the Bride.” Lighthearted and whimsical in sound, “Father of the Bride” talks about climate change and the Jewish diaspora, among other topics, and also features Steve Lacy, a member of the pivotal genre-bending band The Internet. Lacy himself dropped a fun, retro-inspired solo project this year, “Apollo XXI,” a blend of R&B and hip-hop that evokes Los Angeles in every track. Swinging back to LA-based listens, Tyler,

Review: ‘Queen and Slim’ aestheticizes Black trauma courtesy UNIVERSAL PICTURES


QUEEN AND SLIM Genre: Drama / Thriller

“What if God wanted me to die and I ruined His plan?” “Queen and Slim” had been on my mind since the film was announced. Written by Lena Waithe (“The Chi” and “Master of None”) and directed by Melina Matsoukas (“Formation”), “Queen and Slim” marketed itself as a film portraying The Great Black Love Story of our time by depicting police brutality from a Black perspective. It seemed too good to be true — and perhaps it was. I originally imagined it as something akin to the On the Run II Tour by Beyonce and Jay Z, but with the social awareness of critical race theory and the influence of work by activists such as Patrisse Cullors. The hype within and outside of the Black community was immeasurable as the ads rolled out and we saw two dark-skinned actors cast as Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith of “The Last Ship”) and Slim (Daniel Kaluuya of “Get Out”). If you are solely attuned to the visuals and music, you will most definitely be awestruck

and inspired. But if you are also attuned to the realities of protest culture, the harmful stereotypes surrounding Black love and the urgent necessity for Black people to create our own paths towards healing, you will be left frustrated and unsatisfied. “Queen and Slim” is raw — beautiful, toxic, fearful and bold — in its depiction of Blackness. Matsoukas is without a doubt a visionary. There are countless moments of powerful cinematography. The sizzle of catfish in a cast iron skillet. Delicate acrylic nails taking down 4c hair in long black braids. The shades of brown skin and brown eyes of a majority dark-skinned cast glowing in every type of lighting. Colorful shotgun houses in New Orleans. Black couples young and old dancing under lime green and red light in a tucked-away juke joint off a Mississippi country road. These images are perfectly complemented with Dev Hynes’ score and an impressive soundtrack including Lil Baby, Syd, Lauryn Hill and Blood Orange. “Queen and Slim” desires to tackle existential questions of how Black people — especially Black lovers — can exist outside of the White gaze, escape systemic violence and not only survive but thrive. There is much to applaud in Waithe and Matsoukas’ bravery to even allude to such questions. However, the nuance and contextual awareness needed to successfully engage with these questions was absent for most of the film. “Queen and Slim” name-drops and hints at

Christina Tan Editor-in-Chief

This is Flume” three years after his last album “Skin.” There are so many more to mention, but I’ll cap it off with Big Wild’s debut album “Superdream,” a lovable and accessible body of work that perfectly evokes the feeling of running through the woods. Before wrapping up this long list, I’ll point to some obvious picks. 17-year-old pop phenomenon Billie Eilish dropped her debut album, “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO” in January. Now the youngest person ever to be nominated for Grammys in four major categories (with six in total), Eilish pushes the limits of pop in her album with heavy bass, voice experimentation and impressive production by her brother, Finneas. Although the track “bad guy” is the best known, “bury a friend” and “my strange addiction” are personal favorites. Multi-genre artist Lizzo finally received deserved acclaim for “Cuz I Love You” with eight Grammy nominations. A pop album at heart, “Cuz I Love You” is chock full of feel-good ballads to sing in the shower. Beyond smash hits like the 2017 and 2016 releases “Truth Hurts” and “Good as Hell,” respectively, listeners should also give “Tempo” and “Water Me” a listen. Lastly, I wanted to highlight a few 2019 albums that deserve more attention. Art-pop quintet Bridal Party (shoutout to KTRU for the introduction) combines beautiful vocals with instrumentals that oscillate from somber to upbeat on their debut album “Too Much.” English artist Jai Paul’s “Leak 04-13 (Bait Ones)” is his first album release in seven years, since his wildly popular “BTSTU” shook MySpace listeners with its smooth electronic sounds. “Leak” features an album of unfinished tracks that were previously leaked in 2013, a traumatic experience for Paul that caused him to take his long hiatus. R&B artist Hope Tala rounds out this list: Her EP “Lovestained” is a must-listen for its hybrid, sensitive take on romance.

