The Rice Thresher | Wednesday, October 5, 2022

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Rice’s Ion settles into Third Ward

Introduced in 2019, Rice’s Innovation District is a joint initiative between the City of Houston and Rice, intended to lift up economically disadvantaged areas. The central building hub, the Ion, held its grand opening in May with a ceremony featuring Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and former Rice President David Leebron.

According to the Brookings Institution, an innovation district is a public and private partnership meant to lift economically disadvantaged areas.

Sam Dike, an investment manager for strategic investments for the Rice Management Company, said the Ion District will support innovation in Houston’s economy. The RMC is the firm that manages the university’s endowment and is responsible for overseeing the project.

“This is about strengthening Houston’s economic resiliency,” Dike said. “If you

think about the core industries that make up Houston: energy sector, healthcare sector, logistics, aerospace, all of those sectors are all evolving and changing.”

What we’ve tried to do as part of this development is to engage all of the relevant stakeholders that are in our neighborhood.

The new building now has coworking office areas, various businesses and public spaces. Notable tenants include Chevron and Microsoft.

Dike says that the Ion building is meant to couple people with opportunities.

“If you think about what’s happening

with our core industries, folks are realizing that they need to innovate,” Dike said.

“They’re looking for opportunities to get with like-minded people, smart people, that can help them continue to innovate. This place provides a forum for those discussions to happen in a very productive way.”

The construction of the district, adjacent to Houston’s Third Ward neighborhood, has been met with strong opposition from some community members, who fear negative impacts of the development. The most prominent effort has been led by the Houston Coalition for Equitable Development without Displacement, which has argued that the development of the district would lead to displacement in the historically Black Third Ward.

“It will push African Americans out of a community they’ve invested in for years,” Carl Davis, a founding member of HCEDD, told Houston Public Media in 2019 when the Ion was still under construction.

Third Ward community shares their stories

MacGregor Way was coined by the Texas Monthly in 1982 as the “main street of the richest, stateliest Black neighborhood in Texas.” Lana Edwards recalls that her husband, Albert “Al” Edwards, had a childhood dream of owning a house on this street.

When Al Edwards was young, his dad, a landscaper at the time, used to drive him down MacGregor to show him the houses, Lana said. After Al and Lana married in 1969, the two purchased a spacious twostory home on MacGregor.

“He always said he was going to have one of those houses,” Lana said. “And so we ended up buying a house on MacGregor … that was his lifelong dream.”

Lana worked as an educator for the Houston Independent School District for 37 years. Al was elected in 1978 to serve in the Texas Legislature as the representative for House District 146.

Al Edwards, who passed in 2020, served in the legislature for more than 30 years and is best remembered for authoring the bill that made Juneteenth a state holiday in 1979. He did not live to

see Juneteenth become a federal holiday in 2021.

“Al sponsored the bill, and he worked hard to get it passed, because there [were] some people that did not feel that they wanted to get it passed,” Lana said. “Al wasn’t actually here to see it [become a federal holiday]. He’s looking down and happy, [and] I am sure they celebrate it wherever he is.”

Lana has now been living in Third Ward for more than 50 years. She is on the board of the African American Library at the Gregory School and regularly attends “elder meetings” at the SHAPE community center. As an educator, Lana created close bonds with community members.

“I love the neighborhood, I love the community,” Lana said. “But Al loved it first.”

Lana said she has seen how the people who left Third Ward early on in her life have wanted to come back, now viewing this area as a “goldmine.”

“Every day, I get calls from people wanting to know if my property is for sale. I don’t know why if they don’t see a sign on [the property], why would they even call me to ask,” Lana said. “Many people are trying to come back, because they realize what a goldmine this [area] really is.”


According to some community members like Elizabeth Montgomery Shelton, Third Ward residents have felt the effects of gentrification over the last few years.

“A lot of older buildings are being taken down and replaced with newer buildings,” Shelton said. “Some of us cannot afford the condos that are moving in … taxes have gone up tremendously. It’s hard for the people in the Third Ward area with the big condos moving in, the new buildings moving in. It’s a struggle for the people who can’t afford that.”

In November 2021, the Houston City Council approved the RMC’s development agreement for the creation of the Rice Innovation District. The agreement was negotiated by the RMC and Houston Chief Development Officer Andy Icken.

HCEDD had called for the establishment of a Community Benefits Agreement between themselves and the RMC, which would legally bind the RMC to establish safeguards against displacement and other community damage. Rice and Houston declined to include HCEDD in the final agreement.

HCEDD had earlier argued that a CBA by definition is between a developer and community, and that the agreement entered with the City was more akin to a development agreement than a CBA.

Three members of the City Council voted against the motion to approve the agreement. Councilwoman Carolyn EvansShabazz, who both grew up in and represents the district encompassing Third Ward, was among them.

“I fully support the Ion, but I believe that CBAs should be between the developer and the impacted community,” EvansShabazz said to Houston Public Media on her vote against the agreement.

The signing of the agreement came after a period of deliberation within an independent group created by the RMC and City of Houston. The parties developed a series of recommendations meant to address community concerns. HCEDD did not participate in the working group.

Some community members are encouraged by the project’s development.

Aretha Freeman, a resident who attends a church near the Ion, said she is looking forward to the Ion’s impact on the community.

“There’s a whole lot of positive things that the Ion can offer that this community needs,”

Freeman said. “I’m excited, I’m really glad to see that they consider the community.”

The agreement includes various commitments for the city and for RMC to support the community. These include the establishment of an affordable housing fund, a talent development and placement program and homelessness services.

Other community members said they want the Innovation District and Rice to also address critical issues in the community, such as substance abuse.

“Technology is fine, but when you’ve got people laying around on every corner, drunk and high, what do we do?” Tanya Moore, a member of the same church as Freeman, said. “We’ve got to start at the root of what’s really going on in this community.”

Concerns over the development of the district led a selection of Rice student organizations to voice support for HCEDD’s mission. There was also significant discourse within the Student Association, including a meeting with the RMC. In February 2020, the Senate passed a resolution supporting the establishment of a CBA with the City of Houston.

“[The] Student Association, representing the Rice student body, supports the development, securement and enforcement of a Community Benefits Agreement for the South Main Innovation District project only if HCEDD … is an equal decision-maker in the negotiations process and ultimately itself or its members organizations are equal signatories,” the resolution reads.

The development has also highlighted other issues in the area, like food insecurity and unemployment, leading community advocates to call on the RMC to assist in addressing these issues.

“I do think they have a responsibility to make sure that billion-dollar ideas aren’t coming in the midst of some child going hungry two miles away,” Kirk Jackson, an urban planner who works in Third Ward, previously said to the Thresher.

In response to the broad body of concern, Dike said that the development will not disregard the community in which it is constructed.

“[T]he people that are located in this building are actually people that live and work in our communities,” Dike said. “What we’ve tried to do as part of this development is

to engage all of the relevant stakeholders that are in our neighborhood.”

Zoe Middleton, a member of HCEDD, said that the Innovation District still risks gentrifying Third Ward.

“Wherever workers associated with the Ion live, Rice Management Company and Rice University have the most to gain from the Ion and without a Community Benefits Agreement, this development places Third Ward at greater risk of speculation and displacement,” Middleton wrote in an email to the Thresher.

Analysis from the Brookings Institution says innovation districts operate in the middle of three types of assets: economic, physical and networking.

Economic assets are built through pure capital. Networking assets are built through close physical proximity between entrepreneurs. Finally, physical assets are built through the various technologies that are available for use by community members, Brookings reports.

Dike indicates the potential for networking assets by saying that the Ion is built for “connecting people to opportunities.”

“It’s a place for businesses who are looking for new opportunities to grow and expand, to also get connected to the technical advice and other kinds of services that help them grow and expand their business,” Dike said.

Physical assets are also abundant in the Ion. The building hosts The Ion Prototyping Lab, a 6,500-square-foot space which includes a rapid prototyping lab, wood shop, machine shop, electronics lab and a wide variety of other tools.

However, all these assets are subject to various membership and leasing plans.

The Ion primarily supports businesses through their incubator and accelerator programs. These programs take businesses at different stages of development and provide them the requisite mentorship or capital to help these businesses succeed.

Dike says that these accelerator hubs cater to various sectors in an effort to promote business growth.

“There are some that focus on smart and resilient cities,” Dike said. “There are some that are focused on clean tech. There are accelerators that are focused on sports and there’s some that are focused on minority or women owned businesses and entrepreneurs.”

Among one of these incubator programs is Greentown Labs Houston. This organization is the largest climate technology and sustainable energy incubator in North America. According to Houston Public Media, this Massachusetts-based incubator is ready to support 50 startup businesses in the Ion.

“I think that’s a testament to what Houston has to offer as being the energy capital of the world and to their desire to be located here in the Ion District because of the synergies in activity,” Dike said.

According to Derek Hyra, the founding director of American University’s Metropolitan Policy Center, equity should play a central role as Rice moves forward with its innovation district.

“It is very important for Rice to pursue an equitable development, instead of gentrification,” Hyra said. “The growth should be equitable … Is Rice supporting affordable housing for residents in the Third Ward? Or doing any other measure? This is very important.”

KATHERINE HUI / THRESHER A plaza centered in the Innovation District. KATHERINE HUI / THRESHER Rice’s Innovation District will span 16 acres in Houston’s Third Ward.
It’s a place for businesses who are looking for new opportunities to grow and expand, to also get connected to the technical advice and other kinds of services that help them grow and expand their business.

Fondren Library to begin providing free menstrual products in bathrooms

Fondren Library will provide free menstrual products in all of the library’s women’s and men’s bathrooms this semester, an effort in collaboration with Rice Women’s Resource Center and Period@Rice.

According to the Head of User Experience at Fondren Debra Kolah, menstrual products will tentatively start appearing in Fondren bathrooms either at the end of this week or beginning of next week. Kolah said the pilot program of this initiative was approved on Monday, Oct. 3, by University Librarian and Vice Provost Sara Lowman.

“We’ve identified storage space that the students will get to very easily,” Kolah said. “We’ll definitely start on the first floor, sixth floor and the basement. So [we just need to get] the supplies in and [figure out] the logistics of getting [volunteers] and working with students’ schedules. But it should move forward pretty fast.”

Sophia DeLeon-Wilson, an ambassador for Fondren and author of the project’s proposal, said she hopes this program will make menstrual products more accessible to students.

“There’s inflation, there’s a sales tax, there’s so many things that are piling on right now that makes it a lot harder for people to afford this stuff,” DeLeon-Wilson said. “I know that there’s not as much support as I think there should be [right now], and so I think [this collaboration is] just a small way I can help with that.”

According to the proposal, a survey of 129 students reported that 11.5% of menstruating people use men’s restrooms.

Easy access to period products would reduce the anxiety, stress, shame and inconvenience that comes with starting one’s period unexpectedly.

Jenny Liu, a volunteer coordinator at the RWRC, said that Fondren and RWRC have been having general meetings to discuss the best method of distribution.

“We are currently in the process to figure out the specifics of this project such as how often should volunteers restock the products, where should we place the products, should we have them in every single bathroom of Fondy, and how should we implement active participation from the volunteers,” Liu, a Sid Richardson College sophomore, said.

As a result, the initiative also calls for placing menstrual products in all mens’ bathrooms, providing support to trans and gendernonconforming menstruating individuals.

“Easy access to period products would reduce the anxiety, stress, shame and inconvenience that come with starting one’s period unexpectedly. Those who find paying for pads or tampons to be a financial burden can spend less,” DeLeon-Wilson wrote in the proposal.

“Lastly, and arguably most critically, this initiative can be both a practical and symbolic way for Fondren to support trans, nonbinary, gender non-conforming and intersex students who already have so much to worry about and have had countless negative experiences with public restrooms in the past. With this initiative, Fondren will become a safer and more inclusive place for students to spend time and study.”

This initiative includes volunteers who will restock the menstrual product baskets. Elysia Wu, the president of Period@Rice, said these volunteers would be recruited from the organization’s general body.

“It’s just nice to be able to offer free supplies to students on campus,” Wu, a Lovett College senior, said. “Sometimes you just don’t have time to run back to your home college, grab a tampon and then go back to [Fondren] and study. The more accessible those menstrual products are, including where people study, the better it is for people who menstruate.”

