VOLUME 106, ISSUE NO. 5 | STUDENT-RUN SINCE 1916 | RICETHRESHER.ORG | WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2021
Majority of classes return to in-person instruction this week and next
AIDAN COLON / THRESHER ILLUSTRATED BY ROBERT HEETER
The majority of classes with 50 or more students will transition back to in-person learning between Sept. 20 and Sept. 27, following an email from the Office of the Provost announcing this return. Previously, courses with 50 or more students were kept online, even as other classes returned to in-person learning after the second week of the semester, according to an email from the Office of the Provost on Sept. 2. The latest change, sent to the Rice community Thursday Sept. 16, comes in response to a decline in COVID-19 cases on campus, as well as a lack of evidence of transmission within the classroom. During the week of Sept. 13, 18 of the 6,400 tests on
campus came back positive, according to Kevin Kirby, chair of the Crisis Management Committee, in his Sept. 20 COVID response weekly update. In an email to the Thresher, Provost Reginald DesRoches said the decision was made with feedback from instructors, students and parents in mind. “I consistently strive to get input from a broad scope of invested individuals when making decisions about course instruction,” DesRoches wrote. “I am in constant discussion with the university’s executive leadership team and our academic leaders.” Rebecca Smith, an assistant teaching professor in computer science, said in an email that the announcement last week initially came as a surprise, though
she understood the reasoning behind it. This fall, Smith is teaching COMP 215, an undergraduate course on program design, with over 50 students enrolled. “I’m encouraged to hear that there has been no classroom spread so far, and I hope that continues to be the case,” Smith said. “As long as it’s safe to do so, teaching in person is my preference.” According to last week’s email, instructors who wish to remain online for the remainder of the semester must submit a request to the Office of the Provost. DesRoches said so far, instructors of 12 courses with 50 or more students have made such a request and all have been granted the exemption.
SEE IN-PERSON CLASSES PAGE 2
Black Art at Rice: A Conversation with Chavonté Wright GRACE XU
FOR THE THRESHER
PHOTO COURTESY CHAVONTÉ WRIGHT
Editor’s note: This is an installment of Black Art at Rice, a Q&A series that aims to shed light on the inspirations, influences, wisdom and work of Black artists in the Rice community. Have someone in mind whose art should be spotlighted? Nominate them online. Chavonté Wright (Martel College ’16) works primarily in graphite and charcoal and draws from her personal experiences to depict realms ranging from Black literary figures to scenes reminiscent of her childhood as a native Houstonian. She reflects on how the Black experience inspires her work, particularly in the spaces within joy and suffering. Currently, Wright is a Ph.D. student studying sociology at Indiana University, and readers can explore more of her art at chavonte.com and @musemedit on Instagram. Rice Thresher: When did you get into art? Chavonté Wright: I started drawing seriously, if that can be said, in high school. I took an art class and I was like, “Okay, this is cool. I’m comfortable with graphite.” As a high schooler from Houston, I entered some work into [the Texas rodeo] and got a finalist award for this picture of spurs that I drew with graphite. From there I was like, “Okay, this is something that I really enjoy doing and working with.” I liked messing with the different shades, and so I took one art class at Rice … I enjoyed drawing there but ended up focusing on sociology.
RT: What was your time at Rice like, and how have your studies in sociology influenced your experiences with art? CW: I got into sociology at Rice because of my experiences in high school. I was the first in my high school to get into Rice, and that’s not because my friends aren’t smart. We had a new high school built, and they zoned all the students in apartment complexes below [a certain] income to that one school. We had metal detectors at the door. It was a different experience than I would see at the other high schools in the district that were less racially diverse and less socioeconomically disenfranchised. Once I got to Rice … I sat in on a sociology course, and it was the only place where people were talking about the things that I experienced. I became interested in education and inequality and race and gender and ethnicity. That has shown up in my work more recently with my focus on Black literary figures and Black children and with them dancing — which is an expression of joy and not them having to grow up too fast, by way of protesting or knowing realities of the world that they live in that force them to be vigilant in ways that children I don’t think should have to be, so soon. RT: What inspires you in your art? CW: I guess I’m inspired by things that I find interesting or beautiful. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve also drawn boyfriends because, you know, I find them beautiful at some point.
SEE BLACK ART AT RICE PAGE 9
2 • WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2021
THE RICE THRESHER
Rice hosts webinar discussing abortion law
FROM PAGE 1
IN-PERSON CLASSES In addition to these 12, some instructors had already petitioned to remain online for the semester, including senior lecturer Carissa Zimmerman, who said in an email she made the decision due to the spread of the Delta variant and the vaccination status of her six-year-old daughter, Amelia. “Though we recognize that the overall risk of Amelia catching COVID and being hospitalized is small, we believe it is still our responsibility to reduce that risk in every reasonable way that we can,” Zimmerman wrote. Sarah Roberts, a Lovett College sophomore, said she is taking SOSC 302 with Zimmerman this fall, along with PSYC 203 with senior lecturer Ozge Gurcanli, who also made the request earlier in the semester to remain online. Roberts said that while she understands their decision, it was disappointing news.
I think that the return to teaching face to face is inevitable. I hope that there will be no major outbreak on campus as a result of this change. Marek Kimmel STATISTICS PROFESSOR
ILLUSTRATION BY NDIDI NWOSU director for Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality, said. Merfish also said she views abortive Rice hosted a webinar on Tuesday procedures as similar to other medical discussing Senate Bill 8, its impacts on procedures, in that they relate to the Texan women’s abortion access today patient’s health. Merfish pointed out how and how reproductive restrictions have abortions, unlike other procedures, face historically impacted women. Held over a stigma and are often viewed differently, Zoom, the webinar featured four Rice which Michie said also resonated with professors, former Texas State Senator her. “[Merfish] Wendy Davis and spoke of how the CEO of Planned problematic it Parenthood Gulf is to speak of Coast Melaney We wanted people to have people being Linton. good information about a ‘pro-abortion,’ Sponsored by the when we do not School of Humanities, very confusing law with a speak of being School of Social lot of moving parts and a ‘pro heartSciences and the shockinly novel approach surgery’ or ‘pro’ Center for the Study to legal standing. other medical of Women, Gender procedures,” and Sexuality, the Helena Michie Michie said. webinar explored the SWGS Center Director D u r i n g challenges that this her introductory remarks, history new law poses for women’s health. During her opening remarks, Beth professor Fay Yarbrough said that Merfish, the associate professor of art Black and indigenous women are often history at the University of Houston, more heavily impacted by reproductive Clear Lake, said she feels there are several restrictions, sharing stories of historical valid and personal reasons why different contraceptive and abortive practices, as people choose to have an abortion, well as how. “As a historian, I wanted to remind emphasizing that abortion is a decision that many individuals encounter. Helena the audience that women’s desire to Michie, one of the webinar’s organizers, choose when/if to have children is not said that framing the issue through new,” Yarbrough wrote in an email to the Thresher. personal examples was helpful to her. Diana O’Brien, the Albert Thomas “These decisions are not uncommon and form part of the lives of many associate professor of political science, individuals and families,” Michie, said she hoped to provide the audience
with an accurate depiction of policy and public attitude with relation to the new law. “I wanted the audience to get the facts on public attitudes towards abortion in the United States and in Texas,” O’Brien said. “I wanted them to know what political science research says about influencing reproductive rights policy.” Michie said she felt that the panelists did an effective job of educating the attendees on the consequences of the abortion law. “All of the panelists reminded us that SB8 effects will be the most detrimental to poor women, rural women, and women of color who cannot afford the cost of travel, time off from work, or daycare that would allow them to seek an abortion outside of their home state,” Michie said. Michie said she and the other organizers hoped for the webinar to provide clarity on the law’s implications since its passage. “We wanted people to have good information about a very confusing law with a lot of moving parts and a shockingly novel approach to legal standing,” Michie said. O’Brien said she aimed to provide attendees with potential action items regarding the law, if they were interested in doing so. “I hope that the audience members left the teach-in with a sense of purpose, and some concrete steps they can take if they want to become more involved on this issue,” O’Brien said.
