VOLUME 106, ISSUE NO. 10 | STUDENT-RUN SINCE 1916 | RICETHRESHER.ORG | WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2021
Rice set to join American Athletic Conference DANIEL SCHRAGER
ANDREA GOMEZ / THRESHER
Pub expected to reopen Nov. 1 with masks, reduced capacity
Rice has accepted an invitation to join the American Athletic Conference along with five other Conference USA schools, the AAC announced Thursday morning. The move won’t take effect until an undetermined later time, but multiple Rice coaches indicated that 2023 could be a possible target date, so Rice will remain in C-USA for the time being. This will be just the third time in school history that Rice will move athletic conferences. According to Athletic Director Joe Karlgaard, in the AAC, Rice has found a conference that meets all of its criteria. “Today is an unbelievable day for Rice athletics,” Karlgaard said. “Since the breakup of the Southwest Conference about 25 years ago, we’ve aspired to align ourselves with other institutions based on academic values, geography and tradition. The opportunity to join the [AAC] checks all three boxes.” This will end Rice’s 16-plus year run with C-USA, which they joined in 2005 from the Western Athletic Conference. Prior to their time in the WAC, they had been a member of the SWC, which was home to nearly all of the major Division I schools in Texas, from 1915 until the conference folded in 1996. After weeks of negotiations, Rice applied to join the AAC on Tuesday. Rice’s application was approved Wednesday before a complete agreement was reached today. They will be joined by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of North Texas, University of Texas, San Antonio, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and Florida Atlantic University. According to Karlgaard, the move
materialized quickly over the past two weeks. “It’s been a really intensive six or seven week process for us,” Karlgaard said. “It was probably ten days to two weeks ago where I had a couple of conversations that led me to believe that we were getting some traction. Every day, I’d get more information that led me to believe that we’re getting a little bit more traction. And then it was over the weekend that I first heard that we’re likely to hear more definitive information [soon]. [When] the story broke the first part of this week, we [just] had to get all the Is dotted and Ts crossed.” While not one of the power-five conferences, the American has served as the de-facto sixth strongest conference in recent years. However, the status of the conference is in flux after three of its member schools, including the University of Houston, agreed to join the Big 12 earlier this year. Despite all of the turnover, head football coach Mike Bloomgren said that the AAC remains a top conference and will improve Rice’s recruiting profile. “Joining the American means going into one of the top six conferences for football in the nation,” Bloomgren said. “And there have been multiple years in recent history, including this one, where they’re certainly not number six, they’re a lot better than that.” After losing UH, adding Rice will allow the AAC to maintain a presence in the valuable Houston market, as they attempt to increase their footprint in Texas. The conference recently moved their headquarters to the Dallas area, and will now include four Texas schools. AAC Commissioner Michael Aresco said that geography and market size played a significant role in their selection process.
SEE AAC PAGE 10
to Pub after hearing upperclassmen share their experiences there. “I’m really excited about Pub reopening,” Willy’s Pub has scheduled its reopening Lu said. “I’ve heard a lot of upperclassmen for Nov. 1, according to General Manager talk about going after classes on Thursdays Elizabeth Groenewold. Pub’s doors have and just hanging out with their friends, and been closed since early March 2020 following I can’t help but feel like that was a part of an alleged hazing incident and the later Rice that I missed out on freshman year.” McMurtry College sophomore Eric Liu imposition of Rice’s COVID-19 rules. said he is keen to Pub’s capacity have his first Pub will be 100 experience. students on “I’m glad that it’s Monday, Tuesday, I’m glad that it’s reopening Wednesday and [since] I feel like I’ve missed reopening [since] I feel like I’ve missed Friday and will out on a big part of increase to 150 out on a big part of Rice’s Rice’s culture during students on culture during freshman Thursday for Pub year, and that I’ve gradually freshman year, and that I’ve gradually Night, according been exposed to more of been exposed to to Groenewold, a more of it this year,” Will Rice College it this year. I’ll check it Liu said. “I’ll check senior. Masks will out when it opens, and if I it out when it opens, be required unless enjoy it then I definitely see and if I enjoy it then I actively eating or definitely see myself drinking. Pub’s myself going back. going back.” pre-COVID capacity Eric Liu Pub’s reopening was 299. MCMURTRY COLLEGE SOPHOMORE date of Nov. 1 remains Groenewold said that Pub will continue to host themed tentative because Rice administrators need nights and will follow its regular operating to approve the business’s proposed COVID protocols, and Pub needs to pass a health hours from before COVID. “We’re going to try and make [Pub] as inspection, according to Groenewold. normal as possible,” Groenewold said. “We’re Additionally, Groenewold said Pub has still going to have events, we’re still going to taken time to train their staff, as only four have Pub night, we’re still going to have trivia. of the 36 bartenders and managers have worked at Pub before. It’s just [that] not as many people can come.” Karen Lu, a sophomore at Sid Richardson College, said that she looks forward to going SEE PUB REOPENING PAGE 3 SENIOR WRITER
SANDY WU / THRESHER Willy’s Pub in the RMC basement has scheduled its reopening for Nov. 1.
2 • WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2021
THE RICE THRESHER
Rice community discusses classroom Social sciences offers new STaRT program mask policy continuation JAMAL SAYID
FOR THE THRESHER
FOR THE THRESHER
Rice reports that the classroom mask mandate will most likely continue for the semester despite there being no evidence of transmission in the classroom, according to Kevin Kirby, the Crisis Management Advisory Committee chair. Some professors have said they prefer for the mask mandate to remain in place, due to the state of COVID in Houston. Kirby said that, verified through Rice’s robust contact tracing efforts, Rice has documented zero cases of the virus to be transmitted within a classroom setting over the last eighteen months. “[From] what we have learned over the last 18 months of how the SARS-CoV-2 virus is transmitted, it is [particularly] transmitted through aerosols,” Kirby said. In order to further prevent the spread of the virus, Kirby said that Rice has modified all of the buildings to have much better high efficiency filters. “In all of our buildings we have put UVC lights [in] all of the [heating, ventialiation, and air conditioning] systems to kill viruses,” Kirby said “Then we have optimized for air flow through the building rather than for energy efficiency.” According to the Food and Drug Administration, UVC radiation has been shown to destroy the outer protein coating of Schroeder said he believes that everyone SARS-CoV-2. The destruction ultimately leads to inactivation of the virus. According to the should wear a high-quality mask when Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, interacting with others. “I’ve seen some research showing that HVAC settings have been modified to improve ventilation by increasing total airflow to even low-quality masks help a measurable amount, but here at Rice we can all get our occupied spaces when possible. According to a weekly COVID-19 update hands on pretty high-quality masks (e.g., from June of 2020, Rice follows the American KN95, N95, surgical masks) and it’s great Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air- that we’re wearing them when gathering Conditioning Engineers technical standards in larger indoor groups,” Schroeder said. to improve building systems, indoor air “That’s a back-up method for suppressing quality, energy efficiency and sustainable viral transmission on top of vaccination development in both the design and (which we have been great at, here at Rice), maintenance of buildings on campus, in but it’s also low in financial cost and low in non-financial costs.” terms of the COVID-19 response. Cassandra Diep, an assistant teaching Although improvements to ventilation and air cleaning can help prevent the professor and health sciences advisor, said spread of the virus on some level, they she also feels that the mask mandate in cannot on their own eliminate the risk of classrooms should be upheld. Diep teaches airborne transmission, according to the three courses in-person this semester, with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The between 15 to 30 students in each class. “I am fully vaccinated, but I have two EPA recommends increasing ventilation with outdoor air and air filtration as young children who are ineligible to be important components of a larger strategy vaccinated,” Diep said. “With masks, I that may include physical distancing, personally feel more comfortable being in the classroom and have wearing cloth face less worries about coverings or masks, exposing my surface cleaning, children to the handwashing and With masks, I personally virus through me. other precautions. There are also T i m o t h y feel more comfortable S c h r o e d e r , being in the classroom and many individuals, who cannot be department chair have less worries about vaccinated for and professor of medical reasons or philosophy, said the exposing my children to are still at high risk mask mandate is the virus through me. despite being fully an important policy vaccinated, so the that should remain Cassandra Diep classroom mask in place for as long as KINESIOLOGY DEPARTMENT it takes for Houston ASSISTANT TEACHING PROFESSOR policy helps protect them.” to reach a level of Vedha Penmetcha, a freshman at Sid infection and protection against infection that we will have to realistically accept as the Richardson College, believes that the mask mandate in a classroom setting is very new normal. “In the big picture, there’s a very simple reasonable. “I don’t believe that wearing a mask reason [for the policy],” Schroeder said. “Right now, we in Houston are slowly inhibits me much because it is just a piece of winning the fight against the Delta variant. material covering your face that is beneficial And we are winning because we are, in a public health lens,” Penmetcha said. collectively, doing a lot to prevent the spread “Though it can be a little hard to do intense of the virus. We should keep fighting this exercises with a mask on, it is not a huge virus until we have it down, stably down, to trouble by any means.” Richard Gao, a freshman at Baker College, the lowest level that we can realistically hope for, using the most effective, and, yes, cost- also said that he doesn’t believe that masks inhibit his learning or communication. effective, tools we have.”
