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Crisis Management plans vaccine rollout for Rice community MORIKE AYODEJI AND HAJERA NAVEED THRESHER STAFF AND SENIOR WRITER

As administration of the COVID-19 vaccine begins worldwide, Rice is working with the state of Texas to be designated as a vaccine site, according to Vice President of Administration Kevin Kirby, who chairs the Crisis Management Advisory Committee. “Our goal is to be able to vaccinate everybody in our community who wants a vaccine. We’re preparing to do up to 10,000 people on the Rice campus, so faculty, students and staff,” Kirby said. According to Jerusha Kasch, director of Institutional Crisis Management, Rice is waiting for the state to give them their requested allocation. However, Crisis Management has been preparing for the vaccine roll out for the past six

months, starting in mid-August with discussions of preparing a team, more time than they had for planning COVID testing. “We have a vaccine plan. We have a mass vaccination plan; we have a small vaccination plan. We have petitioned the state to receive vaccines. We have started to develop a hiring process for vaccine delivering companies,” Kasch said. According to Kasch, one of these preparations is proving to the state that they are capable of storing the vaccines. “We had to prepare and get refrigeration systems based upon the types of vaccine. Some vaccines have to be stored at negative 80 degrees [Celsius] and some at negative 20, so we had to prepare for both. We do have all the equipment necessary,” Kasch said. The timing of vaccination administration on

campus depends entirely on the guidelines set out by Texas, according to Kasch. “If we get it before the priority groups have been satisfied, we have to follow those priorities as well. Right now [in Texas], we’re in 1A and 1B. Somewhere in the next group is higher education or groups that live together in dense populations like universities and colleges. If we get it and that’s the group we’re in, we don’t have to prioritize. Everyone can sign up at the same time,” Kasch said. Crisis Management is unsure if they will receive the full vaccine supply ordered all at once or in a tiered way, according to Kirby. “There’s only so much we can do. We don’t know what we’re getting, and we don’t know when we’re getting it. It’s just kind of a sit-andwait situation,” Kasch said. Kasch explained that accessing the vaccine SEE VACCINATION PAGE 2

Douglas Brinkley talks using history to navigate the Trump era KATELYN LANDRY A&E EDITOR

While the world watched the windows of the U.S. Capitol being smashed and offices of U.S. Congresspeople being vandalized with violent and unwavering conviction in the historic Jan. 6 riot, one of Rice’s own was on call with journalists and TV anchors for hours. His steady yet energized voice is among many in today’s intense news cycle, his commentary offering a contextualization of our current moment as if it is already memorialized. As the headlines seem to get more bizarre and morbid with each passing day, Rice history professor Douglas Brinkley deals in the art of perspective.

When he’s not giving lectures, grading papers or adding to his acclaimed bibliography of over three dozen books, Brinkley can be spotted on major news networks providing insight on the political news of the day. As an official U.S. presidential historian for CNN, contributing editor for Vanity Fair and a frequently cited source in publications like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, Brinkley has been a heavily-relied upon history source for journalists as they scrambled to keep up with the unpredictable antics of former President Donald Trump’s administration. “History teaches us that our own times are not uniquely perilous,” Brinkley told the Thresher. “The headlines of the day are real,

but we’ve seen worse. You gotta put it in perspective and not get breathless, because otherwise every hour you think it’s the biggest thing that ever happened.” Brinkley says history is a trade — in the same way one might see an electrician to repair wiring, he says members of the media and government authorities constantly reach out to him seeking historical information that might illuminate what’s going on today. With just minutes on the air to react to something as shocking as the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot, Brinkley can provide a thoughtful historical perspective on our current moment. “It is a day that will live in infamy, as Franklin Roosevelt said at the time of Pearl Harbor, but it’s going to be about what

happens in a democratic society when you have a totalitarian as president,” Brinkley said alongside CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer as they discussed one of Trump’s tweets following the riot. “[Trump] will pay a very high cost in history.” In the span of Trump’s term — which was riddled with controversy, scandals and most recently his “incitement of insurgence” and historic double impeachment — Brinkley says found himself in a whirlwind of uncertainty and polarization unlike years before. “I’m very bullish on the United States, [and] I think we’re an amazing country, but the rise of Donald Trump [caused] me great consternation because he has a deeply SEE DOUGLAS





Mini O-Week held for 35 Spring 2021 matriculants


Rice held a mini orientation week from Jan. 20 to Jan. 22 to welcome 35 new students, mostly transfers from other universities, to the Rice community for the first time during the Spring 2021 term, according to Araceli Lopez, the associate director of First Year Programs at Rice. Typically, when just a few students join Rice for the first time in the spring, the orientation they receive is purely academic, Lopez said. During this year’s orientation, however, the students were able to socialize virtually with members of their newly assigned residential college through ice breakers, escape rooms, jeopardy games and breakout rooms with their peers. “We’ve never had to do an official orientation for [Spring transfer students],” Lopez said. “Last year … it was just one person, so I just met with them one on one and got them connected with the departments to do trainings.” Lopez said around 70 percent of the students joining Rice this spring semester are transferring from other colleges and universities. Lopez said she worked closely with O-Week 2021 Student Directors Jordyn Wainscott and Ishaan Rischie to help these new students build their community at Rice. “We kind of picked the big stakeholders of what our orientation is like, and molded it to fit into this two-and-a-half-day orientation for the new students,” Lopez said. The mini O-Week included many traditional aspects of a regular O-Week: academics, acclimation to the residential colleges and diversity sessions, according to Wainscott. “Ishaan and I planned and ran a social event in the evening of each of the three days, including icebreakers, a virtual Chaus-themed escape room and a college game night,” Wainscott, a Will Rice College FROM PAGE 1

VACCINATION on campus will look similar to the COVID tests. People eligible for the vaccine will schedule a vaccine appointment time, go to our vaccine location at their appointed time, answer all the appropriate vaccine questions and provide their agreement to receive the vaccine. Then, the vaccine will be administered. People will also be able to schedule their second dose appointment at the same time, according to Kasch. However, if you obtain the first dosage from an outside provider, Kasch said Rice advises that you make arrangements from that same provider to receive the appropriate second dose. “We don’t know what manufacturer of vaccines we are going to be sent. So, there’s two main manufacturers right now: Pfizer and Moderna. If we receive one and you get the other, we can’t interchange the vaccines, so you have to receive the same manufacturer,” Kasch said. According to Kasch, the vaccine played no role in the decision to push the return of undergraduates to mid-February nor will it affect the likelihood of any return this semester. However, President Leebron’s letter to the school on Jan. 9 stated that they hope vaccines will arrive sometime in February. “The vaccine was not discussed in the decision to push back the return to campus. It was really about just the serious uptick in cases post the holiday events, we had an absolute spike not just in the Houston area but on our campus. It had 100 percent to do with the likelihood of getting sick and we have the strain in Houston that is more commutable that

