The Rice Thresher | Wednesday, November 16, 2022

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Tech layoffs, hiring freezes hit Rice community

As layoff and hiring freezes increase across the tech industry, computer science students and alumni are among those at Rice expressing concern for their current and future job prospects.

In recent weeks, Elon Musk halved Twitter’s staff, Meta said it was firing 11,000 employees, Amazon announced plans to cut approximately 10,000 jobs and other tech firms such as Lyft and Stripe also announced layoffs.

Charles Lussier, a Wiess College senior, said that he has noticed a shift in the recruiting process this year.

“[Internships were] pretty much grooming you and investing in you and planning on giving you a return offer. That [was] kind of the culture beforehand,” said Lussier. “This year is completely different. Internships are no longer a guarantee that you’re actually getting a return offer.”

Many companies have also been firing recent hires from the class of 2022, reducing salaries for mid level positions and instituting hiring freezes across the board. Recent Rice alum Abdelrahman Abouzeid (‘22) was one of 11,000 employees recently let go from Meta.

“Working at Meta/Facebook has been my goal since freshman year, and I only got to spend a few weeks [in the Engineering Bootcamp] at the company before I was laid off,” Abouzeid said in a LinkedIn post. “I honestly enjoyed these last few weeks. I learned a lot, met some very smart folks and pushed code for production.”

For recent international graduates like Abouzeid, the loss of a job also impacts their ability to stay in the U.S. While on the F-1 Visa, individuals have a grace period of

90 unemployment days before they must leave the country.

Companies’ recent hiring freezes and slowdowns are also being seen by students in the recruitment process.

“It’s very obvious,” Lussier said. “All the spots were on the [hiring] portal when we’re applying for stuff, and then they’re constantly closing up. I don’t know if that’s because they’re filling them quicker or they’re just closing them, but I’m assuming they’re closing them in light of the economy.”

Michael Wong, a Sid Richardson College sophomore, said that there has been a general increase in student concern over finding internships in the tech industry, specifically working for one of the prominent American technology companies: Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google (FAANG).

“You definitely see a bit of panic,” Wong said. “We’re just trying to cast a wider net right now and just trying to apply everywhere. I think a lot of people that go into computer science specifically

I would caution all the younger generations ... to be prepared to get fired. I think that’s going to happen to most of us, but we should not fret because at the end of the day, we can get up off our feet.

want to work in industry. The mentality is, ‘FAANG, FAANG, FAANG. I gotta work for one of those companies.’ I think at this point it’d be a good idea to maybe not set my sights on, ‘Oh, I’m only going to be happy,’ or ‘I’ll only feel like I’ll be fulfilled if I work at one of those companies.’”

Ann McAdam Griffin, director of employer relations at the Center for Career Development, said that while there has been a slowdown in the tech and software industries, overall job outlook for the Class of 2023 is still very optimistic.

“The skills and competencies that a student with a major in computer sciences develop are sought after by a wide variety of industries, not only tech,” Griffin said. “Students at Rice, in computer science and all majors, have options for meaningful, challenging career opportunities.”

CCD wait times for advising appointments are currently two weeks, up from the usual one week for this time of year, according to Griffin.

Volleyball gets final chance to reverse the C-USA tournament curse

Even though they’ve won 48 of their last 50 conference regular season games, the Rice volleyball team has not won a Conference USA tournament since 2018. After three straight years as the conference’s runners-up, the Owls will finally look to reverse their fortunes in what will be their final postseason in C-USA. This year, the No. 22 Owls enter the tournament with an almost perfect conference record of 13-1, and 23-3 overall. According to head coach Genny Volpe, the

team is excited to jump into postseason volleyball.

“We are very excited to be competing in the C-USA Tournament,” Volpe said. “It’s our last season in C-USA, and we obviously want a chance to win the tournament and earn the auto bid to the NCAA’s.”

Each of their last three C-USA Tournament appearances have ended with the Owls losing to Western Kentucky University in the championship game. Although they continue to fall short of winning the coveted conference trophy, Volpe said that the past losses won’t impact the mindset going into the weekend.

“Nothing really changes for us,” Volpe said. “This is a different year, and a different team.”

This year, however, is similar to previous years in that plenty of signs point to a fourth straight meeting between Western Kentucky and Rice. The two teams enter the tournament as the top two seeds, after going a combined 27-0 against the rest of the conference. In their lone meeting of the year, the Hilltoppers won a five-set nailbiter, ruining the Owls’ perfect conference record.

U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo grapples with life, death and art

America’s first Native American U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo, stopped by Rice’s Brockman Hall for a reading of her newly published poetry collection, “Weaving Sundown in a Scarle Light: 50 Poems for 50 Years,” on the rainy evening of Monday, Nov. 14. Following the reading was an on-stage conversation with 2022 Texas Poet Laureate Lupe Mendez, during which Harjo shared harrowingly intimate details of her view on art, life, death and loss.

The opera hall was warmed by a packed audience of poetry enthusiasts holding the first edition of the celebrated poet’s new selection published this November, which consists of the best poems across decades of her influential career. Harjo began the night discussing her revelation of the symmetry and spiritual connection between her favorite art forms: poetry and music.

“In our Muskogee Creek community, we have songs for everything,” Harjo said. “I think all of us did, and we’ve lost touch with that — songs for getting out, songs for making a good grade on paper, songs to help the plants, songs for grief, songs for joy. That is poetry.”

Unsurprisingly, Harjo is also a musician herself. For the reading of one of her poems, “Grace,” Harjo rendered it as a song and performed the poem chanting in a slow, melodic tune. She later shares that her passion for music actually preceded her love for poetry.

“I had no plans to be a poet, I was always an artist. I was not a word person, although I read constantly,” Harjo said. “[My journey started] when I heard Native poets and heard that they were writing about our lives, but in the small, well-crafted little moments. I just started writing, and it took over. It made no sense at all … but my poetry spirit is very strong.”

Many of the poems Harjo writes grapple with the themes of loss and grief. Words carry strength and impact, Harjo believes, so she is intentional with her power to write poems and hopes to send positivity into the world.

[My journey started] when I heard Native poets and heard that they were writing about our lives, but in the small, well crafted little moments.


“I wrote [“Creation Story”] when a beloved poet friend passed. But it was also about our country. It’s about a family. It’s about the importance, again, of words,” Harjo said. “It’s hard to write these kinds of poems … I was thinking about how this country will continue, how our families will continue given all of the assaults, the various discrimination, our children dealing with [drugs such as fentanyl] … and thinking about what kind of story is this and yet always believing in that thread of love that goes through everything.”

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Campus prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving

As Thanksgiving break nears, students and faculty planning to remain on campus have begun preparations to celebrate the holiday at Rice.

During the break, some colleges will host a Thanksgiving dinner organized by students and the college’s core teams. This year, all of the serveries are closed on Thanksgiving Day. Multiple serveries will be open on Wednesday and Baker Kitchen will be open on Friday and Saturday.

Organizations on campus, such as the Rice Baptist Student Ministry and the Rice QuestBridge Scholars Network Chapter, are also planning events for students on campus. Rice BSM matches students with local families hosting Thanksgiving

dinners, helps arrange transportation for those who need it and welcomes all students to sign up. The Rice QuestBridge Chapter is hosting its annual QuestGiving on Friday for first-generation low-income students on campus.

Jazmine Castillo, Rice QSN president, said that QuestBridge hosts QuestGiving for FGLI students who are not able to go home for Thanksgiving. (Editor’s note: Jazmine Castillo is the Thresher’s distribution manager)

“It’s for the students who didn’t get a chance to go home for Thanksgiving, to give them a chance to have dinner with a community,” Castillo, a McMurtry College senior, said. “This is a less formal alternative to the magisters’ Thanksgiving dinners.”

Kasey Leigh Yearty, a Sid Richardson College RA, said that the university made

some arrangements for students to have meals over the break provided last year.

“Less than 50 [Sid Richardson] students stayed on campus during Thanksgiving break. We expect numbers to be comparable to what we saw last year,” Yearty said. “The university provided frozen meals for students to enjoy, and we were able to distribute those over time so that they were able to last throughout the break.”

Since there are resources available for meals on Thanksgiving day through residential college dinners, Debi Saha, the Rice QSN Chapter events coordinator, said Rice QSN hosts Questgiving on Friday to stagger when students can access free food on campus.

“[Last year] we had about 30 people show up for the dinner itself … we also invite people around campus at the end when handing out

leftovers,” Saha, a Lovett College junior, said. “Thanksgiving can be a very lonely time for FGLI students on campus ... Students meet new people [at Questgiving]. Sometimes, [Questgiving] is people’s first interaction with the Questbridge chapter.”

Students can access the Student Success Initiative’s pantry in the student center between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday for non-perishable foods, but it will be closed Wednesday and Thursday.

Jingwen Hu, a Will Rice College junior, said that campus itself can be very quiet over the holiday. Hu, who stayed on campus for Thanksgiving break last year, said she wished there was more to do on campus.

“[Thanksgiving break] was really empty, there was no one on campus,” Hu said. “It would be nice to have other things going on so campus would be more lively”.

Rice ends on-campus winter housing accommodations

Rice will not be offering on-campus housing for winter recess this year. Due to COVID-related travel restrictions, oncampus housing was available for the past two winter recess periods.

Dean of Undergraduates Bridget Gorman said that the decision to revert to pre-pandemic operations, when no oncampus housing was provided, follows the trend of various other aspects of campus life this year.

