Sports are one of the more disappointing things about Rice. Students rarely go to games (even baseball where Rice is nationally ranked), and it gets disheartening to see your football team lose nearly every game. Sometimes I wish Rice was more like state schools with regards to sports culture. We don't have tailgating and there isn't a lot of Rice sports pride. Our extracurriculars are actually pretty lame. Rice students spend so much time studying that they rarely have any extracurricular activities. The University encourages us to do things (we've got a ton of clubs/organizations, intramural sports, and opportunities to be part of your college's Cabinet) but it often times falls on deaf ears. Classes are just more important than extracurriculars. Where Rice stands out is in our dorm culture. Rice has 11 residential colleges which you are randomly sorted into your freshman year (think Hogwarts and their four houses). You remain in your college all four years. As you can imagine, all your parties, socializing, and eating basically occurs within your college, and colleges stick to themselves. In addition, there are huge disparities between college facilities. Baker College for example has its students live in a small room and use community bathrooms while the newer Duncan College has spacious suites with a private living rooms, bathrooms, and bedrooms. Luck of the draw I guess. You really can't underestimate the pride one develops for your college though. Each college has its own cheers, history, infamous reputation, dorm culture, parties, and facilities. Whatever college you are put in, you're going to be happy simply because it is YOUR college and your college is the best. No matter what. You wouldn't think of Rice as a party school but we are Texas's only wet campus, and alcohol flows freely. There is a lot of peer pressure to drink and it's actually encouraged by Rice who often times provide alcohol to minors. Our campus police turn a blind eye to this. I personally think that in high school a lot of the students didn't drink. At Rice (when alcohol is everywhere and anywhere), they go crazy. It is common to see vomit in your lobby and bathroom on the weekend. Some kids just can't control themselves. Even our administration is taking notice of this. Alcohol poisoning and hospitalization cases are incredibly high, and colleges were recently put on "hard-alcohol probation." Even with that probation, the booze is still available to those that want it.
Powderpuff Football is definitely a popular sport on campus, as are many other IM sports. Because of the intense nature of the College System, many students are really intent on showing their college spirit by performing in IM Sports. Doors are sometimes left open, although they're more often "carded" so that they are unlocked and anybody knocking can enter. Theater is really popular, with about 12 productions being done on campus per year; I saw at least 7 last year alone. Guest speakers, while not as popular, are prevalent; most days you can find somebody speaking somewhere. Dating-wise, most Rice students are either solid couples or anti-dating. Getting random hook-ups is somewhat difficult, unless you are at a big party. Most of my closest friends I met in the college servery, because most are from my college, Brown. Colleges are definitely a tightly-knit community. If I'm awake at 2 am on a Tuesday, I'm probably finishing up a problem set. No lies, the weeks are usually really work-filled and hard. On the weekends, however, it's a whole different story. Per capita, Rice is one of the wettest campuses in the nation, and getting drunk, even underage, is absolutely no problem. RUPD doesn't even really care, as long as you don't make it really obvious that you are drunk in front of them, and even then will rarely hurt you. There is no Greek Life; the Colleges are your sororities and fraternities. Traditions include: Beer Bike, College Night (drinking in class), Baker 13 (getting naked twice a month and running around campus), various public parties, Willy Week (a week of practical jokes leading up to Beer Bike), the Beer Bike Parade (which includes the biggest water balloon fight in history), Associate's Night (formal with all the associates of your college (see above)), and broomball.
Rice is a wet campus, so there is a lot of partying. Pub is a popular hang-out, and the residential colleges all throw public parties throughout the year at which alcohol is served. However, there are always plenty of other social events going on. There are social dance societies that offer classes to students, there are constantly plays and musicals being put on by different colleges or other organizations, and there is a comedy troup and several acapella groups that put on performances. There are free symphony concerts and faculty and student recitals at the music school, and there are culture shows put on by various ethnic clubs. A lot of clubs also host study breaks and restaurant trips, and most people enjoy just chilling with small groups of friends on the weekends. The dating scene is kind of interesting. Some normal "dating" happens, but most people seem to just hang out in groups and remain single unless they get into a really serious relationship. We have a really great baseball team and a lot of people enjoy going to baseball games, and our support for the other sports is growing. Football games used to be incredibly poorly attended, but I think that's changing. IM sports are also really popular. All the colleges (plus the grad students) compete against each other for the president's cup, which is awarded to the college that dominates the most sports at the end of the year. A lot of social life centers around the residential college, too. Each college has masters and Residential Associates that plan fun activities and study breaks for the students. Each college also has its own government and a social committee that plans college "fun days" (often involving loud music, food, beer, moon bounces, or a trip off campus).