This project is the first step in a larger movement to make menstrual and reproductive products more accessible on campus. Wu said the Student Association has drafted a resolution to address the issue. However, this localized support from Fondren is a faster solution, at least until that resolution is passed.

“A lot of stuff that goes through [administration], that goes through SA, [takes] a couple of years to implement, just

because it’s university-wide,” Wu said. “We have localized support from Fondren to put stuff directly into Fondren [bathrooms]. That’s a lot faster.”

Kolah hopes that this initiative will encourage students to be more vocal about things they think should be changed at Fondren.

“What I would want to have come out of it is that students realize their feedback makes a difference,” Kolah said. “It can be something like period supplies today, but it can be something else that somebody has a dream about tomorrow.”

DeLeon-Wilson said she hopes this initiative will make people feel more comfortable using and asking for menstrual products.

“I’m hoping to sort of normalize and get people used to having these free products on hand so that when they go and notice it’s not free in other places, they feel entitled to demand that kind of thing,” DeLeon-Wilson said. “It’s something I want to change the culture a little bit at Rice.”

BISF hosts expert panel on abortion healthcare policy

stare decisis ,” Stocks, a Lovett College junior, said.

El-Serag said that from a public health standpoint, health is viewed as more than just illness, but also includes the social determinants of health. According to the World Health Organization, public health includes all aspects of wellness, such as mental health, because these things impact outcomes like reproductive health.

health. And that, in my mind, is a fundamental insult to a woman’s right to determine her future,” El-Serag said. “But also from a medical standpoint, it interferes in the very important patientprovider relationship; that is part of the informed consent process that is so important in making women able to make the best decisions for themselves from a health standpoint.”

On Sept. 29, the Baker Institute Student Forum hosted an expert panel on abortion healthcare. The panel discussed topics like abortion from a healthcare provider’s perspective, abortion advocacy and creating a culture and community of trust at the university level.

Panelists included Dr. Rola ElSerag, Director of Center of Health and Biosciences at the Baker Institute, Dr. Robert Carpenter and Dr. Claire Horner from the Baylor College of Medicine, public health policy advisor Natalie Minas and Planned Parenthood representative Nikki Banneyer.

Thomas Kovac and Oliver Hutt-Sierra, BISF presidents, said they were happy to see good attendance for an event that touched on a significant policy topic.

“Although BISF, as a non-partisan organization, does not endorse views on policy issues and poses neutral questions, the passionate and sometimes partisan discourse amongst the panelists

demonstrated the importance of dialogue on this topic,” Kovac, a Wiess College senior, and Hutt-Sierra, a Martel College senior, wrote in an email to the Thresher. “We are always excited to host events that facilitate dialogue on relevant policy topics and we look forward to hosting more events this semester.”

El-Serag said she believes that health care policy should be driven by scientific data and not other factors, like ideology.

“We do have scientific data that is able to guide us in making, in creating or developing legislation that is in the best interest of the wellness of women in our society … Our role as scientists and healthcare providers is to provide that data and translate it into meaningful legislation,” El-Serag said.

Allison Stocks, president of the Planned Parenthood chapter at Rice, said she thinks abortion is necessary health care, whether that is chosen or medically required, and that it should be a right between the patient and their physician.

“I think this is a protected right, that was enshrined in [ Roe v. Wade ], and the overturning of that was contrary to

“We’re not just talking about women [whose] lives are at risk because they have a certain underlying medical condition,” El-Serag said. “But we do know, for example, when women don’t have a choice, and they’re denied abortions, there is data that supports that ... there are several aspects of their lives that are negatively impacted, [like] their socio-economic impacts.”

Stocks said she thinks it is important to have conversations with educational experts, policy advisors, doctors, lawyers and friends about abortion because it is great for learning.

“Any conversation that brings up abortion normalizes it and more,” Stocks said. “And it needs to be normalized because it is a medical procedure that is not politicized in other countries for a reason; it is not something up for debate. But it is also something that even when it was legal and under Roe v. Wade, [when] people could get an abortion when they needed one or wanted one, it was still stigmatized.”

El-Serag said it’s important that every woman, or advocate of a woman, understands the gravity of the reproductive health situation in the United States and is well informed about legislation and the consequences of both.

“It is an infringement on a woman’s ability to decide what’s best for her

In an email to the Thresher, Juliana Phan, director of outreach for BISF, said that they hosted this event because they felt as though this discussion is necessary to have with people like college students, who are uniquely affected by the abortion policies.

“I understand that events like these can only do so much — conversation and discussion are just that, and knowing about a policy situation is not the same as changing it,” Phan, a Lovett College senior, wrote. “If it is within their capacity to do so, I hope that at least some people who attended the event are motivated to take this information and use it to advocate for what they believe in.”

El-Serag said that from a policy standpoint, this is a voting issue, and change needs to be brought about on the level of the state.

“It’ll be very interesting to see the outcome of this upcoming legislative session because there’s lots of legislation … [about] reproductive health rights,” ElSerag said. “I personally feel it’s going to depend on how critical of an issue this is to women in the state to women of lower socioeconomic status. If it is a significant enough issue to bring them out to the polls to vote, then we may get somewhere, but I’m not sure that there’s enough awareness yet about the gravity of the situation.”

MARIA MORKAS / THRESHER Panelists discuss abortion healthcare at BISF’s Sept. 29 event KATHERINE HUI / THRESHER Fondren Library will offer free menstrual products.

Jones Business, MD Anderson collaborate on healthcare executive leadership workshops

Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center launched the Executive Leadership in Healthcare program, a leadership initiative that aims to help healthcare executives efficiently run their organizations.

According to the announcement, these workshops will bring together business school faculty, leaders in medicine and healthcare executives to provide evidencebased insights for healthcare leaders and institutions. They will also give current and emerging healthcare leaders opportunities to learn at the Texas Medical Center, with a curriculum designed by the Jones School.

Courtney Holladay, associate vice president of the leadership institute at MD Anderson, said the purpose of the program is to build leadership skills and the capabilities of healthcare executives across different organizations.

“There’s been a lot of research and evidence that [shows that] positive leadership skills can actually lead to enhanced patient satisfaction,” Holladay said. “It can lead to a reduction in safety errors. There [are] a lot of good [reasons] why leadership matters, and this program is really trying to expand that capacity within organizations.”

The program will host events Feb. 6 - 10 and April 24 - 28 for healthcare executives to explore business tools, frameworks and leadership styles and techniques to help them become more effective leaders within their own organizations.

Brent Smith, senior associate dean for executive education of Jones School of Business, said that MD Anderson and Rice business follow a similar philosophy when it comes to the development of leaders.

“[MD Anderson is] very much aligned with the idea of growing leaders, and they do it very seriously and have worked on creating a series of [internal] programs that’s really designed to ensure that their people are prepared to take on the next significant leadership role,” Smith said. “In the business school … we want to help organizations develop the next generation of leaders across all levels to ensure that the organization can achieve its mission,

whether that happens to be MD Anderson or [another establishment].”

Michael Koenig, associate dean for innovation initiatives and executive director of executive education at the Jones School, said that the healthcare industry often has specific rules, regulations, legal issues and information issues, which MD Anderson is adept at dealing with.

“We really feel like the MD Anderson experts in these disciplines linked in with the faculty experts in the business disciplines [are] going to provide opportunities for folks, not just to learn, but to come to us and put it in the context of their organization, [making] their organizations better [and] more impactful at the end of the day,” Koenig said. “That’s what people get into healthcare for — it’s to give people an opportunity to have a healthier and productive life.”

Holladay said that while Rice brings the theoretical knowledge required for leadership, MD Anderson brings the experiential side.

“I think the combination of all of that brings a setting that’s really conducive for learning for these leaders that would be participating,” Holladay said.

Smith said healthcare institutions are operating in financial, strategic and peoplechallenging environments, given the recently high rates of physician burnout and issues with clinical staff retention.

“The components of the program are really focused on all of these issues,” Smith said. “So we hope, [in] the small way that we can, that we can contribute to enhancing the quality of healthcare in the United States.”

Some components of the program include healthcare strategy, finance and culture.

Koenig said that the business school is excited that MD Anderson is providing the time and energy to collaborate on a program.

“[As an educational institution], our faculty are very excited to share knowledge, but they might be even more excited to get their own new knowledge,” Koenig said.

“There’ll be a lot of really interesting things that we’ll learn not just from the MD Anderson partners, but from all the professionals that come from around the country and potentially around the world, to engage with us as we help think about solving some really complex, challenging programming challenges around healthcare.”

Reproductive health working group announces updates

On Sept. 28, the reproductive health working group led by Provost Amy Dittmar and Dean of Undergraduates Bridget Gorman announced that Rice will provide educational opportunities and more accessible birth control options like Plan B on campus, the result of a collaboration with Baylor Teen Clinic. President Reginald DesRoches announced the creation of this working group in late August, after Texas’ abortion ban went into effect.

In an email to the Thresher, Dittmar and Gorman wrote that they used a questionnaire to collect the views, questions and ideas of students, faculty and staff on the topic. A review of the feedback led to the creation of a frequently asked questions section on the website.

“One theme in the responses were questions about what services and resources Rice provides, and a desire to enhance care and support for reproductive health,” Dittmar and Gorman said. “[Those responses and conversations] springboarded [a] conversation among the working group on how to expand access — which is reflected in the update message we sent to campus last week that discussed steps to increase access to sex education and birth control, including emergency contraceptives like Plan B.”

In the update, the group shared that they are working with the Baylor Teen Clinic to provide students with optional sex-education workshops, in addition to the existing Critical Thinking in Sexuality course. These workshops would include topics about healthy sexual communication, sexually transmitted infection prevention, pregnancy, abstinence and sexual engagement.

Dittmar and Gorman said that the partnership with the Baylor Teen Clinic reflects increasing attention to topics regarding sexual well-being. Early this semester, Rice admin implemented an additional optional sixth session to CTIS focused on reproductive health.

“By launching a new partnership with Baylor Teen Clinic, we are continuing this process of expanding opportunity for students to easily access programming that will discuss various topics relevant to reproductive health,” Dittmar and Gorman said. “These workshops will be held throughout the school year in the colleges.”

Additionally, the group announced that they are expanding the access to

contraceptives that students currently have, such as Plan B. Those students who need financial assistance to purchase Plan B can now make an appointment with Student Health Services to request reimbursement or help making the purchase.

The reproductive health working group also announced the implementation of modified vending machines that would carry forms of birth control and wellness items at a reduced cost to the Rice community at the Student Health Services and SAFE office lobby. The group is also coordinating with the health advisors and college leadership to provide reproductive health items in residential colleges.

“The vending machines will provide access to birth control including emergency contraception such as Plan B at a reduced cost and easily available when needed,” Dittmar and Gorman said. “Similar vending machines have been installed on other campuses, and we will be working collaboratively with students and others in the community to work out the specifics of how this new resource will operate to ensure access for our community (including the exact content within the machine and pricing).”

DesRoches said supporting the Rice community in this way is important and a priority for the administration.

“The efforts by the Reproductive Health Working Group will help ensure broad reproductive health support for our students, faculty and staff,” DesRoches said. “Such support comes in many forms, including listening to people’s concerns and needs, providing answers to people’s specific questions when we can and providing resources such as access to sexual wellbeing programming and various methods of contraception.”

Dittmar and Gorman said that one prominent challenge the group will face moving forward is the evolving legal landscape in Texas.

“One current and likely ongoing challenge will be ensuring that we understand the new laws and that we help to educate our community about these laws,” Dittmar and Gorman said. “It is important that we continue to support our students, faculty and staff in an evolving legal landscape … The community at Rice — on and off campus — have been supportive of ensuring broad reproductive health support for our students, faculty and staff. There are, of course, a diversity of views on what exactly that support should entail, but overall the community has been very supportive.”

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Jones Graduate
of Business launched healthcare leadership initiative.
The efforts by the Reproductive Health Working Group will help ensure broad reproductive health support for our students, faculty and staff.
Reginald DesRoches PRESIDENT

Consent talks should be a conversation year-round

It’s nearly time for Night of Decadence, the ever-popular, notorious and sexcentric Wiess costume public. NOD is, hands down, Rice’s most renowned public. It’s been highlighted in Playboy and Rolling Stone magazines. It even has its own Wikipedia page.