courtesy 1501 certified/300 entertainment

the Creator’s fifth album “IGOR” is his first to top the charts and has an impressive, uncredited features list, including Solange. “IGOR” is a proper follow-up to Tyler’s radical “Flower Boy;” a healthy mix of funk and hip-hop, “IGOR” further delves into Tyler’s exploration of his sexuality. Although it is nominated for a “Best Rap Album” Grammy, “IGOR” is far from being a traditional rap album — in its promotion, Tyler specifically wrote, “Don’t go into this expecting a rap album.” Those seeking innovative music that fits more squarely in the rap genre should check out Denzel Curry’s album “ZUU.” Twelve tracks long, “ZUU” falls under half an hour and never drops its energy. Follow that with rapper Young Thug’s debut studio album “So Much Fun,” a 19-track beast that has a stacked feature list, including J. Cole, Scott, 21 Savage and Lil Uzi Vert. “So Much Fun” is fresh, fun and serves as a litmus test to see if you like rap’s newest direction. Electronic lovers had yet another great year, as the genre continues to expand with burgeoning talent. Electronic prodigy Madeon returned after a four-year hiatus with “Good Faith,” an upbeat album that draws heavily on soul influences. Australian DJ Flume also returned from his own hiatus, releasing the wildly experimental, controversial mixtape “Hi

a few concepts such as black exceptionalism, black radicalism, the Black Panthers, prison labor, Assata Shakur and the Underground Railroad. But it felt as if the film’s script was outdated in terms of its politics and needed much more exploration into the implications of the symbolism it adopts. The film relies too heavily on “woke” one-liners and slam poetry-esque dialogue to add pseudo-depth, backstory and social context to quickly connect the dots of its underdeveloped storytelling. This led some Black critics to see the film as an ironic commodification of the struggle, a perpetuation of Black trauma as a genre, and a shallow work of protest art. These sentiments seem to be justified taking into account the problematic casting call for Queen, the leaked early version of the script and questionable commentary from Waithe. Waithe stated in a New York Times interview, referring to the death of four little black girls in the 1963 church bombing, “But if they didn’t [die], would we be as free as we are right now? There are so many sacrificial lambs in our past. It’s almost like Black death is necessary to set us free. And I grapple with that. All the time. That’s why I think I had to write this.” The film plays a dangerous game in arguing counterintuitively that the Black experience

is an inherently violent experience, by using an absurd and forced focus on meaning found only through death or close proximity to it. “Queen and Slim” requires a critical viewership who appreciates the way the lens frames Black mundane life and the power of the beautiful Black women behind it, but also acknowledges how the writing falls into several harmful Black stereotypes. It makes sense that there is a divide within the Black community as to whether this film is enough as it is or if it leaves much to be desired. Regardless, there is a very valid and visceral frustration for those of us who desire to imagine beyond our current reality and not be satisfied with the aestheticization of traumatic circumstances that we are all too familiar with on social media and in our communities. When a film like “Queen and Slim” selfproclaims that it is “our story,” we must hold it accountable to the fact that a “Black story” is not synonymous with pain and suffering. Our story is not limited to the distance between our hearts and a gun. Our story in America may have begun with suffering, but it must and will not end with it. Come to your own conclusions and support this new era of black cinema. See “Queen and Slim” in theaters now.

