The Rice Thresher | Wednesday, December 1, 2021

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VOLUME 106, ISSUE NO. 14 | STUDENT-RUN SINCE 1916 | RICETHRESHER.ORG | WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2021

Rice implements $15 minimum wage for employees MORGAN GAGE

A&E EDITOR

Rice University will institute a $15-perhour minimum wage for regular and temporary staff as announced in President Leebron’s address to the faculty senate on Oct. 21. This change will be implemented in the upcoming 2023 fiscal year, taking effect on July 1, 2022. Leebron said that Rice’s move towards a higher minimum wage has been underway for the past seven years. According to an email sent to the Thresher by Angela Lipari, Rice’s interim executive director for human resources operations, this will be the largest recent minimum wage increase for employees at Rice. Currently, the minimum wage is set at $11.50 per hour.

IVANKA PEREZ

SENIOR EDITOR

into the upcoming year, which was reflected in the early announcement of the change. “The budgets that we’re actively preparing now will include the $15 minimum wage to be implemented next year,” Leebron said. “We may look and see if there’s anything we can do earlier than that. But again, we want to be cautious just because there are a lot of different needs, including inflationary needs. [The minimum wage increase is] going to drive up costs. What we don’t want is that this particular thing will drive up tuition, but we’ve got to pay the $15 wage.”

Until an earthquake struck northern California, Provost Reginald DesRoches intended to be a mechanical engineer. While studying for his Ph.D. at University of California, Berkeley, DesRoches said he was used to feeling tremors in the ground — but this earthquake, approximately a 7.0 on the Richter scale, was different. “I was literally a student on campus where I could see smoke coming from the San Francisco area, which is across the bay, and buildings shaking around me,” DesRoches said. “Then a bridge collapsed, and there were some mass casualties in one of the bridges not too far from where we were. So that really sparked my interest in [earthquake engineering], and I ended up switching majors for my graduate work as a result.” It was around the time of his Ph.D. that DesRoches said he realized he wanted to pursue academia. While studying at UC Berkeley, he taught a class at Laney College in Oakland. The experience of teaching students and seeing their growth motivated him to continue it as a career. “You start to get letters from students saying, ‘This was the best lecture I’ve had.’ ‘I never knew how to do this until you explained it.’ And it really is exciting to get that confirmation from people that you’re really effective at this and you really had an impact on them,” DesRoches said. DesRoches was shopping at H-E-B when he received the news that he would be Rice’s next president. After getting off the phone with Rob Ladd, the chair of the Board of Trustees, DesRoches went straight to the checkout line to go home and share the news with his wife. “It was sort of noisy [in the store],” DesRoches said. “It happened so fast … so I was sort of caught off guard and surprised and just really excited. I was like, ‘I’ll come back [to the store] and get the rest of the stuff later.’”

SEE MINIMUM WAGE PAGE 2

SEE DESROCHES PAGE 6

The biggest impact is going to be on Housing and Dining workers, where you see the largest number of employees who might still be at [Rice’s] minimum wage. David Leebron RICE PRESIDENT

“We’ve been steadily increasing the minimum wage at Rice with a goal to get to $15 per hour,” Lipari wrote. “The process each year includes a review of salary survey data to assess our competitiveness with the market, determine if any adjustments are needed and work with the appropriate leaders to implement the pay adjustments for the upcoming fiscal year.” Lipari said that employees in custodial, food service and groundskeeping will be most directly affected by the minimum wage increase. Leebron said that this will particularly impact the wages of new housing and dining employees but that wages of current employees will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis “The biggest impact is going to be on Housing and Dining workers where you see the largest number of employees who might still be at [Rice’s] minimum wage,” Leebron said. “It’s going to impact newer

From provost to president: DesRoches talks road to new role

ANDREA GOMEZ / THRESHER workers more than [older staff], because [more experienced employees] get some seniority bump every year.” No changes to pay for student employees have been announced at the time of publication. Lipari wrote that student employees include any student in an “hourly assignment,” including studentrun businesses and postdoctoral students. “We are currently reviewing our pay practices for student employees, but are not in a position to announce any widespread changes at this point,” Lipari wrote. According to Leebron, increasing Rice’s minimum wage was one of the administration’s highest priorities going

Volleyball heads to fourth consecutive NCAA tournament BEN BAKER-KATZ

MANAGING EDITOR

Rice volleyball will face the University of San Diego tomorrow in the first round of the women’s volleyball NCAA tournament. This is the fourth consecutive season in which the Owls will be selected, after they received an atlarge bid on Sunday night. Rice returns to the tournament after being forced to exit prior to their first match last year due to COVID-19 protocols. According to head coach Genny Volpe, the selection process was a bit stressful but the team is ready to embrace the challenge ahead of them. “[The bracket announcement] was really dramatic this time because we were like the third or fourth last team called,” Volpe said. “We feel very blessed and we’re definitely excited to compete. I think after what happened last season it just brings to light even more that you never take opportunities for granted and we’re definitely excited to get back out there and compete.”

SEE VOLLEYBALL PAGE 10

KATHERINE HUI / THRESHER Senior outside hitter Nicole Lennon attempts a spike against the University of Texas, Austin earlier this year. The Owls and Longhorns could be on track to meet again, should both teams make it out of the first round of the NCAA tournament.


2 • WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2021

THE RICE THRESHER

New “Sarofim Hall” VADA building to be constructed MEGAN XIAO

THRESHER STAFF Rice University will construct a new building for visual and dramatic arts students and faculty, named Susan and Fayez Sarofim Hall. The building will be situated adjacent to the Moody Center for the Arts. The $25 million building will be a 50,000-square-foot facility, joining the Shepherd School of Music’s Alice Pratt Brown Hall and the Brockman Hall for Opera as part of a Rice arts district. The district aims to serve as a resource for Rice students and faculty and the Houston community, according to the Rice News article. The building will be designed by the Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s design team, led by Rice alumnus Charles Renfro. The team was chosen through a national competition. According to the Rice News article, Sarofim Hall’s architecture will take an inventive approach on the former Rice Media Center and Art Barn. Some features it hopes to incorporate are exhibition areas, labs, studios, shops, faculty officers and other facilities that serve as collaboration points for artists across mediums. Renfro graduated from Rice in 1989 and received his Master of Architecture degree from Columbia University in 1994 before becoming a partner at Diller Scofidio + Renfro in 2004. Other designs by Diller Scofidio + Renfro include New York City’s High Line, the Shed, an expansion to the Museum of Modern Art and the renovation of Lincoln Center featuring an expansion of the Juilliard School. “Cross-disciplinary discourse is a

FROM FRONT PAGE

MINIMUM WAGE

Leebron said that the minimum wage increase will not be accompanied by cuts from other areas of the budget but rather an increase in the budget overall. Leebron and Lipari said that this change is in keeping with Rice’s goals and values as a university, values identified by Lipari as “responsibility, integrity, community and excellence.” Leebron said that he thinks the change will help the Houston community more broadly as well. “We have to be candid about [the fact that], in a lot of enterprises, the lowest paid workers are disproportionately underrepresented minorities, and we see that at Rice,” Leebron said. “So, I think this helps the communities [our employees] go home to [with] the money they can spend in those communities. If people are [earning more money than before], that gives people more in the way of some disposable income. So [moving to a $15-per-hour minimum wage] seemed to us, for a long time, the right thing to do. It just wasn’t something we could do immediately.”

additional expansion as we seek to grow the department’s achievements and recognition under its new chair, Bruce Hainley.” VADA is one of Rice’s most popular departments, serving 900 students a year, roughly a quarter of the school’s undergraduate population. Demand for more classes through VADA continues to grow in a variety of majors as well, including engineering, computer science and architecture. Duncan College senior Nini Nguyen said she thinks it is nice that Rice will be constructing a new building for VADA, since Rice is very STEM heavy. “I know some artists at Rice that feel unsupported given that there are little to no resources on campus where students

can reach out for guidance, [such as] applying for an [Master of Fine Arts], or building a portfolio for UX design,” Nguyen said. “From what I’ve noticed, most students who end up pursuing an arts-related field usually have to do their own research to find resources and opportunities outside what Rice provides, which is a stressful experience.” According to the history of VADA at Rice, VADA has also grown considerably since the late 1960s, when Houston arts icons Dominique and John de Menil made an extraordinary gift to bring a team of art historians, an art library, a photography and film program and a host of technical staff to Rice University to form the department. Nguyen said she hopes that this new building will increase growth in both the VADA department and support for artists on campus and for more students to view a career in the arts as a viable option. The building will be built with a combination of university funds and philanthropic donations, including the lead gift from Sarofim, according to the news article. Kathleen Canning, the dean of the School of Humanities, said in a previous press release that the school is deeply grateful to Sarofim for this gift. “This new student and faculty arts building will house a vibrant and growing arena of arts teaching and learning at Rice and will foster innovations and collaborations that draw students from all schools at Rice, most notably engineering, architecture and the humanities,” Canning wrote. “This historic gift will elevate the place of the student creative arts in a Rice liberal arts education.”

Rice is joining peer institutions that few years, according to UH President have adopted a $15-per-hour minimum Renu Khator. Mark Ditman, the associate vice wage, according to Leebron. “The state minimum wage is the president of Rice Housing & Dining, said same as the federal [minimum wage that H&D supports the move towards a of] $7.25. You don’t see a big movement $15-per-hour minimum wage and has worked in recent across Texas for a years to to raise higher minimum wages while wage,” Leebron limiting costs. said. “When we “We’ve adapted move to a $15[-per- $15 doesn’t amount to a the way we do hour] minimum large income, [but] I think business to achieve wage, I do hope it amounts to an income his goals in a way people will see it where families can sustain that works well for as something that both our students will have some themselves. [$7.25 an and our staff,” impact on how hour] is ridiculous, as I’ve Ditman said. “We people think about said before, for what our want to pay our this. I think, for us minimum wage in this employees more, in Texas to make but at the same that decision, [it] society should be. time we want to will help send a David Leebron minimize upward broader signal.” pressure on room The University RICE UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT and board rates paid of Texas, Austin recently raised the minimum pay for by students. Our basic strategy has been to dining workers to $15 per hour. The have fewer people on the payroll, but pay University of Houston plans to increase the people on our team more by distributing minimum wage to $15 an hour in the next the money over fewer positions.”