Given the nature of this public, chief justices across campus will be giving alcohol, consent and body and sex positivity talks. This is part of an effort to minimize the possibility of assaults and other inappropriate incidents occurring at the public and to maximize students’ enjoyment. We applaud college governments for raising discussions about consent and safe sex. But these concerns don’t start — or end — with NOD, and neither should the talks to address them.

Last year, we wrote about the importance of practicing the culture of care

as most of the Rice campus experiences public parties for the first time. Part of that process, which is crucial to the survival of public parties in the future, should include an ongoing conversation about consent and safety for every public, not just NOD.

Students enroll in CTIS, typically during their first semester.

Conversations about consent and alcohol safety should be front and center before every public, but we understand the logistical barriers this would create. Instead of waiting until October, student leaders should give these talks before the first public of the year to ensure everyone receives this important information as soon as possible.

We do appreciate that new Rice students are required to engage in sexual health and communication, healthy relationships and bystander intervention conversations in the Critical Thinking in Sexuality course. However, only New

Over the next week and a half, we urge you to engage in NOD talks, be mindful of your peers and, most importantly, have fun. But moving forward, we encourage college governments to introduce these vital conversations earlier in the school year.

Editor-in-chief Morgan Gage recused herself from this editorial due to her involvement in discussions around NOD talks.

The Career Expo is not a one-size-fits-all

The Center for Career Development thanks Wills Rutherford for his time as a Peer Career Advisor at Rice, providing students with career guidance, and we congratulate him on securing his job from the Rice Expo. Responding to his opinion piece, “The Rice career fair fails Rice students,” I’ll elaborate upon the factors employers consider when deciding whether to participate in Rice career expos, the overall recruiting environment and the process Rice students should pursue when seeking employment.

Rice is an elite school with top talent and employers actively seek to hire our students. These factors alone, however, will not guarantee that employers will spend their time and resources recruiting at Rice. Why aren’t some companies such as Tesla attending career expos? Many factors include the employers’ hiring needs, recruiting resources (people and money), physical location of the employer and Rice, needed skills and competencies, majors, success with past hiring efforts, ability to project hiring needs nine months into the future and size of the student population.

For example, UT Austin has over 6.5 times as many students as Rice from which to recruit. Due to physical on-campus space restrictions, we have a waitlist of employers eager to attend every year. This year, for the first time, we offered two consecutive fall expos, an in-person expo and a virtual one. Both were well-attended with 159 employers and 2,589 students. We encouraged students to go to both, as there were different employers attending.

The expo will never meet the needs of every Rice student, nor should it, and we will never have the perfect mix or type of employer to satisfy every student.

The expo is but one way to network and secure an internship or employment.

Employers recruit in multiple ways including attending expos, conducting campus interviews, recruiting off-campus, hosting information sessions or coffee chats, posting jobs in Handshake, and increasingly more are recruiting virtually.

The CCD actively advises employers on their ideal recruiting strategy. Excluding Moderna, who recently connected with us, every employer mentioned in the article

has current job postings or active postings in the past 12 months. For example, Tesla currently lists 43 active job postings and had 264 postings for Rice students over the past 12 months.

Students, the best way to secure internships and jobs is through a multilayered approach. The first is the easiest one: connect with the CCD via a workshop, appointment, drop-in, Peer Career Advisor,or online resources and we can help chart your path. Attend employer information sessions and coffee chats. Connect with employers on Handshake. If you can’t find your targeted employers, we can connect you with alumni or help you sign up for an externship to gain more knowledge and contacts. It’s exciting to think about the many possibilities and career options ahead of you. The world needs your talent and we look forward to helping you find and make your place in the world.

Satire is not an excuse for discrimination

Two Wednesdays ago, instead of ending my weekly Thresher reading with a laugh, I was shocked to see a piece that included the Bible and prayer in order to mock a Christian professor on campus. Turning to other Christian students and Rice parents, I found similar shared disappointment and sadness. Myself and others sent emails to the Thresher explaining why we found this piece distasteful and discriminatory. We were answered only with an editorial published the 27 of September saying, in essence: it’s satire, so take a joke.

According to Merriam-Webster, satire is “a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn.” Satire is meant to criticize in a comedic way, while a joke is only meant to elicit laughter. This year we’ve seen the Backpage poke fun at Fizz, Publics culture, the JFK 60th Anniversary, nice-guy dating advice and the alleged accomplishments of HackRice. Would we say that the Thresher is criticizing HackRice? Would the Backpage content creators march into President DesRoches’

office and demand that all Publics were canceled? I can’t say definitively that they wouldn’t, but in my opinion, the Backpage pieces often aren’t true satire, but light comedic relief.

Let’s take them at their word and say that the piece on Dr. Tour was satire, meant to criticize him in a comedic way. What are they criticizing? If the piece on him was about the folly of abiogenesis, what his talk was actually about, I would understand. Some abiogenesis fans out there would probably be offended, but it’s satire, so they should take a joke. The Backpage however, chose to make a piece on his personal religious beliefs. Their satire wasn’t about science, but Christianity. They mocked prayer, the Bible itself and the scripture within it.

If not ridicule and scorn, then it was just a joke meant to make someone huff in amusement and break the tension of the week’s reporting. The question I would ask then is this: amusement at whose expense? We’re told that the Thresher ensures “the Backpage does not stereotype or capitalize

on marginalized communities.” Are the Christians on campus not a marginalized community? As I heard in CDOD, we’re at a majority-atheist/agnostic, secular school where Christianity, or religion in general, is not the mainstream. And when Christians on campus do speak up, we’re told to sit back down and take it. My mother used to say to me when I was little that “a joke isn’t a joke if someone isn’t laughing,” and she wasn’t giving me stand-up comedy advice. How can we tell where the jokes end? That is decided by those who were made to be the punchline, regardless of the jokester’s intentions, beliefs or biases.

We have a culture of care that extends to anyone regardless of their race, sex, sexual orientation, identity, background and yes … religion. When people come to us when they’ve been hurt, we don’t push them aside.


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Going behind the counter with the GMs of Rice’s SRBs

“Emergencies don’t necessarily always directly involve me, but I’m always kept in [the] loop,” Shin, a Martel senior, said. “It can be something as simple as a delivery not showing up … a [Keeper of Coffee] testing positive for COVID … weather emergencies … or the [Rice Memorial Center] construction delay.”

Shin said that time management is her greatest tool when juggling her responsibilities. Often, this may entail creating times dedicated specifically to not thinking about her job.

“I always try to have some flexibility in my schedule so I can address emergencies,” Shin said. “I also have a scheduled block time where I try not to focus on Coffeehouse unless there are emergencies.”

Vadot said that when academics need priority, he turns to the help of his managers.

Rice student to have this role and go with the flow,” Yang, a Baker College senior, said. “I’m very high-strung, so I want to go by schedule. But that’s not how life works.”

During his work at Rice Bikes, Casanova said that his diagnostic approach to repairs and leadership abilities have prepared him for a career as a physician.

“You have this mental library of knowledge about a certain condition or repair, and you have to apply that with a diagnostic mindset to whatever you’re trying to fix and make a fix that allows that object to be fixed permanently,” Casanova said. “The GM position is [also] super important in the attributes that [being a physician] requires because you need to be a communicator … and know when and how to take and give direction.”

Whether getting a caffeine fix, late-night dinner or their bike repaired, Rice students are no doubt familiar with many of the campus’ student-run businesses. What students often don’t see, though, is behind the scenes of SRBs — a general manager fixing the credit card machine or ensuring the oat milk supply returns.

But SRB general managers have responsibilities that go beyond equipment malfunctions and vendor issues. According to Rice Bikes General Manager Diego Casanova, his role as general manager involves creating long-term goals for the business, guiding managers and keeping track of finances.

“If I wanted to divide [general manager responsibilities] into three categories, it would be: long-term direction of the business, guiding and assisting other managers and finances [as] the part that’s exclusive to the

GM position,” Casanova, a Martel College senior, said.

Theo Vadot, general manager of The Hoot, said that he acts as a link between administration and The Hoot managers, communicates with vendors and manages in-store emergencies.

“I am the liaison between the administrative side and our manager side,” Vadot, a Jones College senior, said. “I help advise my ordering manager on obligations to our vendors, communicate with vendors alongside my ordering manager, organize meetings, write a lot of emails and if there’s a crisis in store, I pull up.”

Vadot said that he likes the unpredictability of his job.

“One of the things I kind of enjoy, weirdly, is that you never know what’s going to come up at a given time,” Vadot said.

Like Vadot, Jinhee Shin, general manager of Rice Coffeehouse, said she is notified of various in-store emergencies.

“As an architecture major, there are times in the semester where I have to be working [on school], and in those moments, I usually delegate [tasks to] my other managers,” Vadot said. “They really help me guide the rest of the employees as a whole. I can always rely on them if I don’t have the time.”

In line with this sentiment, Vadot said that he would recommend joining a studentrun business for the learning opportunities the role provides.

One of the things I kind of enjoy, weirdly, is that you never know what’s going to come up at a given time.

Emma Yang, general manager of East West, said that the role of general manager has little routine. While Yang finds this lack of structure challenging, she said she also appreciates the realism of the job and the contrast it lends to her day-to-day life.

“It’s an unstructured job, being general manager. That is something I warn people about — you aren’t going to have a routine — but in some ways it’s nice for a pre-med

“I want to encourage people to apply for positions because SRBs are a fun way to run a business as students,” Vadot said. “When you apply for the manager position, you might not know how anything is going to work, but suddenly you learn so many new things.”

While Casanova enjoys his job, he said that his coworkers at Rice Bikes are what make his experience worthwhile.

“I love bikes, but I also really prefer the people there over the bikes,” Casanova said. “It could be any other job, but really the culture we have and the level of mechanic and type of person we try to hire are people you want to be around.”

Senior Spotlight: Nida Fatima finds her calling

Nida Fatima was the only girl from her town who moved abroad for college in her year. She grew up in Faisalabad, Pakistan, a two-hour drive away from Lahore.

“It’s definitely a story, because I don’t think it happens often: you’re in a family that only has girls, no boys. And then your family is poor. So they’re not supposed to be liberal, but somehow they are liberal,” Fatima, a Lovett College senior, said. “And somehow, they don’t have any money, but they do want you to go to college.”

Growing up, she said she knew that she needed to go to a college that could support her financially — and so, she said, she has spent her entire life working for her future.

“Pakistan was dreary for me as a queer woman, as a liberal woman, as a person who was not strictly Islamic,” Fatima said. “It did not seem like I had any place in the community. It seemed like my whole life in Pakistan was going to be a fight, or a struggle for the next generation.”

was not an easy journey for her as she grew up in Pakistan.

Fatima said she came into her freshman year at Rice with a lot of excitement and energy. Being placed in pre-determined social groups during Orientation Week was a great way to get her social life started at Rice. Fatima said that she did not relate to her friends from other colleges who were overwhelmed or dealing with homesickness.

“Coming to America was … a fresh breath,” Fatima said. “I felt like I had friends. I didn’t feel like I needed to explain myself or my choices.”

Fatima also said she had to navigate learning the new cultural demands of maintaining friendships.

“Being quiet, laughing at something, just these very small gestures can have a very different meaning coming from like your own culture, or from different cultures,” Fatima said.

However, as time went by, Fatima said that the initial excitement of starting college and making new friends wore off, and she began to notice cultural differences that were not evident earlier. Leaving Pakistan and moving to the United States for college, without an interim period of adjustment, came with its own set of challenges.

Fatima believes that while the Rice community does put in the effort to promote inclusivity and welcome people from diverse backgrounds, the community is still a long way from fully making these ideas a reality.

“There’s many facets to that diversity and inclusivity that we do [find] at Rice. But the mindset and the training that comes along with the concept of making diversity a thing, I don’t think that’s provided at Rice,” Fatima said. “I think the thought is there and yet in practice, maybe we have more to cover.”

“It seemed like I couldn’t express all of the emotions that I needed to,” Fatima said. “There was a time when I wanted to scream out into the world how I was feeling.”