“When COVID began, we offered winter housing on a petitiononly basis, mostly for international students who were unable to travel home because of border closures,” Gorman said. “Since circumstances surrounding COVID and travel are less severe, we have reverted to our pre-COVID operating posture.”

As of now, there are countries that continue to have strict COVID-19 related travel restrictions. For example, China, where more than 40% of Rice’s incoming class of international students is from, still requires a minimum 10-day quarantine at a government-selected facility or hotel at the traveler’s own expense.

Gavin Zhang, Canadian international student originally from China, said he doesn’t understand the university’s policy, as it creates an inconvenience for international students.

“It just does not make a lot of sense to me because, for a lot of international students, it’s really expensive to fly,” Zhang, a Wiess College senior, said. “And that’s not to mention [the] quarantine policies with COVID. For example, if I flew back to China, I would have to quarantine for two weeks out of winter break.”

Executive Director of the Office of International Students and Scholars Adria Baker said that the OISS has received “quite a few” inquiries from international students about this year’s winter housing policy. She said that the OISS has created a shortterm housing task force, which will be reviewing issues related to winter housing.

“OISS is referring students to possible short-term housing options as we learn of them, and many of the students are working together to find temporary places to live,” Baker said.

Gorman said that winter break housing is not offered due to services on campus being minimally staffed to allow staff a proper break. She said she does not expect the

university to offer an exception process for students.

Zhang said that while he understands the university’s wish to allow staff a proper break, he said most non-university employees do not receive breaks in accordance with school timelines.

Housing and Dining has a resource for short-term living arrangements on their website for students looking for winter break housing, according to H&D Director David McDonald. Rice’s Access and Opportunity fund is also accepting requests for subsidies for off-campus living accommodations.

Steven Cloud, a Lovett College junior and off-campus representative, said

that he was prompted by his college coordinator to compile resources for individuals who may need housing accommodations over winter break. Cloud said that he, along with his corep, asked current off campus students at Lovett if they would like to sublease their off campus housing over winter break to students in need.

“So far we have just sent out a form to the OC students letting them know about the situation [and] letting them know about the opportunity to sublet their places during winter break since many of them will be traveling as well,” Cloud said.

It just does not make a lot of sense to me because, for a lot of international students, it’s really expensive to fly.

Construction of RMC, Hanszen building remains on schedule

The new Hanszen College wing is on track for student move-in by early January, and the Rice Memorial Center demolition will occur at the end of spring semester despite previous delays in the timeline, according to Director for Project Management Anzilla Gilmore.

“Construction costs have risen dramatically during the last couple of years, causing delays in many projects across the country,” Gilmore wrote in an email to the Thresher. “We here at Rice aren’t alone in this regard. Construction delays due to rising costs are a nationwide phenomenon.”

Mark Ditman, the associate vice president for infrastructure, said that the new Hanszen wing is on track for movein by the end of fall semester 2022. The five-story building will have 166 beds with 70% doubles and 30% singles. It will also have accessible and gender-neutral bathrooms — features the Old Hanszen building lacked.

Ditman said the new residential building honors Hanszen’s culture by including a terrace on each floor except the first and top floors. The new Hanszen wing will also be the first mass timber dormitory building in Texas.

“The mass timber structure [of the new Hanszen wing] contributes to our carbon neutrality goal,” Ditman said. “[The building] brings the outdoors in, and [this] has some beneficial effects on people’s wellness.”

Jessica Opsahl-Ong, a Hanszen junior who attended a tour of the new Hanszen building, believes that the new building will mean a lot of adjustment for the residential college. Opsahl-Ong said that while the building will allow Hanszen’s population to grow, it offers a limited amount of common space for events and storage. As a result, Hanszen will still have to rely on their commons for larger gatherings.

“It’s just kind of an issue with space [and] making sure that we are still getting the spaces we need for good college culture,” Opsahl-Ong said. “It’s been brought up at cabinet [that] there’s a plan for construction in Upper Commons to give us more event throwing spaces.”

Opsahl-Ong said she believes that despite the challenges the growing residential college community will have to navigate, Hanszen will be able to adapt to those changes.

“I think people are excited about having a nice new building … Other colleges tend to say that we have bad

facilities, so that will be nice,” OpsahlOng said.

New section residents will be allowed to move in Jan. 5, two days earlier than the regular move-in day, according to an email obtained by the Thresher from Hanszen College Coordinator Joyce Bald.

Despite the delays in the new RMC’s construction, Gilmore said she believes that students will have a lot to look forward to once the building is complete.

“It will be a beautiful space with new food options, new meeting spaces, upgraded technology and updated facilities,” Gilmore said.

Emma Yang, general manager of EastWest Tea, said that administration has been very communicative about their plans for the RMC and has included the students’ input for their new space.

“We’ve gotten to submit a few preferred layouts [and] our desired equipment, and those have been turned into preliminary architectural sketches of what an East-West Tea space could look like,” Yang said.

While Yang said her team doesn’t know where they will operate once the demolition begins, administration has been updating them regularly.

“The good news is based on everything we know now, we expect that the new space will provide us with the space, resources and flexibility to bring some exciting new changes to our cooking process, menu and hours,” Yang said.

Jinhee Shin, general manager of Rice Coffeehouse, said that administration’s communications to Coffeehouse about the demolition were slow in the beginning.

“I initially received information about construction meetings on really short notice, and my team would have little time to prepare for them … over my term [as general manager], communication with administration has improved, and I’ve received more advanced notice before meeting times,” Shin wrote in an email to the Thresher.

Although Shin said that administration did not consult her team at Coffeehouse while designing Coffeehouse’s new layout, she said she believes that the upgraded space will allow for new growth opportunities.

“I believe our space in the new student center will allow for a better workflow. We [will] have room to have more equipment and more people on shift in order to serve our customers more efficiently,” she said.

Griffin said that the CCD has seen students concerned about their alumni friends who have been affected by these layoffs and how the hiring freezes might impact their post-graduation plans. Lussier said he empathizes with those who happen to have graduated or are graduating at the wrong time.

“I mean it’s just really unfortunate because when I think of these upperclassmen, it’s like they did nothing wrong,” Lussier said. “They grind their asses off. They were really good students, and they literally were only laid off because they just happened to be in the bottom rung of things and are recently added while the economy took a shitter.”

For some students like Wong, the current outlook raises some concern for the future.

“I think in like one or two years it’s going to be kind of tough because I think my fellow students [and I] are going to be in a situation where we’re competing for an increasingly scarce number of opportunities,” said Wong. “It is sort of a very sobering moment. Obviously I enjoy computer science. But I’d also like to make a living.”

Tyra Cole, a Will Rice College senior, expressed frustration with pursuing computer science.

“Eventually when I am a recent grad, I’ll be the last to be hired and the first to be fired,” Cole said. “It’s kind of upsetting because I decided to study computer science because of job security, but now it’s not a secure job.”

Some foresee a change in the number of students majoring in computer science.

“I think it’s going to be pretty obvious in the next few years that COMP is not gonna be as in demand, and I think the major is gonna drop significantly,” Lussier said. “More people are going to channel into government roles with software engineering, along with research just because it’s generally more stable.”

Griffin said that the CCD is always available for students alongside a myriad of resources on Handshake.

“We advise students not to be alarmed by ebbs and flows in certain industries because the market for early career talent is strong,” Griffin said. “Continue to build your network and come see the CCD. This is a demanding time in the semester, but we’re open and see students for in-person and virtual appointments throughout winter break.”

Although the recent changes in the job market are uncontrollable, Lussier said he believes Rice students are capable of making it through.

“I would caution all the younger generations, as well as the senior class, to be prepared to get fired,” Lussier said. “I think that’s going to happen to most of us, but we should not fret because at the end of the day, we can get up off our feet … It’ll be harder than before, but not impossible.”

The De Lange Conference will focus on the exploration of technology, how it’s shaped by society and culture, and how society should respond to the challenges posed by technological change. Information and Registration:

Call for Posters:
KATHERINE HUI / THRESHER Hanszen’s new section will open for move in by Jan. 5.

TEDxRiceU conference addresses climate change

TEDxRiceU held its Countdown event this past Saturday, focusing on combating climate change. The event, composed of six talks given by both faculty and students, addressed the issue of climate change through wscientific, technological and social perspectives, according to TEDxRiceU President Nicholas Ma.

“We have speakers talking about other technical things such as what is a greenhouse gas, what other greenhouse gasses there are besides carbon dioxide, but we also have speakers who are talking about their personal relation to the environment, to the climate,” Ma, a McMurtry College sophomore, said.

The event was sponsored by both the Rice Environmental Society and the Rice Green Fund, a part of Rice Sustainability. Richard Johnson, executive director for Rice Sustainability, said that he hopes that attendees will leave this talk thinking about solutions to climate change.

“Despite the enormity of the challenge of climate change, we have the opportunity to implement economically viable solutions now that will help us to avoid a planetary climate catastrophe and that will also contribute to a healthier, cleaner, fairer and more economically robust society,” Johnson said.

Marina Klein, a member of RES, said that the different perspectives highlighted in this talk will make it relevant to a wider audience.

“Everything you could think of is a part of climate change. Having these talks given by people who are from all sorts of disciplines [and] backgrounds helps to show how relevant it is to everyone who’s listening,” Klein, a McMurtry sophomore, said.