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New students matriculating in Spring 2021 participated in a virtual orientation event, facilitated by advisors and coordinators from the larger, in-person Fall 2020 O-Week. junior, said. “We were excited to design and facilitate these social events to give the new students an opportunity to meet each other and begin to build the sense of community so integral to Rice.” According to Lopez, the new COVID requirements introduced in early January also affected the format of the mini O-Week. “We at first were planning to do a dual delivery … but with the … push back of the return to campus, we moved to go all virtual,” Lopez said. Kendall Cooney, a sophomore transfer student who participated in the mini O-Week, said she wasn’t too bothered by the virtual format. “I still felt a great sense of camaraderie among my O-Week advisors and other Lovetteers and everyone was quick to offer their contact information,” Cooney, a Lovett sophomore, said. One event unique to this mini O-Week is the Transfer Student Panel that was held for the incoming students, according to Lopez. Lopez cited this panel as one of the more important events of this orientation. “We had four upperclassmen come in and talk about their experience as transfer

students,” Lopez said. “I thought that was really important as transfer students often have very unique needs and experiences [compared to] our traditional students.” Sarah Madhani, a sophomore transfer student from Duncan College, said she felt that the academic planning sessions were helpful. “We had individual meetings with division advisors, we spoke with [peer academic advisors], there were office hours, so there was a good amount of preparation. I feel like there was a lot of room to ask about any doubts that we had,” Madhani said. Diversity facilitator sessions, which are an aspect of a typical O-Week, also made an appearance in this mini O-Week. The typical topics of a DF session, including microaggressions, allyship and implicit biases were discussed during the DF sessions of the mini O-Week, as well as current events topics related to racism and bigotry, according to Soha Rizvi, a Hanszen College junior. Rizvi was one of the DFs leading the sessions during the mini O-Week. Madhani mentioned the diversity facilitator sessions as an event she really enjoyed.

spreads faster,” Kasch said. “We just wanted to really protect our campus and give the city and our campus a little extra time to have that curve flatten out.” According to Kirby, vaccines will be voluntary this semester, so disease-mitigation practices will continue. However, he anticipates COVID-19 campus policies will likely change a lot for the fall. “[The vaccines] shouldn’t have any effect on students returning to campus this semester. Even if we have vaccines coming about the same time as students, we are not changing any of our policies this semester. Mask wearing, physical distancing, none of that is going to change because the world doesn’t know how this vaccine is going to react, how long it’s going to last,” Kasch said. According to the vaccine FAQ section written by the Crisis Management Team, the decision of mandating vaccines for members of the Rice community has not been made yet. An email from Crisis Management sent on Jan. 19 said it will be required “no earlier than the start of the fall semester.” The Rice University Emergency Medical Services student responders were offered a chance to receive the COVID-19 vaccine from Memorial Hermann Hospital, according to an email obtained by the Thresher from Lisa Basgall, director of REMS. This offer was available to those who were in Houston and would be volunteering for REMS earlier in the semester. REMS captain Sam Reddick said that the vaccine was made available to REMS first responders because they provide prehospital emergency medical care to the Rice community, including to those who may have COVID-19, and are therefore included in the first tier of Phase 1A vaccine distribution as defined by the Texas Department of State

Health Services and in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations. “Along with other emergency service providers, we were grateful our volunteers had the opportunity to receive the vaccine at Memorial Hermann. Some other members

If we want some sense of normalcy coming up, then I think we should all hopefully be able to get the vaccine as soon as possible. Ava Fradlin WIESS COLLEGE FRESHMAN have received their vaccines through other providers in the area,” Reddick, a Wiess College senior, said. Sarah Mozden, a REMS responder, took this as a good opportunity to get the vaccine as soon as possible. “I am getting it because I know that eventually I’m going to want to have the vaccine, and I feel a lot more comfortable working with REMS and having patient interaction if I do have the vaccine,” said Mozden, a Sid Richardson College junior. Some students had an opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine through other means. Kristine Yuan, a sophomore at McMurtry College, was able to receive the vaccine through Houston Methodist as a student volunteer. “I wasn’t really surprised when I first got

“The diversity session was really cool because we got to think about a lot of topics that aren’t very commonly addressed,” Madhani said. Rizvi said she felt that the DF sessions benefitted from the smaller group size and virtual nature of this O-Week. “I imagine that [the students] felt more comfortable to share than in last O-Week,” Rizvi said. “I think that [the Zoom format] is more conducive to these discussions … If you’re at Duncan Hall, I’m sure you don’t feel as comfortable raising your hand to talk about your experience with microaggressions as you would if you’re sitting in your room.” Just like a typical O-Week, residential college-specific events were a favorite of both Madhani and Cooney. According to Lopez, the new students were split into O-Week groups with the help of the 2020 O-Week coordinators and the 2021 O-Week student directors. Madhani said these events helped her get to know Duncan better. “I got to socialize with my college before even getting there, so it feels like I already know some of [the people at Duncan],” said Madhani. Cooney said her favorite part of the mini O-Week was the impromptu sallyport procession. “Me and a few other on-campus students went to the Sallyport early Saturday morning, and Chloe [Oani], the magisters and [other new students] suddenly surprised all of us! Chloe carried the Lovett banner as we walked through Sallyport. It was super great to have that little ceremony,” Cooney said. Lopez said she was open to the idea of continuing this mini O-Week tradition. “If [the university] decides that we’re going to do this annually, then we’re game,” Lopez said. “We already have a framework to build off of and based on this year’s feedback, we’ll just continue to improve upon it.” notified that I was getting the vaccine earlier since I assumed that most healthcare workers would get priority to protect both themselves and the patients they’re caring for. I did feel thankful that [Houston Methodist] took volunteers into consideration as well though,” Yuan said. Students expressed varying views on taking the vaccine. Lovett College sophomore Thomas Avalos said he has apprehensions about taking the vaccine. “Kind of just trying to be informed as possible, I personally would not want to take the vaccine, given the amount of time they have had to see the effects on people and just things like that … I have my doubts about the vaccine,” Avalos said. Avalos said his stance might change depending on whether taking a vaccine would impact his mode of learning. “If it was a ‘you have to take the vaccine or you can’t come on campus’ then I think that might affect my decision about whether or not I would like to continue [classes] strictly online or have classes that are actual sitdown courses,” Avalos said. Will Rice College freshman Arielle Noah said she feels as though Rice administering the vaccine this semester is ambitious. Justin Coleman, a Baker College junior, said he is in favor of required vaccination of students. Coleman believes students will have to assess the risks for themselves in deciding to receive a vaccination if it becomes mandated for campus return. “I think we just have to trust our experts and if you do think that’s too much of a safety concern for you, you would still be able to take classes online. It’s just a matter of weighing what you think the bigger risk is,” Coleman said. This story has been condensed for print. Read the full story at ricethresher.org.