Fatima said that as a queer woman, there was part of her identity that she did not share with her family for a very long time. She said that staying true to her queerness

“Social cues and your priorities and how you make friends and how you communicate, was such a big change for me that I felt like it took me — and it still takes me — years to understand,” Fatima said. “I think my first three years were spent understanding the Rice community.”

This transition to the United States has been significant to both her Rice experience and her artwork, according to Fatima.

She said she is passionate about art as a form of expression — not just to make a statement for other people, but as an outlet for her own feelings. Her interest in poetry and painting deepened during her junior year at Rice.

Now in her senior year, Fatima said that she is more excited for the future. She is considering living in Japan for a few months to understand the country and its culture. On the other hand, she wants to move back to Pakistan and start a queer movement.

“It seems like the whole world will be open, and I can do anything,” Fatima said. “But at the end of the day, art is my calling. I would go back to Pakistan at some point of time and try to make a change. That is, I think, my role in society.”

Coming to America was ... a fresh breath ... I didn’t feel like I needed to explain myself or my choices.
ZEISHA BENNETT / THRESHER KATHERINE HUI / THRESHER Jinhee Shin works on shift at Rice Coffeehouse.

‘Best Golden Corral you’ve ever

been to’: Students talk fanfiction

You can check out some of the earliest fanfictions at Fondren Library — “Paradise Lost” and “Dante’s Inferno” have long been hailed as examples of literary craftsmanship, and it is no secret that they found their roots in what we would commonly call fanfiction today, stories written by a fan of another work of art featuring characters from those works.

Some students at Rice may know “50 Shades of Grey,” a “Twilight” fanfiction that found its way to a publishing house. Other students, though, have found community and opportunities for artistic expression within fanfiction and fan communities.

When Alejandra Wagnon, a Wiess College senior, was younger, she found fanfiction through friends and a love for Rick Riordan’s “Percy Jackson” series. That love for fanfiction translated to involvement in online fan communities, and, while she no longer writes fanfiction herself, fandom is still a major component of her life.

“I feel like fanfiction is just like [original] speculative fiction,” Wagnon said. “It’s the realest speculative fiction, because … you’ve got these characters that you can do whatever you want with and mold them in whatever way you can. But they still have a core to them, and you have to think about how far you can go without breaking that character.”

It’s just such a natural way for [underrepresented communities] to make themselves represented in the media.

with online groups about it … Even before I knew I was reading fanfiction, I would read it online.”

Sophie Leibowitz, a Martel College junior, said that within fanfiction, underrepresented communities can find and create their own representation that may not exist in mainstream media.

“It’s just such a natural way for [underrepresented communities] to make themselves represented in the media,” Leibowitz said. “It’s like women and queer people putting themselves into a story, which I think is really great. I think that’s part of its appeal [and] why I liked it. … It’s such a natural way to interact with stories [in which] I think a lot of people don’t feel seen.”

For Wagnon, she said that fanfiction gave an avenue for her to explore her interest in creative writing and improve her writing skills.

“In my own free time, I would concoct a lot of stories between my favorite characters as a way to just exercise my creative writing muscles in a way that I didn’t even realize was exercising them,” Wagnon said. “It was just like, if you’re running for fun, which I would never do, and then you’re like, ‘oh my god, this is exercise.’”

Leibowitz said that she thinks that fanfiction is its own art form with a lot of talented writers contributing to a genre that presents its own unique challenges.

“Like some of these [fanfiction writers] should be published authors,” Leibowitz said. “[A misconception is that] because it’s someone else’s story, it doesn’t take skill … I think in some ways, it’s harder to take other people’s characters than to make your own, because you have to make sure you’re writing that character true to the way the character was presented.”

Butler echoed this sentiment, saying that fanfiction spans a variety of genres that can appeal to anyone.

Midterm recess activities worth driving for

Zahrah Butler, a Duncan College senior, said that they also found fanfiction and fan communities between the fourth and fifth grade after she developed an interest in anime, which wasn’t something that many of their friends were engaged in at the time.

“Growing up, I engaged with a lot of children’s media, so I would just chit-chat with my friends at school about stuff that they liked,” Butler said. “When I started watching anime, it seemed like it was something that was definitely different from most mass media that kids consume in the West. So I started engaging more

“I think a lot of people think that it’s more pornography oriented, like people only write fanfiction for sexual purposes,” Butler said. “I feel like people think [that] fanfiction is erotica written by older people who are creeps who never go outside, but it’s definitely way more fun than that. It’s for anybody and everybody.”

While Wagnon agreed that the focus on erotica in fanfiction is a common misconception and said that it can sometimes be introduced to people at too young of an age, she said that erotica in fanfiction is often a healthy method for exploring one’s sexuality.

“A lot of the times, it’s not young people writing erotica or consuming

erotic fanfiction,” Wagnon said. “That form of expression is a way in which people can explore their own sexuality or gender outside of the context of this fictional world. I think it’s really important, especially for those people who aren’t able to be open about their sexuality in their everyday lives, whether that be because they live in a very conservative environment or just because it’s not something they’re comfortable with. Everyone deserves an outlet to express that side of themselves if they wish, and erotic fanfiction is an amazing way to do that.”

After a long first few weeks of classes, students get the upcoming fall break to relax and rewind before getting back into the swing of things. If you want to go beyond the hedges this fall break after crushing your papers and exams, here are a few spots within driving distance from Rice to explore during fall break.

Canyon Lake

Just three hours northwest of campus lies Canyon Lake, a beautiful oasis in the Texas Hill Country. Located on the Guadalupe River, Canyon Lake’s hiking trails and water recreation make it a great place to enjoy swimming, hiking, biking and golfing. The area has many available Airbnbs and lodges; or, if you are a fan of camping, Canyon Lake offers camping sites within its park’s 485 acres.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

Sometimes a long drive is worth it. While it is around seven hours driving distance away from Rice, Hot Springs, Arkansas is a hotspot for all things vacation. Enjoy the beautiful views of the Ouachita Mountains, shop in the historic downtown area or relax in what the city is named after: its natural hot springs.

New Orleans, Louisiana

According to Wagnon, one misconception that she has noticed is the idea that people engaged in fan communities are creepy or isolated people. She said that there is often a lot of shame around consuming and writing erotic or romantic media that extends to how people think about fanfiction.

“Because fandom is a community [that is] loving and caring, a lot of times [there are] extroverted people who are very interested in getting to know others with similar interests,” Wagnon said. “[And] there’s no shame in in consuming romantic or erotic media, because it’s just as valid as other forms of literature or art.”

Leibowitz said that while some people have a negative view of fanfiction, she does not share that sentiment.

“People just see fanfic as cringy, and, on some level, I’m like, I don’t care,” Leibowitz said.”It’s such a natural way to interact with stories. There [are] certain [published works] that are … fanfic, but people don’t see it that way.”

Wagnon, Leibowitz and Butler alike said that they encourage people to explore fanfiction and it variety of genres and fan works.

“Don’t be afraid to get into [fanfiction],” Wagnon said. “It’s never too late to get into it, because it’s not just for young adults. It’s for everyone, and there’s something for everyone to enjoy. It’s like the best Golden Corral you’ve ever been to.”

Home of world-famous beignets, unique architecture and rich history, New Orleans, Louisiana is around a six-hour drive from campus. Explore the French Quarter, order a “Sazerac” cocktail at the Roosevelt New Orleans Hotel art deco bar or experience the historic streetcar system. Horror fans can visit the tomb of Marie Laveau, a famous voodoo priestess, or the LaLaurie Mansion that was featured in the television series “American Horror Story: Coven.”

Fredericksburg, Texas

Fredericksburg lies right in the heart of Texas, a four hour drive from Rice’s campus. Initially formed by German immigrants in the mid-19th century, this town boasts a rich history. Explore Fredericksburg’s German history at the Pioneer Museum, go rock climbing at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area or pay a visit to the town’s various wineries. There are many local bed and breakfasts for visitors to stay in.

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park is a must-see for all nature lovers. Deep in West Texas, Big Bend boasts acres of campgrounds, hiking trails and spectacular views. The park is host to around 1,200 plant species and fossils dating from approximately 130 million years ago. Cool off by canoeing in the Rio Grande river or hiking Cattail Falls. Big Bend National Park is around a ten-hour drive from Rice, but its scenic beauty is worth the road trip. Remember, more driving in Texas means more Buc-ees stops.

Sophie Leibowitz
There’s no shame in consuming romantic or erotic media, because it’s just as valid as other forms of literature or art.



The Thresher is launching its Special Projects team with a thorough examination of Rice’s Innovation District. As part of Rice’s push beyond the hedges, the Innovation District is under construction in Third Ward, one of Houston’s historically Black neighborhoods. We spoke with the Rice Management Company and with community members, who expressed both hopes for resources and fears of gentrification and displacement. We dove into the data, and we researched the history of Black art in Houston.

To fully experience the project, visit

The data is unclear on Ion’s gentrification impact

Third Ward is one of Houston’s most diverse neighborhoods. With its Black population standing at 65%, Third Ward is home to Houston’s many Black communities and holds a rich history and cultural legacy. It was the birthplace of Houston’s civil rights movements in the 1960s and the home to some of Houston’s most beloved music legends.

Surrounded by universities and close to downtown, Third Ward has drawn attention from investors over the last two decades. It has been gradually gentrifying since the early 2000s, according to studies from Rice’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, as shown by both their sociodemographic and housing changes.

What is gentrification?

The Kinder Institute defines gentrification as “a process of neighborhood change characterized by migration of middle- and upper-income groups into disinvested urban neighborhoods, resulting in a loss of affordable housing and a transformation of the social character of a neighborhood.”

Notable examples include San Francisco and Oakland, Calif., where tens of thousands of racial and economic minorities have left the city in the last 20 years. Houston is also no stranger to gentrification. According to Kinder’s study, Houston is Texas’ fastest gentrifying city.

Due to its housing structures and socioeconomic diversity, Third Ward is an area of Houston among the most vulnerable to gentrification.

In a 2016 study conducted by the Kinder Institute, two of the Third Ward’s three subdivision tracts rank first and second in Houston on the “susceptibility index,” which is calculated using data from categories such as sociodemographic, housing, transportation and location.

Activists have long expressed concerns about the Ion District exacerbating gentrification. Housing and sociodemographic data do not clearly show gentrification occurring, but there are some threatening patterns.

The Kinder Institute’s criteria for gentrification consist of two main aspects: sociodemographic change and investment change.

Sociodemographic change

From 2015 to 2020, two census tracts inside Third Ward doubled their non-Hispanic white population, and all three tracts’ population with bachelor degrees grew at least two times faster than Harris County’s average. On the other hand, Third Ward’s median household income growth barely exceeds Harris County’s average. According to Jacob Wegmann, a professor of urban planning at the University of Texas at Austin, areas with large student populations can appear to be worse off economically than they are in reality.

“Sometimes neighborhoods that have a lot of college students can appear to have high poverty rates,” Wegmann said. “There are a lot of young people who maybe have part time jobs, but they are full or part time students. They are people who 20 years from now will be making a lot of money and are getting an education, but they temporarily appear to be poor.”

Median home value in all three Third Ward census tracts (outlined in red) increased by over 50 percent from

to 2020, higher than Harris County’s increase of 37 percent

Derek Hyra, the founding director of American University’s Metropolitan Policy Center, said that an increase in college-educated population is an indicator of gentrification.

“From my own eyes and experience in large cities like New York, Chicago … seeing Third Ward, [I believe] gentrification is occurring at some places,” Hyra said. “You can see luxury restaurants in Third Ward that’s relocated from places like New Orleans. There’s a wealth inflow.”

Investment change

Third Ward’s median gross rent remained essentially unchanged from 2015 to 2020. The stagnant rent could be explained by the housing structure of Third Ward, according to Robert Silverman, a professor of urban and regional planning at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

“It looks like there is a shrinking number of rental properties,” Silverman said. “Some may be subsidized units or built as affordable. This is also suggested by the rent as percent of household income data.”

However, the median home value in all three Third Ward census tracts has increased by over 50% since 2015, higher than Harris County’s increase of 37% in that time. This could be suggestive of a future rent increase once the market adjusts the rent to meet the demand, Silverman said.