After a brief introduction, the event was kicked off by Dr. Sylvia Dee, an assistant professor in Rice’s earth, environmental and planetary sciences department. Her talk focused on the urgency of climate change and how to approach it, both in terms of solutions and discussion.

Dee said she hoped that people would leave her talk knowing that climate change is solvable.

“It doesn’t really matter what you study or what you care about. You should expect to be impacted by climate change,” Dee said. “We need all hands on deck, and so now it’s not the time to become apathetic. Now is the time to charge all of the students with thinking about solutions, and how they might be able to contribute to solutions via their own careers using their own skill sets.”

Dee was followed by Jack Pearce, a McMurtry junior, who spoke about the different technologies being developed for climate change.

“We are at a point in technology and research where we’re starting to see people piecing together these large conglomerated systems into even more extensive tools that people can use [to learn about climate change],” Pearce said. “There’s a role for data and systems within here, and that role is empowering.”

After Pearce, Shikhar Verma, a junior from Duncan College, and founder of the Rice New Energy Fund, spoke about the financial effects of climate change, based on his experience in RNEF.

“I think there’s a lot of ways you can [look at climate change]. You can be really anxious and say, well, it’s gonna get warmer, and things aren’t gonna get better,” Verma said “Or you can take the view that I tried to take, which is that there’s this huge challenge, and humanity’s always risen up to this challenge.”

RUPD launches Food for Fines initiative

The Rice University Police Department launched a “Food for Fines” initiative, during which students can donate food and hygiene items to cover unpaid parking tickets. From Nov. 15 to Nov. 17, students can bring products to PCF 1 anytime from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

According to a campus-wide email sent by RUPD, a minimum of five non-perishable food items or hygiene products can be donated to The Pantry to cover the cost of one $30 unpaid parking citation. If a student has more than one parking citation given before Nov. 1, then they can cover $60-$75 of citations with 10 items, $150 of citations with 20 items, and so on.

Clemente Rodriguez, RUPD chief, said that the initiative came to fruition when the Rice administration was considering ways to remove some of the financial burdens off of students during the holiday season.

“Thinking through a lot of the difficult times folks are going through at this time of year with inflation and the cost of everything going up, we started thinking outside of the box for some things that would help alleviate some of the financial stress people are facing around the holiday season,” Rodriguez said. “[From these conversations], we decided it would be nice to clear some of the students’ parking citations without creating a financial burden for our community.”

Eugen Radulescu, the director of administrative services who oversees parking and transportation on campus, also said the initiative is aimed at relieving students’ financial burdens. Radulescu agreed to have some of the parking fine funds, which typically go partially toward funding the inner loop buses, put towards the community.

“With the cost of gas skyrocketing and economic inflation being very high, this is the moment to help,” Radulescu said. “It’s a

win-win situation for both students and Rice admin — that’s how I see it.”

Rodriguez said that the idea for the program came from looking at similar programs at other institutions that aim to alleviate students’ financial stress while benefiting local food pantries.

“My colleague told me that Colorado University had done a similar initiative procuring food donations, and I thought it would be a great idea to do something similar here at Rice,” Rodriguez said.

According to Rodriguez, he hopes this endeavor will bring awareness to resources on campus, such as The Pantry, that benefit underprivileged students.

“I have to say that I wasn’t as aware and didn’t have as much knowledge about [The Pantry] before this program was launched,” Rodriguez said. “I want to bring awareness to those who may need assistance to take advantage of this resource.”

Araceli Lopez, executive director of Student Success Initiatives, said she hopes these food and hygiene product donations will help keep The Pantry stocked more consistently. The Pantry is located at the Office of Student Success Initiatives in Ray’s Courtyard and is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by request.

“The Pantry operates on a good-faith basis and is an anonymous resource for all students, faculty, staff and community members,” Lopez said. “Our goal is to ensure The Pantry is a space where individuals feel welcome and that this is an accessible resource.”

A cappella group, Chimes, performed after the 15-minute intermission, which was followed by Taylor Gilliam, a senior from Sid Richardson College. Gilliam’s talk, which also included poetry, focused on the social aspect of climate change, including how it plays into the conversation of topics such as race and gender.

“There’s certainly urgency within the climate situation that we are in today, and what concrete changes need to be made through not only our infrastructure but the critical consciousness that our communities and our society has towards climate issues,” Gilliam said. “I’ve tackled different social injustices related to race or to gender or to sexual orientation or whatever else in the world. I can’t do any of that if the Earth is on fire, right?”

Gilliam was followed by Andrew Slaughter, the former executive director at the Deloitte Center for Energy Solutions, who spoke about the impacts of greenhouse gasses.

“Methane is the second biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, but it also causes a more potent greenhouse effect than CO2,” Slaughter said. “If you concentrate on cutting back methane emissions, now and in the next few years, you kind of buy more time to deal with the CO2 problem.”

The event closed with a talk by Daniel Cohan, an associate professor in civil and environmental engineering. Cohan, whose talk was based on his book, “Confronting Climate Gridlock,” said he hopes his talk will address the steps needed to address climate change and give people hope despite the gravity of the situation.

“The actions that we take not only reduce our own emissions, but they can catalyze the growth of clean energy for many of the most pivotal technologies. The more quickly we deploy them, the faster their costs can drop,” Cohan said. “If we address this challenge in the right way, we can actually have a future that in many ways is better than the world that I grew up [in].”

KEEGAN LEIBROCK / THRESHER The food pantry at Rice run by SSI.
KATHERINE HUI / THRESHER Sid Richardson senior Taylor Gilliam performs at the TEDx event on Nov. 12.

Off-campus students should sublet their rooms to those who need winter break housing

For the first time since 2019, Rice is not allowing undergraduate students to remain in their on-campus housing during winter break. While this is a disappointing development, we understand why this decision needed to be made. Like students, staff need a break after a long semester. Further, keeping students on campus by providing housing over break was originally implemented to address pandemic travel restrictions, which are mostly gone. However, the need for winter housing is not gone. This decision still leaves some international students — or any other on-campus student looking to remain in Houston — scrambling for housing.

Recently, Lovett College came up with a solution to this problem that still gives staff the break they deserve. Their college coordinator and off-campus representatives have reached out to other

off-campus students about subletting to students searching for housing while they’re gone during break. This not only

follow Lovett’s lead. For one thing, isn’t this the core purpose of the residential college system, to provide community support in sustainable ways that benefit us all? And if being a good person isn’t reason enough to let a student in need crash in your off-campus room for a few weeks, consider this: It will be the easiest bag you’ve ever made.

This also stands as a reminder to all of us that there are many resources we take for granted, in this case an empty room over break, that can help support our fellow students.


* Indicates Editorial Board member

Ben Baker-Katz* Editor-in-Chief

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NEWS Hajera Naveed* Editor

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solves the initial problem, but also gives off-campus students a chance to recover some of the rent that would otherwise be wasted. It’s a win for everyone involved.

We want to encourage all residential colleges, and all off-campus students, to

We honestly aren’t sure we’ve ever come across a better or easier solution to a problem. Genuinely, the editorial board is struggling to write more than 300 words, because it is so obviously a good idea. So, shoutout to Lovett for coming up with this idea, and we hope to see it implemented campus-wide.

Where we must agree: the politics of humanness

The words “free speech” will likely elicit groans from Thresher readers. Over the last three years, there have been three articles in the Opinion section bemoaning the need for a “classically liberal” political discourse at Rice. Unfortunately, between their selfrighteousness and needless wordiness, they read more like whiny lectures than conversation starters. However, despite their condescension, their existence does suggest something unsettling about not just our campus politics, but politics at large. As the electorates of democracies around the world have become more sharply divided, the way we speak to each other, not just across the aisle but to our similarly minded partisans, has become more accusatory, exclusionary and violent. Put simply: we do not want to talk to each other, and understandably so. It is exhausting, and, more than that, we just don’t seem to know how to.

In the lead up to the midterm election, I spent a lot of time thinking about why we’re so divided. Why do those freespeech articles seem so commonplace? Why did the Rice University College Republicans pull out of the Baker Institute Student Forum debate last Monday (because there was, in fact, plenty of time to prepare)? Why, in a nation that is mostly aligned on how it should progress — with the majority of Americans agreeing on the need to address the climate crisis, abortion, gun regulation, legalizing cannabis, teachers’ pay, preserving social security, congressional term limits, etc. — do we still find ourselves stuck in a decades old, mostly rhetorical, culture war?

Discounting structural barriers to fair representation like the electoral college, suppressed turnout or gerrymandering, it seems to me that the cause of our marked disagreement is the rise of neopopulism — that being populism and the internet. Populism requires an enemy. Right-wing populists make enemies out of those deemed threats to economic or social tradition — be that the “establishment,” “socialists,” “illegals” or any other group. Left-wing populists find an enemy in the extremely wealthy and cultural conservatives — rebranded “fascists.” Populism is thus

both reductive in its name-calling and addictive in its effect. It’s based on just enough truth, no matter how twisted, that most people, from moderates to radicals, feel that there is a group to blame for their problems: it’s their fault. It’s your fault. Really though, fault lies with the emergence of an information

work sustainably, and have time for other pursuits. We need to exist with dignity and need justice when we are wronged. We need to acknowledge where we differ and afford each other understanding. We need mobility, joy and love. To create a world without extreme division and which emphasizes the best quality in our species — our ability to work together – we must first have consensus about what our shared humanity means. If we cannot agree on the core premises above, then we have every right to collectively call out those who do not see everyone as equally human. A failure to recognize what makes us human is a failure to come to the table for discussion. Those who hold fast to positions of supremacy at the expense of others by dehumanizing them or who promote hierarchy on the basis of artificial difference, cannot be reasonably debated and have forfeited their ability to make an argument.