96 percent of student petitions approved for early on-campus arrival SAVANNAH KUCHAR AND TALHA ARIF NEWS EDITOR AND ASST NEWS EDITOR

Of the 550 petitions submitted by students to the Office of Undergraduates, 528 were approved for early arrival prior to Feb. 15, according to Dean of Undergraduates Bridget Gorman. While most of these students will have moved back to campus by Jan. 25, Gorman said 33 will arrive later, between that date and Feb. 15. Gazi Fuad, a Will Rice College freshman, said his petition was approved to return on Jan. 19. Fuad said he submitted a petition detailing his circumstances and just hoped for the best.

“They allowed me to move in at my requested move-in date and told me to schedule my arrival test that day along with a follow-up test 3-4 days afterwards,” Fuad said. According to Fuad, he was notified of the approval two days after submitting the petition. Gorman said in a FAQ document shared by college presidents that the fast response time was due to student wishes for quicker processing of petitions. McMurtry College junior Rishi Vas said he was also approved to return to campus on Jan. 24 since two of his classes are expected to be in-person. Vas said two of his

suitemates who petitioned to come back were approved as well. “I wasn’t sure if they would accept my petition, since my two classes hadn’t confirmed yet if they would be staying faceto-face [when the petition was approved],” Vas said. Students living on campus during these first three weeks can expect most of the health and safety policies to be similar to the fall, according to Gorman. However, there will be a few changes specific to current conditions and the under-capacity campus. “The biggest difference will be the new rule around gathering sizes (no more than 10 outdoors and 5 indoors) ... We hope to

relax this restriction when the remainder of students return to campus, but we won’t make a final decision on that until closer to mid-February,” Gorman said. “We won’t be operating all serveries due to the lower student presence on campus those first few weeks, but serveries will operate on both sides of campus.” According to Housing and Dining Operations Manager Isabel Urbina, South and West serveries will be the only ones open until all students return mid-February. Urbina said that dining procedures like grab-and-go meals and no eating in the commons will continue in the spring.

Student files lawsuit demanding tuition reimbursement from Spring 2020 SKYE FREDERICKS FOR THE THRESHER

Anna Seballos (Jones College ’20) filed a lawsuit against Rice University on Jan. 11 demanding a refund for students who paid full tuition and fees for the Spring 2020 semester. The lawsuit claims that Rice did not follow through on its promises of inperson educational opportunities and student services once the university transitioned into online-only instruction. Seballos’s legal team asserts that students did not receive the experience that they paid for up front. According to KHOU, the lawsuit is seeking class-action status with over $5 million in damages on behalf of students who paid full tuition and fees for the Spring 2020 semester. According to the lawsuit, Rice allegedly breached their contract by failing to provide the services and experiences promised at the time semester fees were due.

Besides the claim that all coursework was moved to an online platform, the lawsuit claims that the university closed student facilities that were included in the costs paid up front. Such costs mentioned include fees for the Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center as well as the University Center. Currently, the Wellbeing and Counseling Center as well as Student Health Services have moved to a virtual format. Seballos’s lawsuit alleges that these services were rendered impractical and unable to be utilized due to social distancing measures. However 38.5 percent of the spring 2020 Rec Center fee was refunded to student accounts. Undergraduates also received refunds for parking, meal plans and on-campus housing. Doug Miller, the director of news and media relations for Rice University, declined to comment while litigation is underway. A petition, which has around 1,300

Jones College freshman Elizabeth signatures, circulated in the fall semester asking that the university lower tuition Fessler said she believes that the due to the drastically different nature of professors are doing the best they can given the circumstances, but that the semester. Brown College freshman Marie Valera students still deserve reduced tuition. “I recognize that the professors and said she thinks lowering tuition for staff are still working hard and still need online classes is justified. “I don’t think anyone in our heart to be paid fairly,” said Fessler. “However, I think remote of hearts truly students deserve to thinks that have their tuition online classes are reduced because the of the same value only resource that … [since] you’re I think that Rice does tuition is getting them not as motivated is professors, and to learn,” Valera need to have some sort obviously the online said. “I think that of penalty for continuing learning experience is Rice does need to have courses online not nearly as good as to have some because I did not apply a regular face-to-face sort of penalty class.” for continuing for an online experience; Aaron Lin, a to have courses I applied to Rice to go to sophomore from online because class in person. Hanszen College, said I did not apply staying on campus for for an online Marie Valera his ROTC commitment experience; I applied to Rice BROWN COLLEGE FRESHMAN once in-person to go to class in operations halted gave person.” him insight into just Rice is not the only university to how unprecedented the pandemic was. Lin undergo scrutiny regarding tuition for did not see any wrongdoing on Rice’s part. online learning. Over 4,000 students “Nobody could have predicted that from Columbia University in New York the situation would have happened, have decided to participate in a tuition right? So since they require people to pay strike. They are demanding a 10 percent up front it’s fair that they charged full increase in financial aid as well as a 10 price [for the spring 2020 semester], not percent decrease in tuition. Students at knowing what we were heading into,” the University of Chicago also organized Lin said. a tuition strike that ended in a tuition Tuition costs have increased every freeze by the school. year at Rice over the past decade, David Sablak, a remote student, said including the most recent year amidst that he believes maintaining the cost the pandemic. There is currently a freeze of tuition despite distance learning is on staff hiring and pay raises for the 2021 justified. fiscal year that was announced in April “Essentially you’re paying for your 2020, due to the financial challenges classes and the salary of your teachers,” posed by the pandemic. Sablak, a McMurtry College freshman, Michael Singley, one of the attorneys said. “The education that you’re receiving representing Seballos in her lawsuit, did not [at Rice] is significantly better compared respond for comment. to other classes at other institutions.”


Classes were moved online after the campus closed in March 2020. Rice provided temporary structures for dual-delivery courses and student activities in the Fall 2020 semester.


Seballos’s lawsuit claims that the university closed student facilities, like the Gibbs Wellness and Recreational Center, that were included in student costs paid up front.




ONLINE OPINIONS >> ricethresher.org

Rice community should embody principles of mutual aid

winter oopinions at


Let’s heal how we talk about food



We’re at our best when we engage in conversations that center the enjoyment of food rather than its nutritional content.

Re-return to campus – but to what end? MOSHE VARDI COMPUTER SCIENCE PROFESSOR


We dodged a bullet in the fall, but we may not dodge it again in the spring.


Let’s reevaluate as a > socialmusic resource


Without any discord, there is no progress, or music.

Have an opinion? Submit your draft to thresher@rice.edu.