“You may see rents go up if new market rate units are added to the area,” Silverman said.

Third Ward’s history of gentrification

Recent developments are hardly Third Ward’s first experience with socioeconomic changes in recent memory. The area underwent a change from 2000 to 2010, losing over 30% of its population due to disinvestment and aging infrastructure, according to Kinder Institute.

In the 2010s, Third Ward started garnering investor interest, and its housing structure changed fundamentally. The newly built houses, predominantly in the forms of single-family houses or townhouses, are gradually replacing the multi-family households originally in the area.

During this time, the white population almost tripled, and average household income increased by a margin of 60%. By 2016, when the Ion District was still in conception, Third Ward already had an average income close to Houston’s average.

This article has been cut off for print. Read the full article at


From 2015 to 2020, two census tracts

that same time.

Third Ward approximately doubled their non-Hispanic white population, while the proportion of non-Hispanic whites decreased in Harris County overall.

Benard Jones moved to Third Ward from Mississippi when he was seven years old. Now 67, Jones has lived a majority of his life in this community.

Jones said he remembers his childhood being full of laughter and fun. He said he recalls visiting Miller Outdoor Theatre, laying on the grass in Hermann Park, riding horses and going to the Houston Zoo with his friends from the community.

“Everybody had a house. I could play with my neighbors here and there. I did mingle and socialize with different cultures and peoples too,” Jones said. “All kinds of stuff I did. It was beautiful. Really beautiful.”

However, over the past 60 years of his living here, Jones said his beloved childhood community has changed. Though Jones, who worked as a Harris County mechanic for 22 years, was able to purchase his house, he said he has seen many people forced to leave the community because of rising housing costs.

“Most of the people are moving out, and everybody’s moving in with the condos, and their property values are going up and up. They are really developing in the community,” Jones said. “I like the development myself, but I want to make sure that everybody can afford it. The condos are [very expensive], and the poor people don’t have that type of money.”

Jones said he finds strength and support within the community and especially values its diversity. He said he began attending “elder meetings” at the SHAPE community center, where he feels immense support from other elders within the community.

“This community is a support system where we share the knowledge and try to guide [each other] in the right direction, learn as much as you can and try to help someone else along the way,” Jones said.

As new residents move into Third Ward, many of them white and college-educated, Jones said the theme of unity within the community must persist.

“You are not better than me, and I am not better than you,” Jones said. “Just because you got more money than me that doesn’t mean you are above [me] because we are all humans, one nation under God, and that’s what it should be. Everyone should get together, love each other, care for each other and look out for each other.”

Third Ward Third Ward
Rice University Rice University
Harris County Non-Hispanic White Population 3124 3123 3122
0% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 2015 2020 THE ION: RICE’S INNOVATION DISTRICT8 • WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2022

Third Ward community shares their stories

Art and integration: Houston’s tradition of art challenging the paradigm

Clarice Freeman, the 102-year-old pillar of the Third Ward community, dons elegant black head wraps and strikingly crimson nails. Age does not seem to have halted her zest; for her 100th birthday, she wore a tiara and rode around the city in a Corvette convertible, the star of her very own parade. A noted community member, elder and wife of the late Thomas Freeman, a debate coach and mentor to the likes of Martin Luther King Jr. and Denzel Washington, Freeman’s engagement with Third Ward spans decades. Indeed, she has graced publications ranging from Texas Monthly to Oprah Daily.

“I’ve had a very unusual life,” Freeman said. “It’s been quite different.”

Freeman said the community’s demographics have shifted over the 67 years she has lived in Third Ward. When real estate agents first started selling property to Black buyers, they met resistance.

“All the homes had these signs in front: ‘This is our home, it is not for sale,’” Freeman said. “But gradually, the signs began to disappear, and Black people started moving into the area.”

Freeman said she laments the ever-shifting tide of Third Ward’s demographics. The very Texas Monthly article that coined Third Ward as one of Houston’s richest Black

At the corner of Holman Street and Emancipation Avenue, alongside the whitepainted Project Row houses, sits the Doshi House — one of the only food establishments in the neighborhood. Its walls are adorned with tasteful pieces from local artists, and the antique furniture filling the interior serves as a facilitator for community gathering, which is what it was always about for Deepak Doshi: the community.

Doshi, now 40, left the corporate world to begin this journey with the Doshi House in 2010, when he first acquired the now-96year-old building. It began as an art gallery and eventually evolved into a plant-based coffee and food shop.

“It was a lifestyle change to feed into the things I am really interested in: community, food and coffee,” Doshi said. “I wanted to make sure that if we built something [here], it was going to be valuable for the people in the community.”

Doshi said he took a risk in starting his

neighborhoods also questioned whether the community could maintain its title.

People eventually removed the signs asserting their home ownership — but, some years after, Freeman says she recalls an influx of new homeowners who posed threats to the current residents of Third Ward.

“Someone from the Chronicle came to my house, she wanted to ask about the neighborhood today,” Freeman said. “She said, ‘Well, a lot of people want to move into the area’ ... You ask anyone in that area, they will tell you that, all day long, people are wanting to buy our houses. Their houses.”

Despite the battles that Freeman continues to witness Third Ward fight against new developments, she has relished the area’s rich history and notable community members.

“We’ve had some very famous people living in our area. You know Beyonce, the singer,” Freeman said. “I could get out from my back door, look over where she was. She grew up in the neighborhood.”

business in this area at a time when there was almost no other development. Still now, he said, there are few small businesses in the area, while bigger developments — like the Ion — are growing at an increasing rate.

“I really do think that if we had more businesses on the street, it activates the quality of life,” Doshi said. “I talked about this with the guys at [Emancipation Park]. [They] want to get [community members] walking, but what are they walking towards?

It is just dead plots of land.”

Having seen this community through a past decade of development, Doshi has had customers forced to move out of their homes as the price of living continues to rise. He has also seen grocery stores like Fiesta, the building that is now the Ion, close down.

From having local customers interview his job candidates to using the sale of coffee to fuel a microeconomy within Third Ward, Doshi said that his intentions have always been community-centered. His advice to any new developer is to do the same.

“It is always really nice to have [good] intentions, but you have to show up,” Doshi said. “If your idea is to innovate … what is the program for people in the community? It could be small businesses, the elementary school [or] day care issues, you can choose.”

The Doshi House serves as a gathering space for what Doshi describes as a culturally rich, dynamic and persistent community. His efforts so far have supported and empowered this community, a goal achieved through intentional effort and action.

“I think there is significant power in places like the Ion,” Doshi said. “If the idea is impact, you have to show up with some programming.”

In the heart of Third Ward, the Houston Museum for African American Culture hosts exhibitions from artists whose creativity and culture blend to produce works that often revel in abstraction, revere influential African Americans and raise questions about the Black experience.

Eddie Filer’s recent exhibit, “The Bridging of a Negative Mindset with Positivity,” showcased his friends, family and Black creatives, politicians and philanthropists.

“I felt in the Black community, positive role models and positive thinking were becoming extinct,” Filer wrote on a small placard overshadowed by the portraits of influential African Americans in his exhibit at HMAAC. “I have to paint positive because I have seen enough negativity already, you know, growing up and in my community.”

Alongside portraits of Filer’s family and friends are the portraits of the Los Angeles rapper Nipsey Hussle, the radical feminist Angela Davis and American novelist and author of If Beale Street Could Talk, James Baldwin. Also included in the exhibit are portraits of Shirley Chisholm, Nina Simone, John Lewis, Oprah Winfrey, Muhammad Ali and Denzel Washington.

“I am no longer accepting the things I can not change” are the words hovering above Davis, who is depicted wearing a bright red shirt in front of a green background. “I am changing the things I can not accept.”

“As we talk about the Innovation District, and thinking about the area, [“S.O.S”] is one of the works that comes to mind,” Ingram said.

Filer said that without venues such as HMAAC, many African American artists would not have a place to exhibit in Houston.

“I thank HMAAC because they opened their doors to me, but there definitely needs to be more places.” Filer said. “There’s hardly any places for people of color to show [their artwork].”

Ingram also spoke of the underrepresentation of Black artists in prominent Houston galleries, noting that he and his colleagues had similar experiences in the Houston art scene.

“When you think about other galleries in the area, you don’t see as many [Black] artists … but there’s so many I know within the area,” Ingram said. “It’s a matter of having those opportunities to tell their stories and represent who they are, their background … and so forth. There’s a lot of us out there, and some of us get a little recognition. [New artists] seem to be popping up every day with different angles.”

López-Durán said many Latinx artists have also faced difficulties finding homes for their artwork. She applauded the Museum of Fine Arts’s opening of the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, which is dedicated to international modern and contemporary art. She said this would allow more spaces for Latin American and Latinx artists to showcase their talents. López-Durán also commended Rice’s Moody Center for the Arts and the University of Houston’s Blaffer Art Museum for displaying Latinx art. She said this is a valiant effort, but much more work still needs to be done.

Artists of color in Houston

Now, with the Rice Management Company continuing with their plan to develop a 16-acre innovation district in historically Black Third Ward, some activists have expressed fears of gentrification and displacement, while others have focused on capturing the opportunities Rice promises to provide.

“The thing I love about [the Ion] is that it’s so forward thinking,” Cedric Ingram, a local urban contemporary artist, said. “It feeds the diversity of Houston. It’s feeding to the culture, not just in Houston but in general. It is all about being innovative, collaborating, feeding and growing opportunities.”

Ingram, who said he finds influence from the likes of those ranging from Caravaggio to the Isley Brothers, said he sees the Ion as crucial to the city’s development, but acknowledges that its success relies on initiatives to immerse itself in the city.

One of Ingram’s recent works is “S.O.S.,” an oil pastel painting that features a young African American boy trying to portray his talent to people walking by. Then there is a young girl supporting his cause.

“Socially speaking we move very slowly,’’ López-Durán said. “We require a lot of self-education and unlearning. There’s things for us to do and celebrate. I celebrate the initiative of the Menil in the process of the 1960s, in the middle of the Civil Rights demonstrations. The success of the Museum of the Fine Arts in forcing the museum to have more modern and contemporary [Latin American and Latinx art].”

Regarding the long-term impacts of the Ion and the Innovation District, Ingram said he remains hopeful.

“It comes down to the initiatives,” Ingram said. “To fight against gentrification, it matters how people are included in those areas. If it is more inclusive of the people and the culture, maybe it wouldn’t be as negative of an impact. If you do not allow people to represent themselves in their various aspects, then it would be a negative thing.”

This article has been condensed for print. Read the full article at

I think there is significant power in places like the Ion. If the idea is impact, you have to show up with some programming.


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Flying off shelves: Read these

banned books

On Oct. 6, Fondren Library is collaborating with Rice’s Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality to present a Banned Books Read Out, where Rice members will read excerpts from their favorite banned or challenged books. In honor of this event, the Thresher has rounded up a list of banned books. The titles are accessible on campus or through Fondren Library’s database, in case you find yourself looking for some new reads during midterm recess.

All Boys Aren’t Blue

“All Boys Aren’t Blue,” a self-coined “memoir-manifesto” written by queer journalist and activist George M. Johnson, is a series of personal essays about Johnson’s journey growing up queer and Black. The novel traces formative experiences in Johnson’s life, from childhood bullies to their first love. “All Boys Aren’t Blue” has stirred controversy over its profanity and sexually explicit material, along with its depictions of LGBTQ+ content and gender identity.

The Hate U Give Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and later adapted into a film, Angie Thomas’s “The Hate U Give” focuses on 16-year-old Starr Carter who witnesses a police officer fatally shoot her childhood friend. Starr’s life is upended in the aftermath of the shooting as she grapples with the effects of police brutality locally and nationally. Although the novel has been widely praised as a social commentary on systemic racism and discrimination, it has been challenged by critics and was banned by school officials in Katy, Texas for violence, vulgar language and promoting supposed anti-police messages.

The Bluest Eye

“The Bluest Eye,” Toni Morrison’s debut novel, tells the story of Pecola Breedlove, an African-American girl

growing up in an abusive household in rural 1940s Ohio. Pecola grapples with inferiority complexes and beauty standards, wishing for light skin and blue eyes. Created as a tale about Black girlhood, “The Bluest Eye” has been banned in multiple states for its discussion of topics of child molestation, incest, rape and racism.