Ditman said that this shift has been made possible through increasing productivity of H&D staff as well as utilizing technology to shift portions of the workload. “We’ve launched training and development programs to raise the skills and productivity of our staff,” Ditman said. “We’ve also introduced technology to replace some of our more laborintensive work.” Leebron said that he expects widespread community support from students, alumni, staff and faculty for the initiative. “I think it’s clearly the right thing for our society,” Leebron said. “$15 doesn’t amount to a large income, [but] I think it amounts to an income where families can sustain themselves. [$7.25 an hour] is ridiculous, as I’ve said before, for what our minimum wage in this society should be.” The increase in minimum wage is expected by Leebron and Lipari to help Rice recruit and keep new employees. “This change, along with our generous benefits package, helps us retain our current staff and attract and hire new staff as vacancies arise,” Lipari wrote.

hallmark of the arts in the 21st century, but it has been difficult at Rice since its facilities are scattered all over campus,” Renfro said in a Rice press release. “Sarofim Hall will not only bring these programs together for the first time, but also facilitate experimentation and collaboration between disciplines through the use of open, transparent, indoor/ outdoor and public-facing space.” According to President David Leebron, the VADA major is another reason for the construction of the building. “I am excited to see Charles Renfro’s extraordinary artistic vision and unique

completes for now the arts district of our campus that we envisioned. It is designed with the potential for

RENDERINGS COURTESY DILLER SCOFIDIO + RENFRO

understanding of our campus culture and history shape the design of this important new facility,” Leebron said in the press release. “The building anchors one of our key departments, VADA, and


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2021 • 3

NEWS

Rice mandates COVID-19 vaccine for all employees VIOLA HSIA

THRESHER STAFF Rice announced that all faculty and staff are now required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19, in an email sent on Nov. 19 by ​​Kevin Kirby, chair of the Crisis Management Advisory Committee. According to the policy’s document, the new vaccination policy comes after President Biden issued Executive Order 14042, which mandates that all federal contractors require their employees or anyone connected with a federal contract to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022, unless granted a medical or religious exemption. According to Richard A. Zansitis, Rice’s vice president and general counsel, the university must comply with this executive order because Rice has numerous federal contracts and subcontracts involving federal agencies. “Given the nature of our campus, this means that all Rice employees who are on or may come to campus will need to comply with this requirement,” Zansitis said. Recently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued an emergency temporary standard, stating that employers with over 100 employees must require vaccinations, and any

Since most of the employees at Rice are already vaccinated, we are hopeful that the remaining unvaccinated employees will either be vaccinated or obtain an exemption by the deadline. Richard Zansitis RICE VICE PRESIDENT employee not vaccinated must be tested every seven days. This order was also halted by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and therefore does not affect

NDIDI NWOSU / THRESHER Rice’s vaccination policy, according to the Nov. 19 email. President Biden’s executive order, however, does affect Rice’s vaccination policy. Zansitis said that universities across the country that have federal contracts, including in Texas, are taking steps to comply with Executive Order 14042. According to Kirby, the new vaccination requirement does not yet apply to either undergraduate or graduate students. But according to Zansitis, a student who works at the university would have to follow this policy. The policy document states that this plan applies to all full time and part time employees, including student hourly workers, regardless of work location.

Dasseny Arreola, a student who works at The Allen Center, said that since she got vaccinated last summer, the policy does not affect her as much. “I think it’s the same for most students, but I’m glad they’re pushing to get staff and faculty vaccinated,” Arreola, a Jones College freshman, said. “I work here on campus alongside Rice employees, so it’ll be nice to have the same reassurance and safety there in addition to the classroom.” Zansitis said he is optimistic that this new policy will continue the trend of decreasing negative cases at Rice. “Since most of the employees at Rice are already vaccinated, we are hopeful that the remaining unvaccinated

employees will either be vaccinated or obtain an exemption by the deadline,” Zansitis said. Kirby also mentioned the availability of booster shots in the Nov. 19 email, the same day the FDA expanded the eligibility of these shots to 18 year olds and up. Kirby said that booster shots are not required, but they are highly recommended. With the rise of new variants such as Omicron, there still may be potential changes to this new policy, according to Zansitis. “This is a very fluid situation, so there may be further developments,” Zansitis said. “The university is continuing to monitor the legal requirements.”

Campus sees handful of bike, scooter thefts this semester HAJERA NAVEED

ASST NEWS EDITOR There has been a recent rise in the number of reported electric scooter thefts on campus, according to Rice University Police Department Chief of Police Clemente Rodriguez. There were a total of five reports of electric scooter thefts this semester, with four occurring in November. Last year, during the same time period, there were no reported electric scooter thefts, although COVID-19 may have played a role, according to Rodriguez. He said that the increase in scooter thefts is likely due to the increase in popularity of electric scooters on campus. “I’m seeing [electric scooters] more frequently than I’ve seen them ever before ... more scooters on campus [leads to] more opportunity for theft, obviously,” Rodriguez said.

This semester there have been 30 reported bike thefts on campus, which is lower than previous semesters, where the number is typically around 40. Jones College freshman Tony Tran had his bike stolen two days after bringing it to campus in early October. Tran’s bike was locked in a sheltered lot at McMurtry College when it was stolen. “I [noticed] that bike thefts at Rice are much more prevalent than I previously thought,” Tran said. “I think Rice should implement a locked indoor facility for bikes.” Rodriguez said that the police department encourages students to register their bikes and scooters, and to properly lock them using a U-lock. Registering a bike or scooter with RUPD makes it much more likely that it will be found if stolen, according to Rodriguez. “Without a registered bike [and] without having key information, like the serial number, I can tell you that the chance of recovering a stolen bike drops dramatically, as compared to when we have that information,” Rodriguez said. Registration of bikes and electric scooters can be done through the RUPD website.

NDIDI NWOSU / THRESHER


4 • WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2021

NEWS

SA unanimously passes resolution to relocate founder’s statue minds,” Vining, a Martel College senior, said. A few amendments were added to the resolution prior to the vote. One resolution clarified that the statue should be relocated to the extent of Rice’s legal capability, to address any concerns about affecting William Marsh Rice’s grave. Another clarification further explained that the statue should be relocated to an area on campus where it will not be in a place of prominence, defined as a place where it would not be the singular focal point of attraction. After the resolution was first introduced to the SA on Nov. 15, some senators sent surveys to their residential college to gauge college opinion. Those that collected data include Will Rice College, which had a 70.9 percent vote of support for the resolution, Brown College with a 74 percent vote of support, Sid Richardson College with a 67.8 percent vote of support and Hanszen College with a 62.5 percent vote of support, among other colleges.

We’ve gone through survey after survey with regards to how we want to go forward with the memorial, and now we must continue to keep strong with what we know is best for our campus. APPLE LI / THRESHER The Student Association unanimously voted to pass a resolution to relocate the Founder’s Memorial at the Nov. 29 Senate meeting.

TALHA ARIF

NEWS EDITOR The Student Association unanimously voted to pass a resolution to relocate the Founder’s Memorial at the Nov. 29 Senate meeting. The resolution calls for the University to relocate the William Marsh Rice statue by the end of the 2021-2022 academic year. The resolution was introduced by Down with Willy movement coordinator

Shifa Rahman, Duncan New Student Representative Sanya Arora, Duncan SA Senator Shivani Gollapudi and SA Director of Equity Stephanie Martinez. Rahman said now that the resolution has passed, tangible action should be taken. “We’ve gone through survey after survey with regards to how we want to go forward with the memorial, and now we must continue to keep strong with

what we know is best for our campus,” Rahman, a Lovett College senior, said. SA President Kendall Vining said she will send the resolution to the Faculty Senate soon, but said she thinks the Board of Trustees in particular should look at the resolution. “I believe that since they were eager to collect data in the form of their portal, then they should also receive student feedback via a resolution with open

Shifa Rahman DOWN WITH WILLY MOVEMENT ORGANIZER During the meeting, Rahman said that even if context was provided to the statue in its current location, it would still be prominently located, which is why they are calling for relocation. “The student’s responsibility regarding the movement is a lot less than the administration’s responsibility to acknowledge it,” Rahman said. “Going forward, it’s important for [students] to continue to spread awareness amongst ourselves to combat the ambivalent, and step forward … to let the administration know the memorial cannot stay.”

SA discusses potential changes to CTIS curriculum at town hall HAJERA NAVEED

ASST NEWS EDITOR The Student Association discussed possible improvements for the Critical Thinking in Sexuality curriculum in a town hall hosted on Nov. 30. Among the improvements discussed was having the course, which is mandatory for all freshmen, taught later in the semester. Temi Durojaye and Siddhi Narayan, SA New Student Representatives, hosted the event as part of their ongoing NSR project focused on reforming the course. Durojaye said that she feels that the way CTIS is taught currently is ineffective. “The ultimate goal [of our project is to enact] changes in the CTIS syllabus and structure,” Durojaye, a Martel freshman, said. “We are still working out exactly what that means though, as it is an ongoing, year long project.” Durojaye said that the town hall was meant to gather students’ thoughts on the class. During the town hall, which had around six students in attendance, attendees raised concerns about the effectiveness of the course and the classroom environment. Durojaye said that compared to her experience in Critical Dialogues on Diversity, another required freshman course, she felt her CTIS class was less engaging and there was less student participation.