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KNIVES OUT Review: “Knives Out” revamps the classic whodunnit with wit “While they are plentiful in the world of literature, original works in the “whodunnit” subgenre are rare in film. With his newest film “Knives Out” though, filmmaker Rian Johnson has put the murder mystery genre up on the silver screen in extravagant fashion...”— Michael VerMeulen

FROZEN 2 Review: “Frozen 2” delivers more emotional depth than original “While ‘Frozen 2’ fails to provide the musical earworm that was ‘Let it Go,’ it elevates itself above its predecessor with a tonal shift that allows for more character growth while still retaining the franchise’s focus on familial love..” — Morgan Gage




Volleyball selected to face Oklahoma in NCAA Tournament MADISON BUZZARD SPORTS EDITOR

Volleyball will compete in the NCAA tournament after receiving an at-large bid to play against the University of Oklahoma in the first round during Sunday night’s Selection Show. For Rice students who wish to attend the match, a student bus will leave at 1 p.m. the day of the match in front of Tudor Fieldhouse. Tickets cost $3 for Rice students and are available at TicketMaster. After losing the Conference USA championship title to Western Kentucky University, the Owls were unable to secure an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. Regardless, Rice was almost certain to receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament because of its impressive RPI (No. 14 nationally), which is one of the primary determining factors in the tournament selection process. Head coach Genny Volpe said she feels the Selection Show committee handed Rice a fair first-round opponent in OU. “We’re definitely excited to get started,” Volpe said. “We feel that it’s a good matchup [for Rice]. I’ve seen Oklahoma play and they’ve got a good team but I feel like we’ve got a lot of strong pieces so we should match up well with them.” With regard to individual stars, Rice has many: junior outside hitter Nicole Lennon and sophomore middle blocker Anota Adekunle were named to the 11-women C-USA First Team this season, and three senior Owls — libero Lee Ann Cunningham, middle blocker Grace Morgan and setter Adria Martinez — earned 11-women C-USA Second Team honors. Lennon and Adekunle have stuffed the stat sheet: Lennon stands at No. 9 nationally in kills per set (4.83) and Adekunle ranks No. 6 nationally in hitting percentage (43.1). Lennon was named C-USA Offensive Player of the Week seven times, which set a Rice record and makes her a likely awardee for C-USA Player of the Year. OU has its own three-headed offensive monster: the Sooners’ top-three kill stuffers this season are outside hitter Ashlynn Dunbar (360), middle blocker Paige Anderson (239) and outside hitter Sarah Sanders (256). OU captured the Big 12 title and compiled a 19-8 season record. Volpe said Rice’s experienced players will stay focused on defeating OU. Volpe said she is confident in the Owls who competed in the

Joyce guo / THRESHER

Sophomore middle blocker Anota Adekunle, junior outside hitter Nicole Lennon and junior opposite hitter Kassidy Muse celebrate after winning a point during Rice’s Conference USA matchup against Florida International University. The Owls won that contest 3-1 and finished 13-1 in C-USA.

NCAA Tournament last season, although Rice lost in the first round to Texas State University. “The returning players are hungry to perform well,” Volpe said. “In the first round, we can’t look too far ahead at anything else. 100 percent, it helps that we went through [the loss to TSU] last year.” This season marks the third time in Owls history that the team has qualified for the NCAA Tournament with an at-large berth, according to Rice Volleyball’s Twitter. Volpe said the team strives for success beyond making the first round. “I know the team wants to play as long as possible and the coaches want to coach as long as possible,” Volpe said. Rice and OU are part of a four-team College Station group which also includes Texas A&M University and St. John’s University (NY). Whichever team emerges between the Aggies and Red Storm will face the winner of Rice vs. OU in the second round. Texas A&M would hold a home-court advantage in a potential matchup with the Owls. According to Volpe, Rice would receive also receive a boost from its fans because Houston is close to College Station. The Owls and Sooners will compete at Texas A&M University on Friday, Dec. 5 at 4:30 p.m. at Reed Arena.

2019 DIVISION I Women’s Volleyball Tournament

College Station Regional


12/5 - 6:30PM Texas A&M St. John’s (NY)

12/5 - 4:30PM Oklahoma

SECOND ROUND 12/6 - 6:30PM


12/6 - 4:30PM UCLA Notre Dame

12/6 - 7:00PM Illinois St.