“Lolita,” published in 1955 by Vladimir Nabokov, portrays Humbert Humbert, a French professor, in postwar America. He falls in love with Lolita, a 12-yearold girl, and strikes up a disturbing and convoluted romantic relationship with her. The novel functions as a journal for Humbert Humbert to detail his growing obsession and affair with the “nymphet.” “Lolita” has been deemed one of the most controversial books to be published in the past century, largely for

Common house pet

Sudden winds

Peacekeepers in college

dorms, for short

Persistent pain

A form of musical theater

You might find one in an ambulance, abbr.

Communist state south of China

A list of lists, in computer science

Common building material

Source of embarrassment for many teenagers

Unit of work or energy

Italian greeting

Massachusetts senator



Word that might follow thumb or hard

Perched ___ a mountain Popular tea flavor

Carrier in Cape Town, in short Hair color


Not hard

Make less sharp?

Turn solid into liquid

Make more sharp?

Spare alternative Alright Warms (up)

Saint with a holiday named after him


One in the cockpit

Aid and ___ (a crime)

Scared sound

What ibuprofen does to 12-Across Aunts, in Cancun

Prefix that means three Forest clearing

Like some people’s sense of humor

Baby cow

Tropical berry

Norse god of thunder

Integral soccer player

A state of chaos

A type of motor

Young of the Atlanta Hawks


What one might do with a challenging math problem

Film that won the European Film Award in 2012


Stop start?

Creature’s lair

Takotna, AK airport code Elordi of Euphoria


Ship’s tower

___ von Bismarck of Prussia

Screenwriter Ephron, favorite of the NYT Place to unwind Weapon in the American Revolution, with feathers

Attempt Stew

Titular character of the Green Gables

Yemen port city

52 of these are in a year

Christian who played Batman NYC setting in Dec.

What follows 4G on a phone, usually American singer-songwriter of Japanese descent, and a hint to the starred clues

Carried, in video games

Fly that carries sleeping sickness

Long time

Director Domee of “Turning Red” and “Bao” Principle Leaf gatherer

A food and a dance

Test tube

Tit for __

You might find one in an academic paper’s footnotes

Close to Website to buy and sell crafts

Identify (as)

its exploration of pedophilia, incest and sexual violence.


“Beloved,” another of Toni Morrison’s critically acclaimed novels, portrays a woman witnessing hauntings in her family home. Sethe, the novel’s protagonist, is a former slave who, despite fleeing her former life, still struggles with the memories of being enslaved. While exploring the traumas of motherhood and slavery, “Beloved” has also come under fire for profanity, violence, references to bestiality and sexually explicit content.

Lawn Boy

“Lawn Boy,” by Jonathan Eviston, witnesses a young Mexican-American worker named Mike Muñoz get fired from his job with a landscaping crew. Mike is then placed on a journey of

self-discovery in an attempt to find himself and achieve the American Dream. Tracing a young worker’s path throughout America’s cuttingly capitalist society, “Lawn Boy” has been celebrated for dealing with topics such as classism and sexual identity. However, it has been criticized and challenged for profanity and sexually explicit LGBTQ+ content.

The Color Purple

Narrated as a series of letters to God, Alice Walker’s epistolary novel “The Color Purple” sees 14-year-old Celie growing up in rural Georgia in the early 20th century. Facing poverty and abuse from her father, Celie seeks comfort in the relationships she cultivates with the women in her life: her sister, Nettie, and her lover, Shug. “The Color Purple” has received backlash for depicting incest, rape, violence, LGBTQ+ content, profanity and drug abuse.

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Skyspace debuts new electroacoustic show

Joined by the poet in the recording session, Lillios had two students at her university, Bowling Green State University, Katherine Phares and Steven Naylor, narrate the poem in a variety of vocalization styles, from whispers to deep intoned timbres. Then, Lillios worked to compose and arrange the recordings, adding other noises like gongs, bells, low drones and thumb piano melodies to enhance the foundational soundscape of spoken word.

Take a break with these artsy spots

This Friday, Oct. 7, composer Elainie Lillios will debut her original composition, “Night Sky,” at the James Turrell “Twilight Epiphany” Skyspace as a celebration of its 10-year anniversary.

Lillios’s work, which will be presented every evening through Oct. 23, is a combination of light and sound artistry, and will be revealed to the public for the first time after the usual light show that occurs at dusk. Lillios’s newly created piece runs just over eight minutes in length and was commissioned by Rice’s Electroacoustic Music Labs with the Skyspace in mind.

Lillios is lauded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology as one of the contemporary masters of electroacoustic music. Lillios said that she primarily uses her computer to create music.

“Sometimes this means that I synthesize music [by using] synthetic means to create music, but most of the time what that means is I go around with a recorder and find cool sounds — any kind of sound you

can imagine in the environment — and I record them,” Lillios said. “I transfer these sounds to the computer and I use those sounds to make musical pieces.”

Her composition incorporates a poem by Don Bogen, which Lillios said particularly resonated with her because it mirrored the physical experience of the Skyspace.

“You’re inside the ground, but you’re looking up at the sky in the Skyspace,” Lillios said. “[The poem] begins with a line that says, ‘Staring at the stars, I imagine you.’ It’s a poem he composed after his wife passed away, so here he is on earth, staring at the stars [and] thinking about his wife.”

Like Lillios, Rice’s REMLABS explores electronics as a means of producing music by working in the intersection of music, art and technology. Performances and public artwork are part of the organization’s central mission. When Turrell was creating Skyspace, Rice specifically requested that he incorporate an audio system to allow Rice music professors the ability to explore the qualities of light and sound interacting. There are fourteen loudspeakers hidden under the installation’s plaster surface.

Rice professor of composition and theory and REMLABS director Kurt Stallmann said that Lillios’s work is the first of four REMLABS commissions, which aim to highlight women composers from fall 2022 through spring 2024.

[Electroacoustic musician] Chapman Welch and I proposed to do a series to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage Movement by commissioning women composers to make pieces in the Skyspace.

[Electroacoustic musician]

Chapman Welch and I proposed to do a series to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage Movement by commissioning women composers to make pieces in the Skyspace,” Stallmann said. “COVID-19 interrupted our plans, and we’re just now finally getting back on track.”

Houston Jazz Collective’s rise from Valhalla to 713 Music Hall

Initially inspired by punk rock, the Houston Jazz Collective originated in the ‘70s from small concerts held at Valhalla and broadcast live on KTRU radio. The collective’s founders Joseph Peine and Tim Ruiz began playing shows at Rice with their friends from the Houston School for The Performing and Visual Arts. Many of their bandmates had strong connections with Rice.

“We had a band called Genetic Drift, and we were the first to play out of Valhalla,” Peine said. “We probably had seven kids whose parents were faculty at Rice.”

These shows eventually led to the founding of the Houston Jazz Collective, a 501(c) nonprofit led by board of directors Joseph Peine, Shelley Carrol, Andre Hayward, Tim Ruiz and Brian Perez. It was created to highlight Houston’s jazz legacy and help cultivate a new generation of jazz musicians.

The collective recently finished its most significant annual event, the Houston Blues and Jazz Festival, which brings many of the country’s leading jazz and blues musicians to Houston for two weekends of performances.

“We had always wanted to have a legitimate jazz festival in Houston that was carefully curated,” Peine said.

Award-winning musicians like jazz pianist James Francies, Tim Ruiz, a bassist in a five time Grammy-award winning

Latin group Mononeon and guitarist Andy Timmons are just some of the acts who performed at venues across Houston, including 713 Music Hall and the Miller Outdoor Theatre. The collective prioritizes giving exposure to local musicians.

“We try to support local musicians, which isn’t hard to do because Houston musicians [and] Texan musicians are at the top of their form,” Peine said.

The collective also brought renowned audiovisual artist and synesthete Ben Heim to the Jazz Festival, who performed his collaborative work “Seeing Synesthesia, A Sound Painting” with Francies at 713 Music Hall. Francies’ musical credits include shows with Ms. Lauryn Hill and studio time with Chance the Rapper, Drake and Yebba. The pair used a computer and touchpad to draw and manipulate color and texture.

“I worked with James trying to represent to the audience the colors that he sees

music as,” Heim said. “It really is more of an improvisational practice.”

The festival’s ability to attract so many talented artists is testament to both its high caliber and the support it receives from the Houston community.

For Peine and his friends, the Rice community was an incredible resource and opportunity, allowing them to grow their artistic talents and foster their skills. Today, they give back to the Houston community through their mission of showcasing excellent music, as well as an outreach initiative for local youth to gain exposure to the arts, particularly jazz music. According to Peine, Valhalla and KTRU also became a hub for local artists after the collective’s initial performances there.

“KTRU and Valhalla were at the heart of that scene and gave us an audience to perform to. It really helped our reach as young artists,” Peine said.


This upcoming fall recess is the perfect time to unwind while also exploring some of the great art that Houston has to offer right outside of the hedges. From interactive exhibits to new museum collections, Houston’s art scene has so much to offer during our extra days off. Many of the art spots listed below are just a short drive away or accessible via METRO.

Transcending Audubon at the Houston Museum of Natural Science

This special exhibit is included in the museum’s general admission price, meaning that Rice students can access it for free. The collection was completed between 1929 and 1932 and features artist Rex Brasher’s paintings of North American birds in their natural habitat. The exhibit will be on view through Oct. 10, making this weekend one of the last chances to view the art.


Seismique is an interactive experience just outside of the Houston inner loop. Its 40,000-square feet of art and over 40 galleries ranging from light shows to immersive exhibits to artificial intelligence and more. The exhibits were created by 65 artists and technology creators who came together to create an engaging experience for all ages. During a time when exhibits such as Color Factory and Immersive Van Gogh are ever popular, this experience can be a great day trip to be immersed in art.

Lawndale Art Center

This contemporary art center is a non-profit space that showcases several mediums of art by local Houston artists. It has free admission and will be open Saturday during fall recess. Some current exhibits include “Lovie Olivia,” “Lo que me queda da tu amor (What’s left of your love for me)” and more. This upcoming Monday, they’re hosting their free weekly event called “They, Who Sound,” which has been ongoing since 2008 and features a performance highlighting experimental sound making. This center is only a quick METRO ride or 20-minute walk away from campus, making it a perfect addition to your weekend agenda.

White Marble Everyday at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston

On display until mid-November, “White Marble Everyday” showcases artist Clarissa Tossin’s depiction of utopian ideals based on the history of Brasília. It was constructed to look like Rio de Janeiro in 1960 and focuses on the building’s forms while also paying tribute to the laborers tasked with constantly keeping the marble clean.

12 • WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2022 THE RICE THRESHER Read more online at
LILY REMINGTON / THRESHER Electroacoustic composer Elainie Lillios will be debuting her original composition, “Night Sky,” at Skyspace this Friday.

Pre-Broadway premiere of ‘Miss Maude’ is changing the status quo

which [are] in the play. And she had a very clean, clear voice. One of the actors said to me the very first day of rehearsal, ‘Boy, you really don’t like adjectives or adverbs.’ And I’m like, ‘No, most people don’t use them in real life.’ And she didn’t.”

Casella conducted research for the play in rural South Carolina, where he interviewed Callen’s adopted son, Sinclair (Jeremiah Packer), and a group of older Black midwives who knew Callen.

“I think that’s part of the beauty of this particular script,” Long said. “Maude says it towards the end of the play, [which is] that these blessings and these curses all get mushed up together, and I think that’s emblematic of these people.”

Despite the hard work that the cast invested into the production, it almost didn’t happen due to an investor’s reluctance to fund a play that explored racial tensions.

Playwright Martin Casella first discovered photojournalist W. Eugene Smith’s photographs of nurse-midwife Maude Callen in a museum. Incredibly moved by her story, Casella wrote the play “Miss Maude” to dramatize the meeting of Smith and Callen.

Performed by the A.D. Players at the George Theater through Oct. 23, “Miss Maude” should reach Broadway by spring 2023 through the play’s projected funding, according to producer Bruce D. Long.

The play examines racial tensions between the two protagonists and their different interactions with folks in rural South Carolina.

