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Get out of the hedges and off campus, Rice students. Houston may be polluted, sticky, and generally environmentally unpleasan...
Get out of the hedges and off campus, Rice students. Houston may be polluted, sticky, and generally environmentally unpleasant, but there is more inspiration in the city than in Rice classrooms alone. You can walk to museums and take free light rail rides to clubs and professional sports games around town, and too few students do it. More and more classes are working to integrate Houston's assets into academia (Chemistry of Art, for example, is team-taught with curators from the Museum of Fine Arts), and the new president, Leebron, is big on integrating Rice into the Houston community and vice versa. But it is way too easy to live on campus all four years, never have a car, rarely leave the library or the lab, and walk away from Rice with no idea how to pay an electric bill or budget for groceries. The school's getting bigger, more rapidly than new on-campus housing is being built, so hopefully the Rice bubble will burst for more students soon, but I worry about my peers coming out of their undergraduate experience with few to no life skills whatsoever. Tuition's going up, and there's a lot of controversy about whether this will damage Rice's unique identity as a scoop for lower-to-mid-middle-class students: the ones who don't qualify for financial aid, but who can't go yachting every weekend in the Hamptons. And yeah, it probably will hurt this identity. But the expanding undergraduate population and Rice's promise to meet the financial needs of its students may help Rice to find a new identity. We're not an Ivy, and we're proud of that fact. People here worry that Leebron is trying to make us an Ivy. He's not. But he is changing the face of Rice, and he is trying to make the Rice name more recognizable both outside Texas and outside the United States at large. If anything, we're headed for a reputation like a Stanford or a Carnegie-Mellon: Elite, private, and decidedly less pretentious than a Yale or a Harvard. Plus, we actually have professors, not grad students, teaching our classes.
People talk about sex a lot. A lot more than many of them have it. But then again, there are a surprising number of, um, interesting sexcapade stories I've heard during my time at Rice. Chocolate syrup, grape jelly, duct tape, the Coffeehouse closing shift...Rice students are creative, there's no denying that. There's a pretty active LGBT group, and being openly gay is a lot easier than being openly black, it seems. Social segregation still happens to a certain extent, and it sucks, but no one really has a good solution. Don't get me wrong: most people have friends from many races. But we don't sit around the fire and sing "It's a Small World." Race is an issue at Rice, in Houston, and in America at large. We accept that, we deal with it, and many of us confront the issue together. Racism is more overt here than anywhere else I've lived. But its prominence makes it less of a taboo to talk about. There is a minority that openly expresses racist opinions, and a majority that hears those opinions and tries to dissolve them through reasoned discussion and analysis. Recently, the Big Talk project (www.betweenaduck.com) has been specifically pursuing racism and other weighty issues in a public forum, and there is a movement to attack the topics that are supposed to be banned from cocktail parties (religion, politics, etc.) with brute force. We lean to the left more than the rest of Houston, but we're still a campus in the middle of oil country, and many of our engineers hold the political views that employers like Shell and Chevron would want them to hold. There's a fabulous grassroots green movement, but it's still a struggle to get people to recycle beer cans instead of throwing them away.
The reality: A lot of Rice students come off as socially awkward because they'd really and truly rather be studying. Most of us are here to explore our academic passions, and those passions shape the people we are. Whether our homework is monitoring petri dishes in the lab, watching 1920s cinema, composing electronica, reading Faust, or building 3D models of condos in Guam, we tend to enjoy it. We get into it, and we're generally going to blow off invitations to dinner or keggers if we have deadlines to meet. Which is not to say we don't relax: there IS a lot of drinking at Rice. On campus. Underage. In dorm rooms. As long as you're smart and partake in moderation, you can get away with it if you want to. The college system is intriguing to most new students, and it operates like a more inclusive type of fraternity life. But a lot of students get disenchanted with it and find their own social niches outside of or in addition to the colleges. The campus is in the heart of Houston, and that means good theater, professional sports, concerts -- and crime. I've had 2 bikes stolen in as many years, and countless laptops go missing every semester. People feel very safe in the campus bubble, and Rice Police works hard to protect that feeling, but if you leave your first-floor dorm room unlocked and your laptop in plain sight when you go out of town for the weekend, you have to realize you're setting yourself up for trouble. A few people care about varsity sports, especially baseball, and basketball and football are trying to grow their fan bases. We're not the worst team in our conference, but we're not exactly in the Big Ten.
The professors here are AMAZING. They get incredibly involved in student life, and they really do care what happens to their students. They know our names. They know what we want to do with our lives, even if we have no idea. And they want to help us get there. The aloof, unapproachable, ivory-tower academic is a rarity here, and it's one that is called out and frowned upon among the faculty body. My outside-the-classroom interactions with my professors, both in and out of my major, have undoubtedly been the most life-changing parts of my Rice experience. Everyone who walks through the Sallyport and matriculates at Rice should take a class from Mark Kulstad before they graduate. Anyone who isn't afraid to be wrong in public, or needs to get over the fear of being wrong in public, should take a class from Paula Sanders.
The perception: Electrical Engineers and Computer Science majors have no social skills. Mechanical Engineers all drink heavily, and many play rugby. Music majors are antisocial and think they're better than other Rice students. Architecture majors are just plain bizarre but are a lot of fun at parties. Pre-Meds study in the library or their rooms all the time. Humanities majors don't do as much work as science and engineering majors. Everyone buys into the residential college system and has unwavering pride in their residential college. Alcohol is pervasive and underage drinking is a foregone conclusion. Campus is your backyard; it's a safe place to screw around and screw up, and nothing bad can happen to you there. No one cares about varsity sports.
Best thing = community.
Best thing = community.
Diverse and fun.
Yes, in general. However, as a Rice girl, I can vouch for the fact that the girls are NOT ugly.
Chemical engineering is the best major. Period.
Rice Cru rocks my face off!
-Nerdy -Studious -Guys: Passive -Girls: Ambitious, driven, ugly
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