SECOND ROUND 12/7 - 6:00PM


Season Recap: Football ends tough season on a positive note


Between swarming offensive and defensive linemen, graduate running back Aston Walter cuts upfield to pursue extra yardage. Walter rushed for 149 yards during Rice’s 30-16 win over UTEP.


In the season finale, Rice football defeated the University of Texas, El Paso 3016, outscoring the Miners 16-0 in the second half en route to their third consecutive victory on Saturday. The victory in Rice’s season finale improved the Owls’ final record to 3-9, a one-win increase over last year’s total and tied for Rice’s best finish since 2016. The Owls started the 2019 season 0-4 with

a challenging out-of-conference schedule. Rice dropped close contests against the Army Black Knights and No. 8 Baylor University before getting blown out by both Wake Forest University and the University of Texas. Though Rice’s offense struggled to gain traction, the defense shone against Army and Baylor, holding the two offenses to a combined 35 points. After the loss to Baylor, head coach Mike Bloomgren said he was optimistic about the team’s season. “I think [our play against top teams], the caliber of those teams really showed us where

we are as a program and where we want to be and that’s really exciting,” Bloomgren said in a Sept. 24 press conference. “The team’s goals are very clear. We want to win the conference. That conference trophy is at the very top.” But Bloomgren’s goals were not borne out. Rice’s offense continued to struggle and the Owls lost their first five games against Conference USA opponents, twice failing to top 10 points. Close, frustrating losses to Louisiana Tech University and the University of Texas, San Antonio offered Rice no respite. After a 20-6 defeat at the hands of Southern Mississippi University, Bloomgren said he was disappointed with the team’s offense. “The offense: it’s not good enough,” Bloomgren said in an Oct. 29 press conference. “Not even close. We’re still having problems protecting the ball. It’s really frustrating. I feel bad for the rest of our team that the offense is playing that way.” Though Bloomgren’s words were harsh, they had merit. Through this weekend’s games, Rice’s offense ranks No. 125 in yards gained and No. 123 in points scored per game: among the nation’s worst performers. Any way you slice it, Rice’s offense has been bad. The Owls were No. 110 in rushing yards, No. 118 in passing yards, No. 118 in total first downs and No. 116 in fumbles lost.

But Rice (and its offense) rebounded in its last three games of the season. Against Middle Tennessee State University, Rice scored 31 points in the first half, holding on for the victory despite going scoreless in the final two periods. The Owls repeated their high-wire act the next week against North Texas University, jumping out to a 20-0 halftime lead before again squeezing out the victory despite going scoreless in the second half. Saturday’s performance against UTEP was the offense’s most balanced scoring output of the season: the Owls scored 14 in the first half and 16 in the second. Rice’s running game led the way, with graduate running back Aston Walter and freshman quarterback Jovoni Johnson combining for 211 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. According to Bloomgren, the season ended on a high note. “[This team] made a decision to win their last three games, and to do everything they could for each other to ensure that happened,” Bloomgren said on Saturday. “Today is the culmination of that. It’s the culmination of our 2019 season, and it’s the start of something really cool too.” Next year, Rice will look to build on its end-of-season momentum to bolster its offensive firepower as the Owls attempt to make their first bowl game since 2014.





As the semester wraps up, it’s a good time to take stock of how Rice Athletics is doing as a whole. At this moment, we believe that there is good reason to be happy and optimistic with how the Owls are performing now and will perform in the future. On a sport by sport basis, Rice sports teams are ending the decade at a peak. The volleyball team is currently experiencing one of, if not the most, successful seasons in the team’s history. They earned an NCAA Tournament berth after finishing the regular season with a 24-2 record, including a landmark win over the University of Texas. Swimming has performed excellently in dual meets this season (3-1) and recently earned second place out of 13 teams at the Phill Hansel Invitational hosted by the University of Houston. Junior swimmer Brittany Bui won the 100-butterfly and the 200-butterfly during the Invitational and was recently named C-USA Swimmer of the Week. While football has experienced incredible lows over the past three years, they ended this season with three consecutive wins against Middle Tennessee State University, University of North Texas and University of Texas, El Paso. They even have a longer win streak than the University of Alabama! Next year, head coach Mike Bloomgren will have three years of players he has recruited himself, and Rice fans can be hopeful that the team can ride the momentum from the end of this season. In one of the biggest surprises in Rice sports this year, the men’s basketball team has had a spectacular start to their season. Currently sitting at 6-3, the Owls can reasonably get to 10 wins before the new year. Picked to finish second to last in the C-USA coaches poll, Rice is poised to prove the doubters wrong and could very well finish in the top half of the conference.