“I know that decision was made because they have children, so it’s super understandable,” Roberts said. “My only reservation is, at the beginning of the school year they were comfortable with teaching in person, and now it’s frustrating to see that that’s changed. Obviously for very respectful reasons, but it was a little bit disappointing.” Marek Kimmel, a professor in the statistics department, said he is looking forward to his course STAT 418/518, which has around 70 students currently enrolled, going back to in-person instruction, but is also wary of the change. “I think that the return to teaching face to face is inevitable,” Kimmel said. “I hope that there will be no major outbreak on campus as a result of this change.” Following the Sept. 2 announcement that kept large classes online, DesRoches said several instructors offered the large classrooms to others — between Sept. 3 and 15, there were 131 classroom reassignments. According to DesRoches, as of last Friday, Sept. 17, 79 of these had been accommodated, though he said he expects this number to increase this and next week. Smith said she anticipates it being a smooth return to an in-person format, and appreciated that faculty were given the flexibility to choose to return to in person instruction on either Sept. 20 or Sept. 27. “I also appreciated the willingness of the staff over in the office of the Registrar to work with me to ensure that I would have the classrooms that I need to teach my classes in an active learning format,” Smith wrote. DesRoches said the goal of the administration continues to be providing students a safe educational environment. “We believe these conditions allow for safe in-person learning,” DesRoches wrote. “However, we will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation on campus and in the community and make adjustments as needed.”
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2021 • 3
Mech lab renovated into Maxfield Hall for STATS department VIOLA HSIA
probability in their field,” Nakhleh said. Laura Schaefer, the head of the mechanical engineering department, Maxfield Hall held a ribbon cutting said she approved of the decision to move ceremony on Sept. 13, following renovations statistics into the building. Nakhleh said that beginning in fall of 2020 to convert the even though he was not dean at the time the previous Mechanical Laboratory into decision was made, he also approved of the a concentrated space for the statistics decision to renovate the building. “The [Mechanical Laboratory] was department. Its renovation was previously actually not scheduled to be utilized. I completed by May of this believe even the year. basement itself The building is Despite the major being was abandoned named after sponsors relatively small for STEM there, it was Robert and Katharine not used for Maxfield of the Maxfield at Rice, there hasn’t been Foundation, who much community within it. a n y t h i n g , ” Nakhleh said. contributed $5 million to The building the project. It provides Lila Frenkel now has a newly the statistics department STATISTICS MAJOR renovated its own building in the Engineering Quad, a department that is basement that has three huddle rooms, two normally housed in mathematics, according new registrar classrooms, conference rooms and newly renovated offices. to Luay Nakhleh, the dean of engineering. The building, one of the first constructed Nakhleh said statistics is a fundamental tool for at Rice in 1912, once housed spaces for the engineering in general. mechanical engineering department, along “It’s very hard with the Chao Center for Asian American to find any faculty Studies and the civil and environmental member doing engineering departments. research where Lila Frenkel, a statistics major, said she was they don’t use excited the department has its own building. statistics and “Despite the major being relatively small FOR THE THRESHER
for STEM at Rice, there hasn’t been much community within it,” Frenkel, a Duncan College senior, said. This renovation comes at a time of new construction and demolition at Rice; the university also has plans to build a new facility for the arts, and a new building for science and engineering. Nakhleh said the engineering department has outgrown its current space so the new engineering building is going to be a large addition for them. Some of their other departments, like the mechanical engineering department, which was once housed in the Mechanical Laboratory, have dealt with space issues. Schaefer said that the undergraduate student enrollment in the school of engineering comprises 40 percent of the university. Kayt Ribordy, a mechanical engineering major, said she would like to have a specialized space on campus to solve the space struggles the mechanical engineering department is currently
facing. “If there was a specific building for mechanical engineering classes, we could have classrooms that were more equipped for what we were doing,” Ribordy, a Martel College senior, said. According to Schaefer, the mechanical engineering department used to be housed in the nowdemolished Abercrombie, and since the Mechanical Laboratory was not utilized for mechanical engineering, the department is tight on space. “Our space needs are holding us back in providing the best Rice education that we can, and supporting the cutting edge research that can help address pressing societal problems,” Schaefer said. Nakhleh said he believes that the renovation of Maxfield Hall is the right step to providing other departments, like mechanical engineering, other cohesive spaces on campus. “We need to offer the best environment for our faculty to do the research for our graduate students to do the research, for our undergraduates to do, to have their best educational experience,” Nakhleh said. “We need to renovate space all the time, just to stay up to speed ... so I’m very excited about it.”
GAZI FUAD / THRESHER Maxfield Hall, one of the first buildings constructed at Rice in 1912 and previously the Mechanical Laboratory, was renovated to provide a centralized space for the statistics department in the Engineering Quad.
Working group proposes changes to undergraduate education requirements BONNIE ZHAO
ASST NEWS EDITOR Two recommendations, including introducing themes into distribution courses and removing prerequisites from distribution offerings, have been proposed to alter the undergraduate curriculum requirements by the General Education Faculty Working Group, according to Douglas Schuler, associate professor of business and public policy. Schuler presented these working group recommendations at the Sept. 20 Student Association Senate, after presenting them at the Sept. 1 Faculty Senate meeting. Of the six total recommendations included in the proposition on undergraduate general education, these two were discussed in depth during the Sept. 20 SA Senate meeting. Schuler said the goal is to introduce and interlace themes into distribution offerings, requiring students to take a course in each theme. According to Schuler, the current number of themes is undecided, but the expected number is four. Schuler said that the themes should reflect issues, values and competencies that are appropriate for students to be exposed to. Though relatively stable, the themes would be reviewed and updated about every five years, according to Schuler. The second recommendation is to eliminate classes that have prerequisites from distribution courses. Schuler said that about one third of classes in
The General Education Faculty Working Group proposed several changes to undergraduate education requirements, with some involving distribution course structure. distribution two and distribution three have prerequisites, which violates Rice’s General Announcements’ claim that distribution courses should be accessible to non-majors and not presume student’s special expertise.
In the SA Senate meeting, student leaders expressed some concerns over the proposed changes, including concern about whether the changes would restrict students’ freedom in choosing courses.
GAZI FUAD / THRESHER
Schuler said that SA senators will be sending out feedback forms to their respective colleges on this topic soon. The working group’s full report can be found on their website.
4 • WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2021
Rice working to launch diversity and inclusion course for first-year students
CHANNING WANG / THRESHER
Rice University student leaders and faculty are currently working to develop a required course on diversity and inclusion for freshmen, according to Alexander Byrd, the vice provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Byrd said that in the past, Rice was not sufficiently diverse to adequately reflect
on and begin addressing social problems that the university faces. “One of the things that excites me about Rice now is that we’re as diverse as we’ve ever been as a student body [and] that our human resources are greater than they’ve ever been,” Byrd said. “There are problems that we could not begin to solve given the human resources as they existed at the university in the 1920s and ’30s and ’40s.”
Nilka Montero, a diversity facilitator Byrd said he first proposed the course’s development with a colleague after co- co-coordinator, said that she also believes chairing a committee on the first-year the course is absolutely necessary. “Students at Rice come from all experience at Rice. “[The committee] raised questions … different types of backgrounds and having about what it meant to be oriented into a comprehensive course that teaches them the university and about what belonging about issues relating to [Diversity, Equity looks like at the university,” Byrd said. and Inclusion] can greatly help students “Then, we considered various ways that who might not be as familiar with these we could better serve new students. types of issues and concepts,” Montero, a One of the recommendations of that Sid Richardson College junior, said. Montero said that she also thinks committee was to think about a diversity and inclusion course that would be the course will increase student offered as part of orientation … [during] accountability. “[Rice students] will no longer be the first semester.” Kendall Vining, Student Association able to blame their ignorance or lack of president, said she has also had extensive exposure if they commit actions that lead to the exclusion involvement in of students with the early planning certain identities,” stages of the Montero said. “It course, through will definitely hold handling the [Rice students] will no students more logistics of a pilot longer be able to blame accountable.” program and their ignorance or lack of Byrd said each attending regular exposure if they commit session for the meetings to plan course will cover the course. Vining actions that lead to the a different facet said the course exclusion of students with of conversations would be a five- certain identities. surrounding week course. diversity and “It will be Nilka Montero inclusion. The five extremely similar DIVERSITY FACILITATOR CO50-minute class in structure and COORDINATOR periods are planned timing to [Critical to include a level Thinking in Sexuality],” Vining, a Martel College setting class that introduces key terms senior, said. “What we’re thinking is and issues, a class on the meanings and we can literally just take the blocks for consequences related to human identity students in CTIS and keep them together and what it means to identify in various and go on to [the diversity and inclusion ways, and a class dedicated to educating on microaggressions. The fourth class course].” Vining and other administrators will zone in on the perils and prospects of developed a pilot last semester where diversity at Rice, and the final class will tie freshmen could volunteer to participate in the ideas of the course together. According to Byrd, the course is still a trial run of the course. “We did the pilot program with students in an ongoing development process. As and had a really honest time to be like: of now, it is unclear whether the course ‘okay, what’s working with this? What’s will launch next fall. Vining said the course is a reaction to not working with this?’” Vining said. Taylor Crain (Lovett College ’21) said the existing campus culture. “We’ve seen how, as diverse of a she worked closely with Vining in the early ideation and research for the course. campus that Rice is … we kind of all come Crain said she believes the course is together freshman year and we aren’t extremely important given present-day really educated enough about how to interact with people who are different social circumstances. “I think [the diversity and inclusion from you and why you should value them course] is important because we are in a being different from you,” Vining said. Crain said that, despite the challenges social climate of heightened racial hate and white supremacist violence partially in developing the project, she has due to emboldenment by prominent admired Byrd and others’ handling of the media and political figures as well as course’s development thus far. “As with any initiative like this, there are fear-mongering,” Crain said. “Racial issues do not exist in a vacuum. They logistical and administrative constraints,” are conditioned beliefs perpetuated Crain said. “I look forward to seeing how this systemically through various institutions, initiative ... becomes even more interwoven media, and communities.” in the academic experience at Rice.”