NDIDI NWOSU / THRESHER “Even with mask mandates becoming more lax, generally I still wear my mask and will continue to do so,” Gao said. Catherine Lee, a Will Rice College junior, said that mask wearing has become a familiar part of her life. “From a professor’s perspective, I can see why the classroom mask mandate matters because some professors are older and for some, teaching is the only exposure they have to large numbers of college students … out of a desire to protect professors, I probably would [continue to wear masks if the mask mandate ended],” Lee said. Kirby said that Rice is doing well at protecting its students against the virus compared to other colleges in the nation. “Overall I think we are doing an excellent job [at mitigating the effects of the virus] and that’s pointed out by the statistics,” Kirby said. Schroeder said he believes that the mask mandate exemplifies the RICE values. “[The] ‘C’ is for community, and our community is full of unvaccinated people who need us to be a shield for them until they can be helped, nudged or arm-twisted into getting vaccinated… Our respect, the ‘R’ in the R.I.C.E. way for these people also gives us an obligation … to do what we can until things are as good as they can be,” Schroeder said. Schroeder also said that he thinks the Rice community understands the importance of taking little steps that will ultimately save lives. “For most of the country, and especially for young people, the fight against COVID-19 has not mostly been about protecting themselves ... It has been about protecting others,” Schroeder said. “We have the power to save lives with our vaccine-sore arms and our crummy fibrous masks and our sitting outside with friends. We won’t get the warm, fuzzy thrill of saving those lives in person, but I think as a group we’re too smart to require that as a precondition on saving lives.” Diep said she is grateful for Rice’s many mitigation strategies, including high vaccination rate, regular testing and classroom mask policy. “I have colleagues at other universities, who are still teaching online, partly because of the lack of mitigation strategies at their universities,” Diep said.
Rice University’s School of Social Sciences introduced a new program this year to help students forge connections and learn relevant skills to become better researchers. The program took place from Oct. 8 to 12 and will hold its next event in the fall of 2022. The Statistical Training and Research Techniques at Rice, otherwise referred to as a “STaRT@Rice,” was designed by Tony Brown and Matthew Hayes with the purpose of introducing students to research techniques used at the School of Social Sciences. Matthew Hayes, an assistant professor of political science, said the program is designed to provide opportunities for students from underrepresented backgrounds at the undergraduate and graduate level within the School of Social Science. “STaRT@Rice is designed to be an inclusive program, and we welcome any students who hope to make advanced training in the social sciences more accessible and approachable for all students,” Hayes said. Members of the program’s advisory board include Elaine Howard Ecklund, Özge Gürcanlı, Eden King and Melissa Marschall. Brown, a professor of sociology at Rice, said in a Rice News article that STaRT@Rice was inspired by his own experience at the University of Michigan. He was part of a summer training program that introduced students from diverse backgrounds to the school’s academic intensity, in addition to providing opportunities to connect. CHANNING WANG / THRESHER Kraft Hall, home of Rice Social Sciences
Hayes said the goals of STaRT@Rice are twofold. The first is to provide the opportunity to build networks across disciplines in the School of Social Science. “In 2019, only 7 percent of incoming graduate students across the university identified as Black, and only nine percent identified as Hispanic,” Hayes said. “As a result, it is common for underrepresented minority graduate students to feel isolated within their cohorts and departments. Thus, creating a broader sense of community should reduce feelings of isolation.” Hayes said the second goal is to improve the career trajectories for undergraduate and graduate students by providing exposure to the research process and providing an overview of various research methods. “Research skills are in high demand, both within and outside [Rice], and exposing undergraduate and graduate students to advanced skills, such as statistical analysis and programming, should improve their ability to compete in an increasingly tight job market,” Hayes said. The new “STaRT@Rice” program featured lectures from many Social Sciences faculty members, in addition to 16 workshops by postdoctoral fellows, researchers and faculty members.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2021 • 3
Rice paid parental leave policy excludes non-birthing staff Staff parental leave across universities for non-birthing parents Across peer instutitions
Across other Texas schools
paid time off
paid time off
2 weeks (birth), 3 weeks (adopt or foster)
Information from each institution’s HR policy
Rice currently offers no paid family leave for staff members who are the non-birthing parent. Partners, adoptive parents or foster parents can take unpaid leave up to 12 weeks in a one year period, in compliance with the nation’s Family Medical Leave Act, according to Rice Policy 417. Rice staff members who are the birthing parents can receive five to seven weeks at 80 percent pay coinciding with their own FMLA leave, under the Short Term Disability Act, according to Rice Policy 423. The length of the paid leave period depends on the type of delivery.
FROM FRONT PAGE
PUB REOPENING “When I have met with people from admin about Pub reopening, they kind of told me, ‘We want to see what Pub thinks would be fair,’” Groenewold said. “We have to make sure that the [COVID] protocol gets approved.” Key aspects of the protocol include mask rules and capacity limits, Groenewold said. On Thursday nights, when Pub hopes to increase their capacity to 150 people, the rules will be more rigid, according to Groenewold. “On Thursdays, it’s going to be stricter,” Groenewold said. “The policy will be unless you’re taking your mask off to take a sip, keep your mask on. If you’re holding a drink in your hand, you can’t just be unmasked the whole time.” Additionally, Groenewold said Pub will limit their Thursday line to 30 people. “If someone comes and the line is already at 30 people, it doesn’t mean they’re not allowed to wait, they just can’t wait in line,” Groenewold said. “They have to wait somewhere else within the [Rice Memorial Center].” These rules are in part due to Pub’s nature as a cross-college alcohol event, according to Groenewold. She said she advocated against restricting certain nights to individual colleges as she said Pub is supposed to facilitate cross-college interaction. “The whole point of Pub is that it’s supposed to be a place where everyone from every college is able to feel comfortable and come and hang out here, and you’re supposed to be able to meet new people you usually wouldn’t see,” Groenewold said. Isaiah Hwang, a Wiess College junior, said he always looked forward to Thursday Pub Nights. “It was a great way to meet a diverse group of people from all across campus in a lively environment,” Hwang said. “I personally [remember] the memories of going out to Pub with friends to enjoy music, meet new people, and have a great time.”
Steve Sherman, a research fellow at the Kinder Institute, said he had to use his accrued vacation days in order to have paid time off following the birth of his daughter in late September. Sherman said his wife was largely bedridden for the first 10 days after giving birth via C-section. “She was essentially prostrate and nursing while I had to take care of food, of the dog, of just arranging the house, getting things together,” Sherman said. “Let’s say I didn’t have vacation time, there’s two things that would have happened. One is that we would have taken a humongous financial hit. Or two, I just would have gone back to work and she would have nothing, she would have no one.” Rice administrators in return asked for mask and capacity rules, according to Groenewold. “I think admin really respects … the culture of Pub that we’re trying to keep,” Groenewold said. “Since they’re allowing us to break that cross-college alcohol rule, the capacity limit is the other side of the coin.” Pub’s last semester of service came with its own series of closures. At the end of the 2019 fall semester, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission investigated Pub and found multiple violations; Pub remained shut through the first few weeks of the following spring semester. About a month after its reopening, allegations of hazing prompted another closure shortly before COVID-19 emptied Rice’s campus. Now, Pub is strengthening its policies against underage drinking and hazing, according to Groenewold. “We have ID scanners now and new systems in place to make sure that underage drinking doesn’t occur,” Groenewold said. “To be honest, it wasn’t that strict before, like if someone showed you an ID, you accepted it typically if it looked real. Now it’s taught to the bartenders that if you know that person, or you know of them, and you know they’re not of age, you cannot serve them.” Pub is taking measures to ensure compliance with both underage drinking laws and Pub’s mask requirement, Groenewold said. “We have two [bartenders] in the crowd called rovers, and they’ll now be in charge of enforcing no underage drinking along with the masking policy,” she said. The March 2020 hazing shutdown occurred after a video spread of the thennewly elected Wiess College chief justice chugging liquid and vomiting. According to Groenewold, one of the involved students was a manager at Pub and decided to host Wiess’ turnover event there. Now, unsponsored college events cannot be hosted at Pub. This story has been cut off for print. Read the full article online at ricethresher.org.