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ecosystem which thrives on hate-clicks. We have been gradually conditioned to become really bad communicators. We fear each other. We distrust one another and do not want to listen. Why would we? Doing so would require listening to perspectives we view as ignorant, hateful, cynical or just plain wrong regardless of where each arguing party falls on the political spectrum.

But there is another way.

There exists a simple politics of humanness. A politics where we begin our conversations with a single, irrefutable baseline assumption: we are the same species, worthy of the same respect and the same fundamental rights. We are homo sapiens with different skin tones and individual presentations. We are homo sapiens with, more or less, the same physiological components. The constructs that we have created to separate us, like race or religion, distract us from how alike we all are and that it is in our best interest to collaborate.

Where we must agree: We need places of our own to call home. We need access to healthy food and clean water. We need respect for our bodily autonomy. We need to live lives free of arbitrary oppression and to rid ourselves of every trace of its legacy. We need to be able to

There is, undoubtedly, strength in diversity. Natural divisions, such as the tendency of humans to form communities of like-minded individuals — or of those who share our specific identity — can be extremely beneficial. I do not believe that we should all be the same in every way, or that our differences are not important; often the identity of a person or group is central to how we go about resolving a problem — such as the way we approach the many manifestations of systemic inequality. However, I increasingly believe that working together with our ideological opposites will require emphasizing issues of human importance. We must first agree that humans, being fundamentally the same, require the same basic prerequisites to live well. We can build a university culture and world which rightfully acknowledges our differences, but to build a world that is humane, we must start with the things that we share.

Letters to the Editor must be received by 5 p.m. on the Friday prior to publication and must be signed, including college and year if the writer is a Rice student. The Thresher reserves the right to edit letters for content and length and to place letters on its website.

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If being a good person isn’t reason enough to let a student in need crash in your off-campus room for a few weeks, consider this: It will be the easiest bag you’ve ever made.
There exists a simple politics of humanness. A politics where we begin our conversations with a single, irrefutable baseline assumption: We are the same species, worthy of the same respect and the same fundamental rights.
The Rice Thresher, the official student newspaper of Rice University since 1916, is published each Wednesday during the school year, except during examination periods and holidays, by the students of Rice University.

Spice up your Thanksgiving break with these activities

Explore new ways to celebrate Thanksgiving in the greater Houston area. From parades to adventure parks, there is a Thanksgiving Day activity — or two — for everybody to enjoy this season. Bundle up and head out into town on Thanksgiving Day to make some unforgettable fun-filled memories.

Annual Thanksgiving Parade

Celebrating its 73rd anniversary, the annual Houston H.E.B. Thanksgiving Parade is one of the oldest parades in the country. At 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning, join thousands of Houstonians lining the streets to witness elaborately designed floats, marching bands and high-flying balloon displays. If you don’t want to leave the comfort of your room, the parade is streaming live on KHOU 11. Feeling adventurous? Online applications are open for those who wish to participate in the parade.

Address: Smith Street, Downtown Houston

Holiday Tree Lighting in Uptown

Light up the holiday season by attending the ceremonial lighting of 300 custom-made 20-ft tall trees. Located along Post Oak Boulevard, the annual Uptown Holiday Tree Lighting is a family favorite and a great way to kick off winter festivities. Starting at 4 p.m. with music and holiday markets, this event features a Hilton Post Oak balcony decorating

contest, a dazzling light show and firework extravaganza following shortly after the ceremonial lighting of Uptown’s holiday trees.

Address: Post Oak Boulevard, Houston

Thanksgiving Buffet at Aquarium

An aquarium may not seem like the first place to share a Thanksgiving meal with families, friends and some strangers. But every Thanksgiving, the Downtown Aquarium hosts a Thanksgiving meal, featuring both traditional Thanksgiving dishes and some aquarium-appropriate seafood. Only a 15-minute drive away from campus, you can enjoy your meal while exploring the exhibits, going on some rides, feeding some fish or even going on a shark train ride.

Address: 410 Bagby St Houston Texas 77002

Lightscape Houston Botanic Garden

Head over to the Houston Botanic Garden for the visual treat of an internationally acclaimed holiday light show, happening all day long. A wonderland of lights, music and s’mores, Lightscape provides a magnificent backdrop to take some stunning photos.

Priced at $12.50 per person, Lightscape transforms its beautiful garden landscapes into an immersive experience.

Address: 1 Botanic Lane, Houston, TX 77017

Geronimo Adventure Park

If you’re looking for an adventurous day out with your friends, look no further

which is open from noon to 6 p.m. every day. Situated approximately 45 minutes away from campus in Spring, Texas, Geronimo is one of the only amusement parks open on Thanksgiving Day. Featuring numerous zipline courses, rock climbing walls and ax throwing stations, this adventure park will keep you entertained all day.

Address: 6749 Farm to Market 2920, Spring, TX 77379

Calling all runners (or walkers). What better way to start off your Thanksgiving morning than with some of the many Turkey Trots occurring throughout Houston? Prepare for your celebratory feast with a job through the city by registering for a 5k or 10k with BakerRipley Houston Turkey Trot, a one, four, or six-mile run with the Pearland Turkey Trot, or a 5k with the Meadows of Imperial Oak.

REMS to the rescue: Owls talk Collegiate EMS Week

near Valhalla. Mehta said that CPR is a skill that anyone might need to perform at a given time.

“If someone’s heart stops, and they get chest compressions provided by a bystander, even if it’s for five minutes, that five minutes where they’re receiving compressions has a really big impact on their survival,” Mehta said.

Clearly, quick and quality care is crucial for first responders. Basgall, who has worked with REMS for 13 years, said that whether they are staffing anything from a college football game to a larger event, the organization ultimately hopes to provide the best patient care possible.

teach them how to do their role and be a good part of the community.”

Mehta shared a similar experience, and said that volunteering with REMS has been one of the best parts of his undergraduate experience.

“Being an InCharge has probably been one of the greatest privileges of my undergraduate career,” Mehta said. “I got to learn a very specialized skill set, and get very specific knowledge from the classes that I took, and then I got to use it to make a real difference every day in the Rice community.”

From stubbed toes to life-threatening injuries, one group of dedicated students has seen it all. Throughout the past 26 years, Rice University Emergency Medical Services has rallied around the Rice community, providing support during natural disasters such as Winter Storm Uri and Hurricane Katrina and administering 4,372 vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic. For Collegiate EMS Week, which takes place during the second week in November, the organization hosted a series of events to increase their visibility and continue expanding their impact on campus.

Among these events was a blood drive, held last Monday in PCF 1. According to Director Lisa Basgall, REMS was able to collect more than 70 units of blood from the 82 people who attended — since

each unit can save up to five lives, their donations could potentially save 350 people.

Jay Mehta, REMS community relations lieutenant and one of eight InCharges — the REMS leadership team — said that the blood collected is much needed in light of recent shortages.

“In January, the Red Cross announced the worst nationwide blood shortage that we experienced in a decade … We’re still experiencing a blood shortage,” Mehta, a Brown College senior, said. “The blood that the Rice community has donated will go towards that, and that’s a very tangible good.”

As community relations lieutenant, Mehta is responsible for coordinating events like those held last week, which also included free vital screenings by the Recreation Center, a trivia booth in the academic quad (“What’s the most popular medical TV show?”) and CPR training

“Every year is a little bit different with the people that volunteer with REMS, with the kinds of emergencies that we handle with the needs of the campus — large-scale things like the Centennial almost 10 years ago, or the presidential inauguration or the big NASA event … It’s amazing to see REMS grow with the number of people that are interested in volunteering,” Basgall said.

Angela Lin, a REMS InCharge who helped with the trivia event and uniform day, where members wear their REMS gear to increase visibility on campus, said that she’s been able to grow within the organization throughout her time there.

“REMS is honestly the biggest part of my life at Rice, just because I spend so much time doing it,” Lin, a Sid Richardson College senior, said. “I feel very honored to be part of this community of serving not only the campus, but also serving the people who are in REMS and being able to

Mehta said that this fulfillment helps encourage him to persevere through difficult days on shift, and that he’s made some of his closest friends through REMS because they’re all like-minded people.

“Even when they’re really long days — one day I had eight calls and the day after I was super tired — [it’s] just the thought of knowing that I got to do something for someone else that might have made a bad situation for them slightly better,” Mehta said.

Mehta encouraged any interested students to try a first responder course if they’re interested in volunteering in REMS, regardless of their academic background.

“There’s this preconception that REMS is absolutely full of pre-meds,” Mehta said. “We’ve had people in REMS who ... have absolutely no intention of going into medicine. If you have any interest in joining REMS, and you’re motivated to contribute to the culture of care and make a difference on campus, I would recommend just jumping in.”

Being an InCharge has probably been one of the greatest privileges of my undergraduate career.
Jay Mehta
KATHERINE HUI / THRESHER A group of REMS members gather for a photo during one of their visibility events

As a self-professed guide through the outdoors, Erin Harrison is no stranger to a bit of nature. From placing in national rock climbing competitions to leading trips for Rice Outdoor Programs and Education, Harrison’s love for climbing — which sparked nearly a decade ago — has remained constant throughout the years.