Nothing at Rice is the most "poplar".. all of the groups tend to be smaller and cater to the people in them. Some of the club sports and ethnic clubs are probably the biggest, but there is such a wide variety of things to partake in. The majority of Rice students live on campus, and there is some sort of open door policy in each residential college. Each college throws public parties - the 80s party is usually a favorite for most students, but there are a variety of themes. Beer Bike is definitely the biggest event on campus. Alums are more likely to come back for Beer Bike than homecoming. This is an even where there is a campus-wide waterballoon fight, a parade, and then a bike race. Athletics are not too popular, but Rice is a D1 school and there is always some sort of athletic event going on. Rice baseball is nationally ranked, so many students keep up with the baseball team. Since Rice is in the heart of Houston, there is a ton of stuff to do: theater, museums, bars, clubs, ethnic locations... anything you can imagine. As a student, I stayed up late to hang out with people, just talking or hanging out, but I would also have to do homework. I didn't get a lot of sleep because I was so involved in the university and wanted to keep up with my friends while doing well in school. As I got older, I would go to bars in the Village or Midtown during the week. It just depends on your friend group..
The most popular activities are simply related to residential colleges. The colleges have their own governments, groups, activities, and sports teams which really get people involved (especially college intramural sports-- very big). Students are very trusting and friendly; doors in dorms stay open, inviting guests in...in fact, most people just come in without knocking, so the only time we actually locked our door was when we were changing (just in case). We don't have frats or sororities, but the colleges fill that void. The colleges throw big public parties, and there are always smaller parties going on on-campus and off-campus on the weekend (and throughout the week...occasionally). Willy's pub is a great place to hang out-- my favorite time being Wednesday night trivia nights!! Great drinks, okay food, and a fantastic time! We also go off campus to party when Rice or our residential college rents out clubs or arcade-type places for events. Rice is also great in that there are SO MANY free tickets given out-- tickets to baseball games, football games, soccer games, concerts, operas, art exhibits, movies and more! Rice subsidizes tickets and students can get them; It's really fantastic and the seats are always great :)
The biggest group that people engage in activities with is their Residential College. Rice is unique in this matter as every single undergraduate belongs to a residential college. Colleges host many activities and events throughout the year. In addition, every college has a student government and multiple committees that involve many at the college that really helps them shape the college culture. Rice is known for it's breathtaking cultural diversity and with that comes an equally extensive number of cultural groups. Everything from South Asian Society to the Hispanic Society exists at Rice and almost every group holds at least one major event during the year. Students are either involved by being in the group or frequenting events and activities put on by the group to expose themselves to a bit of culture, something that comes very easily at Rice. Lastly, leadership is a big theme at Rice. Many people at Rice seek out leadership positions in one way or another, whether it's within their college, the student Association, or one of the 350+ clubs on campus. There are no shortage of leadership positions on campus and at the same time, no shortage of people seeking them out either.
The student government is probably the biggest thing on campus. Club sports are quite popular. I'm in the Women's Rice Rubgy club and we raise money to travel to other texan schools to compete such as U of Texas and Texas A and M. Students leave their doors open and not many things get stolen. We're quite a safe campus with alot of security. We get alot of guest speakers such as the Dai Lai Lama and Bill Clinton. This year we had Lance Armstrong come and even celebrities such as Kelly Washington and Ryan from the OC come talk about the presidential election. Although Rice does not have its own greek system, we have our individual colleges which hosts big parties. Rice is probably one of the biggest party schools despite it's reputation for being nerdy. One of our biggest parties was on top 10 parties in Playboy magazine. If you want to get off campus, you really need to have a car or friends with cars. There are alot of restaurants to go to and downtown has the Galleria, the third largest mall in the nation.
You pick the activity, and there are students doing it. Theatre is pretty popular on campus, but as is every sport you can think of. There are regular sports competitions between the various residential colleges, and most of the colelges put on various events. If someone's up at 2am, there probably either studying, playing video games, partying, or occasionally some combination of the above. Oh, or playing pranks on the other Colleges. Beer bike. Every year the various residential colleges compete in the epic contest that is Beer bike. Beer bike (which, incidentally, doesn't involve any beer) comes right after an hour long water balloon fight involving literally hundreds of thousands of water balloons (my college alone usually throws 30,000-40,000 and there are 8 other colleges). This of course, comes at the tail end of Willy Week, wherein the colleges play pranks ("jacks") on eachother constantly. Yea, that's Rice.
Rice college life is unique and fun. Rice has 9 colleges currently and is adding 2 more come fall 2009. The college system is like a Greek system except EVERYONE is assigned to a college and they are completely random (i.e. there is not a jock college, engineering college, archi...). The college system allows already busy individuals to intearct with folks they may not otherwise meet. For example, my fresh year I lived with another swimmer and a musician. I would have never interacted with the muscian had it not been for our college. In addition, I ate lunch with engineers, architects, med students, athletes, and the like. The college system mandates students to bond with each other, which in my opnion is a positive. There is no reason to alwasy hang out with one group of folks. Get out of yoru comfort zone, meet new people, widen your horizons always bieng true to what YOU believe and hold to be true.
People leave their dorm rooms open and are usually always pretty nice. They are involved in so many things, it seems like they have more than 24 hrs in a day. You mostly won't see people until late at night cause they are so busy during the day. It's cool though cause most people can have a boyfriend/girlfriend but not be consumed by him/her. People do drink a lot almost every weekend, but there are still lots of other things to do. If I am staying up, usually it's cause I procrastinated way too much or I am just hanging out with people from my floor. We have lots of traditions, especially for your specific dorm. We have a campus-wide water balloon fight, throw people into the fountain on their birthday, and lots of other crazy fun things. My closest friends are from my church group and from my floor.