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2021 • 5
THE RICE THRESHER
Turn your attention to volleyball
After this past weekend, and football’s out for them so far. Due in large part to embarrassing defeat at the hands of the three games against top-15 ranked teams, Longhorns, it’s possible that much of the team is 5-4 going into their matchup the Rice community is un-rhetorically against Texas, the final one of their nonechoing JFK and asking themselves: Why conference schedule. We’ve seen this before. Last year, the does Rice play Texas? The answer, of course, is volleyball. team started 1-3 in non-conference play Tonight, Rice Volleyball will take on No. before going undefeated in conference 1 University of Texas, Austin at Tudor play and capping off their regular season Fieldhouse; their third matchup in as with a win over Texas. If this year’s team many seasons. In 2019, the Owls defeated wants to repeat last year’s turnaround, the then-ranked No. 3 Longhorns in front they could really use a statement win of a packed crowd at Tudor. Last year, right about now. And that’s they went to Austin where you come in. and knocked off Last week, a sizable No. 2 UT volleyball portion of the Rice for the second We can’t promise you population made straight season. they’ll win. We can’t even the three-hour This is becoming trek to Austin to one of the best — if promise you a good game. watch our football slightly one-sided But we can promise it’ll be team fail to muster in recent years — better than 58-0. a single point on rivalries in college volleyball, and another chapter will be Saturday night. This week, we have a written on this very campus in a few game that promises to be one of the most important in the entire NCAA volleyball hours. Volleyball’s season is at a bit of a season in our own backyard. Volleyball is playing the top-ranked crossroads. They entered this season ranked No. 23 in the country, returning team in the country, with a legitimate shot every player from last year’s team that of winning. Rice students have a chance entered the NCAA tournament with high to show up, create a hostile environment expectations before being forced to exit for UT, and impact the game. We owe due to COVID-19 protocols. With every volleyball every bit as much support as member of last year’s relatively young we gave football, if not more. We can’t promise you they’ll win. We team improved, the team expected big things this year. Unfortunately, a brutal can’t even promise you a good game. But non-conference schedule has not panned we can promise it’ll be better than 58-0.
CORRECTIONS The sit-in photo in “Board of Trustees releases comment portal after Task Force’s findings” was courtesy Shifa Rahman, not taken by Channing Wang for the Thresher. In the Weekly Scenes and Screens, “SunForceOceanLife” tickets include general admission. The photo for “Kapwani Kiwanga makes Houston debut in new Moody exhibit” was courtesy Kapwani Kiwanga and Galerie Jérôme Poggi, Paris, not the Moody Center for the Arts. The Backpage in Volume 106, Issue No. 4 was written by Timmy Mansfield and Ndidi Nwosu, not Simona Matovic.
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If you care about people, care about the Texas abortion law I am absolutely terrified about the cannot survive carrying a child or state of abortion access in Texas and that you need lifesaving treatment the U.S. after the passage of S.B. 8. that cannot be administered during When I came to Rice, I did not think pregnancy. For these people, to deny that it would mean giving up some of them abortion access is to deny them my fundamental rights. I am a woman, necessary healthcare. Just because our and while I have never had an abortion I bodies are capable of giving birth, that know that I might get pregnant at some does not make it acceptable to force us to complete point in my life a pregnancy. and that it might Remember, this not be my choice. can all happen It is a fear and even if you wanted a fact that every You may get pregnant to get pregnant. person with a and then find out that Unfortunately, uterus must live your body simply cannot there are all too with. Even if I survive carrying a child... many people who do get pregnant do not get that exactly when I For these people, to deny choice. There want to and how I them abortion access is are over 450,000 want to, anything to deny them necessary victims of rape could happen. and sexual assault In the best- healthcare. Just because in the United case scenario, our bodies are capable States every year, pregnancy is a of giving birth, that does and about 30,000 nine-month-long not make it acceptable of them will physical and become pregnant p s y c h o l o g i c a l to force us to complete a as a result of that ordeal where pregnancy. rape. Additionally, your body and mind shift in ways that are totally out every three seconds someone in the of your control, culminating in hours U.S. is assaulted by a partner. This of unimaginable pain, and followed by abuse often starts or worsens during months (or years) of dealing with the pregnancy, which may itself be a result physical aftermath, all while caring for of the abuse. Pregnant women who have a child that relies on your traumatized experienced domestic violence are more body for nutrients at all hours of the day likely to have suicidal ideations than and night. And that’s if everything goes other pregnant women, who are in turn right. Abortion must be an option, as almost twice as likely to be suicidal any pregnancy is too dangerous to force as the general population. All of the trauma and fear surrounding every on someone. On top of that, there are so many pregnancy applies to these people as things that can happen along the way. well, but it is compounded by the daily You may get into an accident that will reminder of the violent loss of their force your doctors to choose between bodily autonomy. So you should care that the right protecting you or the fetus. Don’t be fooled into thinking that they will choose to choose is disappearing in Texas you. As soon as a person gets pregnant, and show it by protesting this law and the world forgets their humanity, putting pushing for it to be overturned. Care an unborn child over a living, breathing for the woman who was raped by her human woman. Doctors often prioritize abusive husband. Care for the person fetal health over that of the pregnant who desperately wanted a baby but person in trauma scenarios, despite also desperately wants to survive their that going against medical guidelines. cancer diagnosis. Care for the teenage Additionally, many simply do not know girl who fell in love but just isn’t ready to how to properly diagnose an injured be a mom. Care for your fellow students pregnant patient. Even everyday care who are scared. Care for me, a human becomes complicated, as to protect being, who has no idea what is going to the fetus pregnant people are advised happen but knows that she has the right not to use many simple treatments, to make the best choice for herself. from cold medicine to anti-anxiety pills. And pregnancy itself has myriad possible complications that range from Lila Greiner unpleasant to deadly (especially in WILL RICE COLLEGE the U.S., where the maternal mortality SENIOR rate is the worst among industrialized countries). You may get pregnant and then find out that your body simply
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The Rice Thresher, the official student newspaper of 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. on the Friday prior to publication and must be signed, including college and year if the writer is a Rice student. The Thresher reserves the right to edit letters for content and length and to place letters on its website.
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6 • WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2021
THE RICE THRESHER
Amid COVID-19, HackRice11 is the largest ever ZOE KATZ
FOR THE THRESHER After more than a year of learning via Zoom lecture, Max Yu, Victor Song, Kaichun Luo and Lorraine Lyu were well-equipped to recognize flaws in this key component of pandemic education. Last Friday, they decided to make an improvement to the system. Together, the four students coded Thoth, a tool that makes both Zoom lectures searchable and manageable by condensing 40-minute recordings into pages of notes. The four students created this project for HackRice, a coding competition in which teams of four have 36 hours to write and submit a project. This year marked the 11th edition of the event, which featured 429 Rice students and 120 non-Rice registrants — the largest HackRice ever. According to the team of HackRice11 directors, Lucia Lu, Ryan Draper, and Eddie Xiong, their advertising and many last minute sign-ups increased the level of participation. “We publicized [the event] in every collegewide ... GroupMe and Facebook group,” Draper, a Lovett College junior, said. “We were anticipating about 300 students to register, but [on] our last day, we got 150 [more] responses.” Thoth, which was declared the winner of the competition on Sunday, faced a couple bumps along the way, according to Yu, a Martel College senior. In the end, the team of four was able to code a working prototype. “We actually had an accident where we realized our plan A wasn’t working, and we were able to immediately fix it, and grind everything out,” Yu said. The directors said they hosted workshops before the event to encourage accessibility for less experienced coders. According to Draper, this year’s HackRice
Camille Kao / THRESHER
This year’s HackRice had more participants and a higher percentage of first-time hackers than ever before, according to Ryan Draper, a student director.