“I started climbing when I was very young. I think it’s been almost 10 years,” Harrison, a Baker College senior, said. “I feel like [rock climbing] really does foster team bonding.

There have been times when my friends have held my life in their hands, and they have caught me. I feel like there is someone who has my back that’s gonna make sure that even if [I] fall [I’m] still okay.”

Harrison said she prefers outdoor rock climbing, which provides her with a chance to connect with nature.


Protagonist of “The Last Jedi” Corporate alternative to 58-across Company that made Pong and the 2600 Concise

“The Kite Runner” Car part Droop Sch. of top-ranked Bulldogs Aries animal Rockets and Mavericks org.

Senior Spotlight: Erin Harrison explores her boulder self at Rice

“I just enjoy being outside,” Harrison said.

“I think outdoor climbing combines two things that I really enjoy, which is that style of climbing movement and getting to move my body in a way that feels natural and freeing, [while] also getting to be outside and connect back to nature. I feel like that’s something we don’t get to do that often.”

Coming to college, Harrison said that she transitioned to doing rock climbing more recreationally, in an attempt to return to the joy of the sport.

“I’ve even taken a step back from doing competitions,” Harrison said. “And I think [my love for rock climbing is] getting back there. Especially lately, I feel that I love outdoor climbing. I love just spending time with my friends in a climbing setting and doing it for fun.”

Although Harrison did not rock climb at a professional level, rock climbing has remained an essential part of her life at Rice.

As a ROPE trip leader, Harrison enjoys sharing her knowledge of rock climbing to others.

“I find it gratifying being able to show people something that’s brought me so much joy,” Harrison said. “Being able to introduce that to people and [watch] them develop that spark is a very cool thing.”

Besides rock climbing, ROPE also organizes kayaking, beach trips, paddle boarding, backpacking and day hiking. Harrison said that participating in these outdoor activities not only teaches students professional skills but also gives them precious opportunities to connect with nature.

“I did an outdoor program when I was in middle school. The program guide showed us how to be peaceful in the outdoors,” Harrison said. “I realized how much spending time outdoors helped me develop as a person, helped me develop the ability to overcome challenges, helped me with my mental health … So I wanted to share that with people from Rice and serve as a guide for people through the outdoors.”

After transferring her focus away from professional rock climbing, Harrison put her competitive energy into school work. As

a neuroscience major and pre-med student, she found passion in her research and academic life.

“I chose a neuroscience major because I really liked how interdisciplinary it was,” Harrison said. “I loved the brain. I loved understanding how it works and I really liked how I was able to approach the study of the brain and the mind, which is the central organ that generates our experience, from so many different perspectives.”

In line with her appreciation for different perspectives, Harrison encourages more people to try out new activities and participate in outdoor recreation.

“If you’re interested in rope climbing, feel free to reach out,” Harrison said. “It’s a lot of fun and I’ve just had many positive experiences with it …. I love getting to be athletic with a group of people and bond with them. I’m so glad that I’ve done it.”

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2022 • 7 FEATURES •MAIN & MURWORTH•9150 S Main Street• $2 OFF $10 Purchase Get $2 Off your pre-tax purchase of $10 or more. One coupon per person, visit at the Main Street location only. In store or online. Not valid with other offers. Reproductions of this coupon will not be accepted. Expires December 31, 2022 Scan to Order for Delivery! 1 42 24 59 17 49 34 68 14 45 26 65 20 51 39 2 60 35 27 52 3 61 36 28 53 4 23 46 30 54 5 43 25 47 21 5 43 62 18 69 15 66 22 55 40 6 18 37 15 56 7 1 1 31 57 8 24 50 50 32 9 42 25 48 33 9 44 26 63 19 35 70 16 67 23 43 10 64 19 39 16 57 41 11 27 51 38 58 13 29 53 12 28 52 Child’s Play (Un)intended targets of many soccer kicks “You’re ____ something” ____ San Lucas Batman legend Conroy 2006 film starring Lightning McQueen ____marine, blue-green hue 2019 film “_____: Battle Angel” starring Rosa Salazar God of love Toothpaste flavor Fasten “We talking about ________” - Allen Iverson; Ted Lasso 1987 George Strait hit “All My ___ Live in Texas” Instrument that may be mightier than the sword? Dictate Texter’s message of affection Like Phineas and Ferb or Roger Rabbit Queen _____ of “The Boys” Smell Singer Grande, to fans Covet Unmanned aerial vehicle Prefix for “while” Movie SFX Prefix for bat Common fast food offering Whale or porpoise “Paper Planes” artist Unforgettable building? “Illmatic” artist Not masc Sources of 44-across University URL ending Certain Leave out Prefix meaning between Petri dish gel ____ Straits “Becoming” author Michelle Common pastime represented by highlighted letters Raw metals Nose-related
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I feel like [rock climbing] really does foster team bonding. There have been times when my friends have held my life in their hands.

Rock On, Rice: KTRU to host Battle of the Bands

“[It’s exciting to be] blurring the line between the performers and the audience and having it be your friends [or] people from your college or your club or your O-Week group that are up there on stage playing,” Perryman, a Baker College senior, said.

Mercy shares Perryman’s sentiment. For him, the Battle of the Bands and similar events are opportunities to learn new things about his peers.

“Everyone knows each other [at Rice],” Mercy said. “You’ll have people go up and you’ll be like, ‘Oh, yeah, that guy’s in my SOCI class. I didn’t know he could shred on an electric guitar.’”

Review: Steeper prices grill Burger Bodega

This Friday night, student bands from across campus will take their places under Pub’s blinding lights and face off in this year’s Battle of the Bands. The battle, which will begin at 7 p.m., is being hosted by KTRU and the Rice Music Collective, and its winners will get to perform at the KTRU Outdoor Show in the spring.

Matthew Sun and his band, Breakable Men, will be among the groups vying for the crown. According to Sun, the return of the Battle of the Bands has already had galvanizing effects on Rice musicians.

“I think this event has promoted a lot of people to try [to] form bands,” Sun, a McMurtry College sophomore, said. “I’ve had so many friends reach out to me and be like, ‘Hey, I’m starting a band for this Battle of the Bands thing.’ So I think this is a positive development for the Rice music scene.”

Thelonious Mercy, a sophomore from Martel College, is one such example. His band has only been together for a few weeks

but plans on competing in Battle of the Bands. Mercy says the connection between performers and audiences is what drives him to share his music with others.

“Playing music is something I’m very sensitive about. Going up on stage is terrifying because I’m showing this part of myself that I usually don’t like showing off,” Mercy said.

“So I feel like there is a connection you have with the audience, like, you saw me do this thing that I’m kind of insecure about.”

For organizer Ethan Perryman, the artistaudience connection fostered by live music is particularly meaningful when both groups come from within the Rice community. He said that this year’s event will mark the first time the competition has happened since the pandemic began.

As much as the Battle of the Bands will nurture community, it’s still a competition. Teddy Hubbard, a member of the band Rice and Beans, welcomes the competitive atmosphere.

“If it’s just a concert and your friends are there supporting you, you can mess up or play not your best and they’ll still support you because they’re your friends,” Hubbard, a Wiess College sophomore, said. “But if it’s a Battle of the Bands and there’s judges and you’re playing against other really good musicians, [you get] that extra sense of drive.”

Sun said he’s noticed the effects of competition in his own band as well and hopes to make the experience engaging for the audience.

“I know [the Battle of the Bands] has definitely pushed our band to be better,” Sun said. “We want to play tighter, we want to write more interesting songs, we want to play parts that are unexpected, we want to get our energy up.”

Review: Concert battle pits Paul Wall against Gary Clark Jr.

Texas music was alive and well last Thursday night, when Houston rap legend Paul Wall “battled” Austinbased, Grammy-winning guitarist Gary Clark Jr. in a Red Bull SoundClash. The stage set-up accentuated the two artists’ home cities: Clark’s stage sported a brick building with classic Austin signage — a marquee and a neon Antone’s sign for the city’s famed live music venue — and Wall’s stage featured a massive Houston Oilers logo and Houston skyline cutouts.

The concert itself was unlike any other I’ve been to, though I suppose that’s to be expected at a battle-of-thebands-esque show. One of my favorite parts of the night was watching the artist not performing react to their counterpart, whether that was Clark swaying to Wall’s rhymes or Wall singing along to Clark’s cover of The Beatles’ “Come Together.”

The competition itself was certainly entertaining, but at times it tried to do too much. The takeover round, in which an artist began playing one of their songs before the other took over halfway through, was only memorable because I got to hear Paul Wall sing. The clash round, where they played their own songs in different musical styles, was largely forgettable, aside from Wall’s performance of a slow, country-ified version of “Swangin in the Rain.”

Competition-induced mediocrity aside, the concert was incredible. Clark is a guitar wizard, and watching him perform live was nothing short of remarkable. Wall, for his part, performed all of his classic songs, and brought out a number of Houston rappers as surprise guests, including Maxo Kream, Lil Keke, Big Pokey and Slim Thug. At one point, after Clark brought out his second guest on only his fourth song of the night, Clark threw his hands up in “frustration,” as if Wall’s guests would give him an edge in the theoretical competition that was taking place. I say theoretical because no winner was announced, though Wall did state “there’s no way I won that” after the last notes had been played.

Still, the best part of the night by far happened during Wall’s last song.