Grace Forbes recently became only the second freshman in Rice women’s cross country history to qualify for the NCAA Championships, where she placed No. 87 place out of 252 runners. During the team’s first season with head coach Brian Lee, soccer improved on the previous year’s win total by three games. Although the Owls fell to North Texas in the C-USA Championship semifinals, the team has several rising stars including sophomore midfielder Delaney Schultz and junior defender Mijke Roelfsema. Junior Jake Benson of the golf team has been putting together strong performances lately. He has seven top-10 finishes combined with last season and the start of this season. The reigning C-USA tournament champion will look to defend his crown this spring. Women’s tennis is coming off its sixth C-USA championship in seven years. Women’s basketball has experienced an up-and-down start to this season (4-3) but last year the team achieved their best season in history (28-4, C-USA Champions). Erica Ogwumike, who was named to the Wooden Award Preseason Top 30 Watch List, is probably the best player Rice has ever had. The team is certainly favored to win C-USA this season. Given we are a school of 4,000 undergraduates, our small pocket of student-athletes have outperformed expectations across many sports. Starting by making the trip to College Station on Thursday afternoon, we should show support for our spectacular studentathletes. MADISON BUZZARD & ERIC BARBER WILL RICE COLLEGE SENIOR & WILL RICE COLLEGE JUNIOR

Moody Movie Nights

Photo by Nash Baker

Join the Moody for free outdoor screenings. BYOB (Bring your own blanket). Popcorn will be served



Friday, December 6 ǀ 7pm

Saturday, December 7 ǀ 7pm




Adult Coloring Backpage to Relieve Finals Stress

Think of the merry and bright world around you, like Houston Zoo Lights. Or, pretend that your roommate’s string lights are Zoo Lights if you’re too busy to even take an hour-long break off campus.Your #lit room and the Zoo aren’t that different: both are essentially a place of trapped, stressed mammals surrounded by fluorescent bulbs.

Coloring books aren’t for kids anymore. Adult coloring books and apps have been all the rage for relaxation for years now. Finals are a rough time, so the Backpage has curated the most calming and powerfully symbolic images for you to color.

Turn a semester of Ls completely around with this token of good luck! Maybe, like Rice football, you’ve had a rough season up until recently. But, the Owls had their third straight win last week after nothing but losses, so you just need to channel that energy to really peck your finals.

Learn to let it go. “Frozen 2” is in theaters, and the Oscar-winning song from the original “Frozen” provides a valuable lesson. Final didn’t go well? Let it go. Paper submitted late? Let it go. Holding onto your last functioning brain cell after a tough semester? Let it go.Your last shred of motivation? Already gone.

Reflect on the last time you were truly carefree. That’s right, this is what you looked like during O-Week! You must have, or why did your advisors talk to you like you were an infant? It was a simpler time, when it was acceptable to wear the same shirt for a week — now, when you do it during finals, people are “concerned for your health and hygiene” and want to know if “you slept in Fondren for the third night straight,” or whatever.

Finish a strong semester even stronger with this token of good luck! If you’ve been working hard and it’s been paying off, congrats! The women’s volleyball team has been, too. They’ve been killing it this season and are onto the NCAA Tournament — let them inspire you and your finals will be no match.

The Backpage is satire, written by Simonet Matovic and designed by Simona Matissovic. For comments or questions, please email



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The Rice Thresher | Wednesday, December 4, 2019  

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