INFOGRAPHIC BY ANNA CHUNG Bryn Dugre, staff co-chair of Faculty Senate Faculty and Staff Benefits Committee, said she has long been interested in the topic of parental leave, even before having her two children while an employee at Rice. “A newborn is a lot of work and you’re exhausted and you need help,” Dugre, operations administrator of the Earth, environmental and planetary sciences department, said. “The person who didn’t [give birth to] the baby, if they can have leave at the same time, it’s very helpful.” Many of Rice’s peer institutions have university-specific parental leave policies concurrent with FMLA. Duke University offers its staff six consecutive weeks at full pay for any biological parent or adoptive
parents with newly placed children, according to their HR policy 09.17. Staff at Vanderbilt University and Emory University can likewise receive two and three week leaves with full pay, respectively, upon becoming new parents, according to each school’s HR policies. Within Texas, though, Rice is largely in line with other universities, including University of Texas, Austin, University of Houston and Texas A&M, all of which do not offer paid parental leave for their nonbirthing parent employees. Sherman said he was surprised to find that Rice’s policies were normal for Texas institutions. “This is a Rice issue, but it’s also a bigger-than-Rice issue,” Sherman said. “All throughout the state, it shows that there’s really a lack of support for mothers.” Dugre said as well that the issue of lacking parental leaves is not unique to Rice. “It’s not just a Rice thing, it’s a U.S. thing,” Dugre said. “There just aren’t really great maternity, paternity and parental leave policies in place. It’s just something that’s historical, and I think it’s going to take, honestly, generations to change.” Dugre said she raised the issue of parental leaves in a committee meeting last spring, including the disparity between what is offered by the university to staff versus faculty. “I think a lot of staff recognize that there’s a big difference between what staff are given and what faculty are given,” Dugre said. “And I think that it’s hard not to see the big difference there.” According to Rice policy 204, tenuretrack faculty who give birth, adopt a child under one year or are a spouse of the birthing parent qualify for a one semester leave at full pay under Rice’s Primary Caregiver Leave. Non-tenure track faculty are not eligible for this benefit.
4 • WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2021
Rice emphasizing sustainability with new Hanszen College wing “Baker [College], [Will Rice College] and Hanszen all had wings built in the 1950s. All three had similar issues around accessibility A new college wing is currently under and very large footprints,” Ditman said. “I construction for Hanszen College. According think the rooms were actually quite nice, to the Rice University website, the building, but the cost of making them accessible, in which will be 4.5 stories tall including 164 addition to substantially upgrading the rest of the buildings, did not make economic sense.” beds, is slated for completion in July of 2022. Richard Johnson, Rice’s executive Mark Ditman, the associate vice president for Housing and Dining, said he originally director for sustainability, said that the new worked alongside a team to promote the new Hanszen wing has several characteristics designed to promote sustainability. wing’s construction several years ago. “When planning this project, we were “I recognized the importance of a new wing for Hanszen some time ago primarily thinking about climate change, and the need due to its lack of accessibility,” Ditman said. to approach the design from the perspective “Additionally, the building occupied a very of selecting materials with the lowest large footprint for an urban campus that has possible climate impact while still meeting limited opportunities for expansion. For these our performance needs,” Johnson said. reasons, my staff worked with [Kevin] Kirby’s “That led us to use mass timber as a primary support to make the case for a new building.” building material.” Johnson said President David Rice’s School of Leebron said Rice Architecture is invests in the maintenance and When planning this project, a leader in mass timber research, so renewal of the he and Ditman were residential colleges we were thinking about eager to translate every year, which climate change, and the that expertise into includes periodic need to approach the project. major renovations design from the perspective this“Once the project and replacements, is finished, it will be and that the new of selecting materials with one of just a handful Hanszen wing was the lowest possible climate of mass timber among the highest impact while still meeting buildings in Texas, priorities over the last our performance needs. so it will certainly few years. be viewed as a “The decisions Richard Johnson cutting-edge green are based on many EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR building,” Johnson factors, including said. “We also feedback from our SUSTAINABILITY hope that students students,” Leebron said. “We’re appreciative of the valuable will see this project as a visual symbol of student input we have received both in [Rice’s] ambition to be a leader in campus making the new wing a priority and in key sustainability and sustainability research at aspects of the design. I’m excited by the Rice, and that it will inspire them.” Johnson said that the timber-based features of the new wing and think it will be a building, the first of its kind at Rice, was fantastic addition to Hanszen College.” Ditman said that the new wing is being considered an unorthodox approach. “Any time you’re proposing to do constructed now because, previously, it did something unconventional, you have to not make financial sense for the university.
ZEISHA BENNETT / THRESHER Construction of the new wing of Hanszen College, scheduled to be complete July 2022. be prepared to devote the additional time necessary to convince the appropriate stakeholders,” Johnson said. “That’s exactly what we had to do with respect to selecting mass timber for the Hanszen project. The second mass timber project at Rice will be easier to do than the first, and hopefully our experience at Rice will make it easier for others elsewhere to do their own mass timber projects.” In addition to proposals from administration, student leadership at Hanszen have worked in student-led committees aimed at making decisions about various aspects of the new wing. Morgan Seay, Hanszen president, said she was involved in organizing Hanszenites into these committees, including one that played a role in picking an artist to create an original art piece for the new building. That student-led committee worked to narrow down a list of artists, which was then voted on by all Hanszentites. Eventually, Magdalena Fernandez, a Venezuelan artist, was selected to create an original piece. “The piece that will be in the new section is called Fragmented Sky,” Seay, a senior,
said. “It’s a beautiful artwork that’s built into the tiles that are going to be outside of the new section. Essentially, the artwork reflects everything from the sky back upwards so that you can see the sky on the ground.” Marc Armeña, a Hanszen sophomore, said he appreciated the new wing’s focus on common spaces in building up Hanszen’s culture. “I think the design choice of concentrating little common spaces closer to the main commons was a really smart maneuver on the part of the architects … I would say this decision process was made with the intention of strengthening Hanszen’s already strong commons culture,” Armeña said. Seay said the new wing’s facilities improve Hanszen’s overall state. “Hanszen is a college where we are proud of our strong culture, but it’s always kind of a caveat that the facilities have typically been lacking,” Seay said. “I’m happy that we’re going to have this very nice, new building that’s going to be introduced … It will provide a space where more Hanszenites are comfortable and excited about living on campus.”
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2021 • 5
THE RICE THRESHER
Two years ago, the Thresher with two and three weeks leave with full extensively covered discrepancies pay, respectively. In Texas, most institutions also do in Rice’s maternity leave policies in regards to their treatment of faculty and not provide pay to non-birthing staff staff. Specifically, we called for Rice to or non-tenure-track faculty seeking equalize its maternity leave policies. In parental leave. However, somehow, addition, we were reminded that Rice’s Southern Methodist University provides maternity leave policy discriminates up to six weeks paid leave to birthing between tenure-track and non-tenure- parents, two weeks paid leave for nontrack faculty, and that the conversation birthing parents and three weeks paid should be centered around parental leave for adopting parents. We urge the administration to reflect on why Rice leave instead of just maternity leave. cannot pursue We are here similar policies again two years to a private later to remind university with you that almost Distinguishing the amount less financial nothing has leeway than Rice, changed. Rice of leave between staff, given SMU’s still does not offer non-tenure-track faculty endowment is less paid leave for non- and tenure-track faculty than one-third the birthing parents size of Rice’s. who are staff inherently implies a Distinguishing or non-tenure- difference in the worth the amount of track faculty, of each group and their leave between while tenurecontributions to the staff, non-tenuretrack faculty track faculty receive only one university. Rice clearly and tenuresemester of full understands the value of track faculty pay if they declare paid parental leave — why inherently implies themselves as the is it not extended outside a difference in primary caregiver, the worth of each according to Rice of just tenured faculty? group and their Policy 204. In addition, men can take up to 12 weeks contributions to the university. Rice of unpaid leave, as is required by the clearly understands the value of paid Family Medical Leave Act, and are parental leave — why is it not extended offered no paid paternity leave — unless, outside of just tenured faculty? A 2019 letter to the editor by several of course, they have tenure. This is by no means a Rice-specific Rice professors called for a need to problem; debate surrounding paid extend parental leave policies to men. time off for parents is a national issue. To quote those 12 women directly: But we still trail some of our peer “fairness in parental leave policies for institutions, who provide substantially all members of the Rice community better parental leave benefits. Duke serves the mission and values of our University offers its staff six consecutive institution.” It is long overdue for Rice to weeks leave at full pay for any parent, meet other peer institutions in providing biological or otherwise, with newly extended parental leave policies not placed children. Vanderbilt University only for tenure-track faculty, but for staff and Emory University provide their staff and non-tenure-track faculty as well.