“The way I experienced [CDOD] was very different [than CTIS] in that CTIS was silent, while in CDOD with the same people ... there was a lot more engagement and it was a lot more active, and I feel like it was an all around better experience,” Durojaye said. Solomon Ni, a freshman at Jones College, said that he felt that his CTIS class was engaging. He said he thinks students’ experiences in the class depends heavily on the instructor. “The instructor I had was pretty engaging in terms of forcing us to talk about the concepts we were learning about in class,” Ni said. “While most students wouldn’t necessarily want to engage, I think it encouraged some students to do so.” One student at the town hall said that a lack of participation from students in CTIS may be due to their unfamiliarity with each other in the beginning of the semester, as the course is offered to freshmen during their first five weeks of class, and the stigmatization around the topic of sex. The student recommended that the administration consider teaching CDOD before CTIS so that students have more time to familiarize themselves with each other before being asked to participate in discussion over a heavily stigmatized topic. Due to low turnout, the SA is planning to host another town hall early next semester to receive more student input. Disclaimer: Siddhi Narayan is the opinions designer for the Thresher.

SOLOMON NI / THRESHER New students attend the CDOD course. One student in the Nov. 29 CTIS town hall suggested that CDOD be taught before CTIS so students can familiarize themselves with each other more.


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2021 • 5

THE RICE THRESHER

EDITORIAL

FROM THE SENIOR EDITOR’S DESK

We need proactive academic policies Trust the Thresher. Journalism is our job. We’re nearing the end of another semester in the COVID-19 pandemic, filled with policy changes requiring flexibility from administration, faculty and students alike. We appreciate the administration’s responsiveness to the evolving pandemic, but the continuous changes are not without consequences. This semester has been hard on many students’ mental health due to insufficient academic accommodations on top of pandemic-related stress. While we understand the necessity in being flexible with COVID policies due to the ever-changing nature of the pandemic, administration and professors should recognize the impact this has on students and their mental health, and be proactive in accounting for this. We’ve said it before, but the lack of standard academic accommodations is frustrating for students, as each professor interprets directives from administration differently. While this is unavoidable to a certain extent, there are steps that can be taken to minimize this inconsistency. To start, the administration should mandate that professors take certain actions. Just before midterm recess, the provost sent an email to faculty requesting them to “please provide students the opportunity

to rest and enjoy the recess without having work due during or immediately after midterm recess. They truly need it.” The sentiment of this email was appreciated by the student body, but many professors chose to ignore its contents. Providing faculty with this request before the semester starts, and allowing them to plan their syllabi around it, would be beneficial to all. Additionally, this fall the drop deadline was pushed until the last day of classes, but news of the change did not come until just days before the previous deadline. By this point, most students intending to drop a class had already done so; announcing this change earlier would have been more effective in providing students with the intended relief. As we approach next semester, there is once again a new variant emerging with the potential to derail our new normal. While we don’t yet know exactly how Omicron will impact our campus and the world, we do know that the Rice community will once again need to adapt to a new set of circumstances. This time, we hope the administration takes a close look at the struggles of students this semester and makes tangible steps to avoid repeating the same oversights.

CORRECTIONS For “Provost Reginald DesRoches to become first Black president of Rice,” Prayag Gordy is a Senior Writer, not News Editor. In “Review: ‘Red’ breaks records, hearts,” the original “Red” album was released in 2012, not 2014. The song referenced in the pull quote is “I Knew You Were Trouble,” not “I Knew Your Trouble.”

Two years ago, a group of Thresher staffers went to Washington D.C. to attend the College Media Association’s annual convention, during which student journalists shared concerns that their communities didn’t take them seriously. Administrators would patronize them and ignore emails, and coverage often went unread. I remember hearing their thoughts and being grateful that, for a school without a journalism program, Rice always took the Thresher seriously. Administrators respond to our interview requests, faculty write guest opinions and students read what we write. But sometimes I wonder if our community takes us too seriously — to the point where they fear speaking to us, and often grow angry with us for mistakes we don’t make. While my happiest memories come from positive experiences I’ve had at the Thresher, I’ve learned the most from interacting with people who view us as an adversary. I’ve had high-up administrators accuse me of unethical journalism, when I actually took their responses word-for-word from a response intended for the article. I’ve received emails listing ways that an opinion piece was inaccurate, when we had evidence backing up each of the listed claims. In every case, complaints stemmed from the assumption that we had malicious intent. If you’re far-removed from the Thresher, it’s not hard to view us as an adversary — but a glimpse into how we operate will show you that our only goal is to convey the truth as clearly as we can. Outside of the Thresher, it’s hard to imagine the amount of time we

spend poring over interview transcripts, writing and rewriting stories, and examining every word during the editing process. In reality, we’re a group of students who dedicate our entire Tuesdays, and a majority of our Mondays, toward ensuring our work is perfect. We strive to make our pieces as accurate, relevant and interesting as possible because we value these attributes, but also because we take pride in our work. Since this is my last week working with the Thresher — the organization I’ve dedicated my Mondays and Tuesdays to for the past four years — I would be remiss to leave without thanking the people who have shaped my experience. Thank you to Kelley Lash, the most patient and enthusiastic soul, whose journalistic wisdom is boundless. To Christina Tan and Anna Ta, for being such passionate, driven and inspiring leaders. To Rishab Ramapriyan and Amy Qin, for making me feel welcome in our leadership team and for sharing those delirious Tuesday nights with me. To Savannah Kuchar and Ben Baker-Katz, for brightening up my days with light and laughter. And to everyone on staff at the Thresher for cucumber photos, outfitthemed page designs and late-night talks. And for making this the hardest goodbye.

Ivanka Perez

SENIOR EDITOR BROWN COLLEGE SENIOR

OPINION

It’s past time to bring Chick-fil-A back to The Hoot For those of you who are seniors, you’ll remember a campus controversy that broke out in April 2019 when The Hoot announced its decision to stop serving Chick-fil-A amid criticism of its donations to three organizations — the Salvation Army, the Paul Anderson Youth Home and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes — that have taken anti-LGBTQ+ stances. When the policy took effect the following fall, I spoke out against the decision in this paper, arguing the secondary boycott was nothing more than token enforcement of an unworkable standard. I still believe that we shouldn’t take into account political considerations when we eat. But The Hoot didn’t budge, and the controversy quickly faded away. I have close friends on both sides of the issue, so I didn’t push the matter any further. However, since April 2019, the facts have completely changed, so I’m renewing my call for The Hoot to bring back Chick-fil-A. In November 2019, Chick-fil-A responded to criticism by announcing a new charitable giving plan focused on education, homelessness and hunger. Chick-fil-A President and COO Tim Tassopoulus told Bisnow the Chick-fil-A Foundation would no longer fund any of the three organizations,

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

saying, “It’s just the right thing to do, to be controversial donation two years ago. By this clear, caring, and supportive.” Bisnow cites standard, we must scrutinize the donations strong opposition from protestors, cities and of every Chick-fil-A employee and contractor, even airports as contributing factors to the as well as the employee donations of every restaurant we visit. decision to refocus its At this point, there charitable giving. is no intellectually So, The Hoot is honest reason to certainly entitled If we are committed to keep Chick-fil-A on to a victory lap, as punishing bad behavior, the blacklist. Chickis anyone else who boycotted Chick-fil-A how much more should we fil-A has donated in their personal be committed to rewarding more than 10 million meals to those in lives. But now it is the good? need since 2012. At time to hold up to your end of the bargain. The whole point of a every franchise opening, it gives $25,000 to boycott is to disengage economically until you a local food bank. In the wake of the George Floyd protests, it pledged to give “$5 million see the change you are protesting. In all fairness, former CEO Dan Cathy in grants to nonprofits that are Black-led and has his own personal nonprofit organization those serving the Black community.” It is with politically controversial donations of pretty clearly a force for good right now, and its own most recently in 2019. But as of Nov. of course, makes great chicken. While it was 1, Dan Cathy is no longer CEO of Chick-fil-A, on The Hoot menu, I remember it was one of his son Andrew Cathy is. Furthermore, these the first things to sell out, and people would donations are several degrees removed from wait in long lines to enjoy it. Economically, morally and palatably, anything The Hoot does. The Hoot buys food from a Chick-fil-A franchise, some profits go bringing back Chick-fil-A is clearly the right to the main headquarters, which pays the thing to do. If we are committed to punishing then-CEO, some of whose money is invested bad behavior, how much more should we be in a personal foundation, which had a committed to rewarding the good? A refusal to

* Indicates Editorial Board member SPORTS Daniel Schrager* Editor BACKPAGE Timmy Mansfield Editor COPY Bhavya Gopinath Editor Jonathan Cheng Editor WEB & VIDEO Brandon Chen Web Editor Jasmine Liou Video Editor PHOTO Channing Wang Photo Editor Katherine Hui Asst. Photo Editor

DESIGN Robert Heeter Art Director Anna Chung News Siddhi Narayan Opinion Katherine Chui Features Ivana Hsyung Arts & Entertainment Andi Rubero Sports Lauren Yu Backpage ILLUSTRATION Chloe Xu Illustrator Ndidi Nwosu Illustrator Andrea Gomez Illustrator BUSINESS MANAGEMENT Karoline Sun Business Operations Deema Beram Social Media Amanda Mae Ashley Distribution

bring back Chick-fil-A would create a perverse incentive not to respond to public criticism. Why bother changing your behavior if the economic consequences are not lifted? We live in a culture that loves to selectively punish others, extending no forgiveness even after apologies have been made. Certain people and organizations are declared persona non grata. And there is an indelible stain of guilt attached to the unlucky few that follows them wherever they go, regardless of good-faith attempts to make amends. Without a course-correction, the Chick-fil-A saga will be yet another data point in a bleak trendline. I understand why some people opposed Chick-fil-A’s past donations, but they are long gone now, in part due to your efforts. Now is the time to put our money where our mouth is. If you miss campus Chick-fil-A too, please write to The Hoot and ask them to reconsider. Let’s hope they don’t chicken out.

Tomás Jonsson

WILL RICE COLLEGE SENIOR

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.