During his verse in “Still Tippin,” the speakers on Wall’s stage cut out and the background music stopped.

After a momentary pause, in which the DJ shrugged in confusion, Wall turned back toward the crowd and began rapping a cappella. The crowd joined in

instantly, providing a beautiful moment of Houston rap community on which to end the night. For that moment alone, despite Clark musically wiping the floor with Wall — an assertion to which I’m certain Wall would not object — I think it’s only fair to declare Wall the winner of the SoundClash.

Salt, fat, acid, heat. When evaluating a hamburger, the first two elements of cooking are essential. In fact, they become non-negotiable in cases where the burger is priced above average. In addition to salt and fat, places that strive to serve high-end fast food must deliver on both quality and price. A new competitor has recently taken on the challenge: Burger Bodega, a pop art-inspired Houston restaurant offering a small menu of burgers, fries and shakes, all at higher price points.

Located about a 20-minute drive north of Rice campus, the yellow and white storefront marks the restaurant’s first permanent location, as it was originally founded as a smash burger pop-up in Houston. The pop-up acquired a large following on social media which built up hype for the new store, which officially opened Nov. 3. Since opening night, the restaurant has frequently sold out before closing, and wait times have lasted up to an hour or longer. Compared to traditional fast food burger franchises — think Whataburger, McDonalds and In-N-Out — Burger Bodega is steeper in price, offering items like a $6.50 mango lassi shake and $8.95 fries with chopped beef and cheese sauce. Thus, I had to see for myself if the higher pricing was actually worth it.

Let’s cut to the chase: the burger is good, not fabulous. I ordered the smash burgerdouble priced at $9.95, which arrives with a potato bun, homemade pickles, grilled onions and bodega sauce. The meat itself is indeed smashed into extremely thin gyro-like patties, so I highly recommend ordering at least a double or triple burger. The potato bun reminded me of Shake Shack’s signature bun, which is almost identical in size and taste. Similarly, the bodega sauce closely resembles In-N-Out’s secret sauce, embodying tomato, mayo and sweet relish flavors. The burger is less greasy than franchise peers and you can taste its higher quality; however, it fails to justify its steeper price since it essentially tastes like a Shake Shack burger.

I also ordered Burger Bodega’s standard fries priced at $3.50, but there are two other versions with interesting toppings like bell peppers and onions starting at $5.95. The fries are fairly traditional, arriving standard cut and undersalted.

Everything at Burger Bodega is high quality and delicious, but the burger especially is not the best value for your budget and time. That being said, the staff, ambience and interior decor are impeccable. Expect lo-fi hip hop, friendly and fast service, neon-lit bar stools and custom pop art decor reminiscent of Andy Warhol. If you are a burger fanatic, it is at least worth a visit to try something new and experience the modern, unique ambience. Otherwise, you’re probably better off going to Shake Shack.

COURTESY AUSTIN ESCAMILLA Houston rap legend Paul Wall battled Grammy-winning guitarist Gary Clark Jr. last Thursday at a Red Bull SoundClash. SYDNEY PARK THRESHER STAFF SYDNEY PARK / THRESHER
You’ll have people go up and you’ll be like, ‘Oh yeah, that guy’s in my SOCI class. I didn’t know he could shred on an electric guitar.’

Houston film festival highlights local trailblazers

The Houston Cinema Arts Festival, now running in theaters from Nov. 10 to 17, is a celebration of both the global and local film communities, highlighting trailblazing documentaries, outsider narratives and innovative short films. In a film landscape typically defined to most people by the various megaplexes scattered around the city, the festival is bringing a necessarily diverse set of voices and perspectives into the spotlight.

Jazmyne Moreno, the festival’s lead programmer, attempted to capture the cosmopolitan spirit of Houston while simultaneously pushing boundaries and highlighting unique voices.

“I aimed to make my curation for the festival reflect as much of Houston’s identity as possible,” Moreno said. “I did not want my curation to look like an outsider’s perspective on the city. Houston’s film-going audience is different, and that is a strength to be embraced, encouraged and explored.”

Capturing both the attention and core of a Texas city through the programming was not unfamiliar for Moreno, who has previously worked with the Austin Film Society.

“I wanted to export a bit of what I do in my role at Austin Film Society: showcasing films I believe push the boundaries of the medium and upend audience expectations,” Moreno said. “Film, as any art, should inspire you to question.”

This deliberate focus on challenging and thought-provoking films created a unique lineup that placed the spotlight on people of color, queer stories and female-driven talent, bringing films to Houston that may otherwise be inaccessible. Moreno said this goal to spotlight marginalized groups through film was an undeniable success. She noted that the Houston audiences were accepting and receptive, though Houston itself did pose some challenges.

“The biggest difference between [Austin and Houston] is perhaps Houston’s fragmentation. Houston lacks a centering hub for its film community, but the passion is the same, if not more gracious,” Moreno said. “There are programs you envision and cut due to cost, availability, venues … It’s never quite as you imagine, but the promise of what could be is the mirage in the distance that you’re forever reaching for, a constant source of frustration and inspiration.”

While these challenges may have posed some roadblocks, the festival still managed to achieve its goal of presenting new films to the Houston community, as well as being engaging for filmmakers. Jenny Waldo, a filmmaker and film professor at Houston Community College, held an inperson script reading for her upcoming film “Martha’s Mustang.”

While Waldo is not a Houston native, she said that she was immediately welcomed into the film community. Her previous feature, “Acid Test,” was screened at the


Houston Cinema Arts Festival last year, and the short film it was based on was shot in Houston. This local connection has brought Waldo a narrative that she is exploring in her new film.

“Somebody brought the story to me after the short film ‘Acid Test,’ and introduced me to Martha,” Waldo said. “It’s all about community. If I hadn’t made a film in Houston, I wouldn’t have been introduced to the story, I wouldn’t have interviewed those around Martha and I wouldn’t have been able to write the script.”

Waldo said that she was happy with the way the Cinema Arts Festival exposed new and local films. She also had ideas on how to engage Houston audiences after the festival.

“We have to make the effort to go. I try to make the effort to engage as often as I can with the various groups that exist,” Waldo said. “I think fostering groups working together is important, but without cooperation they are splitting their audience, whereas aligning would create a bigger audience.”

Moreno echoed this sentiment, and said she wants to encourage Houston film fans to continue to support these events.

“There are many great organizations made of people doing the work of showing films,” Moreno said. “Attend. The opportunities are here — seek them out.”

Reviews Galore

Visit our website to read staff reviews of newly released albums and films at


TopTrack: ‘Stay Awake’

TopTrack: ‘Til My Last Breath’

TopTrack: ‘Die For You’

“In my culture, death is only the beginning.” King T’Challa, or Black Panther, says this after the death of his father in “Captain America: Civil War,” and in many ways “Wakanda Forever” is a film that embodies that saying from start to finish. Though likely not the box-office sensation that “Black Panther” was, “Wakanda Forever” still meets its predecessor in story, quality and acting, and even exceeds it in other areas.

Any discussion of this movie must include an homage to the late Chadwick Boseman, whose performance as the Black Panther resonated with many. Given his tragic and untimely passing in late 2020, it was difficult to see how any sequel could live up to that mantle while addressing such a great loss, but “Wakanda Forever” is able to do this with grace.

The movie opens with T’Challa’s funeral. Though the tragedy is palpable, the depiction of his funeral as both a moment of mourning and a celebration of both the character and the actor’s lives may be one of the most touching film moments in recent memory.

After this, “Wakanda Forever” continues to be a much more personal film than

its predecessor. While the main conflict is between Wakanda and Talokan, an Atlantean-like civilization near the Yucatan, the heart of the film focuses on T’Challa’s younger sister Shuri’s journey through grief over her brother’s loss. Letitia Wright’s performance in this role is spectacular, and sometimes it was easy to forget that she is acting. By the end of the film, the audience will feel as if they have gone through a small part of this journey themselves.

In addition to Letitia Wright’s standout performance, Tenoch Huerta also impresses. His performance as the antagonist Namor makes for one of the best villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. and a much different character than “Black Panther”’s villain Killmonger. While Killmonger is one of the most compelling villains the MCU has ever had, Namor fits a more traditional comic book villain archetype. Though there are some political undertones in his motivations, they are not as pronounced, and I doubt that his motivations will draw the same amount of discussion and debate that Killmonger’s did. This is not to say that Namor is an underdeveloped villain — in fact, in terms of pure danger, he is one of the best that the MCU has had. From his introduction, the antagonist always feels deadly, and at points it is difficult to see how Shuri and the Wakandans can overcome this threat. Huerta’s performance is arresting and helps carry the film.

set design are also impressive, and the costume design should be contending for an Oscar come February.

I wholeheartedly recommend this movie which is the best Marvel movie since “Avengers: Endgame.” A spectacle from start to finish, the film is a compelling tribute to Boseman, one of the most influential actors of his generation, while giving us a well-developed story with an excellent antagonist. There is no sophomore slump here — audiences should be delighted by “Wakanda Forever.”