Nearly a year ago, I reported for the Tetra included in the dining plan required Thresher on how the Rice University for all on-campus students. Farmers markets also promote Farmers Market was pivoting in the midst of COVID-19. As Rice readjusted to deal environmentally friendly practices. On with the pandemic in spring 2020, the average, food travels over 1,000 miles Farmers Market hosted on campus every from the point of production to local Tuesday was one of the things that had stores. Locally and regionally sourced to go. I don’t fault Rice for this; it was produce requires less fossil fuels and an uncertain time, and we needed to wasteful packaging than food products prioritize limiting the spread of COVID. shipped across the country. Additionally, However, the Farmers Market has not many farmers selling for farmers markets returned. I come with a simple request: limit the amount of waste and pollution that they create in comparison to farms Rice, bring the Farmers Market back. Since then, we have largely returned owned by larger corporations. Besides its benefit for students and the to “normal.” We welcome visitors onto environment, the campus for tours Farmers Market and other events, represented the spaces can now relationship be rented out between Rice and to off-campus For on-campus lowthe larger Houston o r g a n i z a t i o n s income students, [the community. It and, as long Farmers Market] provided was a way for us as we’re fully a way to shop for fresh to provide space vaccinated, we and support for don’t have to wear produce and other freshlylocal farmers a mask indoors for made food while using through a mutually gatherings of ten or Tetra included in the b e n e f i c i a l less people. Other relationship — than being sure to dining plan required for they provide us grab a mask on my all on-campus students. with food, and way out of my dorm and a short detour for weekly testing, our purchases give financial support to my daily campus life is largely similar their business and families, bolstering to what it was in early 2020. Beyond the local economy. When I interviewed that, we know that the risk of COVID-19 Ileya Grosman in 2020, the Rice Farmers transmission in outdoor settings such as Market manager, she said, “I was checking in with the vendors, particularly the former Farmers Market is rare. Other farmers markets in the city of the farmers, because to me the farmers Houston have returned, including the are the priority. That’s how the farmers new Rice Village Farmers Market close market was really born, to support local to campus, but there are no signs of our culture in a sustainable fashion.” At the time, Grosman mentioned campus farmers market returning. While social media accounts of the Farmers that community members would visit Market remain, the latest post from both the Farmers Market; it was a public their Facebook and Instagram was from venue after all. The Rice Farmers Market July 2020. If you try to visit their former benefits the lives of more than just our website (farmersmarket.rice.edu), you’ll student body. It is a vital connection be redirected to Rice Dining with no between us and the Houston area: a mention of the former Farmers Market. way to support local farmers, invite the Did COVID-19 just allow it to die a quiet local community onto campus and move towards sustainable local food-buying death? God, I hope not. After all, produce is a vital part of a practices. And honestly? I just want to walk healthy diet, and the Farmers Market gave a chance for students to purchase through the Farmers Market on a crisp fresh fruits and vegetables without autumn day and buy locally sourced leaving campus. While the Rice Village food. It’s a nice way to spend an afternoon Farmers Market is walking distance from and something to look forward to at the campus, it is not a suitable substitute end of a long day of classes. So, Rice, for the former Rice Farmers Market let’s bring the Farmers Market back. It which offered students the chance to benefits us all. select, purchase and potentially prepare fresh food. The on-campus Farmers Morgan Gage Market allowed students to use their ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT Tetra to make purchases from vendors, EDITOR incentivizing students to support MCMURTRY COLLEGE Houston-area farmers and other sellers. JUNIOR For on-campus low-income students, this provided a way to shop for fresh produce and other freshly-made food while using
Rice should expand its parental Revive the Rice University leave policy to all Farmers Market
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CORRECTIONS Channing Wang, not Katherine Hui, took the photo for the Thresher for “Wellbeing & Counseling Centers see 37% increase in demand from last year.” In “Tomás Jonsson prepares to perform debut album,” Jonsson collaborated with Caity Gyorgy, not Katy George. In the staff TV recommendations, Katherine Hui is the assistant photo editor, not assistant features editor.
EDITORIAL STAFF Savannah Kuchar* Editor-in-Chief Ben Baker-Katz* Managing Editor Ivanka Perez* Senior Editor NEWS Talha Arif* Editor Hajera Naveed Asst. Editor Bonnie Zhao Asst. Editor OPINION Nayeli Shad* Editor FEATURES Nicole Lhuillier Editor ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT Morgan Gage* Editor
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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, OCTOBER 27, 2021
THE RICE THRESHER
Pumpkin Grades: Discussing the Class of 2025’s Unique Transition to College ELIZA JASANI
“Being in-person last year made the transition [to college] easier since most of my classes are in person now,” Veldkamp said. “The only transition that was hard was adjusting to my fully remote class because I need more discipline and selfmotivation to do well on Zoom.” Burke Nixon, a lecturer in the Program in Writing and Communication and FirstYear Writing Intensive Seminar instructor, said that, in general, this class of freshmen is having a much more normal experience than last year’s freshman class. “Students seem to be relieved to be learning in person,” Nixon said. “The firstyear experience seems much closer to normal this semester, even if it’s never easy.” Lina Dib, also a lecturer in the Program in Writing and Communication and a FWIS instructor, said that she has noticed one positive change in the classroom as everyone returns to campus: a heightened awareness of mental health and work-life balance. “It’s been refreshing,” Dib said. “Of course everyone has their unique experiences and stories, but it feels as though we are all there for each other as a group. This disposition has allowed for a certain level of comfort that has in turn stimulated vibrant intellectual discussions.” Some worries about pumpkin grades recur every year, regardless of the pandemic. Because pumpkin grades are given in the middle of the semester, final aspects of students’ grades, such as extra credit points or participation averages, are not factored in. Wiess College freshman Faith Hill said that the way her midterm grades were calculated was a source of stress for her.
FOR THE THRESHER When October comes around, students start walking around campus wearing cozy sweaters and holding hot lattes from Rice Coffeehouse. As the cold approaches, something changes within the freshman class as well: talk of midterm exams, projects and pumpkin grades begin. About midway through the fall semester each year, instructors submit midterm grades — nicknamed “pumpkin grades” because of the season — to let freshmen know how they are performing in their classes. This year’s pumpkin grades hold a special significance. For many freshmen, their grades were indicative of their first month and a half of in-person learning after more than a year of studying remotely. Maya Adhikari, a freshman at Brown College, is one of many students who completed high school virtually. “I think that when you’re online it’s difficult to pay attention, and coming to in-person classes where things move at a much quicker pace … was certainly an adjustment for me. It’s definitely nervewracking because it’s easy to fall behind, and at the same time, there is so much to do here besides academics,” Adhikari said. “Preparing for midterms was extremely stressful because I’ve never been in a class where I’ve only had two grades, a midterm grade and a final grade, and that’s what most of my classes are here.” Martel College freshman Daan Veldkamp, who finished his senior year with in-person classes, said that being inperson made it easier to adjust to academics at Rice.
“I know that ... my midterm grades aren’t accurate representations of my real grade [because instructors] didn’t factor in every part of the class,” Hill said. “Also, some of them were filler grades because professors ... put in set grades that are lower than what we would typically have, and that was pretty stressful.” Director of the Principles of Economics Program and Senior Lecturer James DeNicco, who teaches an introductory economics course with over 500 freshmen enrolled, said this inaccuracy in grade calculation is the reason he decided not to reveal pumpkin grades on Canvas. He said he provided students with a grade calculator that they could use to calculate their final grade on their own instead. “Giving out pumpkin grades is weird because it’s like, ‘This is your grade right now,’ but I ... weigh my grades,” DeNicco said. “What I do is I send out a grade calculator to everybody ... so you can project what your final grade is going to be based on [how] you think you’re going to do on the next couple exams.” Despite the difficulties of transitioning to college amid the pandemic, students are just glad to be back in person, according to McMurtry College
Spoopy Season 1
JAYAKER KOLLI AND NIKHAZ OMAR
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freshman Pranav Mandyam. “This next week may be higher stress because I have a lot of midterms coming up,” Mandyam said. “But I feel like a lot of us just really wanted to get back in person after so long of being in our houses, being online and virtual.” Instructors are also ready to put the pandemic behind them, and they are excited that students are back, according to Krista Kobylianskii, an assistant teaching professor in the department of chemistry and instructor for General Chemistry Lab. “I would just encourage [freshmen] to keep fighting the good fight,” Kobylianakii said. “When you get out into the real world, the world is oftentimes not very nice to you, so this is a great chance to learn some grit and just kind of push through and come out stronger on the other side.”