Editorial and business offices are located on the second floor of the Ley Student Center: 6100 Main St., MS-524 Houston, TX 77005-1892 Phone: (713) 348 - 4801 Email: thresher@rice.edu Website: www.ricethresher.org The Thresher is a member of the ACP, TIPA, CMA, and CMBAM. © Copyright 2021


6 • WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2021

THE RICE THRESHER

Leaving the nest: Students discuss studying abroad in a pandemic “Given the continued fluctuation of the number and severity of COVID cases globally, and the challenges inadequate vaccination For as long as she could remember, levels present, countries keep having to Peggy Polydoros has wanted to study in adjust both their entry requirements and Greece. Polydoros, a Will Rice College senior, domestic policies to curb infections,” Loch is a Greek-American majoring in Ancient said. “Health passes verifying full vaccination Mediterranean Civilizations, so living in status as well as regular testing have become Greece was a perfect match for her personal a must both for international travel and for and professional interests, she said. But when everyday life in many countries.” Catherine Hettler, a McMurtry College the pandemic hit, her plans were disrupted — in the face of surging coronavirus cases and senior, studied at Seoul National University major uncertainty about what travel would in South Korea in the fall 2020 semester. look like, she had a tough decision to make Originally, Rice canceled all study abroad programs for that semester, but Hettler was about whether to study abroad. “I had no idea what the trajectory of able to request special consideration to follow the pandemic would look like when I was through with her plans. “Honestly, it felt like a miracle that I was considering my options last fall,” Polydoros said. “Ultimately, I decided I had to at least try able to go at all, considering everything,” Hettler said. to study abroad.” In South Korea, Hettler lived in a dorm, Polydoros ended up going to Athens, Greece in the spring and summer of 2021, explored the city and campus and went to but her experience was not unaffected a variety of museums and restaurants. Her by the pandemic, she said. Travel was classes and most social activities were held restricted in the beginning, so Polydoros on Zoom, but exams were in person, and couldn’t leave Athens, and many local she was still able to meet other students and professors. Though the uncertainty and events were canceled. Study abroad has only just begun to return restrictions around her program could be to normal, according to Beata Loch, director of stressful, the experience was still worthwhile, the Study Abroad Office. While a few students Hettler said. “For me, the positives definitely successfully petitioned to study abroad in earlier semesters, the fall 2021 cohort was the outweighed any negatives, and ultimately it first that Rice sent abroad after suspending was a lot of fun and a lot of learning — both in international travel in Feb. 2020, Loch said. the classroom and in terms of life experience,” Currently, 19 students are studying abroad, Hettler said. According to Polydoros, the coronavirus all of whom are in Europe. In the spring, there will be 34 students, with the majority in restrictions she faced had a silver lining: Europe and a few in South America and Asia, They helped her feel like a local. Since she couldn’t leave according to Loch. Athens, Polydoros Loch said the would spend hours p a n d e m i c- r e l a t e d exploring different restrictions still Though I was limited to neighborhoods in in place differ by Athens in the spring, I city and getting program. In some ended up feeling even more the to know the people programs, the inin her area. She country portion has like a local than I might even got to spend been shortened to less have otherwise. time with a friend than 90 days in order from Rice who was to get around issues Peggy Polydoros studying remotely of visa application WILL RICE COLLEGE SENIOR from his home in backlogs at embassies. In others, students’ ability to travel on their Athens. Polydoros said the whole experience own is limited. Most programs no longer helped her to feel connected with the city. “Though I was limited to Athens in the include homestay, in which students live with local host families, and all have strict testing spring, I ended up feeling even more like a local than I might have otherwise,” Polydoros and vaccine requirements.

EMILY LONDON

FOR THE THRESHER

FROM FRONT PAGE

DESROCHES

Although he wasn’t technically allowed to share the news before the official announcement, DesRoches said he bent the rules to tell his siblings, who had known about his journey through the application process. Part of the reason why DesRoches went to college, he said, was to follow in their footsteps. “You always tried to be like your older siblings and try to follow in their footsteps. And they all went off to college. So I was like, ‘I want to do that too,’” DesRoches said. Despite going into different fields, all of his siblings are excelling, according to DesRoches. One brother is a doctor, his sister is a lawyer and his brother closest in age is now the CFO of AT&T. Since hearing the news, DesRoches said that each sibling has shown support in a different way. One of his brothers flew down to Houston the day after the announcement, and DesRoches spent the day giving him a tour of Rice. “They’re hearing it because of social media, which is incredible,” DesRoches said. “My sister heard from some of her law school friends and college friends. She’s

like, ‘Reggie, you can’t believe who reached out to me.’ So they’re really proud and really excited.” Before his siblings found out the good news, DesRoches told his children. The night he heard, he set up a Zoom call with his children to tell them the news — which was mysterious and worrying for his kids, he said. “They were like, Oh, my God, what’s wrong?” DesRoches said. “So we told them, and then I told my siblings that evening. And I was like, no social media, don’t tell anybody, keep this [secret] until the announcement.” Zoom wasn’t only a large part of sharing his new role with his family, but also his experience with his current role as the university’s provost. DesRoches officially took over the position in July 2020, but he had begun doing work for the role in March, when the pandemic first began affecting Rice’s operations. Since nearly all of DesRoches’s meetings at the time were over Zoom, he said he has an appreciation for its utility, despite the isolation that the pandemic necessitated. As Rice emerges from a period of virtual classes, DesRoches said he plans to evaluate the role of technology in the university’s future.

ANDREA GOMEZ / THRESHER

said. “I got to know my neighborhood exceptionally well and made friends with local shop owners and my incredible professors.” Emily Wolf, a Martel College junior, will study in Vienna, Austria next semester as part of a program on psychology and the social sciences. She said regulations and restrictions in Austria are still changing, which makes her nervous, but even with these changes she is still excited to go abroad. “I’m expecting coronavirus to restrict my travel to other countries while abroad, but I still believe I could spend an entire semester in a foreign city and leave with plenty of things I have yet to do,” Wolf said. For students thinking about studying abroad, the best way to prepare is to reach out

to the study abroad office, according to Loch. The deadline for summer 2022 study abroad applications is March 15, although some programs are due earlier. “Proper planning for a study abroad term is more important than ever,” Loch said. “We encourage all students to get in touch with our offices early to benefit from one-onone advising.” Polydoros said she would recommend study abroad to interested students, even amid uncertainties. “I’m glad I took a calculated risk with careful precautions so I could study in Greece for five months,” Polydoros said. “It was an incredible experience that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”

“[Isolation has] been tough on everybody,” DesRoches said. “That being said, if it wasn’t for Zoom, we wouldn’t be able to continue delivering on our mission and being able to do some of the things that we did. So I think, moving forward ... we need to figure out, is there a role for technology as we deliver our mission?” However, DesRoches said he does appreciate that events have been shifted back in person — and he knows students appreciate it as well. “I know students enjoy the flexibility [provided by technology] even though they want to be in person,” DesRoches said. “So I think moving forward, we need to figure out how we can take some of the best things out of Zoom while maintaining what I know the students cherish: being in the classroom and engaging in person.” The application process to become the next university president, according to DesRoches, was rigorous. DesRoches was invited to apply by a headhunter, who notified him that he had been nominated to apply. After submitting a resume and a statement about his achievements, he went through three stages of interviews. First was the “airport” interview, the shortest one clocking in at two hours, usually offered to

about ten to fifteen candidates. The pool was narrowed for the second round, with about five to seven candidates participating in a half-day interview and dinner. The final round of interviews took place over an entire day, with approximately seven twohour interviews. DesRoches said the intensity of the process was diluted by its length, which spanned over six months. “Academic processes tend to take time,” DesRoches said. “They’re intense interviews, very stressful. But it was [also] great because it’s conversational and you get to talk about your views, your experiences, what you’ve done, what you could bring to this role.” Even though DesRoches has been selected to follow in Leebron’s footsteps, his immediate goal is to focus on completing his term as provost until July. Besides finishing projects that he started during his term, DesRoches has two searches to begin: finding his replacement and that of research provost Yousif Shamoo, who recently announced that he was stepping down. DesRoches said that the search committee for his replacement is nearly finalized. This story has been cut off for print. Read the full article at ricethresher.org.


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2021 • 7

FEATURES

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JAYAKER KOLLI AND NIKHAZ OMAR

CROSSWORD WRITERS

Senior Spotlight DISHA BALDAWA

FOR THE THRESHER

In high school, Chidera Ibezue knew that she wanted to pursue medicine. Ibezue said community service and volunteer work helped her realize that. She entered Rice as a biochemistry major but soon shifted to a major in psychology (with a minor in biochemistry and cell biology), which makes a lot of sense for her career interest, she said. “I quickly became [a] psychology [major] after my first PSYC 101 class,” Ibezue, a Hanszen College senior, said. “Psychology has allowed me to learn more about the patients holistically. I’ve always said that I wanted to be a physician who treats patients and not symptoms.” Ibezue’s passion for psychology and medicine grew in the different classes she took. Ibezue said that after learning a lot about workplace discrimination in an industrial psychology course taught by Danielle King her junior year, she was encouraged to join King’s lab the following year. “[My research team and I] continued to study industrial and organizational psychology but also specifically resilience, and that has been really cool to research because that actually applies to my interest in medicine,” Ibezue said. “I think that patients are one of the most resilient populations and it’s been cool to understand the construct of resilience in a very comprehensive way.” Classes at Rice gave her an opportunity to connect her academic interests to her passion for psychology outside the classroom, according to Ibezue. “In my psychology leadership class, for my final project, I did my presentation on the emerging leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement,” Ibezue said. “I talked about this eight-year-old who led a Black Lives Matter movement and discussed the

ACROSS

1 Pickle slice, at a deli 6 Animal found under many Texas bridges 10 Pubs 14 Shove 15 Farming prefix 16 Dutch cheese 17 Played a role 18 Christmas, in some Christmas carols 19 Places 20 Bear or giraffe 22 Aid, criminally 23 1/3 of a tbsp 24 ___ and outs 25 Pooh’s blue friend 27 Explosive Minecraft block 28 Path divergence 30 Back-to-back-to-back championships 34 Hint towards 39 Vaccine container 40 Verizon competitor, abbr. 41 Actor Malek of “Mr. Robot” 42 “30” artist 44 Supermajority in the House or Senate 47 Plateau 49 Kylo of “The Force Awakens” 50 Psychic 54 Bagel topping 55 “Shop ___ you drop” 58 Father of Thor and Loki 59 Single-file 63 Petri dish gel 64 Artificial fish habitat 65 “Never _____ Give You Up” 66 “99 Luftballons” singer 67 Hamburg’s river 68 Beyonce hit “Love __ ___” 69 “Quickly!”, quickly 70 Utters 71 Bird houses