Smith (Robert Eli) is a famous photojournalist for LIFE magazine who has covered many events around the world, notably during

World War II, but nevertheless comes from a middle-class, white background. On the other hand, Callen (Rosalyn Coleman) is a Black nurse midwife from rural South Carolina who transformed her community by delivering babies and nursing ill patients who could not otherwise access proper healthcare.

“I like writing stories about people who like changing the status quo and try to go out of their way to make the world a better place,” Casella said. “And that’s not always easy, but I always try to do it with humor and sensitivity.”

This overwhelming optimism pervades the entire production even during its grimmer moments. Despite their differences, Callen and Smith’s friendship — from their rapidfire banter to their caring nature — is the emotional core of the play.

“I found some letters that [Maude] had written to [Eugene],” Casella said, “Some of

Meet the ACL Artist: Siena Liggins on her inspiration, art and performance

“[The midwives] told me lots of stories and [how] Miss Maude talked,” Casella said. “[In] the play, she would always call [Eugene] ‘crazy man,’ and she does it so much that near the end of the play, he says that and the audience laughs because they’ve heard it for the last two hours.”

For Casella and Long, drawing audience laughter and tightening the dialogue was critical. To fine-tune the script, the cast and production crew modified scenes through live readings and test performances.

Coleman’s sharp delivery and range bring Callen’s intellectual wit and her fierce stubbornness to the stage, while Eli’s emotional performance draws sympathy to Smith’s alcoholism and failing relationship with his family. As a producer, Long believes the strength of this play is that neither Callen nor Smith are presented as saints.

“There was a fairly significant investor who thought he might want to fund the entire piece and then definitely got cold feet because of the Black Lives Matter movement, and he was afraid of cancel culture,” Long said. “Perception-wise, you’ve got a white guy financing a play about a Black woman, and he was deeply concerned by how the optics would read.”

Despite others’ reservations, the timing of the Black Lives Matter movement was what motivated Long to produce this project.

“I can remember clearly being in Charlotte and marching down the streets with a lot of other people,” Long said. “I don’t want to over-spiritualize it, but, much like Maude, I just felt like saying, ‘Now is the perfect time, we gotta do this because this is what the movement is all about: racial reconciliation, people coming together [and] working together for a common goal.’ This play really embodies the spirit of why we are marching in the streets.”

Beyond the hedges: LAWAH builds community for Latine artists

Latin American Women Artists of Houston is a collective that aims to empower Latine artists by providing them with a community and opportunities to share their work. Each member contributes their unique artistic style and background to the group, but the collective’s art generally builds on themes of home, immigration and cultural identity.

Through art, I feel I can communicate my ideas to the viewers.”

According to Morales, LAWAH is beneficial because it allows artists with varying levels of experience to collaboratively improve their art and develop their careers. Morales said she is always learning from her peers at LAWAH and is glad to pass on her knowledge.

Detroit-based musician Siena Liggins is bringing her lively, infectious brand of pop music to Austin City Limits. Her debut visual album, “Ms. Out Tonight,” explores romance and the balance between masculine and feminine themes, drawing inspiration from real life and visual art.

When she was a child, music provided Liggins with a sense of identity at school as she alternated living with her mother and father.

“I decided I wanted to do music when I was in my early teens,” Liggins said. “I moved around a lot as a kid … The whole reason I even kept pursuing [music] was because people remembered me by it. It made me popular at school, or just gave me a group of friends who hyped me up.”

Liggins’ music has been described as “songs you love to hate,” and she revels in that idea.

“I love the idea of writing songs that initially you fall in love with, and then you have this period of time where you can’t get out of your head and then it’s super polarizing,” Liggins said. “Then you have this moment where you’re like, ‘I actually love it.’ I wanted to get better at writing songs that people couldn’t get enough of.”

Liggins said her biggest musical influence are her lived experiences. With “Ms. Out Tonight,” she wrote entire stanzas or verses by pulling from real conversations and text messages.

“I wrote my first song called ‘Flowerbomb’ about the smell of my pillow

the day after a girl I had a huge crush on had left, and it’s literally just about the fragrance that she was wearing,” Liggins said. “Sometimes I get nervous about if the girl I wrote it about ever heard it. I sent it to her after I released it, but she never got back to me.”

Along with her music, Liggins is fully immersed in the album’s art and marketing, drawing from visual artists, stylists, designers and photographers she admires. She says that while making an album is chaotic, she loved to see it come together.

“That’s my favorite part of the process — the mood-boarding and cutting up magazines,” Liggins said. “I’m very aware of the fact that I’m not the best visual artist out there, but with every little project I do, I get better. At the end of the day, I have good taste, and nobody’s ever gonna be able to take that away from me.”

Liggins, who is set to perform at ACL Oct. 16, says that the nerves she feels from her upcoming performance only serve as motivation.

“It’s wild, because I’m not a festival girlie,” Liggins said. “For a little while I was like, ‘Should I be more nervous about this than I am?’ Now it’s getting closer and closer, and I’m freaking out … All the months and weeks of preparation pay off, and in the moment you’re allowed to just let go and completely surrender to the crowd and to the music. I feel like it’s been months of me holding my breath, and I’m ready to release.”

Lorena Morales, a LAWAH member, said she uses lines, colors and shadows to communicate her experience with movement and immigration.

“Through this movement in my work, I want my viewer to be displaced — to move around, so they can experience what I experienced when I moved from Venezuela to Houston,” Morales said.

Morales said she was inspired to become a professional artist after moving to Houston in 2003, because it allowed her to overcome language barriers and share her story.

“All my art is related to home and cultural identity because it’s my way to talk about my experience as an immigrant,” Morales said. “Art helped me to connect and communicate, mostly because [of] my limitations with English.

Recently, LAWAH collaborated with the Harris County Cultural Arts Council to create an exhibition called “Cruzando Fronteras / Crossing Borders.” It will be on view at the Harris County Cultural Arts Center until Oct. 21, and it aims to express the artists’ migrational experiences. Morales said she believes collaborations like these are key to LAWAH’s future.

“It is important for us to grow as a group and to give back to Houston, the city that welcomed us and put us together,” Morales said. “Artists grow when we belong to a community that supports us. We cannot be isolated.”

Gabriela Monterroso, a founding member of LAWAH and the owner of the Monterroso Gallery, said LAWAH did not have ambitious beginnings. The founding members, originally from the Glassell School of Art, formed the collective because they enjoyed discussing art with each other. Monterroso said one of the best things about LAWAH is how collaborative and helpful the collective is.

“The group is very democratic,” Monterroso said. “We make all the decisions together. We have committees for a lot of things where everybody cooperates. No matter what idea we come up with, we have a good conversation, everybody’s voice is heard, and everybody is willing to help.”

Ultimately, Monterroso said that LAWAH’s exhibitions are important, because they demonstrate the diversity of Latin American artwork and culture.

“Latin American art is not a theme,” Monterroso said. “We are Latin American artists, but there are people here from different countries. At the end of the day, we all have different backgrounds, so our art is different.”

COURTESY SIENA LIGGINS Detroit-based musician Siena Liggins will perform at Austin City Limits Music Festival Oct. 16.
This play really embodies the spirit of why we are marching in the streets.
The pre-Broadway premiere of ‘Miss Maude’ will be running through Oct. 23 at the George Theater.

Football looks to be turning a

corner, but real test is still ahead

The past few weeks have been as encouraging of a stretch as Rice football has had in a long time. First they beat the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to end what was then the longest active winning streak in college football. They then went toe-to-toe with a University of Houston team that started the season ranked No. 24. Finally, over the weekend, they beat perennial Conference USA contenders University of Alabama at Birmingham for the second straight year.

It would be easy to view this as a breakthrough year for the Owls – the year that fifth-year head coach Mike Bloomgren’s vision for the program finally comes into focus — and it may well be. But the Owls’ problem has never been that they couldn’t hang with good teams, rather that they couldn’t consistently build a lead against bad-to-average teams.

Throughout Bloomgren’s tenure, with the exception of a few games against UH and the University of Texas at Austin, his teams have been very good at keeping games close against heavily favored opponents and pulling off the occasional shock upset. In 2019, the Owls lost by one score to a 22.5-point favorite Army team, a Baylor University team that was an overtime loss away from a potential College Football Playoff berth, and took division champion Louisiana Tech University to overtime. They finished that year 3-9. In 2020, they shut out No. 15 Marshall University and nearly upset eventual conference champion UAB, but lost an overtime heartbreaker to 3-6 Middle Tennessee State University and blew an early lead against 4-6 University of North Texas, finishing the year 2-3. Last year, the Owls were tied with the University of Arkansas after three quarters, and beat 24-point favorite UAB on the road, but a pair of bad overtime losses against the UNT and University of North Carolina at Charlotte kept them out of bowl contention.

This is a feature of Bloomgren’s ball-control offense. His focus on long, sustained, run-heavy drives, keeps the ball out of opponents hands and keeps Rice’s defense fresh. By limiting the number of possessions the other team gets, Bloomgren takes away their opportunities to run up the score. This keeps games close and gives his team a chance to make one or two big plays at the end to snag a win.

However, the flip side of this approach is that when they fall behind early, running

down the clock would give them less time to get back into the game, so the team has to go away from what they do best. Even when they do get the lead and their ballcontrol approach should work in theory, too often they become overly-conservative and don’t try to extend their lead. This has resulted in a frustrating inability to consistently win games against lesser opponents.

There’s reason to think that this year could be different. While they currently rank No. 8 in the NCAA in time of possession, it was Rice’s passing attack that propelled them past Louisiana and kept them in the game against UH. This weekend, Rice didn’t even win the timeof-possession battle against UAB (the two teams split possession evenly). They haven’t simply been shortening the game and hoping for the best like in years past.

Then again, despite the win, the Owls showed some of their old habits against UAB on Saturday. The Blazers out-gained the Owls 360 yards to 209 and Rice only threw the ball 17 times despite a run game that was held under three yards per carry. It took a late-game fumble returned for a touchdown to give the Owls the lead. That won’t be sustainable as they make their way through conference play.

Just five weeks into the season the Owls have already erased any doubt that they can hang with the best teams in the conference. But if they want to qualify for a bowl game and contend in their division, they’ll need to consistently beat the lesser teams as well. That’s not impossible in Bloomgren’s system, but it will require them to be at least a little more aggressive when they have a lead and be able to drive down the field quickly when they fall behind. They’ve shown more of a willingness to do that this year, but they’ll need to make it a consistent feature of their gameplan before we can declare that they’ve finally turned the proverbial corner.

Doubles duo Diae and Maria

look to build on No. 16 ranking

Hailing from Casablanca, Morocco, and Bristol, United Kingdom, fifth-year Diae El Jardi and senior Maria Budin have joined forces in Houston, Texas, to become the No. 16 doubles team in the country. The duo capped off an impressive season last year with a doubles record of 14-5, earning the No. 22 doubles ranking to finish the year and making it to the NCAA Women’s Doubles Championship. According to El Jardi, their first taste of the NCAA postseason was met with some initial nerves.

“It was a little nerve-wracking because it was the first time playing in the NCAA’s, and I feel like that kind of showed on the first set we played,” El Jardi said. “We were kind of stiff, but I feel like once we let out the nerves, we really just played our game, and we almost had them.”

Despite their postseason run last year, the duo’s recent success was not necessarily anticipated early on in their doubles careers. According to Budin, the coaches decided to stick with her partnership with El Jardi even when the results weren’t the best in the beginning.

other person,” Budin said. “The fact that we knew each other very well and how we respond to certain things helps our communication while we play doubles.”

Fast forward to last year, the doubles team went 4-2 against ranked opponents, which included a victory over Texas A&M’s No. 3 doubles team in the nation. According to Budin, playing in highpressure matches have helped the duo elevate their game.

“Diae has a very big serve, and I like to volley a lot, so I think that we have a very big advantage there, and we both feel very comfortable in that setup, and we’ve worked on that to make that even better over the years,” Budin said. “We’re very calm in big moments [because] we’ve played a lot of pressure matches and pressure situations over the years, and we’ve both done a good job of embracing it and not panicking in those situations.”

We complement each other quite well ... I think [the coaches] saw that, so they just trusted the process and kept us playing together.