1 PV=nRT conditions 4 _____ to secrecy 9 Swindle 12 Drug in Future’s “Mask Off,” slangily 14 Five, in Uruguay 15 Pickle variety 16 Dunkable delight 17 Place of worship 18 Dr. Pepper or Sunkist 19 Polar bear predator 20 Common citation style in ENGL classes 21 Copy, on a PC 22 Eucalyptus-loving “bear” 24 “Carmen” or “The Barber of Seville” 27 When doubled, an African antelope 28 Jr. and Sr. 29 Kitten’s call 31 Soccer star Alex 33 Saloon seat 35 Lie 36 Hydrocarbon suffix 37 Anatomical systems, one of which can be found in Hanszen Commons 40 The Braves, on a scoreboard 42 Belled milk producer 43 Recorded 46 Quickly, in Spain 48 The F in FYI 49 ___ de Janeiro 51 ___Co, Rice’s improv comedy troupe 52 Fur trader millionaire John Jacob ____ 54 Town announcer of yore 56 Ascend 58 “Insecure” creator Issa 60 James of jazz 61 R&B singer Jhené 62 Salon touch-ups 64 Sportscaster Andrews 65 Package of paper 66 Kicks 67 ____ shui 68 RB’s gains 69 Bamboo-loving bear 70 Grow older
KATHERINE CHUI / THRESHER
1 Spine-chilling 2 Horrors 3 Like some concrete slabs 4 Hoodwink 5 “Wait a Minute!” artist 6 Beer of choice, at bars 7 Label of Shakira and SZA 8 Neither’s partner 9 “Percy Jackson” author Rick 10 Maryland’s state nickname 11 Common cat color 13 Christmas gift for naughty kids 15 “Spring forward” abbr. 21 Train unit 23 Wild 25 Radiate 26 Styx hit “Mr. ______” 30 Votes for 32 Shocked sound 34 Norway’s capital 35 ___ and far between 38 Plunder 39 Rat 40 The second A in CAAM 41 Three-horse carriages, in Russia 44 Horn of Africa country with capital Asmara 45 Counting calories 47 Catch 48 Like Roger Rabbit 50 Color embodied by pumpkins 51 Petrifying 53 Constellation with famous belt 55 Coral habitat 57 Elastigirl, to Dash and Violet 59 She, in Italy 62 1/3 of a tbsp 63 Wellbeing advisor at a res. college
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2021 • 7
Housing and Dining grapples with “new normal” NITHYA SHENOY
As life on campus returns to a semblance of normality, Housing and Dining has been making its own adjustments. The pandemic’s effects might be seen in staffing and supply, for instance. The Thresher spoke to H&D employees and students to better understand how it is currently operating. Budget and staffing Brad Thacker, a H&D operations director, said that while costs have been rising, H&D has not received budget cuts this year. “There were budget cuts that hit the [residential] colleges so maybe there were some assumptions, but no,” Thacker said. “Our costs are going up, though. We are experiencing higher prices across the board.” Thacker said that H&D kept all of its employees fully paid throughout the pandemic. According to Thacker, H&D has been hiring recently and has not been facing staffing issues. “We’ve been recruiting for months. Custodians, cooks. We’ve been hiring as much as we can,” Thacker said. Elizabeth Leaver, a H&D operations director, said that H&D is not understaffed. “We didn’t furlough any of the employees. During the pandemic, Rice didn’t lay anyone off,” Leaver said. Vernon*, a Rice student who works for H&D, said that he has heard claims about H&D being understaffed. However, he said H&D currently has a sufficient amount of staff. (Editor’s Note: A student employee of H&D was granted anonymity for this story. The anonymous student was given a false name, which has been marked with an asterisk on first reference.) “I think, at the start of the pandemic, H&D was having trouble staffing,” Vernon said. “But currently they’ve been able to restaff, reemploy. At the start of the year … they were understaffed there. But I think they’ve hired enough people.” Thacker said that beyond the nofurlough policy, Rice has done its best to ensure the wellbeing of employees through additional measures in order to give employees greater flexibility and ensure their safety during the pandemic. Diana DeSantiago, operations manager for Will Rice College, Lovett College and Sid Richardson College, said that H&D employees’ schedules were changed in order to make workers feel safer. “We would have staff come two or three times a week and complete their forty hours [in those days]. Additionally, the university gave everyone five-day sick pays on top of the paid time off,” DeSantiago said. Janice Robinson, a cashier at Seibel servery, said she felt that these additional policies were fair to the H&D staff. “I think it was reasonable,” Robinson said. “They gave us more days off. If you didn’t feel well, you’d wake up and call your advisor and get paid for a sick day. We didn’t really have to use it. They treated us right.” According to Thacker, the recent exits among H&D staff are largely due to retirement and a lack of a desire to return to the industry, the latter being a trend seen nationwide. “Attrition is normal and turnover in the hospitality business is typically higher than most other industries,” Thacker said. “Since the hiring freeze was lifted, we’re constantly recruiting new employees throughout our department.” Supply chain disruptions As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries around the world are experiencing the effects of disruption to the global supply chain. Supply-chain bottlenecks are responsible for the current shortages of products normally available to Americans.
Thacker said that H&D is very much affected by these international disruptions to the supply chain. For instance, companies have decreased production of items such as compostable cups due to their lack of revenue, according to Thacker. “Besides the challenging labor market, the international disruption in the supply chain has inhibited how we normally operate,” Thacker said. “When given the choice of non-compostable cups or no cups, we’re going to take getting cups. That negatively affects our composting program and getting it rolling.” Thacker said shortages of H&D’s supplies have increased. “We used to get shorted when we keyed in an order for food. Each of our executive chefs keys in a food order for Monday to Friday. Generally, [the inventory management system] tells us right away, ‘These are the items we’re short [of].’ We used to get one of those twice a week per servery. Now we’re getting as many as twenty per day,” Thacker said. Thacker said that although it is possible to find a suitable replacement for the supplies in shortage, the careful vetting process H&D conducts makes it hard to do so. “We vet our food so carefully. We know the companies and the manufacturers, and we want to use very reputable companies,” Thacker said. “[This] certainly takes away from us going and finding another distributor and taking the logistics of buying locally and bringing it in.” According to Thacker, backlog at ports is also detrimental to the timely shipping of inventory. “A lot of goods come from China. They’re sitting outside ports in California and elsewhere. The increase [in trip time] is incredible,” Thacker said. “You see it in what we order. Lead times are going from a couple days to a couple weeks to a couple months now. Everybody’s watching all of these things closely.” Leaver said that H&D is doing what it can to ensure that its operations continue to run smoothly. “We’re trying to lessen the impact on the students,” Leaver said. “It doesn’t reflect in the food we are serving. The chefs look far ahead so they can source the food.” Thacker said the effects of the supply chain disruptions have made things difficult and H&D has held many meetings to address this challenge. “It’s been a tough ten months, rethinking and replanning,” Thacker said. “[But] we’re able to manage it a lot more.” A new normal During most of the 2020-2021 academic year, life on the Rice campus was less busy. Some residential colleges’ occupancies were not at full capacity as many students opted to study remotely. Students took pre-packaged food from the serveries to eat outside colleges’ commons, and H&D’s interactions with students were limited. Vernon said the relationship between H&D and students was dramatically different last year. “Last year, you’d just tell [servery staff], ‘I want this, this, and this,’ and they’d put it in a bag for you. Utensils came prepackaged so you wouldn’t be pulling anything,” Vernon said. “Now students are told to swipe [cards] themselves in order to minimize any sort of contact.” Leaver said she is pleased that staff are now able to interact with the students. “Things are going well. We’ve been so happy to see more students return to campus and restrictions being eased for this semester. Last year, we really missed seeing and helping students out every day,” Leaver said. This story has been cut off for print. Read more at ricethresher.org.
ANDREA GOMEZ / THRESHER
8 • WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2021
THE RICE THRESHER
Magic in Houston: Shop local witchcraft & spiritual supply stores MORGAN GAGE
Last week, the Thresher asked our readers to shop at local businesses. With large department stores selling crystals and sage bundles (don’t buy white sage, not even from local shops, though — it is cultural appropriation and is not being harvested sustainably), it is important to respond to the increasing interest in witchcraft by supporting local shops. Whether you’re looking for a new deck of tarot cards, supplies for a spell or are just curious, here are nine local witchcraft and metaphysical supply stores in Houston for you to explore. Magick Cauldron The self-proclaimed “largest retailer in the Houston area for Pagan and Wiccan related supplies,” the Magick Cauldron has all the herbs, candles and incense someone needs to begin or continue pursuing their magical work. For those with just a passing curiosity, the Magick Cauldron also sells handmade soaps, swords that would be at home at any Renaissance Festival (the shop is a regular and the largest vendor for swords at the local festival) and more. Open since the 1980s, this shop is a must-visit and, at only a 10-minute trip to Montrose, one of the shops closest to campus featured on this list. Pixie’s Intent With all of the merchandise you’d expect to find at a metaphysical supply store, Pixie’s Intent sets itself apart with its wide array of practitioners available. Whether you’re looking for a psychic reading or someone to officiate your handfasting ceremony (a Celtic tradition incorporated by some into their weddings), Pixie’s Intent has options for you. With several unique services offered, the shop also offers services for pets from pet yoga to pet psychics. The store is around a 15-minute drive from campus.