DOWN

1 Elevator passageway 2 River in West Texas 3 Buy into 4 Swear the truth 5 METRORail route next to Rice 6 Fringe 7 Awestruck 8 Baobab or mangrove 9 Fuse, as metal 10 Fasten, while rock climbing 11 Filipino marinade 12 Vanellope von Schweetz or Danica Patrick 13 Whack, biblically 21 Extroverted Myers-Briggs personality type, abbr. 26 Heart chart, for short 27 Poker giveaway 28 Islamic decree 29 ____ von Bismarck 30 “Loki” monitoring org. 31 Stashed away 32 Carly ___ Jepsen 33 Consumes injera 35 Actress Moriarty of “The Boys” 36 Road goop 37 Intel rival 38 “___ the season!” 43 Australian big bird 45 Horse gait 46 Honeycomb shape 48 Reacts, online 50 Princess of Motunui, in namesake Disney movie 51 Cubes have 12 52 Wonder Woman’s alter ego 53 Where to find Grey Poupon? 54 Minnesota has at least 10,000 of them 55 Window treatments 56 “__ ___ making this up” 57 Jumps 60 “The Lion King” queen 61 Gender identity often associated with they/ them pronouns, for short 62 Muscle quality

Chidera Ibezue explores her background and passion for medicine SOLOMON NI / THRESHER Hanszen College senior Chidera Ibezue shares her passion for medicine, as well as how she has expanded her horizons at Rice.

leadership qualities he demonstrated. This was really cool because I got to talk about something I was genuinely interested in.” According to Ibezue, her major has taught her about the several realms of psychology and how integral it is in serving a community and its various populations. Psychology has also helped her be more empathetic to people’s experiences. Ibezue said that she did research on the psychosocial effects of cancer treatment and its financial aspect on patients and their families. “Learning about a lot of different people’s experiences and psychological constructs that [have] influenced them has allowed me to understand that a person is more than just what an individual comes across on the surface level,” Ibezue said. “It’s allowed me to be more understanding of what people are going through and it has made me more interested in finding out ways I can understand people and give back to these people.” Ibezue said that outside academics, she has explored things at Rice that her high school self would not have expected. She said she dipped her foot into everything her freshman year and found it difficult to navigate balancing her personal and academic life. “When I came to Rice, I wanted to try everything because there was so much to do here. For example, I did powderpuff my freshman year, which I never thought I would be doing,” Ibezue said. “I joined the Rice African Student Association Dance team, and even the [other] clubs that I joined — I guess I just would have never expected joining [them].” Ibezue said she also found it challenging to figure out where she fit in the Rice community.

“Having this new academic rigor was definitely new to me, and having to get used to that, one thing that I realized that I was not good at when I came to Rice was asking for help,” Ibezue said. “That was definitely an obstacle I had to go through because I knew I needed help, but I didn’t know how to ask for it … But once I realized all the people around me … were there to help me and to support me, I started getting more comfortable … and began to understand ways that I can tackle Rice and be more successful here.” Ibezue said that once she found more of a balance, she focused on clubs and projects that have been important to her throughout her time at Rice. Ibezue is a member of DAWA Pre-health Society, an organization for minority students on the pre-med track and served as treasurer last year. She also joined Period @ Rice her freshman year and was the club’s president in her junior year.

“I think contributing to destigmatizing and normalizing the conversation around menstruation is something that’s been really impactful, and the fact that anyone regardless of gender and personal background can come and participate in [the] events and come together to give back to the community … has been really cool to see,” Ibezue said. “And being around other minority pre-medical students and being able to support them and learn from them on this track has been super impactful.” According to Ibezue, in college she has explored her background and ethnicity in much greater depth than she did in high school. She is part of the RASA Dance team and was involved in Africayé, RASA’s annual cultural show. This story has been cut off for print. Read the full article at ricethresher.org.


8 • WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2021

THE RICE THRESHER

Senior Spotlight: Catherine Hettler carves her own path

MICHELLE GACHELIN

THRESHER STAFF

From drawing on the walls of her childhood home to creating sculptures inspired by modern psychology experiments, art has always been a part of Catherine Hettler’s life. She knew she would continue to create art in college, but came into Rice undecided in her major. It wasn’t until she took Beginning Sculpture and Introduction to Psychology classes as a freshman that she decided to double major in Studio Art and Psychology. Now, she’s finally finding her voice. “I became more serious about [art] after I came to college, and I think right now I am more serious about it than ever before. I feel like I’m really settling into what kind of art I like to do,” Hettler, a McMurtry College senior, said. “All throughout high school, I did drawings and colored pencils, but after going to college I’ve really leaned into the sculpture aspect of art and fell in love with it.” Since deciding to pursue art, Hettler is grateful for the support of her friends and family, as well as for the enthusiasm of the faculty at Rice. “I really like the faculty in the art department. They’re all very encouraging. The reason I decided to pick this major and be more ambitious in art is because of the influence of all the faculty members and the professors,” Hettler said. “They’re all very excited about the things that they

which is weird because I tend to work more long-term,” Hettler said. “Then I did a [fabric] piece inspired by Bandura’s Bobo doll experiment … It’s like a creature [resembling] something between a clown doll and a small child … I think it’s very fun to look at. It represents the lack of malice but simultaneous lack of moral compass [in children] that I got from the experiment.” When Hettler begins working on a piece, she rarely sticks strictly to her original concept, preferring to let the piece improve organically and intuitively. She said that people tend to put high standards on themselves when they create art, rather than enjoying the process. “What I really learned while pursuing this major is that it’s really just about how much fun I’m having. I’m working very intuitively and doing what feels right in GAZI FUAD / THRESHER that moment,” Hettler said. “At the risk of Catherine Hettler, a McMurtry senior, sounding cliche, I’m letting my inner child creates art using found objects and a have their way when it comes to art, and variety of other techniques. being unapologetic about it.” Allowing herself to have fun with teach and the things they do, and it’s really the process of creating also requires Hettler to let go of worrying about how infectious.” Hettler’s art focuses on the intersection audiences will receive her art. People between concepts in modern psychology have described her art in many different and sculpture. She tends to create art in ways she hadn’t expected, so she focuses thematic bodies of work and said she instead on enjoying her experience as a creator and artist. falls in love with “I used to whatever she’s make things with currently making. an idea of how I “I started off I’m working very wanted people to doing work that intuitively and doing receive my art, but had to do with I think it’s really the unconscious what feels right in that important to just do p s y c h e , moment... I’m letting my what feels right for d r e a m s c a p e s inner child have their way me and not worry and comfort about how it’ll be memories,” Hettler when it comes to art. received,” Hettler said. “Then I Catherine Hettler said. “It’s nice to be shifted to working MCMURTRY SENIOR surprised by how with childhood experiences, drawing from both mine and people receive my art. It was the one thing from [others]. I feel like children have very I was afraid of, but that’s what makes it exciting now.” innocent but also destructive tendencies.” After graduating, Hettler plans on taking Hettler also incorporates founding experiments in developmental psychology a gap year to pursue art on her own, without into her art. Her piece featured in this structure from a class or assignment. “I’ve been slowly leaning into working year’s Sleepy Cyborg Gallery is inspired by Harlow’s experiment, which involved with more Freudian concepts, things like giving baby monkeys the choice between the ego and superego are concepts I think two surrogate mothers: a soft cloth monkey work well with my general aesthetic and providing no nourishment and a wire the type of work I usually do,” Hettler said. “It can be kind of daunting [to work monkey with an attached baby bottle. “I was inspired by the soft monkey … on your own], because you’re on your [My work is] a cloth piece made of found own timetable. I have a couple different objects. That one is one of my favorites. potential paths I’m considering, but we’ll I actually did it in around 30 minutes, see where it goes.”

Holiday sights around Houston DISHA BALDAWA

FOR THE THRESER

It is beginning to look a lot like the holiday season with the lit up Christmas tree at Fondren, Mariah Carey playing at the President’s barbeque and lights wound around trees in Rice Village. To reel in the Houston winter vibes, look no further for a list of holiday attractions to visit during dead days to avoid studying for finals. Starry Night Express Immerse yourself in outer space with a 15 minute walk to the Starry Night Express at Houston Museum of Natural Science. The Starry Night will take you on a live tour of the night sky, planets, the moon, constellations, Milky Way galaxy and beyond and is a perfect opportunity for stargazers of all ages. This show explores wonders beyond our galaxy and provides the audience with a chance to broaden their understanding about the universe. Tickets are $4 for members and $9 for the public. Holiday Lights Hunting Take the northbound red line to the Museum District and stroll on Main Street to take in the twinkling lights. Main Street is covered with life size displays of animals wrapped in bright colorful string lights and sparkling trees from mid-November till end of December. There are also light displays in River Oaks and in neighborhoods around campus. Discovery Green Ice Rink Visit the Discovery Green Ice Rink from Nov. 12 through Jan. 30 to brush up on your ice skating skills. Green Ice has special events such as Skating with the Stars where visitors can skate while watching musical performances and Clutch City Wednesdays where you can skate to music by Houston artists. Tickets cost $15 without discounts. This article has been cut off for print. Read the full version online at ricethresher.org.