STAFF * Editorial Board member Ivanka Perez* Editor-in-Chief Rishab Ramapriyan* Editor-in-Chief Amy Qin* Managing Editor NEWS Savannah Kuchar* Editor Rynd Morgan* Editor Talha Arif Asst. Editor Brian Lin Asst. Editor

Mutual aid networks have cropped up around the world as a response to the pandemic. The concept is fairly simple — a community voluntarily shares and receives resources and services among one another, monetary or otherwise, with the goal of making the whole community stronger. Still, it’s radical, especially in a country that encourages individualism and capitalism. In September, a group of undergraduates established Rice Mutual Aid to bring the practice to our community. This week, the organizers spoke with the Thresher about their mission, which organizer Anh Nguyen summed up as “solidarity, not charity.” So far, the group has collected over $2500 in contributions, and has redistributed almost $1500 of it. They’ve also shared resources for finding cheap and free textbooks, highlighted students who run their own businesses, and signal-boosted fundraisers for funeral and medical expenses and more. The support Rice Mutual Aid has given

to our community is phenomenal, but they have their sights set higher. The want to destigmatize mutual aid. Mezthly Pena, a first-generation, low-income student, told the Thresher that she notices fellow lowincome students, rather than students in higher income brackets, are often the ones donating the most to the fund. If that’s true, it’s a problem. The Rice community is stronger when it works together, a message that has been broadcasted to every student here since before we applied. That means that we shouldn’t be resistant to offering help when we can, or afraid to ask for help when we need it. And it means that we should never equate a community member asking for help with freeloading or being lazy. The values behind Rice Mutual Aid can be found in other pockets of Rice, from a student-built and student-run food delivery app closing the accesibility gap on car access, to student vendors donating profits back into

the community, and even Rice’s institutional structures such as Peer Academic Advisors. To make our community stronger, every member of the Rice community should find ways to bring principles of mutual aid into our individual actions. Supporting fellow students can take many forms, from donating money to volunteering time, and it doesn’t have to be a big investment to make a big impact. Students shouldn’t have to prove that they deserve the aid needed for an equitable college experience. All students deserve the bare necessities, like food and housing, and access to enriching experiences that are more accessible to higher income students — from buying drinks at Coffeehouse to going to Austin City Limits on fall break. Even what may feel like a minor contribution of aid can strengthen our community — and we’re always stronger together. This editorial has been condensed for print. Read the full opinion at ricethresher.org.


If the GSA Sells Out, Third Ward Suffers

On Jan. 19, the Rice Graduate Student Association met to discuss a new “endowment proposal.” GSA normally operates with a rollover fund from the previous year, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of activities typically financed by the GSA, they’ve found themselves with too much money on hand. With over $50,000 in funds from the previous fiscal year when the pandemic began, as well as an anticipated $70,000 in the year that started in July, this endowment is projected to top six figures. Their proposal? Hand $100,000 of this money over to the Rice Management Company for investment. Not only would this be a disservice to graduate students who paid into the so-called “surplus,” it will make us complicit in politically and ethically troubling investments. The GSA should reverse the decision. The meeting, which was recorded and is available for viewing on the GSA site, did not go smoothly. For over an hour, graduate students expressed their dismay at the proposal. An interesting question was posed: Why did the GSA even collect dues last fall and this spring, considering that the pandemic was well underway by then? I was disconcerted by the response, which was essentially, “We’ll get back to you on that.” It seems that the GSA has collected “surplus” money from us — at a time when many graduate students are already struggling financially, inadequately compensated by their departments, in some cases raising children or caring for sick and elderly family members — and now they want to give it to somebody else. While the Rice Management Company is guaranteeing interest on the investment, the future use of these funds is unclear; the only benefit outlined in the proposal was the hazy suggestion that GSA fees might be stabilized, which will not benefit all the students graduating this year who paid into this “surplus.” Why can’t the GSA just give the money back? Mario Escobar, GSA’s vice president

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of finance, suggested that to do so would be unfair to past classes of graduate students. Given that it is easy to calculate the surplus in funds minus the pre-pandemic endowment, this is unconvincing. More plausible was his claim that direct payments to students would present logistical problems, to which my response is, “Figure it out!” There are abundant ways the GSA can help graduate students aside from pizza parties; for example, the surplus funds could be turned into research grants or non-competitive COVID relief funding, perhaps with priority given to students that have aged out of the stipends guaranteed by their departments. Or, instead of rushing

Their proposal ... will make us complicit in politically and ethically troubling investments. through some murky investment proposal over the winter break, the GSA could host an open conversation with graduate students about what to do with the money. For me, though, the most compelling reason to object to the proposal is to keep our money out of the hands of Rice Management Company. The Rice Management Company, which manages Rice’s endowment, invests in real estate (among other things). Its current, most ambitious development project is the Innovation District, located in the historically Black, working-class neighborhood of Third Ward. Community leaders and activists impacted by this project have come together to form the Houston Coalition for Equitable Development without Displacement. The HCEDD is advocating for a Community Benefits Agreement that will protect the interests of residents, but the Rice Management Company has so far chosen to undermine this research-based, evidence-

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driven process for realizing equitable development, holding one-sided information sessions and declining to participate in authentic dialogue with community leaders. The Rice Management Company’s complicity in gentrification, and its likely consequences of displacement and dispossession, was an awkward subtext at the meeting, as Escobar and others lamented the lack of control GSA would have on Rice Management Company’s investment choices. This issue only rose to the surface just before the vote, as one graduate student pointed out that the “Rice Management Company has blatantly disengaged with local Houston communities and dismissed Rice student organizations including the [Humanities Graduate Student Association].” (The HGSA is on record in its support for the HCEDD.) As she went on to assert, the endowment proposal would be a “tacit agreement with their practices.” When cynical decisions are in the making, those who favor them often adopt a rhetoric of inevitability, a sense that there are simply no other options, and this meeting was no different. The proposal barely passed, with a one-vote margin providing the necessary two-thirds majority. Yet there are other options; it is not too late for the GSA to change course, to listen to the students it represents and to consider the people of the city that hosts our university. I am currently involved in conversations about the mechanics of reversing the decision, but this would require more opposition among GSA representatives. If the proposal stays in place, one thing is for sure: When the bill comes next semester, I’m not paying my GSA fee.



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. the Friday prior to publication and must be signed, including college and year if the writer is a Rice student. The Thresher reserves the rights to edit letters for content and length and to place letters on its website.