ILLUSTRATION BY CHLOE XU
Our Little Red One Shop With over 4,000 items for sale just online and psychic readings available in their shop, Our Little Red One Shop has everything you expect from a witchcraft or metaphysical supply shop and more. With spellcasting and divination supplies, ritual bath salts and home decor, this store is just over a ten-minute drive from campus in the Third Ward and is the perfect place to find a gift for witchcraft enthusiasts and skeptics alike.
practices. Services include tea readings, consultations, candle workings, mojo bags and more to address all of life’s issues from gossiping coworkers, a stagnant love life and turns of bad luck. The shop also offers what reviewers described as “ethically sourced” products and supplies. The shop in Midtown is around a 15-minute drive from campus.
Indigo Moons With plenty of classes for the beginner witch (that are likely more informative than WitchTok), Indigo Moons provides space and resources for Thorn & Moon Apothecary customers to explore the magical Known not only for their path as well as purchase the physical shop but also for hosting a necessary tools to do so. market for local metaphysical and Although classes are not magical vendors in Houston, currently scheduled, Thorn & Moon Apothecary the shop has contact sells handcrafted information for tools as well as interested potential other witchcraft students and supplies. The With over 4,000 items and instructors to reach Thorn & Moon psychic readings available out. Indigo Moons Magickal Market is has practitioners hosted during the in store, Our Little Red who offer hypnosis first Saturday of One Shop has everything and psychic services every month from you expect... and more. for those interested. 6 to 11 p.m. with various occult vendors, live music, food Located in the Spring Branch district of and cocktails, art shows, workshops and Houston, Indigo Moons is a 20-minute drive more. Thorn & Moon Apothecary is about a from campus, making it a longer trip than some of the other shops on this list. 20-minute drive from campus. Absolem’s Midtown Mojo Manufacturers Absolem’s Midtown Mojo Manufacturers offers several services from Dr. Mojo who is skilled in traditional Hoodoo
Pocket Full of Stones Crystal Shop For anyone interested in exploring the mystical powers of crystals that some believe in, Pocket Full of Stones Crystal
Shop is an excellent introduction. While the shop does not have the wide array of supplies that some of the other shops on this list do, the shop specializes in crystals, crystal jewelry and crystal decor, so even if you aren’t sure about the metaphysical side of things you’re bound to find a gorgeous addition to your dorm room or jewelry box. Residing in the Museum District, Pocket Full of Stones Crystal Shop is only a five-minute drive or 30-minute walk from campus. Body, Mind & Soul Offering psychic readings, online workshops and meetings and a wide range of metaphysical supplies, Body, Mind & Soul is a “spiritual boutique” 15 minutes from campus and offers a clean, easy to navigate website that points newcomers to the shop in the right direction with gift guides for different occasions including the upcoming pagan holiday of Samhain, under certain price points, for certain relationships from romantic partners to parents and by astrological sign. The Witchery For those willing and able to make the drive, The Witchery, located in Galveston’s historic downtown district, seems straight out of a fantasy novel. Their self-described “mystical atmosphere” is reminiscent of what I imagined a shop for witches would be like when I was a child. With over a thousand books on their shelves for sale and psychic readings available on Saturdays and Sundays for $20 for every 15 minutes of the reading, The Witchery is worth the visit for anyone interested.
HALLOWEEN SCENES AND SCREENS BIKE & BEATS Come to Rice Bikes’ annual Halloween Bike and Beats for a bike ride, live music from Soulcast and Rice Coffeehouse hot cocoa this Friday Oct. 29 from 6 to 8 p.m. Costumes are encouraged for attendees with the best costume receiving a prize.
THE GREEN KNIGHT
PERIOD AT RICE
Join Rice Cinema this Saturday Oct. 30 to watch “The Green Knight” at 7 p.m. for Halloween. Adapted from the fourteenth-century chivalric poem, “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” the film follows Sir Gawain on his quest against the Green Knight. Rice Cinema is located in Sewall Hall 301.
Go to Slay All Day Drag Brunch this Saturday Oct. 30 from 2 to 6 p.m. at Social Beer Garden HTX. This brunch features $20 bottomless mimosas, local drag queens and music by DJ GNDRBNDR. Admission is free.
Despookifying Menstruation will be hosted at Farnsworth Pavilion this Sunday Oct. 31 from 2 to 5 p.m. With a Halloween costume competition, food, punch, cookie and button decorating, an opportunity to make friendship bracelets and time to pack menstruation supplies, Despookifying Menstruation offers opportunities for fun and to give back to the community.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2021 • 9
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
REVIEW: ‘BLUE BANNISTERS’
REVIEW: ‘DUNE’ SASWAT PATI
Genre: Alternative rock Top Track: “Living Legend”
Lana Del Rey has finally released her newest studio album: “Blue Banisters.” Del Rey’s second album this year, “Blue Banisters” proves itself to be a deeply introspective album, with lyrics that feel like we’re reading from Del Rey’s personal journal. Through this album, Del Rey tackles issues of rocky relationships, family dynamics and friendship, while also taking her chance to respond to her recent critics with a voice as beautiful as ever. In this album, it feels like Lana has realized simplicity is typically her strong suit. It opens with the song “Text book,” one of three surprise singles from the album that was released in May. It’s a strong opening to Lana’s album that reflects on her relationship with her father. However, the addition of lyrics concerning the Black Lives Matter movement feels like a desperate attempt by Del Rey to overcome her past controversy. This song leads into “Blue Banisters,” which sadly fades into the background compared to other songs of the album. “Arcadia” misses the mark as Del Rey, originally from New York, pushes forward the narrative that she is a California girl. While her Joni Mitchellesque vocals were beautiful, I just was not a fan of the national anthem-like
qualities of this song and the number of metaphors and similes she uses to get across that LA really is a part of her. “Violets for Roses” leads into the latter half of the album and is one of my favorite songs I’ve heard from Del Rey. It describes her falling back in love with herself and her life after feeling forced to change by a lover. The easy simplicity of lyrics like “Ever since I fell out of love with you, I fell back in love with me,” combined with sparkling background instrumentals makes for a touching and striking song. “Dealer” is a fascinating break from the heartbroken and deeply personal piano ballads. The drum kit opening has you bobbing your head. However, my personal favorite from the album is “Living Legend,” an ode to one of Del Rey’s closest friends, Jane Powers. The song gives me an odd feeling of nostalgia akin to being bathed in the warm orange glow of a sunset, as cliche as that sounds. “Blue Banisters” is overall a success and seems likely to live up to the performance of previous albums. Lana delivers a genuine picture of family, sisterhood, friendship and life in 2021. It felt like Lana was truer to herself than she ever had been before now, while still being able to break out of her musical comfort zone, even if just a little bit. This article has been condensed for print. Read the full version online at ricethresher.org.
Art venues located around Houston
COURTESY DANIEL ORTIZ
Houston not only houses a premier museum district just outside of the hedges from Rice, but art scattered throughout the city. This art often holds greater variety and uniqueness, allowing for visitors to see new sides of the city and the artists that reside here. Whether you want a reason to explore Houston or are an art connoisseur looking for new museums to venture to, here are some venues to check out all around Houston. Harrisburg Art Museum A graffiti museum east of downtown, Harrisburg Art Museum allows a variety of artists to showcase their work. With a series titled “Anonymous Art,” they allow both artists with no graffiti background as well as those from the graffiti world to use the space, both able to further their craft. The result is a plethora of murals depicting everything from words in bold telling stories to black and white graphic novel style paintings. With both indoor and outdoor graffiti murals, HAM is a great place to walk around and get a feel for local art. Rienzi The Rienzi is an extension of the Museum of Fine Arts in the Museum District focusing on European decorative
arts. This elegant house converted into an art museum sits in River Oaks. Inside is not only European decorative arts but also furniture, porcelain and miniatures. The Rienzi offers both guided tours and the chance to look around at the wonder alone. Art Car Museum The Art Car Museum is a private museum in the Heights that showcases contemporary art. Its collections and exhibitions comprise mainly of — you guessed it — art cars, and also other fine arts that might require a more unique space for showing. This museum is by appointment only and makes good use of the fact that Houston is the “Art Car Capital” by giving its patrons a sampling of what the city has to offer. The Beer Can House A folk-art house located in Houston’s Rice Military neighborhood, the Beer Can House has more than 50,000 beer cans covering every square inch possible. Created by John Milkovisch in the late ’60s, this house today sits open for the public to explore. The inside of the house also provides a blast from the past with an ongoing restoration project to ensure that the house retains all of its beer can glory. This article has been condensed for print. Read the full piece online at ricethresher.org.