saw an unusually high number of first-time second place for their project, VoiceOver, that converts videos competitors. of sign language to “It’s the highest automated speech. proportion of first“I was watching time hackers that I was very impressed some random we have seen, with how they made the YouTube video particularly in where they were comparison to whole event accessible struggling with HackRice10,” he online. I feel like it a deaf person said. didn’t compromise the speaking up,” Ali Khokhar, Khokhar said. a Sid Richardson in-person experience. I “Everyone else was College freshman, think they did a great job talking over him. said HackRice11 was of balancing those two I decided, why his first hackathon. [aspects]. shouldn’t he get He and two other the chance to speak members of his team Thomas Kaldahl up?” attended a computer BAKER COLLEGE SOPHOMORE T h o m a s vision workshop at Kaldahl, a Baker College sophomore, Duncan Hall before HackRice began. Khokhar, along with Huzaifa Ali, worked with David Zhao and Elizabeth Abdullah Jahangir and Taha Hasan, won Sims to code AbleTube, an extension
Things Fall Apart 1
FOR THE THRESHER 8
JAYAKER KOLLI AND NIKHAZ OMAR
that makes YouTube more accessible for people who are physically disabled. AbleTube won third overall in the competition. “This is our first time doing anything like this,” Kaldahl said. “The majority of our group [had] actually never touched any of these programming languages [before].” With the rise of the Delta variant in Houston, COVID safety concerns arose, according to the HackRice11 directors. “There were a lot of plans we had for in-person [events] that we ended up having to change,” Draper said. The directors said they set up many precautions to make HackRice11 adaptable to a hybrid format: No eating was allowed inside, every event with an in-person option had a capacity limit and food was served in waves to prevent large crowds. Xiong said that the HackRice11 directors also worked closely with the Rice Crisis Management Team. While hackers were allowed to remain remote for the event, a large portion of HackRice11 took place in the Rice Memorial Center, where COVID guidelines were well implemented, according to Yu. “We had a seat limit, and anyone who couldn’t find a seat couldn’t work in the RMC,” he said. “[The COVID safety guidelines] were for the best.” Kaldahl said that he recognized the work the HackRice committees put in, specifically in providing a dual-delivery experience for the event. “I was very impressed with how they made the whole event accessible online,” Kaldahl said. “I feel like it didn’t compromise the in-person experience. I think they did a great job of balancing those two [aspects].”
1 Taxis 5 Raptor with Barn or Great Horned species 8 Major of many Rice Eclipse students, abbr. 12 In ____ of 13 Milk’s favorite cookies 15 Groot is a sentient one 16 Dutch cheese often covered in red wax 17 Clutch 18 River with White and Blue tributaries 19 “Hi-ho, the derry-o, the ______ __ ___ ____” 22 Where one might find a bun 23 Wolf prefix, on a full moon 24 Act components 27 Adieu 31 Hispanic org. at Rice 32 Satisfies 33 Common citation style in HUMA courses 34 Suffix for Hyder or Ahmed 35 Kentucky Derby and Indianapolis 500 36 Utah city near Arches National Park 37 Soviet space station 38 Suggest 39 Cultural event put on by 31-across 40 Malnourished 42 Daunting algebra for engineering students 43 Tuna in reverse? 44 Chill study beats 45 Subject of annual contentious draft in friend groups 52 South American berry found in namesake bowls 53 A donkey 54 Frequent furnisher of frustrating furniture 55 Kelly Marie who played Rose in The Last Jedi 56 Floodbank 57 Deontological German philosopher 58 Brenda who played London Tipton and Wendy Wu 59 Road substance 60 Middle Earth beings which resemble 15-across
1 Comes in bass and treble varieties 2 Title Ethiopian princess in Verdi opera 3 Pooh or Yogi 4 Beckoned 5 Hatch of Utah 6 Ease (off) 7 Sweat 8 Brand of Code Red or Baja Blast 9 Great Lake that borders Cleveland and Buffalo 10 Unit of life discovered by Robert Hooke 11 Achilles had a weak one 13 Shrek and Fiona 14 Balls 20 Happily ____ after 21 “You are,” in Mexico 24 Troubled orca at SeaWorld San Diego 25 Uncle Tom’s _____ 26 Digital Hallmark offering 27 Confronted 28 React, virtually 29 Kuzco was a groovy one 30 Work 32 Plan B? 35 Rejection 36 Pocket Rocket 38 Major comp. of ribosomes 39 Great divide 41 Chowing down 42 Some teeth or change 44 One who misplaces things often? 45 Oil, lard, butter, etc. 46 Prefix for bat and polis 47 Flatbread, in one of 34-across 48 Mediterranean bean 49 Large ethno-linguistic group of Ghana 50 Pre-Easter fast 51 Back muscles, colloquially
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2021 • 7
Got Here’s Where to Spend Your Tetra Points Tetra? LAUREN YU
FOR THE THRESHER
Anyone who has attended a Rice campus tour has heard stories about how students use their Tetra points, which are $1 points that can be used at on-campus restaurants and cafés. Some seniors spend their four years at Rice hoarding Tetra to save up for a dog from the Rice Farmer’s Market before graduation — so say the tour guides, at least. But not everyone is fortunate enough to conserve their Tetra for a full year, or even a whole semester. If your student ID is burning a hole in your wallet and you’re looking to (affordably) spend on meals outside the serveries, look no further than this list of Tetra-accepting food and drink options available on campus.
RICE COFFEEHOUSE Rice Coffeehouse, or simply “Chaüs,” is one of Rice’s student-run businesses that accepts Tetra. Chaüs is a staple for many Rice students in need of a caffeine fix or a lively study spot. In addition to various food items such as muffins, brownies and bagels, Chaüs offers a large selection of caffeinated and non-caffeinated drinks — along with the chance your order was made by a classmate. From lattes to mango smoothies to specialized drinks like the hazelnut-and-honey-flavored Nutty Bee, you’re guaranteed to find something you’ll want to spend your Tetra on. Stop by Chaüs, on the first floor of the Rice Memorial Center, from 7:30 a.m. to midnight from Monday through Thursday, and slightly different hours Friday through Sunday.
THRESHER STAFF REC
Iced Milky Way
CHANNING WANG / THRESHER
EAST-WEST TEA East-West Tea is Rice’s student-run boba tea shop. East-West Tea’s menu features a variety of milk teas, fruit teas and toppings, though the boba tea shop also offers alternative drinks like strawberry lemonade. Although East-West Tea hasn’t been open for a year — Marketing Manager Emma Yang says half of their business challenges have been caused by the pandemic — Yang says that the staff is hard at work planning their long-awaited reopening. Located in the RMC, EastWest Tea was previously open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m., though its staff are working to expand its hours, according to Sales and Kitchen Manager Dylan Chorley. Keep on the lookout for East-West Tea’s upcoming reopening, planned for Sept. 30.
THRESHER STAFF REC
Taro Milk Tea
LITTLE KITCHEN AT BROCHSTEIN PAVILION Little Kitchen at Brochstein Pavilion offers a number of different food options including sandwiches, salads, tacos and soups, in addition to a selection of coffees and sodas. Although it has a reputation for being a little on the expensive side, Little Kitchen is a common spot for students to get a break from servery food while socializing or studying at Brochstein. Little Kitchen at Brochstein Pavilion is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.
THRESHER STAFF REC
Almost Thanksgiving sandwich
AMBASSADOR CHINESE CAFÉ During hours of sunlight when the Hoot isn’t open, its nook is occupied by Ambassador Café. This outlet, a satellite of the Houston restaurant Ambassador Chinese, offers lunch that departs from the usual servery fare: a selection of inexpensive Chinese American food like lo mein, dumplings and various soups. You can stop by Ambassador Café in the RMC, across the Rice Bookstore, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. from Sunday to Friday.
THRESHER STAFF REC
KATHERINE HUI / THRESHER
THE HOOT Whether you’re up late studying or you forgot to pass by a servery before 7:30 p.m., The Hoot is your go-to for late-night food cravings. The Hoot is student-run and offers a variety of foods like Papa John’s pizza, Raising Cane’s chicken and Oui Banh Mi sandwiches. The Hoot also offers drinks and snacks, including chips and instant ramen. The Hoot is open Sunday through Thursday from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. and can be found on the first floor of the RMC across from the Rice Bookstore.