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Senior Spotlight

Crossword How well do you know your Disney Channel stars? Find out in this week’s crossword. See more at ricethresher.org

Head to our website to read about Nikolas Lndauer, this week’s spotlighted senior. See more at ricethresher.org

College Experience What has it been like to start college in a pandemic? Visit our website to hear from five freshmen. See more at ricethresher.org

‘Solidarity, not charity’: Rice Mutual Aid encourages community to support itself ELLA FELDMAN FEATURES EDITOR The beginning of a semester can get costly. There’s the gas or the plane ticket it takes to get to campus. Sometimes there’s moving, which can mean lease application fees, security deposits, furnishing and more gas. Then there’s the cost of textbooks, school supplies, technology, granola bars, coffee and anything else that students need to get through the semester. These costs — and the immense barriers they can pose to some students — aren’t always talked about. Rice Mutual Aid, a student-organized mutual aid network, is trying to change that. One of their latest Instagram posts reads “MOVING IS A PAIN IN THE $%&!” with a caption that encourages students to request up to $100 from the network to cover any moving costs. Another post features bullet-pointed tips for accessing textbooks at a low cost. Further back, an aesthetically pleasing six-slide post challenges the stigma surrounding asking for financial assistance. “You are NOT a ‘freeloader,’ ‘lazy,’ or ‘weak’ for having needs that our institutions have failed to provide for you,” a white sans-serif font reads. “We’re starting to take big steps toward starting an intentional conversation about privilege at Rice,” Neha Tallapragada, a Jones College sophomore and one of the organizers behind Rice Mutual Aid, said. Rice Mutual Aid launched in September and is run by seven Rice undergraduates. The network exists digitally, using platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Venmo and Google Forms to encourage and facilitate the distribution of resources between the Rice community — including students, alumni, parents, staff and professors. Resources can be both monetary and non-monetary, which can mean providing transportation, housing, meals and academic support. Among other resources, the network has an emergency fund through which Rice community members can request up to $100. The network was conceived in response to the pandemic, which has exacerbated already-present inequalities and led to a boom in the establishment of mutual aid

funds across the country and around the world. So far, Rice Mutual Aid has collected over $2,500 through their Venmo and has redistributed almost $1,500 — data that is publicly available on a spreadsheet. “We’ve already seen socioeconomic inequities a lot before the pandemic, but I think the pandemic ... just highlighted those a bit more for us,” said Anh Nguyen, a Duncan College sophomore and network organizer. “And so we decided that we wanted to create this network that would

It’s also a place for Rice students to start learning about privilege, and thinking about their own. In one Instagram post, the network shared a “Rice privilege bingo” which encouraged students to donate $5 to the fund for every statement on a bingo board that described them — things like “have a reliable internet connection,” “Uber to/from campus” and “went to [Austin City Limits].” It was one of organizer and Duncan sophomore Amirta Manikandan’s favorite of the network’s initiatives.


In the fall of 2019, Pena’s mother was diagnosed with oral cancer. She is now cancer-free, but her family is still paying bills from the various treatments and surgeries that have ensued. Pena started a GoFundMe to aid the costs, which Rice Mutual Aid signal-boosted when Pena’s mother needed a second surgery. Although Pena appreciates and uses Rice’s various financial support systems, such as the Access and Opportunity Portal and Student Success Initiatives, she said that using such institutional structures can be complicated and limiting in a way that mutual aid is not. “There’s definitely organizations on campus that help with accessibility and financial problems, but it’s usually very academic-related. Needing to pay for a test, your laptop breaks, something like that. So Rice isn’t able to really offer money for my family,” Pena said. “You do have to talk to multiple different people most of the time to explain your situation and you have to get approved — it’s not guaranteed. And it also just takes a lot longer.” Mutual aid, in contrast, takes a noquestions-asked attitude that Pena said is vital for people in need. “Sometimes people just need money,” she said. “And I think mutual aid is really good for that.” Although the spring semester is underway, Rice community members are far done facing challenges and barriers. Between the ongoing pandemic and the delayed opening of campus, students might be scrambling just to stay afloat. For that reason, Rice Mutual Aid isn’t going anywhere — and they won’t be for a long time. “Mutual aid is about radical community building, and the idea that through anything, we’re all here to support each other,” SethreBrink said. “You’re collectively building a stronger community to help get each other through really difficult times, and building structures that can last and that are sustainable ... And you’re able to create these relationships that can help a community support itself.” This article has been condensed for print. Read the full story at ricethresher.org.

kind of be supplemental to what Rice administration is offering.” Rice Mutual Aid has already collected and redistributed a substantial amount of money, but as they move into the spring semester, the network’s organizers are hoping to grow both those numbers — especially the latter. “[A] goal that we have is destigmatizing the use of the resource and mutual aid in general,” Lily Sethre-Brink, a Baker College sophomore and network organizer, said. “Because I think a lot of people still think of it as like, ‘Oh, well I’m taking someone’s charity’ or something like that, or feel like they shouldn’t.” But to the organizers, the resource they’ve created isn’t charity — and they don’t want the Rice community to view it as such. As Nguyen put it, it’s “solidarity, not charity.”

“It really makes you think, ‘Oh, I’ve done this many things,’ but that makes you realize, ‘What else have I done in life that I haven’t really thought about that makes me more privileged than others?” Manikandan said. That kind of self-reflection might not be as widespread as it could be. Mezthly Pena, a Duncan junior and a first-generation, low-income student, said she’s noticed that when low-income students are in need, it’s often other low-income students helping them out. “I don’t know if you’ve seen that tweet that’s like, ‘poor people are passing around the same $20,’” Pena said. “I know there are students who are financially privileged, but I feel like I don’t see them engaged with mutual aid as much as people who understand the situation that the people needing aid are in.”

elections and the legal and procedural integrity of state and federal courts. With retrospect to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, the statement reads as almost prophetic. “We try to do our part, as citizen historians, to alert people that this was happening and sure enough, 48 hours later it did,” Brinkley said. Brinkley admitted that although history has equipped him with an informed insight to predict and analyze the trajectory of events, nothing has shocked him quite as much as the rise and proliferation of Trump himself. “All of it [has been unprecedented] in the sense that we’ve never had a fascist president before,” Brinkley said. “We’ve had conservatives. I’ve edited Ronald Reagan’s diaries that Nancy Reagan gave me, I’ve written on Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln and other Republicans. It’s not a partisan thing — what Trump was doing was undermining the soul of our democracy ... We’ve had really bad presidents, we’ve had presidents that were slave owners, we’ve had presidents that were racist but we’ve never had a president that wanted to destroy the United States until Donald Trump.” Brinkley’s has utilized his vast knowledge of 20th century America to offer courses at Rice such as HIST 259: U.S. in the 1960s and ’70s, which covers the extreme political, social and cultural turmoil of the 1960s and 70s in the U.S. Looking back at those tumultuous decades alongside Rice students last semester provided a particularly poignant reflection of 2020, Brinkley said. “The students always have good questions

Douglas Brinkley, Rice history professor, weighs in on President Donald Trump’s final days in office on CNN. When he’s not giving lectures or grading papers, Brinkley can often be spotted on major news networks providing insight on the political news of the day.