FOR THE THRESHER On paper, “Dune” should be one of the best films of the year. It features an all-star cast, has a critically acclaimed director behind the camera and features some of the best visuals I have ever seen in a film. However, it struggles to create a fulfilling story because of its focus on building the film’s world — and it is a huge world — that will be explored in subsequent films. Because of this, “Dune” lacks the three act crescendo to climax structure that is so critical to conflict storytelling, and the movie at times feels like endless rising action. The film undoubtedly shines most in its first act which sets the stage and introduces us to the characters. The plot revolves around the planet Arrakis, a dry desert world where a substance called melange spice is mined. Melange spice is extremely valuable as its psychoactive properties enable humans to perform interstellar travel, and, since Arrakis is the only world where the spice can be found, control of the planet is extremely valuable. At the beginning of the film, the stewards of the planet, House Harkonnen, are recalled by the Emperor for unclear reasons and replaced by another powerful house, House Atreides. The film follows Paul (Timothee Chalamet), the scion of House Atreides as he moves with his family to Arakkis, dealing with the political intrigue of the situation and with the native people of the planet, the Bedouin-like Fremen. In a time where films often subvert expectations, “Dune” behaves like a traditional hero’s journey, and the film feels like an epic (à la the Iliad). Though set in the future, the film avoids focusing too heavily on the technology of this universe and trusts that audiences will
understand what is happening within the context of the film. This prevents “Dune” from getting bogged down in technological details like other sci-fi movies. The story prefers to instead shine a light on the human condition, the way we behave and how these characters reflect our lives, even in this world so far away. There are moments in the film which are awe inspiring, and director Denis Villeneuve leans heavily into creating a visually astounding painting of this world. Having seen “Dune” in IMAX, each frame is immaculate, and the artistry behind the cinematography is abundantly clear. I do not usually comment on the format within which a movie is watched, but I strongly urge potential viewers to watch this film in theaters and on IMAX if possible instead of on HBO Max. As the film progresses, the quality of the film itself allows the audience to feel immersed even when the plot begins to slow. I truly feel that that immersion may be lost when watching the film on a laptop or TV leading to a more negative viewing experience. This leads me to the greatest issue of the film: It truly feels like a prologue. Because the film focuses so much on building the world, it loses the feeling of actually living in the world. After the film’s first act, the pacing slows significantly, and it begins to feel like we are watching a series of events happening to characters instead of the characters having agency and doing things themselves. To be fair, the build up within this film is amazing and sets up future films perfectly. Exposition never feels too heavy-handed. This article has been condensed for print. Read the full version online at ricethresher.org.
10 • WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2021
FROM FRONT PAGE
“This is a strategic expansion that accomplishes a number of goals as we take the conference into its second decade,” Aresco said. “We are adding excellent institutions that are established in major cities and have invested in competing at the highest level. We have enhanced geographical concentration which will especially help the conference’s men’s and women’s basketball and Olympic sports teams.”
THE RICE THRESHER
The move will also have a significant effect on Rice’s athletic budget. The AAC’s current TV contract pays members $7 million each year, compared to the less-than $500,000 payout that C-USA members receive. While the new additions will not see that full amount immediately, they are expected to receive $2 million annually at first, before eventually working their way up. But according to President David Leebron, the economic effects of joining the American will go well beyond just TV contracts and could change Rice athletics entirely.
“If you look at the economics of the AAC, they’re certainly stronger than what we’ve been used to,” Leebron said. “I also think our alumni and fans are going to be very excited about this move, and we’re going to see greater attendance as well as donations. This is a real inflection point for us, it’s going to create excitement and opportunity.” The move is the latest domino to fall in a wave of conference realignments that began over the summer, when the University of Texas, Austin and the University of Oklahoma agreed to leave
the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference. The Big 12 countered by poaching UH, the University of Central Florida, University of Cincinnati from the American, along with Brigham Young University. Instead of just replacing its departing members, the AAC decided to expand. They initially eyed three schools from the Mountain West Conference, along with UAB, before those plans fell through. They pivoted, eventually deciding on the six C-USA schools, which will bring the conference to a total of 14 members for football and basketball, and 15 members for other sports.
AAC & C-USA by the Numbers C-USA
New-Look AAC 12
1 End of season top-25 football teams, past 5 years
1 March Madness appearances, past five years
Annual TV payout per member
1st round draft picks in NFL, NBA, WNBA and MLB, past five years
Infographic by Andi Rubero and Daniel Schrager
Make no mistake, joining the AAC is a great move DANIEL SCHRAGER
The American Athletic Conference, as baseball hall of famer Yogi Berra famously said about the future, ain’t what it used to be. With the University of Houston, University of Cincinnati and University of Central Florida all leaving for the Big 12, the AAC will lose arguably its three most valuable members before Rice plays a game in their new conference. Those three were all key to the AAC’s push to become the sixth major conference: UCF made a legitimate College Football Playoff push with back to back undefeated regular seasons in 2017 and 2018, Houston made the men’s Final Four last year and Cincinnati is currently ranked No. 2 in the country in football. To make matters worse, the University of Connecticut, easily the best women’s basketball program in the country, left the AAC in 2020. The conference that Rice will join in a few years will be a far cry from the AAC of recent years. Ever since the move was announced, a number of talking heads have been quick to point out that the new AAC will feature 12 former Conference USA members out of 14 or 15 total teams, depending on the sport. Essentially, Rice is moving back to C-USA circa 2010, when Southern Methodist University, Tulane University,
Memphis University and Tulsa University were all members. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. C-USA was a much better conference ten years ago than it is today. The problem is that all of the good schools moved to new conferences, leaving Rice behind in a much worse C-USA. It would be easy to predict the same fate for this version of the AAC — their top members get poached by other conferences, the schools that they invite as replacements don’t pan out and next thing you know, it’s one of the worst conferences in the FBS. But what’s left of the AAC is still a very solid conference. SMU is currently ranked No. 19 in football, and Memphis is an up-and-coming men’s basketball program entering this season ranked No. 12 and their football team ended the 2019 season ranked No. 17. Additionally, Temple University is historically a strong men’s basketball school, and was ranked in the top 20 in football as recently as 2016. On top of all that, the AAC’s moves have consistently worked out in the past; they bet on high-potential schools in big markets that they believe could turn into top programs with more funding and visibility. UCF was a risky move, as an up-and-coming C-USA football program when they joined the AAC in 2013, but now they are one of the very best Group
of Five teams in the country. Memphis and Temple followed this formula as well, and both moves worked out for the AAC. The conference stuck to the same blueprint this time around: the University of Alabama, Birmingham, University of Texas, El Paso, and Florida Atlantic University all have very similar profiles right now to UCF when they first joined the AAC. If the AAC’s plan works out, the conference could remain strong even after the losses of UCF, Houston and Cincinnati.