Aside from great acting, “Wakanda Forever” is visually one of the best films of the year with excellent directing from Ryan Coogler. The visual design of Wakanda remains strong, and new locations like the underwater Talokan feel like their own separate worlds. The film’s soundtrack and
Review: ‘Wakanda Forever’ is a compelling and poignant tribute
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I aimed to make my curation for the festival reflect as much of Houston’s identity as possible ... Houston’s filmgoing audience is different.
JAY COLLURA THRESHER STAFF COURTESY The Houston Cinema Arts Festival, held from Nov. 10 to 17, aims to highlight trailblazing documentaries, outsider narratives and innovative short films. COURTESY MARVEL STUDIOS

VB misses out on C-USA regular season title to WKU by inches

tying the set. A kill by senior outside hitter Ellie Bichelmeyer put Rice a point away from taking the set, but a fifth-year setter Carly Graham’s ensuing serve missed the mark to force yet another tie-break. Finally, a pair of WKU errors gave the set to the Owls 28-26.

The third set was only slightly shorter, with the team’s trading blows nearly pointfor-point all set until Rice finally pulled ahead to a 24-22 lead. But the Hillltoppers came back once again from behind two kills, and this time they sealed the set in just one tie-break after an Adekunle error.

Whenever the Rice volleyball team plays Western Kentucky University, the two head coaches have a running joke.

“[WKU head coach] Travis [Hudson] and I always joke, ‘let’s get ready for a five set match,’ because we know it’s going five,” Owls’ head coach Genny Volpe said.

Thursday’s game between the two Conference USA heavyweights was no exception. It took the Hilltoppers five sets and a tie-break to claim the conference regular season title over the Owls in the closest you’ll get to an instant classic in small-conference volleyball.

“I think anytime you lose 14-16 in the fifth set, you have shown it could have gone either way,” Volpe said.

The first set showed no hints of how close the match would be, though. After Rice took five of the first eight points, a 12-3 WKU

run helped them win the set convincingly. According to Volpe, the Owls’ offense was slow to get going.

“In the first set we weren’t really playing our game offensively,” Volpe said. “We were defending them pretty well, but our offense was still not quite in sync.”

Four points in, the second set looked like it was headed for yet another WKU trouncing. But after WKU’s 4-0 lead turned into a 11-7 lead, fifth-year middle blocker Anota Adekunle, who had an otherwise quiet night, sparked a 5-0 Rice run with two kills. Western Kentucky responded with three straight points, but Rice returned the favor to hold onto their one-point lead. The teams traded points and mini-runs until a Western Kentucky error gave the Owls a chance to put away the set at 24-22. Two straight Hilltopper points forced a win-by-two tiebreak, and another point put them on the brink of a 2-0 match lead. But a Hilltopper attempt didn’t make it over the net, giving Rice a point and

Down 2-1, Rice turned in their strongest performance of the night to force a fifth set. An 8-1 Owl run from up 11-10 gave them a decisive lead. With the Owls up 23-12, WKU put together a 4-0 run to give Rice a quick scare, but a pair of kills, one from Bichelmeyer and another from junior outside hitter Sahara Maruska, put away the set 25-17. According to Volpe, once their offense woke up, the Owls played better than the Hilltoppers for much of the game.

“After we got our offense going, we were outperforming them on many levels,” Volpe said.

With the conference regular season title on the line, WKU rushed out to a 6-2 lead, but a 5-1 Rice run evened the game at seven. Rice took three of the next five points, but two kills from reigning C-USA player of the year Lauren Matthews helped the Hilltoppers to three straight points and a 12-10 lead. Three points away from defeat, junior outside hitter Danyle Courtley’s three kills and a Matthews error gave Rice a 4-0 run and put them one point away from their first win over WKU since 2018.

At match-point, a powerful Matthews strike hit off of freshman setter Darby Harris and bounced over the Owls’ sideline. Junior

libero Nia McCardell sprinted past Volpe and made a lunging save, sending the ball back to a crowd of three Owls. But none of them could decide who should take the next swing and the ball fell to the ground. From there, Matthews, who had a careerhigh 30 kills, took over. After Graham set up Courtley for what could have been the match-winning kill, Matthews flew in for a block to force yet another tie-break. With the game tied, Matthews’s kill attempt was blocked, but she alertly hit the ball right back over the net before Rice’s defense could reset to give WKU match point. Then, after a back-and-forth rally, Matthews rose above the net and struck the ball just past a pair of Owls and into the ground to clinch the title.

According to Volpe, the Owls had plenty of chances to put the game away in the final points.

“There were some long rallies in the last four points and unfortunately, WKU ended up getting more strong attack opportunities and capitalized on them,” Volpe said.

After beating Middle Tennessee State University on Saturday, the Owls now enter the C-USA tournament as the No. 2 seed. If both Rice and WKU are able to get past their first two opponents, they would meet in the conference championship game for the fourth straight season – the Hilltoppers have won each of the last three. According to Volpe, after the heartbreaking loss, the Owls would love a chance to take the conference title from their rivals.

“I feel pretty confident speaking on behalf of the entire team that we would love the opportunity to play them again,” Volpe said. “But we will have much work to do, and so will WKU, to get to the championship match of the C-USA tournament.”

Injuries and INTs: Football crushed by WKU in turnover-fest

The Rice football team lost to Western Kentucky University 45-10 on Saturday afternoon, dropping them to 5-5 on the season and 3-3 in conference play. The Owls struggled on both sides of the ball, with the offense recording six turnovers and the defense allowing 495 yards. According to head coach Mike Bloomgren, the team just didn’t play very well.

“We picked a bad day to have a bad day,” Bloomgren said. “I think we were playing a really good football team, and I don’t think we were surprised by how good they were. At the end of the day, we lost some one-onones that we needed to win.”

The Owls found themselves down seven early with the Hilltoppers scoring on a fiveplay, two-minute opening drive. On their first possession of the game, the Owls responded with a long drive. However, junior quarterback TJ McMahon threw a redzone interception and the Owls came up empty. The Owls returned the favor when redshirt freshman cornerback Lamont Narcisse recorded his first career interception off of Hilltoppers quarterback Austin Reed. Getting the ball back, the Owls’ were driving as the first quarter came to a close.

on the turnover with a 62-yard passing touchdown, giving them a 14-0 lead. The game went from bad to worse when the Owls found themselves down 21-0 after a McMahon strip sack was returned by the Hilltopper defense for a touchdown. Injured on the play, McMahon was replaced by redshirt freshman Shawqi Itraish, who led the Owls’ offense for the rest of the game.

Following the game, Bloomgren said it was too early to tell if McMahon would be available going forward.

“I don’t want to say anything,” Bloomgren said. “I don’t have a good enough vantage point right now. I know he was in the tent. Then, they thought that he could play, and then his strength was limited. I don’t even know what they believe the injury is. It would be irresponsible of me to say anything about it right now.”

back Uriah West scores Rice’s only touchdown against WKU on Saturday. The Owls lost 45-10 behind six turnovers, leaving them one win shy of a bowl game.

Itraish had an immediate impact as he guided the Owls down the field, leading them to their first score of the game when graduate running back Uriah West ran for a 1-yard touchdown, making the score 21-7. With only 32 seconds left in the half, the Hilltoppers drove 68 yards down the field and made a 25-yard field goal to give the hosts a 24-7 lead entering the half.

which were third-and-long. Those are just backbreakers. You can’t win football games if you can’t get off the field and if you turn the ball over on offense.”

Receiving possession at the start of the second half, the Owls put together a sevenminute and 26-second drive, ending with a 26-yard field goal to cut the lead to 24-10. However, the Hilltoppers responded quickly and scored a touchdown in less than three minutes to make it 31-10.

Hilltoppers, who returned the punt for a touchdown, making the score 38-10. On their next possession, the Owls once again turned the ball over when redshirt senior running back Cameron Montgomery fumbled the ball. The home team built upon their lead following the turnover, making the score 45-10 on a short passing touchdown. Itraish threw his second interception of the day on the Owls’ next possession, effectively ending the game.

Three minutes into the second quarter and deep in Hilltopper territory, McMahon threw his second interception of the game as the Owls failed to score for the second straight drive. The home team capitalized

According to Bloomgren, the Owls’ defense struggled on third downs, an issue that contributed to the loss.

“Defensively, I think our first and seconddown play in the first half was pretty good,” Bloomgren said. “They converted six to seven third-downs in that first half, three of

On the third play of the fourth quarter, Itraish threw an interception, continuing the Owls’ turnover woes. Sophomore defensive back Gabriel Taylor prevented the Hilltoppers from building on their lead after forcing a fumble on the Hilltoppers’ next possession, but the Owls’ offense was unable to take advantage and went threeand-out. Rice punted the ball back to the

Needing one more win to clinch a postseason berth, the Owls only now have two more opportunities to qualify for their first bowl game since 2014. The Owls will play their last home game of the season against first-place University of Texas, San Antonio on Nov. 19 at 12 pm and then face off against second-place University of North Texas on Nov. 26.

At the end of the day, we lost some one-on-ones that wee needed to win.
Satasha Kostelecky and Danyle Courtley attempt a block against WKU on Thursday. The Owls lost in five sets, including three that went to tiebreakers, as the Hilltoppers clinched the conference title.

WBB tops S. F. Austin in back-and-forth season opener

The Rice women’s basketball team defeated Stephen F. Austin State University 89-77 on Thursday to open their season. The Owls’ highest scorer was sophomore forward Malia Fisher, who contributed 18 points and 20 rebounds over the course of the night.

After the game, head coach Lindsay Edmonds said she was proud of her team’s resilience.

“I’m just so proud of our team for our toughness that we had tonight,” Edmonds said. “We withstood some of their runs and we punched right back.”