THRESHER STAFF REC
SANDY WU / THRESHER
LITTLE BIRD AT SAMMY’S Little Bird is a family-owned local business that serves chicken tenders, tacos, burgers, and pizza, among other dishes. Little Bird also offers vegetarian options and sources ingredients from local vendors, according to Rice Dining. Little Bird can be found in Sammy’s in the RMC and is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
THRESHER STAFF REC
8 • WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2021
THE RICE THRESHER
Rice returns to in-person theater
ILLUSTRATION BY NDIDI NWOSU
THRESHER STAFF From canceled shows to Zoom rehearsals and socially distanced performances, theatre students and faculty at Rice have spent the past year adapting to the shifting restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. When COVID-19 forced students back home during Cole Thompson’s freshman year, they had the chance to witness firsthand some of the initial attempts at remote theater at Rice. Thompson, a Martel College junior, said that the student-written show they were involved in got converted into a radio play, and that they continued to participate in remote theater productions the following year. “I’ve done my best to stay involved with theater throughout COVID,” Thompson said. “It’s really been very, very fun to see how people have adapted to remote theatre, [which] gradually increased in production and scale as COVID wore on and people realized that this wasn’t a temporary thing.”
As restrictions are lifted though, Rice theatre is starting to make a gradual return to their regular activities. The Rice Players, Rice’s oldest studentrun theatre group, organized “Play in a Day,” where teams of students were allotted 24 hours to write, rehearse and perform a play. Hosted every semester, “Play in a Day” took place in person for the first time since spring 2020 and garnered an audience of almost 200 people, according to Rice Players Coordinator Bria Weisz. In addition to coordinating with Crisis Management to ensure safety and contact tracing during the event, Weisz said that there were some aspects of in-person theatre that the Rice Players had to get readjusted to. “It’s a wonderful, chaotic experience since we are performing … five plays that hadn’t existed before [this year],” Weisz, a Brown College junior, said. “Since we hadn’t [hosted the event] in person in a year, there were a lot of logistics that we needed to think about now, such as having tech [for] lighting and sound design, just making sure that everyone
REVIEW: ‘MONTERO’ Genre: Pop-rap/pop punk Top Track: “MONTERO”
SENIOR WRITER There’s usually so much to say about Lil Nas X. There’s not a lot to say about “MONTERO”, at least not in the way that I expected going into the album. Lil Nas X has always been the moment since his country-trap fusion went on a run of historic pop dominance. Lil Nas X justified his omnipresence with music just as dominant as his personality— tracks like ”MONTERO”
and “INDUSTRY BABY” still have a headlock on every Rice party’s Spotify queue. However, Nas X’s debut album, “MONTERO”, proves that capturing the zeitgeist over the course of an album is much harder. “MONTERO” superficially wants to be a generational album, a technicolour combination of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” and Post Malone’s “Beerbongs & Bentleys,” as evidenced by the gaudy visuals and continuous hype. Unfortunately, by the second track “DEAD RIGHT NOW,” we’re introduced to the commitment to “good-notgreat” that plagues this album. Dragging for
was in the right places at the right time [and] adjustment back to in-person theatre has been a challenge as well. having to schedule meals and snacks.” “Last semester, I was involved in the Rice Matthew Alter, a Wiess College sophomore who acted in “Play in a Day’’ and will be Players’ production of the Laramie Project ... participating in upcoming productions and that was the first show that I was heavily by both Rice’s Visual and Dramatic Arts involved in in person,” Thomspon said. department and Wiess Tabletop, said that “Even more so with this semester … having to his experience reminded him of how theatre physically be present in the theatre has been something that I’m honestly still adjusting to. was before the pandemic. “[Play in a Day] was probably the first It’s been tiring, to be honest, but it has been theatre production at Rice this school year, very nice.” College theatre groups, such as Wiess so we really got to see the change in theatre from last semester to this semester,” Alter, Tabletop, have been planning more events said. “That manifested itself in a little bit less for this semester as well. Sid Richardson social distancing, [while] still wearing masks College’s theatre committee and Wiess and still being safe, but the audience was Tabletop are collaborating on a musical more present … It just felt more like a show.” production of “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love Rice’s theatre program, directed by and Murder.” Wiess Tabletop intends to Christina Keefe, has also been preparing start producing shows every semester and for a production of “On the Verge; or, the Hanszen College’s theater group is organizing Geography of Learning” performing Oct. an open mic night. Outside of preparing for performances, 8-10 in Hamman Hall. Without the six-foot social distancing Thompson said that they think Rice theatre was still able to required in last maintain a stable years’ productions community. and the return to “While we all in-person classes, Each show we do is such enjoy doing theater, Keefe said that the a big step in terms of that’s not necessarily program was able to the only thing that regain some of the theatre at Rice, student we can bond over,” normalcy lost over involvement and normalcy. Thompson said. ”A the past year. lot of times it’s just a “The good MATTHEW ALTER boba run, or running news is … we never WIESS COLLEGE SOPHOMORE into another theatre stopped teaching in the classroom. I, and a number of my kid and then just slowly assembling a mass colleagues in the visual arts department, while you’re [at] Chaus or something.” This November, Rice Players will produce requested [in-person instruction] from the Provost, because we’re teaching classes “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress,” and that are [hands on and] need to be taught in the Rice Players and VADA department will person,” Keefe said. “We were all in person, co-produce a musical in the spring semester. which was really a godsend, because I think With these upcoming performances, Alter if we didn’t have that momentum, it would said he feels optimistic about Rice theatre. “Hopefully, with all of that involvement be really hard then to pick up in the middle and try to create that feeling of family, from two big forces of theatre at Rice and community and ensemble, which is what more normalcy, that will be a big step,” Alter said. “Each show we do is such a big step in you really need [in theatre].” Thompson, currently the stage manager terms of theatre at Rice, student involvement for “On the Verge,” said that they think the and normalcy.” a painstaking 3:41, “DEAD RIGHT NOW,” meanders through boring trap hats and lowpassed horns. While the downcast lyrics are interesting, the production doesn’t rise to the occasion (save for a gospel choir pre-chorus). Unlike iconic pop albums, “MONTERO” doesn’t give the impression that it’s firing on all cylinders. To some extent, “MONTERO” reminds me of Olivia Rodrigo’s “sour.” Both were highly anticipated releases with singles that created enormous hype for the albums that they ended up carrying. Just like “sour,” Lil Nas X’s pre-album singles promised a range of emotions, but the album itself remains much more single note. Despite the happy-go-lucky approach of his singles, Lil Nas X fills much of “MONTERO” with reflective, melancholic tracks. A few notable cuts — “LOST IN THE CITADEL” and “ONE OF ME” — work out the balance between lyrics, vocal variation and production, but most of the back half of the album meanders. The silver lining of the moodiness is that it makes the moments of joy stand out
even more. The titular “MONTERO” is one of the best pop songs of the last decade, dancing over an uncommon and tense V-VI deceptive chord progression into queer euphoria. “THATS WHAT I WANT,” an early contender for the next single, bounces a tale of desire over pop punk acoustic guitar and hand claps. By the time it explodes into the chorus, it treats us to a wonderful harmony culminating in a yelled “that’s what I fucking want!” that feels like the most genuine point of the album. I must confess that “MONTERO” feels like a grower, but for the time being, it falls short of the lofty expectations its world-shattering singles set. Some of the most lyrically interesting songs fall flat on production. At the same time, some of the most musically interesting songs fall flat on Lil Nas X’s vocal performance. The high points of “MONTERO” prove that Lil Nas X has a classic in him but simultaneously prove that this isn’t that classic. This story has been condensed for print. Read the full article online at ricethresher.org.
WEEKLY SCENES AND SCREENS LATIN DANCE FACTORY MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL
HOUSTON LATIN FEST
Join the Latin Dance Factory for their monthly Salsa, Bachata and Cumbia dance lesson and party. The event is on the rooftop of Ivy Bar on Sept. 24 at 8:30 p.m. Entry is free.
Attend the annual Houston Latin Fest Sept. 26 from 1 to 10 p.m. in Midtown Park for music, food and more. Pre-sale tickets are $10 and are available for purchase online.
Join the Rice Chinese Students & Scholars Association to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival on Sept. 25 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the RMC. Tickets will be sold through Sept. 24 in front of the Grand Hall from 12 to 2 p.m. and 3 to 5 p.m. starting at $3 for Rice students who purchase tickets ahead of the event.
HOUSTON FOOD FEST
Get a taste of some of Houston’s finest food trucks and enjoy live music at the South Houston Food Fest on Sept. 26 from 12 to 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and available online, and entry is free for those who arrive before 11 a.m.