Maria Budin


“Even though initially we were solid, we weren’t showing super great results and we played lower in the lineup at the time,” Budin said. “We complement each other quite well with our games, and I think [the coaches] saw that, so they just trusted the process and kept us playing together.”

Before they started playing doubles together, Budin and El Jardin’s friendship began to bud off the court. According to Budin, their relationship off the court allowed them to find the right dynamic on it.

Unlike singles, doubles allows pairs to get creative in how they want to position themselves on the court to maximize each player’s strengths. According to head coach Elizabeth Schmidt, the duo poses problems for opponents because of their ability to play multiple formations.

“What’s unique about them is that they’re comfortable playing the Australian I formation, and because they’re comfortable being able to play different formations, they’re able to put themselves in a position to draw balls into their strengths,” Schmidt said. “They’re putting themselves in positions that lead to balls from their opponents coming into the ball they want to get [and] minimizing the tougher shots.”

The duo has improved their record from 5-4 to 14-5 over the past two seasons. According to El Jardi, their approach to the doubles game has changed from when they first started playing together.

“If we compare the way we played the first time to how we play now, you can definitely see a big difference.” El Jardi said. “Whereas before, we wouldn’t really think about a specific strategy to implement within the points, I feel like now we’re more aggressive and try all these different tactics.”

Budin and El Jardi will now look to defend their No. 16 ranking as they will be competing together at the ITA Women’s All-American Championships this week.

According to Schmidt, she will be looking for her No. 1 doubles team to build upon their success from last year and have another successful season.

“We knew each other very well before we played doubles, and sometimes when you’re in these high-pressure situations, you have to not be afraid of saying something that might offend the

“I know the experience of them being there last year is going to help them this year [and] it’s going to help them through the season to understand what it takes to play at the highest level day in and day out,” Schmidt said. “Now they have that experience in their belt, and I think that’s going to help them feel a little more settled and know what to expect.”

COURTESY RICE ATHLETICS Maria Budin and Diae El Jardi compete together during a doubles match. After making the NCAA doubles tournament, the pair enters the year ranked No. 16. COURTESY RICE ATHLETICS Outside linebacker
Josh Pearcy sacks UAB’s quarterback to seal Rice’s 28-24 win. The win moved the Owls to 3-2 on the season as they head into the heart of conference play.

Powderpuff becomes an intramural, future still undecided

What happened to Miss Independent? She joined the intramural league. Starting this semester, Powderpuff hangs up its independent status and shifts from club to intramural sport. The change comes with a host of changes in rules and in how Powderpuff is organized and run as well as a name change — colleges can now expect to cheer on their women’s flag football team.

Georgia Nevin, a Jones College powderpuff captain, wrote in an email to the Thresher that even with the rule changes she thinks the organization that being an IM sport will afford is worth it.

“As someone who was involved pretty early on in the conversations about moving Powderpuff to IM, I am pretty excited about the change,” Nevin, a Jones senior, wrote. “After last season’s disappointment in terms of organization and not having any form of the sport the year before, I look forward to playing in a well-organized season for the first time since my freshman year.”

The decision comes after last year’s season was delayed several times as organizers struggled to schedule games. According to Chris Watkins, Assistant Director for Competitive Sports, the change means that Powderpuff will have access to IMLeagues, Rice’s intramural league registration platform, which will make it easier for teams to sign up, schedule games and review stats and standings. Additionally, he wrote that the change will give Powderpuff access to trained referees to officiate games as well as manage injuries or emergency situations.

“Our full-time staff will have clear avenues for supporting the league, allowing it to once again, regain its footing,” Watkins wrote. “That’s actually what we are the most excited about. We know what Powderpuff has meant to the students, we want to help it return to glorious prime, and we feel confident that running it as an intramural league is a great next step to making this happen.”

According to Nevin, becoming an intramural means that Powderpuff will use the same rules as other flag football leagues on campus, which means they will no longer need to find and train referees specifically for Powderpuff games. Additionally, Nevin wrote

that when Powderpuff was a club sport it required colleges to allocate portions of their budget to fund the league.

“Because we were not aware of how much work was going into these seasons based on a lack of institutional knowledge, we were pretty behind at the start of the year when we realized there were usually people planning out the season over the summer,” Nevin wrote. “But switching to IM allows us to make up for that and makes sure we have a season in the fall.”

Changes to the rules include the removal of contact, moving from eight to seven players on the field as well as allowing the offensive line to catch the ball. Laney Schwegman, a Hanszen College powderpuff captain, said that their practice style will need to change to accommodate the new rules. While she said that she preferred some of the previous

rules, becoming an IM will allow the season to move forward for the fall.

“The only way that we would have a season [was] if we moved to intramural for the fall,” Schwegman, a Hanszen sophomore, said. “At the end of the day, I’m just glad that we’re going to be able to play because that was up in the air, even if we have different rules.”

While some players will miss contact being a part of Powderpuff, Nevin wrote that she thinks the change may encourage more people to participate who otherwise would not have joined the team.

“I understand that [being a contact sport] has been something that has set Powderpuff apart and that many people have enjoyed as an aspect of the sport,” Nevin wrote. “I also know that there are some players who stopped playing as a result of contact on the

field, so it’s possible that this will allow for more people to feel comfortable playing.”

According to Cole Rabson, Hanszen College powderpuff coach, the team wanted to have a club season. He said that there are conversations between colleges about setting up a club season for the spring.

Savannah May, a Martel College powderpuff captain, said that she is looking forward to the changes and that while they will take time to get used to that she believes they’ll overall be beneficial for the game.

“Even though we lose a little bit of the tradition [with] Powderpuff going IM, I’m glad to just have the season and get to play,” May, a Martel senior, said. “We have Cara [Caspersen, competitive sports coordinator,] doing the job of five people now, and I’m very grateful that she took Powderpuff under IM’s wing.”

Late free kick sinks soccer against A&M, snaps win streak

The Rice soccer team lost 1-0 to Texas A&M University on Sunday night, dropping the team to 6-7 — the most losses the program has seen since head coach Brian Lee’s tenure began in 2019. Entering the game with a four-game winning streak since beginning conference play, the loss away from home rounds out the Owls’ non-conference schedule. Despite the loss, Lee was proud of the way the team fought and is optimistic about the rest of the regular season schedule.

“I thought we stuck to the game plan and defended very well,” Lee said. “We had good communication. It was a good training environment as we get ready for the stretch run of conference play, especially being able to defend that well against a good team.”

The Owls and the Aggies were in a stalemate for a majority of the game with both squads goalless well into the second half. While they were out-shot 9-3 in the first half, the Owls had a few key scoring opportunities but failed to capitalize. In the 21st minute of the game, the Owls had their first real scoring chance of the day when

graduate transfer forward Grace Collins was unable to convert a pass from senior midfielder Delaney Schultz. Ten minutes later, Schultz was in a good position to score after intercepting a pass from the goalkeeper but overshot the ball, leaving the game scoreless. Nearing the end of the first half, in the 44th minute, the Owls had another chance to take the lead when junior midfielder Shiloh Miller crossed the ball into the box but was quickly snatched up by the Aggies’ goalkeeper.

Rice started the second half aggressively, putting pressure on the Aggies. Collins, who ended the day with three total shots, with only one on target, missed the goal again in the 46th minute of the game. The Aggies responded with a strong offensive push but were unable to score with Killgore making several critical saves throughout the second half. However, the deadlock was broken when Aggie junior midfielder Kate Colvin was able to score from a free kick in the 78th minute. Despite the Owls’ persistent efforts to level the score up in the final 12 minutes, the squad was unable to tie up the game. Rice was especially close to returning the favor in the 80th minute when senior goalkeeper Bella Killgore whipped in a free kick that rattled off the top crossbar.

Reflecting on the momentum heading into the game, Collins said that the win streak

was a move in the positive direction, but she hopes the team can improve after their weekend loss.

“We really started clicking, winning those four games, which was really awesome in-conference,” Collins said. “Going to this game out of conference, it was a good way to test us to see how we are. Definitely, [the game] showed us some spots that we can improve on and, hopefully, inconference clean it up a little bit. But, overall, we are just working very hard, and we are making some really good steps forward.

The Owls now return to conference play. The team plays next Oct. 9 at 1 p.m. when they host the University of North Texas. Undefeated in their four games against Conference-USA opponents, the Owls hope to reharness that momentum as they enter a critical part of their schedule. The team, according to Lee, is still trying to get comfortable with each other as players make their way back from injury.

“We just want to keep on getting better and keep on getting to know each other still,” Lee said. “With the early season and the injuries, we’re still kind of a new team. It feels like our second or third game of the year, really. [We are] still kind of getting assimilated with each other and getting better every day.”

We started really clicking, winning those four games ... [This game] was a good way to test us and see how we are.
NDIDI NWOSU / THRESHER KATHERINE HUI / THRESHER Freshman forward Jules Johnston dribbles during a recent game. The Owls lost to Texas A&M on Sunday to snap their fourgame winning streak.


Gov. Greg Abbott announces strip club tour, mocks Beto O’Rourke for campaigning to nerds


For the last week, gubernatorial hopeful Beto O’Rourke has been traveling around Texas to win over young voters at colleges across the state as a part of his College Tour. Touting his recordbreaking 2018 Senate campaign, which O’Rourke claims boosted young voter turnout by over 230%, the Democratic candidate emphasizes his belief that student voters will show up at the polls to demand change in key social issues, from reproductive freedom to gun violence.

Just days before O’Rourke’s visit to Houston on Thursday to speak with Rice University students, his electoral opponent, Governor Greg Abbott, announced a statewide venture of his own, the Abbot for Texas Strip Club Tour. After sneaking into his most recent rally in hunting gear, the Backpage was able to hear the Governor’s rationale from Abbott himself.

“Beto’s where? Rice? That’s the nerd school, right?” Abbott exclaimed. “That’s all he does, yak with his nerd friends about policy this and regulation that. This state needs a governor that Texans can look at and go, ‘That’s a badass that’ll f*ck Biden hard.’” Abbott spent the next 14 minutes of his speech clarifying that he was not gay.

Over the next three days, Abbott will visit twenty-seven strip clubs across the state to “witness in-person the talent of Texas’ young voters,” per the “Strip for Texas” page on his campaign website. When asked to respond to the countercampaign, O’Rourke chuckled and



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declined to answer, but was later spotted on his campaign bus whispering to himself, “Stay focused. You’re so close, Beto. Stay focused.”

In another surprise move at the end of the Governor’s rally, Abbott challenged O’Rourke to a fistfight during his visit to Rice University.

“Beto thought he could trip me up with his fancy words at the debate. Just wait ‘til I fly down to Houston with these fists. I’ll show Beto what a real man looks like.”

While O’Rourke’s campaign has not released a formal statement regarding his visit to Rice, state election administrators revealed on Wednesday that the most recent Beto for Texas campaign expenditure report included a full body cast, three tubs of Butterscotch ice cream, and a digital copy of Green Day’s “Nice Guys Finish Last.”

During Monday’s COMP 140 exam, it was revealed that multiple students were found in violation of the Honor Code after investigation found that 24 individual students had been using vibrating anal beads to allow for outside communication during the exam.

After a TA noticed multiple students flinching in unison, they had no other option but to use their handheld metal detector to probe the students in question. After a thorough investigation, the secret to these students’ success was revealed.

on exam using

As O’Rourke continues to lag behind in recent polling, supporters express doubt that he’ll ever be able to emotionally recover from this election cycle. On the bright side, Rice’s Political Science faculty will be hosting a “That’s It, We Give Up” celebration at Valhalla this Friday.

An Honor Council interrogation determined that this just may be the tip of the iceberg. According to an interview with Honor Council Ombud Silly Willy, there may be a network of prostate pretenders, all connected to one Man Behind the Curtain, if you will.

The Honor Council is currently working on reverse engineering the beads in an attempt to locate the person communicating to the students and will be outsourcing to ENGI 120 students.

In unrelated news, Rice administration is considering requiring prostate examinations before and after finals this semester.


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Backpage is the satire section of the Thresher, written this week by Ndidi Nwosu, Andrew
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We do not know how deep this anal bead situation goes. We’ll make sure we explore every possible avenue to get to the bottom of this.
Silly Willy
I’ll show Beto what a real man looks like.
vibrating anal beads,
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