Album highlights from a year filled with new music releases JACOB TATE

SENIOR WRITER The album rollouts of 2021 started off as little more than a trickle — a result of artists holding back albums for a post-COVID world in which they could tour. But once the dam started to crack, it burst wide open. It felt like every other week was a massive album event, a reminder of the power of dropping multiple songs at once despite the last decade of proclamations that the album was dead. Here’s some of my favorite albums from the past year: 5. “Pressure” by Big Jade “Pressure” is the best debut album from a Houston rapper since Paul Wall. Big Jade wields a Midas touch you’d expect from a much more experienced rapper, effortlessly going from the Houston twerk anthem “Dem Girlz” to straight bars on “No Hook.” Next to Jade and producer Beatking, Texas rappers like OMB Bloodbath and Queendom Come bring their A-game to “Pressed” and

“Respectfully.” In a big year for female Houston rappers, Big Jade carried the torch. 4. “Sometimes I Might Be An Introvert” by Little Simz There are some albums you want to drown in, and there are others you do drown in. Little Simz’s new album is the latter, a virtuosic dance of full, wide beats and timely rapping. Album opener “Introvert” demonstrates Simz’s ability to anchor a song for six minutes by herself, a shocking feat for any artist. From “I Love You, I Hate You” to “Fear No Man,” Little Simz raps with the hunger of a newcomer but the deftness of the UK rap mainstay she is. 3. “Jubilee” by Japanese Breakfast The crowning achievement of Michelle Zauner’s banner year, “Jubilee” demonstrates the continuing range and allure of indie rock, trading between twee jams like “Be Sweet” and paranoid slowburners like “Posing in Bondage.” In a year

defined by bloated album releases, by the time I arrive at the cacophonous outro of “Posing For Cars,” I’m left needing more. The repeat button is always there! 2. “WEIGHT OF THE WORLD” by Maxo Kream Maxo Kream is arguably the most consistently creating rapper in the country, releasing a stream of remarkable projects that seem to always fall a little short of legendary. “WEIGHT OF THE WORLD,” however, ranks right up there with the iconic “#Maxo187” by excelling at creating the music Maxo Kream is best known for. Following the death of a brother and expecting a baby girl, Kream finds himself at the most insightful on tracks like “CRIPSTIAN,” “THEY SAY,” and “MAMA’s PURSE.” At the same time that bangers like “BIG PERSONA” and “CEE CEE” expertly celebrate the good things in life, Maxo thrives when his songs turn into conversations between himself and his life, meticulous descriptions of trauma, loss,

and grief. Still, despite the heaviness of the subject matter, the album never collapses under its own weight, owing to Kream’s ability to hold up even in the toughest situations. 1. “Nurture” by Porter Robinson This is one of the greatest albums of all time. After more than a half decade of fighting deep depression and writer’s block, Porter Robinson returns with an album that joyously celebrates life while acknowledging the difficulty of doing so. Nurture is a journey, twisting through the playful instrumentation of “Lifelike” into the explosive “Look At The Sky’’ and culminating with the cathartic “Unfold.” Even the experimental and sometimes grating tracks bring a joie de vivre that becomes all the more obvious in the anthemic choruses that pepper this record. This is the album that offers hope that listeners can do something good with their lives.


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2021 • 9

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Cohorts in writing: Three students discuss their creative writing capstone ADRIAN ALMY

FOR THE THRESHER Each year, senior English majors complete a two semester seminar focused on producing a substantial piece of critical or creative work. This project can range from a well researched critical analysis to a collection of poems or short stories. For students concentrating in creative writing, this tends to be a creative project undergone with the intent to share their work upon completion. The Thresher spoke to three students about the creative writing projects that they’re currently working on. Inspiration taken from experiences Andreea Calin, a McMurtry College senior, is drawing on her own experiences to draft a novel. “My novel is very heavily inspired by my own life,” Calin said. “A student in New York is in her first year of college and is experiencing a lot of [feelings of] disillusionment, of being misplaced … She spends a lot of time in her head considering childhood memories and [being from a first generation family from] Romania and familial relationships and how that led to where she is today and connecting now with her feelings of displacement.” Calin says that she initially struggled with choosing a medium for her project. Since her writing was based on her own experiences, she was unsure whether a memoir format or fictional retelling would suit the story best. “At the end of the day, [I] ended up deciding that the liberties you have with a fiction novel are much more free than [that of] a memoir,” Calin said. “I can take liberties with facts and change little events that happened in a way that still conveys the truth of my experiences.”

Calin also said she found it nice to be able to work with a cohort of students who were all going through the same things she was. “Our class meetings are Wednesdays from 6:30 to 9:30 [p.m.], so everyone is exhausted because it’s the middle of the week,” Calin said. “But we can all come together. This is something we chose to do, so it’s like a passion project for everyone. It’s nice to have that camaraderie.” Finding a Thematic Focus Hector Cervantes has undertaken a novel project as well but from a distinctly different approach. “Essentially, I’m approaching it [from] a literary horror genre, which is the genre I’m personally interested in. It’s burgeoning out in the contemporary field,” Cervantes, a Brown College senior, said. Cervantes said that they believed literary horror had more to do with the themes being explored than with a focus on scaring the reader. “One of my favorite writers out there right now is John Langan,” Cervantes said, “And over the summer I read this book by him called ‘The Fisherman.’ That book could arguably be more accurately described as folksy fantasy, but it has horror elements because [of] the way it approaches its themes of loss and grief. I think that’s what the genre of literary horror wants to achieve.” Cervantes found that their own thematic focus changed throughout the course of their research. “At this novel’s conception, I [sought] to let it be a meditation on … disconnect between a person, their sense of self and the outer world,” Cervantes said. “As I researched more for this novel, I started leaning heavier

Review: More risk, less reward than expected from Adele’s ‘30’ IMOGEN BROWN

FOR THE THRESHER

COURTESY COLUMBIA RECORDS

Adele’s fourth studio album “30” is a vulnerable amalgamation of jarring rhythms and soulful influences. Released on Nov. 19, “30” generated widespread critical acclaim for its candid, emotional narration of Adele’s divorce from Simon Konecki. Despite her previously established reputation for a rich vocal range and expressive, emotional lyricism, listeners and critics alike have lauded the new record as Adele’s greatest musical risk to date. A poignant account of the turbulence of family, love, fame, and heartbreak, “30” reiterates Adele’s timeless ability to storytell in a way that touches the hearts of fans everywhere. With the first track “Strangers by Nature,” Adele immediately throws her listeners into the emotional deep end. A melancholic, eerily Christmas-like song that evokes the muted tranquility of thick snow covering the ground, Adele’s haunting choral themes establish the tone of the album like a topic sentence introducing a paragraph. Though the song bursts with a beautiful, mellow despondency, one is left to wonder how Adele plans to sustain her story’s energy and pace. “Easy On Me,” is a strong followup to this first track, and remains one of the more popular, memorable songs on the album since its release as a single. A standout single “Easy On Me” is a velvety blend of a classic Adele pairing: her rich, beautiful voice along with her ability to make piano keys sing.

After these heartrending musical kickoffs, “30” takes on several new directions. With more experimental, inconsistent songs such as “My Little Love” — a repetitive, monotonous acquired taste which drags on for an eternity and assumes the average listener has an emotional history with the album that only Adele herself does, and “Cry Your Heart Out” — an upbeat, masterful departure from what we might consider to be “classic Adele,” she does take risks, though they don’t always pay off. The album’s trifecta of movable, rhythmic tracks: “Cry Your Heart Out,” “Oh My God,” and “Can I Get It,” is squeezed into the middle of the album — creating a dense pile of unexpectedly upbeat songs that is illogically bookended by the unrelenting walls of emotion found at the album’s beginning and end. Each song fades in and out without rhyme or reason, leaving little to no room for fluidity between tracks. The final quadrant of “30” is Adele’s impassioned finale. “Hold On” and “Love is a Game” particularly stand out as the most powerful and naked of the songs in this segment. Unlike earlier tracks, in which she deviates (whether artfully or otherwise) from her usual style, “Hold On” is classically Adele in its crescendo and delivery. This Adele, not the Adele of “Can I Get it” or “Woman Like Me,” is who we came to hear. In “30,” Adele showcases her versatility, while staying true to the raw vulnerability that skyrocketed her to fame in the first place. She loses her footing on several occasions, testing our patience with unsatisfying fadeouts, lack of musical cohesion and illogical organization (i.e. grouping three six-minute, miserable songs together at the album’s conclusion). In the end, however, the arsenal of vocal weapons at Adele’s disposal, as well as her willingness to deviate, evolve, change and risk her own story in the process make for an admirable work of art that will satisfy audiences seeking to fill the “25” shaped hole in their hearts.

NDIDI NWOSU / THRESHER

into ... environmental impact on people’s psychology. … One of the key elements of my novel is the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I started reading more about that whole disaster, and I thought the environmental impact of this catastrophe is so, so great. I would like to explore it, and that’s [what I am] focusing that book around.” A life of writing and writing about life Katimah Harper has chosen a different medium from her two peers, but her themes are still grounded in her lived experiences. “I’m doing a poetry collection memoir that [explores] the period after my dad’s death, [my and my family’s] experience with grief and how that’s shaped by the way that Black culture as a whole handles the topic of grief and trauma,” Harper, a Duncan College senior, said.

Harper says that she began writing poetry in middle school before rediscovering her love for it in high school which has led her to continue writing poetry to this day. “It’s just the creative form that I feel the most comfortable with and the form that I feel like I can express myself the best with,” Harper said. “So I’ve just always been a poet. I guess you could say it’s just the form that I feel like is meant to be used for the words that I want to say.” Harper said being able to work with a group of people who were excited about each other’s work makes a big difference. “You can obviously celebrate your own work and critique your own work, but … what better way to pilot [your writing] than with a group of other people who are also creative writers?” Harper said.