WEDNESDAY, SPETEMBER 22, 2021 • 9
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Rice Coffeehouse celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with new items
of lime, salt and chile, which provide nice subtle hints throughout the drink. FOR THE THRESHER Both ingredients together add a touch When walking from Fondren Library of spicy flavor, which contrasts quite to Rice Coffeehouse on a Saturday nicely against the sweet, cool mango. It’s afternoon, don’t be surprised by the vast light, refreshing and highly reminiscent number of students that pass by sharing of summer. The mangonada can be bright neon orange drinks and pieces purchased as a medium for $3.50 and a of delightfully warm, sweet dough. large for $4, and $0.25 per drink will be In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, donated to TEJAS. Unlike the mangonada, which has Rice Coffeehouse is serving housemade mangonadas and locally supplied been popularly sold in previous years conchas through Oct. 15. A portion of at Coffeehouse, the conchas are a brand the revenue from these new items will new seasonal addition to the menu. be donated to the Texas Environmental Conchas, a traditional Mexican pastry, are offered in both vanilla and chocolate Justice Advocacy Series. flavors Friday In valuing through Sunday sustainability for $1.50 each, and and honoring $0.50 per concha H i s p a n i c I think people are just will go to TEJAS. Heritage Month, really excited to either try Emily Weaver, Coffeehouse has something they grew up the food manager selected TEJAS and eco-rep at to donate part eating or something that Coffeehouse, of these new they’ve never had before. played a large role products’ profits in bringing the to. TEJAS focuses EMILY WEAVER conchas to the Rice on environmental COFFEEHOUSE FOOD MANAGER community. justice work “Growing up, I would go to bakeries and advocacy, supporting local Latin American communities in Houston with and get conchas and I really liked them,” dual language presentations in cases with Weaver, a Jones College senior, said. the Environmental Protection Agency, “As soon as I brought the idea up to the mitigating pollution and more. Their management team, a lot of people were leadership is completely Hispanic, so really excited about it.” In order to source conchas from local naturally, it was fitting that Coffeehouse chose to support their organization in panaderias — Mexican bakeries — in Houston, Weaver worked closely with honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. The mangonada, a new take on the Hispanic Association for Cultural Rice Coffeehouse’s mango smoothie, Enrichment at Rice to set up a weekend consists of the smoothie itself topped pick-up system with La Casa Bakery with chamoy and tajín seasoning. throughout Hispanic Heritage Month. Chamoy is a spiced sauce typically used During the weekend that the new items in Mexican cuisine, while tajín consists launched, Weaver reported that she
FROM FRONT PAGE
BLACK ART AT RICE But when you do that and you give that away, they don’t always appreciate that. I had to grow up and I did a self-portrait — love yourself — and from there became more interested in capturing Black figures and whatever inspired me, which ended up being Toni Morrison, someone asking me to draw James Baldwin and Black children. RT: What are your thoughts on Black representation in art? CW: I think in my life I have been very much affected by mass media as a tool to raise awareness in the images of brutalized, dead or dying Black people in videos. It has shaped who I am to an extent, just in how I think about the world. When I think about Black representation in art, I think as an artist, we have an opportunity to do several things: We can raise awareness to violence and brutal things that happen, which I think is important and to some extent has helped us a bit. We can call attention or put on display moments of joy or happiness, and I think that has a place in achieving something. Personally, after going through a phase of sharing all of those images and posting all of these traumatic things that I think we should respond to, I’ve gotten to a place now where I’m interested in capturing the beauty or joy of the beautiful or joyful moments that Black people have, or maybe someplace in between. It’s like when you dance, sometimes you might make an ugly face because you’re really getting into it. I think that’s part of the tension of being Black and being alive. It’s a joyful experience. But the only reason why we know joy is because we know suffering so well, and that’s part of the human experience for everyone. Sometimes you dance just to survive. I remember being at Rice and those times being so stressful, but that’s kind of part of it. It’s that tension between joy and sorrow that we, the artists, can put on display for people to see.
RT: What has your art journey been like, from high school until now? CW: I took a break for a long time because I was so focused on academics. I was a teacher for a year and went to Indiana for graduate school. Bloomington was not diverse. I really missed being around Black kids and a lot of Black people … There, I found myself with a lot of time to myself, and with that, I tried to get back into drawing. I did a self-portrait, and then I drew Toni Morrison after she passed away, who was a Black literary figure, and got into some art stuff with some graduate students who were doing art history. Once I moved back home in the middle of the pandemic, I saw that George Floyd was from Houston and him being in the Midwest and going through what he went through, I felt kind of the same way — I was like, “This is not the South.”
JOSH DAVIS / THRESHER Rice Coffeehouse will serve mangonadas and conchas in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, with a portion of the proceeds going to TEJAS. bought 48 conchas for the weekend but sold out completely by Friday at 2 p.m. “I went back and got three dozen more [Saturday morning], and we sold out of those [too],” Weaver said. As the food manager, Weaver said that she was surprised at how fast the conchas were gone, as food products at Coffeehouse typically take longer to sell. “I think people are just really excited to either try something they grew up eating or try something that they’ve never had before,” Weaver said.
I came back and immediately started drawing these pictures of Black kids that I found in a protest book by [a Black photographer] Devin Allen. It was a book full of images of protests and people in the city of Baltimore. I just found one picture of children dancing, and so I started drawing that. That’s what I’ve been working on. RT: What is your favorite project you’ve done and why? CW: So far it’s the project with the Black children. They’re on a stage and there’s a bunch of them, but there’s four of them in the front and they’re all doing different moves. One’s kicking, one’s dabbing, one is doing some other move and they’re all together moving in unison, but they’re not looking at each other, you know? You don’t have to look at each other to be in formation and move to the same beat in these moments. It’s this moment of collective joy, but everyone is in their own world.
PHOTO COURTESY CHAVANTÉ WRIGHT Rice alumna Chavanté Wright works primarily in graphite and charcoal, drawing on her personal experiences in creating her art.
The vanilla concha itself has a cinnamon sugar shell, warm, sweet interior and notes of nostalgia with each bite. It embodies that feel-good, homemade quality and care that makes the pastry special. Within the first weekend, both products have gained lots of traction, and their popularity shows no sign of slowing down in the weeks to come. Stop by Rice Coffeehouse sometime before Oct. 15 if you’re looking to spice it up from your usual Nutty Bee.
Review: ‘Malignant’ continually disappoints
PHOTO COURTESY WARNER BROS.
Warning: This review contains spoilers. “Malignant” has given me trust issues with director James Wan. With “The Conjuring,” “Insidious” and even “Aquaman,” I assumed any movie directed by Wan would be at least enjoyable to watch. Well, “Malignant” was the opposite of that. Filled with a storyline that drags on, predictable twists and a contrived plot, “Malignant” is a movie to stay far away from. “Malignant” follows a woman, whose name I forgot, as she begins to have vivid dreams where she sees actual murders occurring. It’s a really strong premise that is mired down by the rest of the movie. Instead of taking a more believable route, Wan has his main character go to the police, thinking they’ll believe her, while her sister proclaims that the police regularly hire psychics. The one name I do remember, “Gabriel,” the film’s antagonist, is a pretty standard stock image of a horror movie villain — wearing a cloak and speaking in a hoarse voice. Wan works in a twist, a secret about the villain’s origin that should have been interesting. Gabriel is not just some otherworldly ghost or demon. Gabriel has deep ties to Madison’s (the main character, I looked up her name) childhood. He is (gasp) her parasitic twin who shares her brain and whose arms and legs had to be surgically removed from her. Read more online at ricethresher.org.
10 • WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2021
PREVIEW CADAN HANSON
For the third time in the past three years, the Rice volleyball team will match up against the University of Texas, Austin tonight at Tudor Fieldhouse. The Owls look to win their third straight match against the undefeated and No. 1 Longhorns. This in-state rivalry dates back to 1982 and was heavily lopsided with the University of Texas claiming the first 36 matches until 2019, when the Owls upset the No. 3 Longhorns at home, winning their first ever game against a Top-10 program. The next year, the Owls went into Austin and returned home with another upset, this time stunning the No. 2 Longhorns on their own court in a five set thriller. This year, the Owls entered the season ranked No. 23, the first time they started the season in the Top-25 in program history. However, four losses in their first 9 games, including three against top-15 ranked opponents, have dropped them out of the rankings. With their conference season quickly approaching, the Owls sit at 5-4. Regardless of the rankings or their record, head coach Genny Volpe said she is excited to face a team of such high caliber and the impending test. “I think the mindset going into this game is that we are extremely excited to host this team,” Volpe said. “They are
THE RICE THRESHER
Volleyball looks to stun No. 1 UT for third straight year currently number one in the country and playing at a very high-level right now.” The Owls will be led by senior outside hitter Nicole Lennon, who was named the Conference USA Preseason Player of the Year, as well as junior setter Carly Graham and junior middle blocker Anota Adekunle, who were both first team allconference selections a season ago. Texas, meanwhile, is led by last year’s first team All-Americans junior Logan Eggleston and senior Brionne Butler. In their eight games this season, they have dropped only four sets. The Owls have certainly faced their fair share of quality talent this year, but as expected, playing the No. 1 ranked team
I think we have proven that we can compete with them and defeat them in the past. But the past does not define the present or the future and we completely realize that. Genny Volpe HEAD COACH is a little different. While every game is important, Volpe said that this game will naturally carry more weight not only for
COURTESY Rice Athletics
The Rice volleyball team celebrates knocking off No. 3 Texas in 2019, the first win over the Longhorns in program history. The Owls host the No. 1 Longhorns Wednesday at Tudor Fieldhouse.
the team and university, but nationally. “Playing Texas is always a huge opportunity, and the fact that they are ranked No. 1 in the nation is meaningful and different from [other games],” Volpe said. “Plus, the fact that we have won the last two outings with Texas certainly makes this a nationally interesting match.” When the Owls upset the Longhorns back in 2019, they did so in front of a record-breaking home attendance of 3,012. After not allowing fans all of last season due to COVID-19 precautions, the Owls welcomed their fans back at the start of this year. On Wednesday, Volpe hopes that the energy created by the home crowd will have an impact on the game.