Conference realignment tends to create winners and losers with little inbetween; the fact that the Owls can be considered winners is itself cause for celebration. But even if the moves don’t pan out and the AAC falters, this will still be a great move for Rice. If this makeshift AAC only lasts for a few years before it is sent into another round of realignment, that will buy Rice a few more years to strengthen their case to be a member of a
top conference — though not necessarily a Power Five conference, that looks out of reach for the foreseeable future. Given that much of conference realignment is driven by football and its lucrative TV deals, Rice, which has won just 14 football games in the past six years, now has time to bring its football program up to par with other AAC teams so that it can withstand a future realignment. Perhaps even more importantly, if Rice hadn’t secured the move to the AAC, they’d be stuck in a falling apart C-USA with just eight remaining members, soon to be seven if the University of Southern Mississippi leaves as expected. They would have had to hope that C-USA miraculously recovered, or scrambled to find a new and possibly worse conference. Either of those would have been nightmare scenarios. In a round of realignment driven almost entirely by football, Rice had a very real chance of missing out. But they didn’t. Best case scenario, they joined a better conference that can be their long term home. But even if the move is temporary, even if the new AAC is just a small step up from C-USA, it’s still a step up. Conference realignment tends to create winners and losers with very little in-between; the fact that the Owls can be considered winners is itself cause for celebration.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2021 • 11
Football upsets defending CUSA champs in hectic finish PAVITHR GOLI
Rice football picked up a road win this past Saturday afternoon as they upset the University of Alabama, Birmingham 30-24. Predicted to lose heavily, the Owls entered their matchup against the defending conference champion Blazers as 23.5-point underdogs. The win on Saturday puts the Owls with a record of 3-4 on the season, including a 2-1 record in C-USA play. Head coach Mike Bloomgren said that he was proud of the team’s win over a Blazers team that has run C-USA in recent years. “That was a very, very big win for our program,” Bloomgren said. “Two out of the last three years, UAB has won the conference and they are a very, very good football team. It took everybody on our football team to come up here and find a way to win this game. It took every second on the clock and it took great effort across the board. [I am] super, super proud of our guys.” Redshirt sophomore quarterback Wiley Green was handed the reins to the offense, getting the start for the first time since the Owls’ season opener. Green led the offensive attack to a fast start, with two touchdown drives in the game’s first nine minutes to take a 13-0 lead. Green finished the afternoon with 205 passing yards, three passing touchdowns and no interceptions. According to Bloomgren, Green played well in his return to the starting lineup. “I thought that he put on a clinic on how to play quarterback,” Bloomgren said. “He played his butt off and I am so proud of him. Today is one of those upsides for our team and Wiley.” After the Blazers came back from their early deficit to take the lead, the offense responded with two touchdowns in their next four drives, to bring the lead back to 13 in the third quarter. According to Green, the Owls’ success on the offensive side of the ball was due to an overall team effort rather than due to only one player. “It is pretty awesome to get this win,” Green said. “But we have to give props to the offensive line that played today. Our receivers also made pretty great plays on the outside,
COURTESY DAVID ROBERT BRANDSMA - RICE ATHLETICS Redshirt sophomore wide receiver August Pitre III runs past a UAB defender during Saturday’s game. Pitre had 108 yards and a touchdow as the Owls knocked off the Blazers.
making it pretty easy for me to get the ball downfield to these guys. Our coaches made such a great game plan to attack it and I can’t tell you how confident I felt coming into this game.” The Blazers wouldn’t go away quietly, scoring a 72-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter to keep the game within a score. But on the Owls’ first possession of the fourth quarter, they marched 71 yards on 13 plays to kick a field goal, taking up over eight minutes of clock in the process and giving Rice a 30-21 lead. Just one week after being shut out against the University of Texas, San Antonio, the Owls were able to score 30 points against a UAB defense that entered the week allowing the fewest points per game in conference play. According to the redshirt sophomore August Pitre III, the offense was able to fix the execution problems that plagued them against the Roadrunners. “I feel like last week, one guy was not doing his one-eleventh and made the entire play look bad,” Pitre said. “I think that this week, though, we came in with our hair on fire. We had receivers making their blocks,
[the] offensive line [was] holding up in protection, running-backs running hard. We came out fast, focused on our assignment, and just executed.” Despite the offensive success, the Owls defense struggled against the Blazers, allowing a total of 445 total offensive yards, including 318 passing yards and two rushing touchdowns. According to senior safety Naeem Smith, they made just enough plays to secure the upset. “I love the resilience of our team,” Smith said. “It was not a perfect game at all today, but at the end of the day, it was a big-time win for our program. This was something that we need to snowball going forward.” Despite the tough day defending the Blazers’ offense, the Owls were able to get a stop in the biggest moment of the game. With two minutes and 10 seconds left on the clock, the UAB offense received the ball trailing by just six. The Owls defense held strong at first, forcing UAB to use nearly the entire clock to get the ball to the Rice 40. Then, with just 11 seconds left, the Blazers’ quarterback Dylan Hopkins completed a 40-yard touchdown pass that could have won the game for the
Blazers. However, the play was called back for a holding penalty, and Rice held on to win. The win moves the Owls to a tie for fourth place in the conference and just three wins away from their first bowl game since 2014. But despite the statement win over a conference rival, Bloomgren believes that the team still has significant room for growth as he hopes that this program can continue to develop. “We are still growing as a football team and we are nowhere near a complete project,” Bloomgren said. “I appreciate the thought of putting Gatorade on my back for winning this game, but this is not any kind of accomplishment and this does not reach our goals. This is just the next step. What we have is a chance to go 1-0 next week and even out our record and continue to pursue our goal.” Next Saturday, as part of Rice’s Homecoming & Families Weekend festivities, the Owls will host the University of North Texas, who are 1-6 on the season, on Oct. 30 at 1:00 pm.
Soccer beats MTSU in overtime on senior day ANTOINE WILEY
FOR THE THRESHER Junior midfielder Delaney Schultz sent Middle Tennessee State University home in the 102nd minute on Friday night as she headed in a corner kick in the match’s second overtime period, earning Rice a 2-1 win. The victory snaps a two game losing streak for the Owls and improves their record on the season to 10-5-1. The game was full of fireworks, with junior midfielder Madison Kent shooting and missing three shots within the opening 12 minutes. Rice would finally break through in the 18th minute when freshman forward Natalie Gorji found the back of the net, off of a pass from sophomore midfielder Shiloh Miller. The 41st minute of the match saw junior goalkeeper Bella Killgore miss a chance to score by the narrowest of margins when her free kick bounced off the crossbar. In his postgame comments, head coach Brian Lee said that everything was going right for the Owls in the first half. “I thought the first half was fantastic,” Lee said.”That was certainly the best 45 minutes we’ve had all year, so hopefully that’s something we can pocket, rinse, repeat moving forward.” The start of the second half saw the Blue Raiders take the field with a vengeance, getting off four shots in the first 10 minutes, but Rice weathered the storm to keep the score at 1-0. Middle
Tennessee had a chance to tie the game in the 70th minute, when a foul was called on Rice in the penalty box, giving the Blue Raiders a penalty. However, Killgore had other plans, making a diving save to hold onto the lead. According to Lee, it took an outstanding effort from Killgore to prevent the goal.
I thought the first half was fantastic. That was certainly the best 45 minutes we’ve had all year, so hopefully that’s something we can pocket, rinse repeat going forward. Brian Lee
different story. Rice earned a corner kick just two minutes into the period, and junior midfielder Serena Pham sent the kick towards the back post where Schultz headed the ball in, clinching the game for the Owls. Schultz’s effort marked her ninth goal this season and the 21st goal of her career, climbing in the Rice record books to fifth in single-season goals and tying for sixth in all-time goals. After the game, Lee said that Schultz’s goal capped a great all around performance. “Delaney’s had a great season, I’d argue that that might be her best game,”
Lee said. “I thought she was on all four corners of the field, and so dangerous in the box. Really unlucky in the first [half] not to maybe get two [more] goals.” The overtime victory marked Rice’s seventh overtime match of the year, improving their OT record to 3-3-1. The match also marked the first consecutive four-game stretch of overtime contests in Rice history. Rice concludes its regular season next Thursday, Oct. 28, when they travel to Denton, Texas to battle North Texas University.
“Bella’s very good at saving penalties,” Lee said. “I thought it was a decently taken penalty, just a great save from Bella.” Undeterred, the Blue Raiders finally got one to go just four minutes later, when Cambell Kivisto scored to even the game. With the game tied 1-1, neither team scored in the final 16 minutes and the game went into overtime. The first overtime was quiet, with the two teams only attempting one shot combined, but the second overtime was a
COURTESY RICE ATHLETICS Junior midfielder Delaney Schultz dribbles the ball against Middle Tennessee on Friday. Schultz’s 102nd minute goal won the game for the Owls in the second overtime period.
12 • WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2021
Checklist Before Parents’ Weekend e ill Ric W k c u D e ill Ric W k c Tru ice Will R k c u Y Cu nts Stu de 3 n w o < Br losso m B l l i W Is Jones Amen d e s s Ble
Learn family-friendly college cheers Make up a committee so your parents think you’re actually involved Use Inspect Element to hide your bad grades on Canvas Take down flags featuring various political figures (Kim Jong-un, Nicki Minaj, etc.) Dodge the weekly BBQ chopped beef by dining out on your parents’ budget Get more familiar with Fondren so you can pretend you actually go there when your parents ask for a tour Wipe the dried tears off your laptop. And your desk. And your face. Hide your various sexy Halloween costumes (“sexy-cat,” “sexywitch,” “sexy-Leebron,” etc.)
Swear the Chaus KOCs to secrecy about your depleted Tetra Slip Chef Roger a couple of $20s to specially prepare some cinnamon rolls for your parents Get your parents to leave before the Baker 13 horde terrorizes campus The Backpage is the satire section of the Thresher, written this week by Ndidi Nwosu, Andrew Kim, and Timmy Mansfield and designed by Lauren Yu. For questions or comments, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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