Review: ‘Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley’ is a holiday delight MORGAN GAGE

A&E EDITOR

Main Street Theater’s production of “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” is a play that serves as a sequel to Jane Austen’s classic “Pride and Prejudice.” Lauren Gunderson’s clever script showcases the Bennet sisters once again, this time spending Christmas together at Pemberley. This farcical romantic-comedy focuses on awkward middle sister Mary Bennet (Chaney Moore) as she finds love with Mr. Darcy’s equally awkward cousin, Arthur de Bourgh (Aaron Alford). Main Street Theater presents an excellent production of the show with very few missteps and is only a walk to Rice Village away from campus. Performances will continue through Dec. 19 with $10 student tickets. When it comes to holiday media, I’m a tough sell, but when it comes to “Pride and Prejudice,” I’m an ardent fan, and I was more the target audience for the show than any Hallmark Christmas movie devotee. The script thrives when it embraces its roots, with jokes and references to the original novel as well as its previous film adaptations that allow the play’s material to shine. That being said, my friend who attended with me knew nothing about the source material beyond my two-minute summary and still enjoyed the show, missed jokes and all. Main Street Theater itself is an intimate space, and the chemistry between the couples was evident when Elizabeth (Skyler Sinclair) and Mr. Darcy (B. Connor Flynn) begin the show with an easy back and forth as they discuss the Christmas tree in their drawing room — there well before Queen Victoria brought the German tradition to England, something that becomes the running joke of the show. Gabriel Regojo delights in the role of Charles Bingley, portraying him with such earnestness that I couldn’t help but feel fond of Bingley. Jane imbues every scene with a sense of sisterly affection that is crucial to the show’s success. Anne (Lindsay Ehrhardt)

and Lydia (Alexandra Szteo-Joe) take over the stage with unexpected dimension to their characters. Mary and Arthur are a natural pair from the books they carry with them (copies of Lamarck’s “Zoological Philosophy” that are identical besides the color of the cover), echoing each other’s socially inept remarks that create distance between themselves and the rest of the ensemble and Moore and Alford’s quiet chemistry that sustains the show. However, very few missteps are still missteps. While the couples share easy camaraderie, the familial sense among the ensemble, especially the Bennet sisters felt lacking; the show thrives in tension but fails to give a satisfying sense of connection as the interpersonal conflict is resolved. Accents were inconsistent among the cast as well as through the duration of the play. However, the show kept me engaged with “Pride and Prejudice” references to spare and the blooming romance between Mary and Arthur that culminates for a satisfying payoff. Whether to inject holiday cheer into the end of the semester or fantasize through a romantic comedy, “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” is a worthwhile watch. This article has been condensed for print. Read the full article online at ricethresher.org.

COURTESY PIN LIM


10 • WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2021

THE RICE THRESHER

PREVIEW

Regional Finals: Dec. 11

Regional Semis : Dec. 9

Second Round: Dec. 3-4

No. 7 Kentucky Southeast Mo. St.

FROM FRONT PAGE

VOLLEYBALL

The Owls, who now sit at 19-6, will face a 20-7 San Diego team that has had its share of tough opponents this year, including an upset victory of the University of California, Los Angeles, who finished the year ranked No. 13. Rice opened their season with a 5-5 record in non-conference play, with four of those losses coming at the hands of top 15-ranked teams, including the University of Texas, Austin, who finished the season ranked No. 2 in the nation. From there, the Owls went 12-0 in conference play, losing just five sets in the process. According to junior setter Carly Graham, who was recently named Conference USA Setter of the Year, the team was able to maintain a high level of play throughout the year thanks to the quality of players they have up and down their roster. “I think one of our biggest strengths is our depth,” Graham said. “Every day in practice is competitive due to that depth and we are able to train and compete against one another every day. I think that translates well into being able to be prepared for matches.” Led by senior outside hitter Nicole Lennon, junior middle blocker Anota Adekunle and Graham — all of whom were named first-team all-Conference USA — the Owls headed into the C-USA tournament. They were the No. 1 seed in the C-USA West and quickly reached the final round of the tournament, but they fell to No. 18 Western Kentucky University for the third consecutive year. A few days after the game, WKU head coach Travis Hudson took to twitter to

First Round: Dec. 2-3

West Virginia Illinois Florida St. Kansas St. Campbell FINAL FOUR

No. 10 Nebraska No. 15 Washington

Dec. 16

Brown Hawaii Mississippi St. San Diego

RICE Sacred Heart

INFOGRAPHIC BY ANDI RUBERO say that the Owls are “definitely one of the best teams in the country.” As the team heads back to another national tournament, Lennon said that their veteran leadership will be an asset to the team as they attempt a tournament run. “Our biggest strength right now is our experience,” Lennon said. “We’re a veteran team, with some of us having this be our fourth time heading to the tournament. We are hoping that strong leadership and knowledge will take us to the next level.” According to Volpe, one specific area of their game that the Owls will look to

No. 2 Texas

improve on during their tournament run is their performance from the service line. “​​I would like to see our team work towards a more aggressive serve during this postseason run,” Volpe said. “It is an area of our game that is definitely improving, but we can always get stronger here and it will help us attack our opponent and create problems for their offense.” If the Owls can get past the Toreros in the first round, they will likely find the Longhorns waiting for them in the next round. UT beat the Owls in straight sets earlier this year, after Rice had won the

previous two meetings between the instate rivals. According to Graham, the team is going to relish playing in the big moments, no matter who is on the other side of the net. “With the devastation of what happened at last year’s tournament, we are so thankful to get to compete in it once again,” Graham said. “It gives us the mindset to take advantage and enjoy these big moments of being able to compete. I think there’s been a lot of intention and great competition at practice during the postseason. We are all so excited to dance in the NCAA tourney.”

MBB goes 1-2, plays 3OT game in Gulf Coast Showcase PAVITHR GOLI

SENIOR WRITER

As many undergraduate students went home for Thanksgiving break, the Rice men’s basketball team spent their break participating in the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, FL where they won their first game but dropped the last two. In the first game last Monday, the Owls beat the University of Evansville 109-104 in three overtimes. However, following the win, the Owls did not have positive results for the remainder of the showcase as they lost to Oakland University 76-73 on Tuesday and were defeated by Fordham University 84-74 on Wednesday. After their Thanksgiving-week competition, the Owls are now 4-3 on the season. According to head coach Scott Pera, the Owls started the tournament strong, but have a lot to learn from their two losses that led to

an undesirable ending to the tournament. “The victory against Evansville was a great win to start the tournament; however it did not end the way that we wanted,” Pera said. “We lost to two good teams in Fordham and Oakland, but both games were where we led in the second half. These games are ones that we can hopefully learn from and get better from.” Pera believes that despite showing positive flashes on both offense and defense, the team was unable to string together their strong performances. “We had long stretches of being really good offensively and had short stretches of being good defensively,” Pera said. “We did not sustain both sides enough to have a more successful tournament.” In the first game of the showcase, the Owls faced off against Evansville and escaped with a victory in triple overtime. The Owls scoring

was led by sophomore forward Max Fiedler and junior guard Chris Mullins who both achieved career-highs in points with 30 and 25, respectively. According to Pera, the game against Evansville was a big win for the Owls and showed the value of having a veteran presence on the roster.

The victory against Evansville was a great win to start the tournament, however it did not end the way that we wanted ... These games are hopefully ones that we can learn from and get better from. Scott Pera HEAD COACH

COURTESY RICE ATHLETICS Graduate guard Carl Pierre dribbles the ball in a recent game. Pierre and the Owls went 1-2 at the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, FL last week, bringing their record to 4-3 on the year.

“I’m really proud of our kids,” Pera said. “That was a mature win. Again, having older guys makes a difference. The guys never panicked. We struggled. But in the second half, we got back in it and we really started to believe that we could win the game. Max had a couple of big rebounds and I thought [Mullins] was tremendous playing both ends of the floor.” Following their first game, the Owls dropped a close matchup against Oakland where they lost 76-73 after a failed comeback bid nearing the end of the game. The Owls shot just 41.3 percent from the field, down from 55.2 percent the day before. Graduate

guard Carl Pierre, who led the team in scoring with 22 points. Unsatisfied with the result, Pera said that the Owls loss was due to the team’s inability to replicate their first-half production. “If we had played like that in the first half and not waited around we would have had a better chance to win the game,” Pera said. “But, Oakland deserves the credit. They played better [and] they deserved to win.” The Owls were unable to catch a break on Wednesday as they fell to Fordham 74-84 in the match that decided third-place. Similar to the previous games, this match was a close one that came down to the wire. Despite setting season-highs for made three-pointers with 12, and three-point percentage, at 50 percent, the Owls were unable to secure the victory as Fordham pulled away with the lead late in the game. The Owls’ scoring efforts were once again led by Pierre who had a season-high 26 points behind six three-pointers along with a double-digit scoring effort by sophomore guard Travis Evee. After facing Texas State University at home Tuesday night and their participation in the Gulf Coast Showcase, the Owls look forward to facing off against numerous non-conference opponents until the end of December, with their biggest matchup coming on Dec. 22 when the Owls travel to Austin to play No. 7 University of Texas, Austin. With these non-conference opponents coming up and a slate of home games, according to Pera, the team hopes to continue to improve and defend their home court successfully. “Our goal over the next couple of weeks is to get better every day and protect our home court now that we play four of our next five games at home,” Pera said.


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2021 • 11

SPORTS

RECAP

Football ends season with comeback win over LA Tech CADAN HANSON

THRESHER STAFF

On Saturday, Rice football came back from a ten point deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat Louisiana Tech University 35-31 on Senior Day. The come-from-behind win snapped a four-game losing streak and tallied the Owls fourth win of the season, moving their record to 4-8 and 3-5 in Conference-USA. Entering the fourth quarter, the Owls were down ten until sophomore quarterback TJ McMahon, who started the game on the bench, led the Owls on two touchdown drives in the final five minutes, finding sophomore wide receiver August Pitre III and graduate wide receiver Cedric Patterson III in the endzone. On defense and special teams, the comeback was facilitated by an interception by freshman linebacker Terreance Ellis and a 48-yard punt return by freshman Sean Fresch that set up the winning touchdown. After the game, head coach Mike Bloomgren said he was thrilled with how the team rallied for the win. “We say it all the time, the fun is in the winning,” Bloomgren said. “I wanted it so bad for these seniors. They have meant so much to this program, especially the five super-seniors who chose to come back and play another year of football here. I’m proud of them finding a way to win on senior day. It makes everything we do during the year worth it.” At halftime, the Owls made a quarterback change, replacing freshman Luke McCaffrey with McMahon, who completed 12 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns. After the game, Bloomgren explained his decision to change the quarterback with two quarters remaining in the season. “We didn’t feel like Luke was throwing the ball well today and we couldn’t call the whole offense with him,” Bloomgren said. “He was [playing] gritty and gutty and had some great runs in the first half, but there were a few [mistakes] that built up. In that moment, I felt that TJ gave us the best chance to score points in the second half. TJ stepped in and I

thought he did a wonderful job in the second half in totality. When he’s in the huddle, the confidence that he exudes is really cool.” In the post game press conference, McMahon explained how he was able to step up and make the plays when it mattered. “It can be a long 12 games to wait and wait and wait,” said McMahon. “And the last game, I’m number two on the depth chart and I need to stay ready. When my number is called, I always think of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning saying ‘when you get your opportunity, you better not waste it’ so that’s the mindset I went in with. If I get a shot, I better pull through and do my job.” Rice sealed the victory when freshman safety Gabe Taylor intercepted a pass with 12 seconds remaining on the 14th anniversary of the passing of his brother and former NFL safety, Sean. Bloomgren said that it was fitting that Taylor made the play to win the game on the emotional day.