“Home court advantage can prove to be huge,” Volpe said. “We are hoping the student section does their job and rattles the Texas team. Our team really missed playing in front of our home crowd last year, so we would love to get a huge crowd for this one.” Regardless of the current two-win streak against the burnt orange and white, Volpe said that this game will be a challenge, but she feels confident in her team’s abilities. “I think we have proven that we can compete with them and defeat them in the past,” Volpe said. “But the past does not define the present or the future and we completely realize that.” The match starts at 6:00 p.m. tonight at Tudor Fieldhouse.
Volleyball gets swept by No. 12 Baylor, sweeps McNeese State PAVITHR GOLI
The Rice volleyball team traveled to Waco, TX this past weekend to compete in the Baylor Classic, where the Owls faced No. 12 Baylor University on Thursday evening and McNeese State University on Friday evening. Losing to the nationallyranked Bears in straight sets on day one of the Classic, the Owls bounced back with a sweep over McNeese State on day two. After the weekend’s matches, the Owls are now 5-4 on the season with three of their losses coming to top-15 ranked teams. Swept by the Bears, the Owls were held to low offensive numbers as they had a season-low in kills (32) and hitting percentage (0.114). Conversely, the Bears played strongly on the offensive side of
the ball with a hitting percentage of 0.310. Head coach Genny Volpe believes that the Owls’ poor defensive performance allowed the Bears to win the game. “Their offense was hard to stop because they were in-system way too much,” Volpe said.” I think if we had played cleaner defense and served tougher there could have been a different outcome.” While she was disappointed by the game’s result, freshman outside hitter Sahara Maruska said the game against the Bears was an important learning experience against a top-ranked opponent and could help the team in the future. “Although we lost to Baylor, I don’t see it as a loss,” Maruska said. “It was another learning moment and truly an opportunity for us to take a step back,
reflect, and reinvest in our team to achieve some of the goals we have for the rest of the season.” In the second game of the event, against McNeese State, the Owls had a much better performance. With a seasonhigh hitting percentage of 0.389, the Owls’ strong offense played a key part in their sweep over the Cowgirls. Combined
Although we lost to Baylor, I don’t see it as a loss. It was another learning moment and truly an opportunity for us to take a step back, reflect and reinvest in our team. Sahara Maruska FRESHMAN OUTSIDE HITTER
COURTESY BAYLOR ATHLETICS
Freshman middle blocker Shaylee Shore tracks the ball against No. 12 Baylor on Thursday. The Owls lost to Baylor before beating McNeese State the next day, bringing their record to 5-4.
with a good defensive performance that limited the Cowgirls to a 0.073 hitting percentage, the Owls were able to pull off the sweep. Volpe believes that the team’s discipline was critical in the team’s success against the Cowgirls. “Against McNeese, the team was very focused and played clean volleyball, so we were able to execute and win the match in three straight sets,” Volpe said. The weekend, though, was eyeopening for Volpe as it highlighted things that the team could work on in the future. Specifically, Volpe called for consistency and a more confident defensive effort by her squad.
“We need to be more efficient in [serving and receiving] and play a more confident style of defense,” Volpe said. “I felt like we bounced back and passed well against McNeese, but for the weekend, I wanted to see more consistency in execution overall.” With the top-ranked team in the nation, the University of Texas, Austin, next on their schedule followed by the start of conference play, Volpe is taking the season one day at a time, hoping the team can improve as the season progresses. “Ultimately we need to be more consistent in each aspect of our game and we will continue to focus on making small improvements along the way,” Volpe said. “We want to be peaking at the conference tournament and I believe our offense has far more potential than we have shown so far.” After their game against Texas, the Owls will begin their conference schedule with a two game series against the University of North Texas. Last year, the Owls started the season with three non-conference losses before pulling off an undefeated conference regular season, a feat they will look to repeat this year. While the team is not off to its desired start, Maruska believes that great team chemistry can also lead the Owls to improve as the season continues. “An area of improvement for us is believing that we are a great team with great coaches,” Maruska said. “If we can learn to consistently play with the utmost confidence in ourselves, we are unstoppable.” Next up, the Owls will play in one of their biggest matches of the season as they face the No. 1 Longhorns at home in Tudor Fieldhouse tonight at 6:00 p.m.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2021 • 11
But because it’s hard: Owls implode in Austin DANIEL SCHRAGER
It’s probably safe to assume that we’ll all be long dead by the time Rice’s marketing department runs out of ways to make use of John F. Kennedy’s 1962 speech from Rice Stadium — the one where he famously asks, “why does Rice play Texas?” But after this weekend, it’s starting to look like it might be even longer before the Rice football team manages to beat their in-state rivals. Not because it’s easy, Kennedy concludes, but Rice plays the University of Texas, Austin because it’s hard. The Owls learned that lesson again on Saturday, falling to the Longhorns 58-0 in Austin, good for their 15th consecutive loss against Texas and the second biggest loss in the 96-game history between the two teams. According to head coach Mike Bloomgren, the end result wasn’t anywhere near what the team had envisioned going into the game. “We’re very disappointed [with] how this game went,” Bloomgren said. “We think we’re better than the way we played tonight.” On the first drive of the game, the Owls’ defense held Texas to a fourth down near midfield. But a 31-yard completion on fourthand-three set the Longhorns up at the 10yard line, and they punched in the opening touchdown three plays later. Rice was held to a three-and-out on their opening drive, but got the ball back with an interception on the next play. A 31-yard run by freshman running back Khalan Griffin on the ensuing drive put the Owls well into the redzone. But with a chance to tie the game at seven-apiece, the drive stalled at the UT seven yard line, forcing a field goal attempt. Graduate kicker Collin Riccitelli missed the try from 30 yards out, which would have put the Owls within four, giving the ball back to the Longhorns. The Owls didn’t come close to scoring again until the game’s final drive, but after the game, Bloomgren said he was hesitant to call the field goal a turning point. “I don’t think the missed field goal led to the final outcome of the game,” Bloomgren said. “When you’re gaining momentum, and you’re going to be sitting there at a 7-3 ball game, that’s what we wanted. But that kick didn’t miss any protections, or any reads, nor did it miss any tackles.”
COURTESY RICE ATHLETICS
Sophomore tight end Jack Bradley takes on a tackler in Saturday’s game against the University of Texas, Austin. The Owls lost to the Longhorns 58-0, the second largest margin in the 96-game history between the two teams, dropping their record to 0-3 on the season.
From there, the game went south for Rice very quickly. Three plays into the next drive, Texas running back Roschon Johnson gashed the Owls’ defense for a 72 yard touchdown run, bringing the lead to 14. Another Rice three-and-out forced a punt, but redshirt freshman punter Charlie Mendes’ kick was blocked, resulting in a safety and giving the ball back to the Longhorns. It only took seven plays before Bijan Robinson punched in another UT touchdown, his second of the day. Rice’s next drive stalled, and Robinson ran 62 yards for his third touchdown, putting the game comfortably out of reach with four minutes remaining in the first half. According to senior safety Naeem Smith, Robinson gave the Owls defense fits all night. “He’s a very special player, definitely the best [running] back we’ve ever seen,” Smith said. “He made us miss as a defense a lot tonight. It’s frustrating as a defense because we have higher expectations for ourselves.” Halftime couldn’t have come soon enough for Rice. Already playing without redshirt freshman quarterback Luke McCaffrey, who left the game at the end of the first quarter with an injury, Rice lost backup Wiley Green
to injury late in the second quarter. Then, on defense, the Owls gave up two more touchdowns in the last 1:38 of the half, bringing the score to 44-0. According to Bloomgren, he was realistic with his team in the locker room at halftime. “At halftime [I told the team], ‘Hey guys, I don’t know if we can overcome this,’” Bloomgren said. “‘But I know this: we’re going to evaluate the way we play every snap, and [if it’s] to our standards.’” The second half was more of the same, albeit with Texas scoring at a slower pace. The Longhorns scored touchdowns on their first two drives of the half, while the Owls, now with graduate-transfer Jake Constantine in at quarterback, failed to score a single point. Rice came close to avoiding the shutout on their final drive, but the clock ran out with the Owls at the Texas seven yard line. At the final whistle, the Owls had allowed 427 yards rushing on 10.4 yards per carry. Robinson ended the day with 127 yards and three touchdowns, while four different Longhorn running backs found the endzone. According to Bloomgren, the team’s run defense needs to do better to keep them in games.