DOUGLAS BRINKLEY authoritarian bent and has no knowledge of America’s past, so he [had] more of a sense of a dictator than he [did] an American president,” Brinkley said. “So in the last four years. I’ve had to almost always be a critic of the Trump administration, and I don’t do that with glee, I just have to call balls and strikes as a referee. We can’t tolerate xenophobia, racism, bigotry, sedition and treason, and you have to call it out — you have to talk truth to power, as they say.” On Monday, Jan. 4, two days before Trump’s supporters interrupted the Congressional certification of President Joe Biden, Politico published a letter from over 20 historians condemning efforts to disrupt and overturn the 2020 election results. Co-sponsored by Brinkley and Princeton

History teaches us that our own times are not uniquely perilous. The headlines of the day are real, but we’ve seen worse. Douglas Brinkley CNN HISTORIAN AND RICE PROFESSOR University history professor Sean Wilentz, the statement stressed the unprecedented threat of a losing presidential candidate attempting to “brazenly sabotage” the electoral process, citing historical examples of previous


and it’s neat thinking about figures of the ’60s and ’70s … the role of Black Panther leaders makes me think of how that connects to the Black Lives Matter movement, or talking about Rachel Carson helps me think about climate change today,” Brinkley said. “We experienced [the killing of] George Floyd in Minneapolis over the summer and protested against police malfeasance, and you know, when Martin Luther King [Jr.] was shot in 1968 there were 115 riots in American cities. It just helps you put things into perspective.” Though 2020 was a year chock full of apocalyptic anxiety, Brinkley says that American society has come a long way in battling the ills of 2020, and that hope is vital.

“I’m not one of these scholars who feels that this is the decline of America in 2020 and 2021. I mean, after all, with all those cyber threats we had, we ran a flawless election in 2020, all the states did a great job of keeping it organized through a pandemic, we had record voter turnout, which is always the sign of a pulse in a healthy democracy,” Brinkley said. “There’s no American recovery without dealing with COVID … but we’re through the worst of it after the inaugural, and you have to think better days are here to come.” This is a condensed and updated version of a story that ran online on Jan. 19. To read the full story, visit ricethresher.org.




Body Worlds This exhibit of human anatomy at the Houston Museum of Natural Science will send shivers up your spine. See more at ricethresher.org

Review: Feminist thriller “Promising Young Woman” bites back Feel-Good Foods: A guide to the best healthy spots near campus JULIA LI


Content warning: This piece contains references to sexual assault and suicide. Emerald Fennell’s feminist thriller, “Promising Young Woman,” boldly tackles the idea of consent and stereotypes against women. While the twist ending inevitably remains a topic of controversy for the message it sends to survivors of sexual assault, I admired Fennell’s atypical approach to expose the depth of society’s destructive rape culture. Cassie Thomas (Carey Mulligan) is a 30-year-old medical school dropout who left after her best friend Nina was sexually assaulted and later committed suicide. Consumed by guilt for not being able to save Nina, Cassie lives with her parents and works as a barista by day, but by night, she performs a nightly ritual of revenge. She transforms herself into an “easy target” for leering men by pretending to be too wasted to walk and adorning herself with revealing clothing and smeared makeup, and without fail, different men approach her nightly under a friendly pretense. The second these self-proclaimed “nice guys” make sexual advances, Cassie snaps out of her feigned drunken stupor and sends the men recoiling and stammering with excuses. Each time Cassie successfully puts a man in his place, she makes a tally in her book, alternating between bloody

red and pitch black streaks. Cassie’s turbulent mental state is reflected in the film’s distinct color palette, which is often, quite literally, night and day. The coffee shop is a bite of sugar, its brilliant candy-like tones illuminating the coffee shop. The Pepto-pink tones are almost like a double-edged sword, packing a punch as they maintain some kind of eerily saccharine facade. But at the bars and clubs that Cassie inhabits during the night, the color palette dances on the edge of bold fury, dipping into lethal pops of bloody reds. These oscillating color palettes showcase the two worlds that


Cassie alternates between, revealing how “in limbo” her life is — she has become ensnared, almost consumed, by her trauma and guilt. But Cassie remains trapped in time with good reason. “Promising Young Woman” tiptoes on the edge of a delicate balance between Cassie’s searing fury and the depths of her grief that both fuel her insatiable desire for revenge. Throughout the movie, I began to doubt the integrity of Cassie’s character. I wanted to root for her — and for the majority of the film, I did — but there were certain scenes where I doubted some of her vigilante actions, especially when she willingly puts

an innocent young woman in harm’s way to extract her revenge. While I understood Cassie’s cause and her rage, I couldn’t help but wonder — how far is too far? Regardless of some of Cassie’s more questionable acts, I still appreciated how the movie took on our society’s toxic rape culture that safeguards its assailants and neglects its survivors. The word “rape” is never once said out loud in the movie, but it nonetheless permeates through the movie, sinking into every nook and cranny. We never get to quite see it, but perhaps that’s the director’s point — to show the bitterness and pain that lingers long after an incident of sexual violence. “Promising Young Woman,” is a clever play on the phrase “promising young man,” which was coined by the judge who sentenced rapist Brock Turner to merely six months of jail for his assault on fellow Stanford University student, Chanel Miller. Fennell’s choice in repurposing the term to title her debut film is a powerful move and raises questions — what remains of the women who are pushed to the side in order to preserve a rapist’s “promising” life? With its particular focus on rape that happens on campuses, Fennell’s film pushes its audience to consider the role of campus rumors and bystanders, sending a clear message that the bystanders who idly allow sexual crimes to happen and gaslight victims are just as problematic. While Cassie’s actions sometimes went too far in my opinion, “Promising Young Woman” exposes our society’s incompetence at properly addressing double standards, consent, and sexual violence and sparks long overdue conversations. This article has been condensed for print. Read the full review at ricethresher. org.

Sundance Film Festival brings official films, programming to Space City



This weekend, the Sundance Institute, in partnership with the Houston Cinema Arts Society, will present a Sundance Satellite Film Festival in Houston. The event, which runs from Jan. 28 to Feb. 2, will include the

world premieres of six feature films from independent U.S. filmmakers as well as local programming customized for the Houston community. Since 1978, the Sundance Film Festival has premiered its official selections in Utah, but with current travel restrictions and social distancing, the festival is expanding to cities across the country by collaborating with regional organizations. HCAS Artistic Director Jessica Green says the issue of accessibility has grown more important due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “There is a lot of push within Sundance and the [film] industry to talk about what accessibility [is] and how we [can] really start to honor that,” Green said. “This is the beginning of Sundance working more closely with regional organizations, [forming] relationships, opening up opportunities … and rethinking equity and inclusion.”