[Progress is] not happening at the pace we want it to, but it’s happening. Mike Bloomgren HEAD COACH

“There were a lot of people stepping up and making plays,” Bloomgren said. “[Fresch] having a great return, TJ making a great read and it comes down to Gabe Taylor who I think played with a heavy heart. Today was the [14] year anniversary of his brother passing away. The way that the football gods work, to have that last interception land in his hands was perfect.” The Senior Day win, ended an up-and down season for the Owls. Their season started with a tough non-conference schedule against Power-5 teams like the University of Texas, Austin and University of Arkansas. The conference schedule saw a couple of tough overtime losses against

COURTESY RICE ATHLETICS Freshman cornerback Sean Fresch returns a punt in the fourth quarter of Rice’s game against Louisiana Tech on Saturday. Fresch’s return set up the game winning touchdown, as the Owls closed out their season with a 35-31 win, bringing their record to 4-8 on the season. the University of North Carolina, Charlotte and the University of North Texas, but was highlighted by an upset win against the defending C-USA champions, University of Alabama, Birmingham. Bloomgren said that although the record doesn’t indicate it, the team is a couple plays away from a very solid season. “Today is exactly how we want to play football,’’ Bloomgren said. “We’re good enough that when we perform and do our job in all segments, we can beat anybody. We’ve played in two overtime games so you could say we’re two plays away from going to a bowl [game], but somehow we need to find a way to get to … six, seven, eight, nine, ten wins next year.” One achilles heel that the Owls have had to deal with all season is injuries to the quarterback position. The Owls rotated between McCaffrey, graduate Jake Constantine and redshirt sophomore Wiley Green for much of the season, in large part due to injuries. According to Patterson, the quarterback shuffling is an indicator of how close the team is. “We work with everybody in the offseason, building that connection,” Patterson said. “We know in football everything can change

in the snap of a [finger] so we always have to be ready and those guys are too. We have 100 percent faith in each other so we just got to go get it done. This is a close-knit team. Everyone is supportive, everyone is encouraging. We fight for each other and have each other’s backs.” After the final game, Bloomgren said that this season highlights the steady improvement that the program has been building the past couple of years. “I think it’s showing that [progress] is happening,” Bloomgren said. “It’s not happening at the pace we want it to, but it’s happening. This is the first time Rice has had four wins since 2015. These seniors have left the program better than they found it. Their freshman year they had one win, the next year they had two. And now we’re building.” The Owls will look to improve as they hit the offseason and prepare for the 2022 season. After the way the Owls fought in their last game, McMahon believes that the Owls have what it takes to have a great season next year. “I think [this game] shows that we can hang with anybody we play against,” McMahon said. “We’re rising gradually but in the next year, we’ll be where we want to be.”

COLUMN

Does this count as progress? Football needs a more consistent formula DANIEL SCHRAGER

SPORTS EDITOR

Most of the way through the 2019 season, I thought that Rice had some of the worst luck in all of college football. Through nine games, the Owls were winless, despite four one-score losses, including an eightpoint loss to a Baylor University team that ended the season ranked in the top 15. All signs indicated that the Owls were much better than their 0-9 record and that their bad luck in close games was long overdue to flip. The Owls ended that season with a three-game winning streak, including two one-possession wins, appeared to confirm that theory. The next year, it seemed like the Owls were bound to build off of their winning streak, flip their bad luck in close games and maybe even contend for a bowl-game berth. But in a COVID-19 shortened season, they went 2-3 with one loss in doubleovertime on a quadruple-doinked gamewinning field goal and another by just five points. This year, the Owls once again found themselves in a number of close games. While none of their non-conference games were particularly close, five of their eight games against Conference USA opponents were decided by one score, including two overtime losses. In head coach Mike Bloomgren’s four seasons with the Owls, 15 of their 42 games have been decided by one score, and they have gone to overtime four times (all losses). For context, in the Owls’ 42 games before Bloomgren took charge, they played in eight one-score games and didn’t play in a single overtime. At a certain point, all of

these close games start to look less like a fluke and more like a pattern. Bloomgren describes his philosophy as “pound the rock, control the clock and play great defense.” While the defense regressed this past season, he has the first two parts of his mantra down. The Owls ran the ball 476 times this year, good for fourth in the conference — just two attempts behind second place — and had the fourth fewest passing attempts in C-USA. Even more notably, the Owls controlled the clock all year, winning the time of possession battle in all but two of their games, and holding onto the ball for an average of 33 minutes a game, good for ninth in the nation. If you hold onto the ball long enough, it will give the other team fewer possessions, meaning they have fewer chances to get out to a big lead. It’s a great way to keep games close, but as Rice’s 4-8 record shows, it’s not always a great way to win them. While “pound the rock, control the clock and play great defense,” sounds great, in reality it’s just a nicer way of saying, shorten the game to keep it close, and then hope for the best. That’s a great way of staying in games against better competition, as the Owls did against Baylor in 2019, or pulling off the occasional shock upset, like their road win over 23.5 point favorites University of Alabama at Birmingham earlier this year, but it’s not a strategy that can lead to consistent wins unless you have a dominant running game. Right about here, Bloomgren would probably point to his teams at Stanford University, where he was the offensive coordinator for five seasons, that finished the season ranked in the top-20 four times behind his “pound the rock …” formula. But

at Stanford, Bloomgren had five future NFL draft picks on his offensive line and three future NFL draft picks at running back. So far, this team, which is tied for ninth in the conference with 3.8 yards per carry, hasn’t shown that it is capable of taking over games just by running the football. And as long as they can’t take over games on the ground, if Bloomgren keeps pretendng that they can, their results will be more of the same. So far in Bloomgren’s tenure, the Owls have made progress. They improved from 2-11 his first year, to 3-9 the next year, 2-3 in the shortened 2020 season, and finally 4-8 this year. But that progress has been slower than a 350-pound offensive lineman. Until they commit to playing more aggressively instead of just trying to keep games tight, they’ll continue to play good teams close,

pull off the occasional upset, and point to progress at the end of the year. But in reality, they won’t become a consistent contender in C-USA, much less in the American Athletic Conference in a few years, by relying so much on luck in close games. Bloomgren has done a lot of good things in his tenure. He has outlined a clear vision for the program based on playing a smart and physical brand of football. He has doubled down on Rice’s national recruiting efforts, and he has turned around the trajectory of a program that had seen its win total decrease for four consecutive years prior to his arrival. But if he wants to win consistently and compete for bowl games in the future, he will need to commit to being more aggressive and not be so content to play close games.

COURTESY RICE ATHLETICS Head coach Mike Bloomgren coaches his team from the sideline. The Owls fnished their season on Saturday with a 4-8 record, bringing Bloomgren’s record to 11-31 in four years.


12 • WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2021

BACKPAGE

How did Rice students spend Thanksgiving? The Backpage used their interviewing skills to ask how Rice students spent their Thanksgiving break. Take a look at our deep dive into their unconventional experiences and traditions: “I was an agent of chaos at the dinner table. ‘How about those gas prices?’, ‘So, have you been vaccinated yet?’

“My parents don’t know I drink, so I kept complaining about how bitter the wine was. Little did they know that I was actually holding back from day drinking until I forgot about the next two weeks ahead.”

‘My body, my choice, right?’ I think my uncle’s getting divorced now.”

- Sam Robertskisonsmith ’25 “Every year my homies and I stuff our Thanksgiving turkey with Twizzlers, sriracha and cobs of corn. We call it Twizrachcornkey.”

- Quandale Dingle ’23

- Navid Teebron ’22

“There … was a break this week?

“I technically don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, because that is a colonizer’s holiday. I celebrated Happy Food Family Fun Time Day. There was turkey and pie and mashed potatoes … but it’s like ... different.” - Phil O’Sipher ’24

For real? I spent the last FIVE DAYS WRITING PAPERS! WHO WAS GONNA TELL ME? WHAT THE—”

“I saw someone at the airport that I’ve definitely seen at Chaus before. We didn’t talk or anything, but I saw them.”

- Jackson Jackson ’25

- Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar ’22 “I think I must’ve taken the wrong Uber to the airport because they chloroformed me when I got in the car. The FBI didn’t find me for six days but on the bright side I finally got to visit Uruguay.” - [Redacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation]

“All the kids in my family call Great Uncle Joe the master-baster because he’s in charge of cooking the turkey every year. Mom must’ve wanted to reward his hard work because after they told her, she called the police to take him on vacation in their car.”

“My family’s food makes me queasy because

my dad usually slathers gravy all over the food. I just grab takeout after he falls asleep on the couch.”

- Mimi Mimeemy ’25

- Steve DesRoches ’24

CLASSIFIEDS SELF-PROMOTION Out now on phones everywhere:

What Rice residential college do Murts think is the worst? It’s bananas. Find us on TikTok @ricethresher 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 dilfhunter69@rice.edu.


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