“When you can’t stop the run in major college football, against a [running] back [as] talented [as Robinson], it’s going to get ugly, and it did.” Bloomgren said. “That kid may win a Heisman.” The loss drops the Owls to 0-3 on the season, with all three losses coming against team’s from bigger conferences. Going forward, the Owls will have to regroup after two consecutive blowout losses. Over their past nine quarters of play, the Owls have been outscored 123-7. They have one more game, against a winless Texas Southern University team, before conference play begins on Oct. 2. According to Bloomgren, the way forward is to take the season one game at a time. “Great teams are able to overcome adversity,” Bloomgren said. “That’s what championship teams [and] bowl teams do, they find a freaking way. That’s what we’re talking about right now: [We need to] get to Monday, find out who’s going to be able to play next week, and find out how to win that game and go 1-0 next week. Then we’ll do the same thing [again].” The Owls will host Texas Southern at home this Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Conference realignment is on its way, Rice can’t afford to miss out To any Rice alumni pining for some nostalgia about the Rice sports of yesteryear, the last few weeks must have been quite the treat. The soccer team, which just wrapped up its non conference schedule, played three consecutive games against the University of Texas, Austin, the University of Houston and Southern Methodist University. If you notice the common thread between these teams, it’s that they were all members of the former Southwest Conference. Soccer wasn’t alone in this trend. Football’s first three games, against the University of Arkansas, Houston and Texas, were all against former SWC foes. Volleyball, which has already played SMU
[The] gap [between major conferences and everyone else] will only grow wider, which is why Rice can’t afford to miss out on this round of realignment. and former SWC member Baylor University, is set to play Texas this week. A quick history lesson for those who are unfamiliar with Rice’s past conference affiliations. The Owls played in the Southwest Conference, alongside six other Texas schools as well as Arkansas, the lone non-Texas member, for the better part of the first century of their existence. The SWC was a major conference, housing traditional sports powers such as Texas, Arkansas and Texas A&M University and holding a 54-year
affiliation with the Cotton Bowl, one of the biggest bowl games in college football. When the conference folded in 1996, its eight teams were met with wildly different fates. Some, like Texas and Texas A&M, found homes in power conferences immediately. Others, like Houston, SMU, and of course Rice, weren’t so lucky. But over the years, every team found its way either to one of the five major conferences, or the American Athletic Conference – the de facto sixth strongest conference – with one exception: (you guessed it) Rice. With the news breaking at the end of the summer that Texas, along with the University of Oklahoma, would be fleeing the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference, it looks as though we’re heading towards another round of realignment. The first dominoes have already started to fall. The Pac 12, Atlantic Coast Conference and Big Ten announced a vague alliance in an attempt to combat the power of the new-look SEC. The Big 12 invited Houston, along with three other schools, including two from the AAC, to fill the void left by Texas and Oklahoma. This left the AAC with three spots to fill, and they are expected to extend invitations soon. But with Texas and Oklahoma’s looming Big 12 exit – which doesn’t take effect until 2025 – it seems as though these changes are just a patchwork attempt to salvage the current conference hierarchy. It’s certainly possible that the Big 12 survives the next round of TV contract negotiations with its status as a Power Five conference intact, but after replacing their two most prominent schools with the likes of UH and the University of Central Florida, it doesn’t seem very likely. If these changes
don’t hold up, then this is only the beginning of a bigger round of realignment that will take place in the next few years. Rice has a lot to offer bigger conferences. The volleyball, soccer and women’s basketball teams have been among the best in the country in recent years. Baseball, while currently in a slump, has a track record of success and a national championship to its name, which would be attractive to any conference. The historically pedestrian men’s basketball program wouldn’t be enticing to a conference but it wouldn’t be a dealbreaker. But unfortunately for Rice, the main driver of this round of realignment has been football. There’s a reason why traditional football powers Texas and Oklahoma were poached by the SEC, while the University of Kansas, one of the most successful men’s basketball programs in history, was left for dead in the Big 12. Football generates more money than the next 35 college sports combined, and Rice’s football team is nowhere near attractive enough interest a bigger conferences. Ever-growing TV contracts are widening the gap between the major conferences and the Group of Five. Under Conference USA’s current TV contract, each member gets $400,000 per year. Compare that to the Big 12, where members make $20 million each year from TV contracts. Combined with the edge that the NCAA’s new name, image and likeness rules give to power conference teams in recruiting, that gap will only grow wider, which is why Rice can’t afford to miss out on this round of realignment. If Rice’s football team improves over the next few years, then the success of its
other sports programs, combined with the school’s academic reputation and location in the fourth biggest city in the country, will make for a strong pitch to a bigger conference. While joining a Power Five conference isn’t realistic at this time, with an improved football program, a move to a bigger conference could easily be in the cards. The AAC seemed like a natural fit given that they just lost their only school in the Houston market. However, last week, news broke that they had narrowed down their search, and Rice doesn’t appear to have made the cut. But like I said, this is probably just the beginning of a bigger wave of realignment. Rice showed for 80 years that they can sustain major-conference sports. They may never get back to a major conference, but in the coming years, the athletic department should be doing whatever they can to at least move up from C-USA. It would do wonders for Rice sports, giving their programs more visibility, higher budgets and more recruiting prowess. They have a few years to work on their pitch to bigger conferences (and their football program), but when the dust from this wave of realignment settles, the Owls better have not wasted a golden opportunity to move up from C-USA.
Daniel Schrager SPORTS EDITOR
12 • WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2021
Rice Rice Announces Announces F1 F1 Track Track Through Through Inner Inner Loop Loop After the recent high speed chase through the Inner Loop, Rice Alumni had an epiphany: why waste money on Rice’s football team when we have a perfectly good racing track right here? Introducing Rice’s F1 Inner Loop Race track, funded by the Rice Alumni Racist Club — Rice’s own group for fans of F1 and honoring Will Rice’s philanthropy and legacy!
Drive safely around this area! This area is a wildlife habitat for several beloved stray cats. Run over them and suffer untold horrors...
Chaus Beware the mile-long line. Fuels sleep-deprived premeds and the entire Thresher staff.
No, there’s no party going on. The mass exodus of people in slides and pajamas was caused by an experiment with sparklers gone wrong. PC: Stephanie Kim
Rice Stadium Home of the Rice Owls football team. Catch the battle of the titans this weekend — maybe the Owls will actually get on the scoreboard this time.
Willy The Official Traffic Cone Storage Unit, otherwise known as the Willy Statue. Drive by here early enough and you’ll catch a traffic cone or two still on his head before it’s taken down faster than you can say “Down with Willy”.
School of Music Music Major Cult meeting location. No one knows what happens here.
Will Rice College Check out Rice’s unconventional protection plan against the terrifying storm that was Hurricane Nicholas.
PC: Ndidi Nwosu
@ricethresher on TikTok!
PC: @willricewillmeme on Instagram
The Backpage is the satire section of the Thresher, written this week by Ndidi Nwosu and Timmy Mansfield, designed by Lauren Yu. For questions or comments please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLASSIFIEDS AFTER-SCHOOL SITTER AND DRIVER Rice Alumni family of 6 (mom, dad, 3 kids and dog) seeking after-school help with kid driving and babysitting. Shifts flexible and typically in the 2 pm - 8 pm range. We live 7 blocks from the Rice post office. Email email@example.com. SANDWICH MAKER A small sandwich shop just minutes from campus seeking part-time help. A no-frills joint serving deli classics. No experience necessary. Call us at 713-7992544 and see if this job will work around your schedule! houstonfamousdeli. com. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
RICE ALUM HIRING TUTORS For Middle & High School Math, Natural & Social Science, Foreign Language, Humanities and SAT/ACT prep. Reliable transportation required. Pay is based upon a variety of factors. Contact 832-428-8330 and email resume to sri.iyengar@sriacademicservices. com.
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