All six Sundance Official Selections will be shown at the Moonstruck Drive-in, a drive-in movie theater with a 40-foot-wide screen made of stacked shipping containers overlooking the downtown Houston skyline. This is one of only three sites in Texas that will be showing the Sundance films. The film and award industry has long been criticized for being disproportionately white and male. The Sundance Institute has put forward efforts to combat this by committing to inclusion through their Diversity Initiative. This year’s Sundance film festival is more diverse than ever, both in the content of the films and their creators. Out of the six film directors featured in the festival’s lineup, three are women, two are Black and one is Asian American. This article has been condensed for print. Read the full story at ricethresher.org.



Welcome to 2021! If you’re anything like me, you’ve seen the myriad of ads promoting healthy living and wellness in the new year. I believe in the idea that you are what you eat, and I am interested in feeding my body, mind and soul without perpetuating the toxic aspects of diet culture. If you are looking to improve your diet and lifestyle, I got you covered with a list of the best healthy options near campus.

Local Farmers Markets Various locations

It is incredible to support local agriculture and food workers, especially amid a global pandemic. If you live off campus and need groceries or you’re just interested in supporting local vendors, there are a few great farmers markets a short distance from Rice! The Rice Village Farmers Market is an open-air market near campus that offers goods ranging from fresh produce and chefprepared meals to artisanal coffee, pasta sauce and more. This market operates in Rice Village on the first and third Sundays each month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Urban Harvest Farmers Market is located about 15 minutes away from campus at 2752 Buffalo Speedway and offers products from nearly 100 Houston vendors, ranging from hot meals to fresh fruits and vegetables. This market is open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon.

Mendocino Farms 5510 Morningside Drive

Whether it’s soup, sandwiches, salads or sides, Mendocino Farms has something for every aspiring healthy eater. Founded in the Golden State, this sandwich and salad shop brings the sunny Southern California wellness scene to Rice Village. This article has been condensed for print. Read the full story at ricethresher.org.



This weekend, the Rice Players will virtually present their semi-annual Play in a Day, an opportunity to create and produce a play in just 24 hours. Participants will have from 8 p.m. on Jan. 29 to 8 p.m. on Jan. 30 to write, direct and rehearse their plays before performing live from 8 - 9 p.m. Sign up online by Wednesday, Jan. 27 to get involved.

Oscar-winning actors Denzel Washington and Rami Malek play two California sheriffs who are determined to bring a serial killer (Jared Leto) to justice in the highly anticipated neo-noir crime thriller, “The Little Things.” The film releases nationwide in theaters and on HBO Max on Jan. 29 — use your Rice-provided HBO Max account to stream for free.



Join Contemporary Arts Museum Houston Executive Director Hesse McGraw and Houston Freedmen’s Town Conservatory Executive Director Zion Escobar this Thursday for a conversation about the future of art and civic engagement in Freedmen’s Town, including a new creative partnership between the two organizations. Watch their talk on Facebook Live on Jan. 28 from 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

The ice skating rink at Discovery Green will close this Sunday, Jan. 31. Don’t miss your last chance to feel wintry before the 70-degree weather is here to stay! Tickets are $15 including skate rental, and must be purchased online in advance.




Volleyball splits opening weekend series with UH


Freshman Nia McCardell kneels to dig a shot in the Owls’ victory against the University of Houston on Saturday. The Owls started the game slowly, dropping the first two sets, before winning three straight sets to close out the victory. The next day, the Owls got off to a similarly slow start. But this time, they were unable to overcome the deficit and lost the game in three sets, dropping their record to 1-1.


The Rice volleyball team opened their season this weekend with a twomatch home-and-home series against the University of Houston. The Owls split the series with the Cougars, winning Saturday’s opener three sets to two, before dropping Sunday’s match in straight sets. The matches marked the Owls’ return to the court, following a long and uncertain offseason that saw the season delayed by nearly five months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to head coach Genny Volpe, the team had been eagerly awaiting the chance to play again. “We [were] very anxious and excited to get to competition again,” Volpe said. “It’s been well over a year since we competed and we are embracing [this] opportunity.” Although the volleyball season is normally played in the fall, this year’s season will take place during the spring

semester instead. The Owls last played on Dec. 6, 2019, when they lost to No. 25-ranked Texas A&M University in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Since then, in addition to an offseason of delays and new COVID-19 safety protocols, the team has also had to navigate replacing five senior starters from last year’s team. According to senior outside hitter Nicole Lennon, the Owls were excited to finally start their season. “After such a long offseason, every single one of my teammates and I were just absolutely psyched to get on the court,” Lennon said. “All of us could agree that the best part of playing volleyball is the competition days, so finally being able to compete against another team again made [the offseason] worth it.” During Saturday’s long-awaited return to the court, it took time for the Owls to find their footing. The team dropped the first two sets, the first by a score of 25-20, and the second by a score of 25-18. With UH needing to win only one more set to secure a victory, the Owls staged a comeback, winning the next two

sets by a combined 50-34 margin, before completing the comeback by winning the decisive fifth set 15-11. Lennon, who is the only senior on the team, said it took the Owls a couple of sets to adjust to playing together due to all of the turnover on the roster. But once they did, Lennon said the game started to go their way. “It was a tough start for us,” Lennon said. “We are a newcomer-heavy team and we are still learning how to compete together. But I think in those last three sets, every single person did their job to the best of their ability and with confidence, so it allowed us to trust each other and play for each other.” Sunday’s game got off to a similar start, but with a different result. After going down two sets to none, Rice got out to an early lead in the third set. However, UH was able to take the set 27-25. Volpe said the Owls’ inability to capitalize on leads is what cost them the game. “We had several leads during the match and had many opportunities to

close out each set,” Volpe said. “We just didn’t execute.” Now 1-1, the Owls look to build off of their 27-4 record last season. Despite losing many key players from last year’s team, Rice returns two players who were named All-American honorable mentions by the AVCA last year: Lennon and junior middle blocker Anota Adekunle. Volpe said the Owls must get the most out of a roster that will rely heavily on key returning players, as well as many less-experienced players, if they are going to build off their success from previous years. “We have built a tradition of winning here at Rice University in women’s volleyball,” Volpe said. “But more importantly, we are focused on maximizing our potential. We have a stellar group of both experience and young talent on the team this year. So for us, we are working on how this group works together.” Next, the team will travel to Dallas for a two-game series against Southern Methodist University on Jan. 29 and 30.