The Owls scored the first eight points of the night, but the Ladyjacks struck back, pulling ahead to a one-point lead with two minutes and 57 seconds left in the first quarter. The rest of the game followed in waves, with the Owls pulling ahead and the Ladyjacks whittling it down.

The Owls came out of the first half ahead 41-35, a lead that decreased to 2 points going into the 4th quarter after eight field goals and seven made free throws by the Ladyjacks. Yet the Owls pulled ahead for good in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Ladyjacks 29 to 19 behind an 11-point run at 4 minutes left in the game. The Owls had a 38.1

3-point percentage, nearly double the Ladyjacks’ 20.

According to Fisher, the team’s performance has improved from last year.

“It’s amazing, honestly, to see where we came from this time last year,” Fisher said. “As a team we communicate good … we come together in every huddle, [and] we are constantly giving each other constructive criticism.”

One big difference from last year’s team is simply the number of players on the roster. The Owls have 16 players on the 2022-23 season roster, compared to the 12 last season. Edmonds pointed to the Owls’ depth as important to the win, especially considering the number of players in foul trouble.

“I was really worried in the first quarter, we had three [players] pick up two fouls and I was like, ‘Man, how are we going to get through this?’ ” Edmonds said. “But our depth definitely helped us in that. It’s really nice … having a lot of quality players that can step in.”

Edmonds also expressed pride in the performance of the team’s freshman

class, led by guards Jazzy Owens-Barnett, who contributed six points and four assists, and Dominique Ennis, who added 12 points in just ten minutes.

“Our freshmen group is really talented,” Edmonds said. “I thought Jazzy had a great first half, she really set the tone and handled the pressure as a freshman point guard against a team that presses all the time. I was very impressed with her composure. Ennis came in at ten minutes and made four [threepointers]. She did a great job.”

According to Edmonds, the team needs to improve its defense in upcoming games.

“[SFA] scored more than I would like for them to score,” Edmonds said. “Our goal is 60 [points scored by the opposing team] or less … I would like us to be able to defend a little bit better one on one.”

With Sunday’s win against Abilene Christian University, the Owls now hold a 2-0 season record. The Owls’ next game will be an away game against St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 10 p.m.

XC season ends quietly for

both teams at

Rice’s Cross Country season ended at the South Central Regional Meet on Nov. 11. The women’s team, coming off a third place finish in the Conference USA Championship, crossed the line ninth this weekend, falling short of their second place finish and NCAA championship berth attained last fall. In a season plagued with injuries, the Owls were missing some of 2021’s most impressive runners, including last year’s regional champion junior Grace Forbes. This year, junior Taigen Hunter-Galvan led the Owls in nineteenth place with a six-kilometer time of 21:04.2, improving on her twentyfirst place 21:25.5 run at 2021’s regionals. According to Hunter-Galvan, the team had their eyes set on nationals again before injuries got in the way.

“There’s always room for improvement, critique and self ridicule, so it’s hard to say I’m satisfied,” Hunter-Galvan said. “Coming off of last year’s second place finish as a team at regionals definitely

set the bar high. With our potential this season, the end goal was to qualify for nationals with my team, but this year we weren’t able to all be healthy at the same time.”

The men’s squad performed similarly, finishing at eighth, a solid six ranks higher than the projected No. 14. Junior Travis Dowd led the crowd at No. 46 with a 32:15.3 in the 10-kilometer race, closely followed by junior Daniel Cohen at No. 49 and freshman Jackson Moran at No. 56.

“I can’t say I am satisfied with how we finished the season,” Dowd said, “but I am proud of how each and every guy on the team fought in the regionals race.”

Both teams will now turn their focus to next season. With nearly the entire roster returning, Dowd is optimistic about what the men’s team can do in 2023.

“We have no one from our top seven graduating this year, and we have a few additions that will make us an even stronger team,” Dowd said.“I am very much excited for what our team can do both in track this year and in cross country next year.”


Although the Owls had a solid showing in the loss, Volpe said that if the teams meet later in the year, the defense will determine if the Owls can defeat their C-USA rival.

“We did a lot of really good things in the match vs WKU,” Volpe said. “But … we [need to] find a way to slow down Lauren Matthews a little more. She is a very good player and likely an All-American this year, so we will need to bring our best defensive play against them if we face them again.”

However Volpe doesn’t want to look that far ahead. While they haven’t lost to a conference opponent other than the Hilltoppers since 2018, the Owls needed five sets to beat their opponents five times in conference play this season, their most in years. Volpe said that the team needs to focus on each match to ensure they avoid an upset.

“We just would really like to bring back that trophy,” Volpe said. “But we more than anything need to take one match at a time.”

Led by middle blocker Anota Adekunle and setter Carly Graham, both multiple-time first-team all-conference honorees, the Owls’ senior class has been instrumental to their success this season. Volpe said that nothing would be more special than seeing them end their decorated Rice careers hoisting the conference trophy.

“I would absolutely love for these seniors to earn that championship,” Volpe said. “They are a class act on and off the court. Nobody deserves it more than them, but they will have to go out and get that championship and work really hard for it.”

The Owls, the No. 2 seed, start their tournament run against Florida International University, who they swept in their only meeting of the season. The opening serve is at 5 p.m. on Friday. If they win, they play the winner of the first-round matchup between the University of Texas, El Paso and University of North Carolina at Charlotte in Saturday’s semifinal, with the championship match scheduled for Sunday.

FROM FRONT PAGE KELTON KECK / THRESHER Sophomore guard Maya Bokunewicz attempts a layup during Rice’s season opener. The Owls beat Stephen F. Austin 89-77 to start head coach Lindsay Edmonds’ second season.
It’s amazing, honestly, to see where we came from this time last year. As a team, we communicate good ... we come together in every huddle, [and] we are constantly giving each other constructive criticism.
I would absolutely love for these seniors to earn that championship. They are a class act on and off the court.
Genny Volpe HEAD COACH
COURTESY RICE ATHLETICS The Rice men’s cross country team competes during a recent meet. Over the weekend, the men’s team took No. 8 at regionals while the women’s team took No. 9. CALI LIU / THRESHER Middle blocker Anota Adekunle attempts a kill during last month’s game against Baylor. Adekunle and the Owls enter the C-USA tournament as the No. 2 seed this weekend.


Which Rice professor are you?

Ever wonder what BNOC Rice professor you’re most like? Take this quick quiz and to get the Backpage-certified answer!

1. What’s your go-to study spot?

(a) Chaus (2 points)

(b) Sixth Floor of Fondy (1 point)

(c) Valhalla (3 points)

2. What is your favorite servery food combo?

(a) Water chicken and water (1 point)

(b) Three Uncrustables and sweet tea (2 points)

(c) Sausage on a stick and whole milk (3 points)

3. What was your favorite part of O-Week?

(a) Rice Rally (3 points)

(b) Learning the O-Week dances! (2 points)

(c) Honor Council talk (1 point)

Who do you save?

(a) I would miss my best friend, but Freud would want me to save my mother. (2 points)

(b) Neither, letting them pull themselves up will make a good teachable moment. (1 point)

(c) I would swing in on a vine and save both, even if I fell in the process. (3 points)

8-13 points

5. Your friend comes up to you and tells you that their childhood dog just died. What do you say?

(a) “C’mon, let’s hit the Rec, it’ll help you take your mind off this. #demonhours” (3 points)

(b) “I’m so sorry, your amygdala must be firing like crazy right now. Want to talk about it?” (2 points)

(c) “You must not have loved it enough.” (1 point)

6. You’re ready to ask your crush out on a date—how do you go about it?

(a) I ask them to send their schedule so I can run my “most efficient” greedy algorithm and determine the most optimal time interval for our date. (1 point)

(b) I offer to pay for dinner to lower the entry price and increase the quantity of me demanded. (3 points)

(c) I ask them if they want to marry me because it’ll make them more receptive to me then asking if they want to have lunch with me. (2 points)

7. You’re running out of time on a project due at 11:59 PM. What do you do?

(a) Copy and paste enough of the Constitution to meet the page requirement and submit it (3 points)

(b) This is a stupid hypothetical; it would never happen to me. I start the assignments as soon as they’re released. (1 point)

(c) Ask the professor for an extension, maybe they’ll just cancel the assignment! (2 points)

8. Select one. (a) Gaslight (2 points) (b) Gatekeep (1 point) (c) Girlboss (3 points)


14-18 points

19-24 points

You’re Dr. Rixner! You are a Professor of Computer Science at Rice University. Your research spans virtualization, operating systems, and computer architecture, with a specific focus on memory systems and networking. Your work has led to 11 patents and has been implemented within several open source systems. Prior to joining Rice, you received your Ph.D. from MIT.

You’re Dr. Nicolaou! You are known for being sweet to your students and dramatically canceling your final (but don’t tell anyone yet!). You have an analytical mind, and you love spilling all the tea. Correlation might not equal causation, but your high class attendance sure seems correlated with your daughter’s girl scout cookie sales!

You’re Dr. DeNicco—su-pply and de-mand, baby! You are the academic embodiment of a Chad, and your lectures (and the inevitable tangents that accompany them) never fail to entertain. Armed with supply and demand tatted onto your biceps, you’re usually found manning the grill or nursing an IPA.

The Backpage is the satire section of the Thresher, written this week by Ndidi Nwosu, Andrew Kim, and Timmy Mansfield and designed by Lauren Yu. For questions or comments, please email


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4. You see your best friend and your mother hanging on the edge of a cliff.