Men’s and women’s tennis hand Ls to Lamar, Louisiana BEN BAKER-KATZ SPORTS EDITOR

It was a good weekend for Rice Tennis, as both the men’s and women’s teams put on strong performances at home this past Sunday. The women breezed past the University of Louisiana 4-0, and the men got the better of Lamar University by a score of 6-1. For the women, fast starts in each match allowed them to make quick work of the Ragin’ Cajuns. Head coach Elizabeth Schmidt attributed those fast starts to her team’s intensity right out of the gate. “We were playing from the lead on every court, all day,” Schmidt said. “We got a lot of quick starts on the doubles and singles courts, which means we came out with a purpose. We came out with intensity, with a focus, and when you do that it allows for a solid, team win.” The Owls dominated the doubles matches, with senior Michaela Haet and freshman Federica Trevisan jumping out to an early lead winning their match 6-0 and improving to 3-0 on the season. This momentum carried over into the singles matches, where the Owls captured all six first sets while only losing 10 games.

Senior Anna Bowtell opened the scoring in singles with a 6-2, 6-1 win. Trevisan and sophomore Maria Budin followed, only losing a combined six games in their singles matchups on the way to clinching the victory for the Owls. Schmidt was pleased with the show her team put on, but emphasized that it is still early in the season and that her team must learn from these matches. “We try to get better every day,” Schmidt said. “We learn from our wins; we learn from our losses, and I think this team is really dedicated to improvement; they’re putting in the work.” Over on the men’s side, strong doubles performances allowed the Owls to get out to an early lead over the Cardinals. After Lamar took the first doubles match, senior Jacob Eskeland and junior AJ Valenty responded with a 6-3 win. Moments later, sophomore Wes Barnett and freshman Trinity Grear finished off a comeback from down 0-40, winning their match 6-4 and giving the Owls the first point of the afternoon. Head coach Efe Ustundag spoke highly of the battles he saw in each doubles match. “The guys fought; Wes and Trinity played well together, and put themselves in

the position to take care of the job,” Ustundag said. “I’m also happy for AJ and Jacob. AJ is a good story, a walk-on, he’s been putting in the work for the last three years, and now finding himself in the doubles lineup and delivering in the last couple of matches.” The singles lineup for the Owls was shuffled around this weekend, as injuries kept multiple players sidelined. Ustendag pointed out that the matches showed the depth of this team. “It’s great to be in a position to play ten deep,” he said. “We had some guys out due to injuries and had some guys who don’t get a chance to play get that chance and they played well.” Despite the injuries, the Owls were able to win five of the six singles matches, to cap their 6-1 victory. In the first singles match to finish, Grear secured his first collegiate win in straight sets (6-2, 6-2), and junior Adam Oscislawski and Eskeland followed right behind him to clinch the match. Ustundag praised the performance of his players. “Today was physical, we made a lot of balls, we chased a lot of balls, and made our opponents uncomfortable,” Ustundag said. “Those guys [in the heart of the

lineup] are just fighting dogs.” Both teams will be back in action on Sunday, when they travel to Baton Rouge to take on Louisiana State University.


Freshman Trinity Grear finishes a match against Lamar University.



LEAKED: Rice’s Vaccine Priority List

Rice recently announced its intention to vaccinate its community on campus and many are excited to find out when they will receive their doses. Luckily, the Backpage was able to get our hands on Rice’s plan via inside sources. Rice constructed the following three-phase rollout based on how much they value each group’s survival. Phase One: Those receiving the vaccine first were described as “extremely valuable to our institution, who we feel are most essential to our ongoing success.”

Phase Two:

Phase Three:

Rice Administration describes the group at this priority level as “those who provide neither significant benefits or damage to Rice that can be found.”

Chef Roger: Perhaps the only reason why students across campus haven’t canceled their meal plans, Chef Roger’s cinnamon rolls are undoubtedly top priority. The Organic Chemistry Tutor: Known among students for providing better lectures than some professors, the Organic Chemistry Tutor finds himself this high on Rice’s list due to him singlehandedly getting students through STEM classes. The Squirrels: While some may argue that the squirrels could survive anything, they are absolutely essential to keep up the illusion of any life or joy on campus for prospective students. Students Receiving No Financial Aid: The pandemic has been hard on everyone financially, especially Rice, so students who pay the university the most money are being prioritized. Administration argues that this move is no less ethical than the widespread prioritization of the privileged for all healthcare. The Classmates Who Send the GroupMe Links in Zoom: These individuals are the most communityoriented, organized and benevolent among students. They deserve the vaccine on principle of being more proactive and prudent in their roles than most local governments in their respective vaccine rollouts. Business Minors Trying to Break into Consulting: If you’re a student who fell short when recruiting for a consulting internship last semester, it’s definitely because of the remote nature of networking events and nothing to do with your fundamentally off-putting demeanor. Because “consulting is great if you don’t really know what you want to do yet” and is therefore the literal only option you can conceive of to start your career, Rice wants you to get vaccinated and get out there — there aren’t enough mental health resources to address the volume of mental breakdowns that could occur.

Faculty and Staff: It may be surprising to see these essential individuals in Phase 2, but Rice feels that they already pay them, what else do they want? People Muted and Cameras Off: You know, we understand — online learning can be boring, especially in huge lectures. Rice has chosen to put these individuals in Phase 2 because they would have no way to check if someone behind a black screen is alive or not anyway. Students Whose Masks Don’t Cover Their Noses: It’s really not that hard. Just pull it up an inch. It’s almost as if they want the coronavirus. If you are one of those students, we here at the Thresher collectively shake our heads at you in disappointment.

Finally, Rice describes this priority tier as “those we could stand to have quarantined in Sid, whatever.”

Professors Who Don’t Do Sylly Week: These professors who decide to go straight in might have our best interests in mind for the long term, but have been known to cause extreme shock to many students on campus who haven’t thought about school in weeks. Coronavirus would certainly come as a shock to them — maybe they can see what it feels like. The Overly Attached Freshman LongDistance Couple That Won’t Last: In years past, the doomed longdistance couples were high school sweethearts that couldn’t let go. These days with the pandemic, relationships suddenly turned LDR are all too common. Rice just wants to give you the ultimatum you’ve been avoiding on your 2 a.m. FaceTimes. Break it up or back of the vaccine line — your roommate is sick of consoling you. Whoever Decided to Serve the Same Stale Cupcakes for Five Days in a Row: This crime has been witnessed at North Servery recently, but many serveries have been guilty of putting out identical cupcakes day after day, drier and drier each time. Dessert is the only thing to look forward to in this pandemic, and this injustice will not go unpunished.

The Backpage is satire, written this week by Timmy Mansfield and Edward Wong, edited by Simona Matovaccine and designed by Survival Matovic. To sign up for a vaccine, email JamesJoyceLovesFarts@rice.edu.



TENNIS INSTRUCTION NEEDED for two kids (13 and 11) at the intermediate level. We are Rec Center members and have access to the courts. Hoping for two lessons per week, either after school or weekends. Contact Jim Krane 718-200-7186 or jmk9@rice.edu


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The Rice Thresher | Wednesday, January 27, 2021  

The Rice Thresher | Wednesday, January 27, 2021  

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