Rice Inc., Rodeo Rubbish, Thy Rod and Thy Staff

Rice Inc.

Fuzzy future: I greatly appreciate the article on the corporatization of Rice and KTRU ["Spin Control," by Lauren Kern, January 11]. Thanks for your support of KTRU through an in-depth story. Also, thank you for being accurate with your facts. That seems to have been a problem in this controversy.

Will KTRU programming change? This is a scary, serious question that is not getting much attention, as we are all euphoric to have our beloved station back. I am hopeful that any changes will truly embody the will of the students. This controversy has done something incredible for KTRU in that it finally put the station in touch with the students.

Bayousphere Miles and miles: Ready-to-go float materials line the Clay Street warehouse of Parades Etc. of Texas Inc. After two Martin Luther King Jr. Day parades comes RodeoHouston.
Deron Neblett
Bayousphere Miles and miles: Ready-to-go float materials line the Clay Street warehouse of Parades Etc. of Texas Inc. After two Martin Luther King Jr. Day parades comes RodeoHouston.

I myself am still dazed over the incredible week that KTRU spent off the air. For a Rice student accustomed to insidious apathy, it was unbelievable. You should know about the war machine KTRU became, and see how the student body became outraged and took action for the first time in recent memory. We will continue to see what the effects of that week will be.

Thanks again. KTRU lives.

Jonathan Bourland

Like all the others: Thanks for your article on Rice. I have been incredibly disappointed by the recent changes that I perceive in Rice and its student body.

By the time I graduated in 1999, the student body seemed to have changed greatly -- been "Hilfigerized." While Rice is shooting to be a grand research institution, I think that it has become a second-tier, carbon-copy ivy league wanna-be, with high tuition and less competitive admissions. I think Rice has lost sight of its unique strengths.

I can't stand the administration's actions in steering Rice in this direction. Although I hardly ever listened to KTRU, its "50,000 watts of pan-banging" fit in perfectly with what Rice was in its prime. Giving to alumni-funded grants that foster creativity is an excellent way to bypass the Rice machine.

Reformatting KTRU for sports or concerts, or music decided by popular vote, is just a mini-instance of how the unique university culture at large has been mainstreamed. KTRU has become just like every other radio station; Rice has become just like every other university. What a shame.

Katherine Kuster
Seattle, Washington

Sexism revolt: Like many of my fellow students at Rice, I was deeply concerned at the way university administrators handled the recent KTRU conflict, and can appreciate some of the connections Lauren Kern's article made between this and university officials' increasing corporate-style moves to make the school more "competitive" in its "market."

However, Ms. Kern has oversimplified the issues into a dualistic system of radical "freedoms" versus administrative "control," when things are not nearly so cut-and-dried. Especially troubling to me is her conflation of "free speech" issues with questions of sexual harassment and hate speech.

It is simply untrue that opposition to popular "sexual" traditions like the college cheers was initiated by the administration in order to make it more palatable to potential contributors. In reality, changes toward a less sexist campus climate have come about through the hard work and struggle of students who were courageous enough to confront the issues openly. In painting an overly simplistic picture of what goes on at Rice, this article has contributed to a trivialization of women's issues that unfortunately is all too common.

Sarah Cloots

Time for the crime: I am the female Rice Thresher editor who was behind the April Fools' Day 1997 newspaper parody, the Trasher. While the article presents a well-written, balanced treatment of a complex situation, some details are omitted. It may appear to Press readers that I was meted out a lighter punishment than my co-editor -- and that we had no scruples about using university resources to roast a high-profile student.

I was, in fact, suspended and sentenced to the same 100 hours of community service as my male counterpart. The deal for lifting my suspension was negotiated prior to the following semester, and included disciplinary probation, the apology and service on an ad hoc committee established to determine the student newspaper's relationship to the university. The community service requirement remained intact as a part of my penalty.

It is important to emphasize that the Trasher is and was funded out of its creators' pockets and takes no money from either the university blanket tax or Thresher advertising revenues.

Marty Beard

Two stations: Those of us in Houston supporting the community diversity that has been a long tradition at KTRU appreciate the Houston Press's providing Houstonians with an alternate view not covered by the Chronicle or Rice University press releases regarding the conflict.

Having been a KTRU DJ and director during my three years at Rice (Hanszen '96), I admittedly am biased. What has been happening at Rice since my association with the university began in 1993 is exactly the same story told at the University of Arkansas (where I spent a year) and universities across the country. As the students form a great radio station, it is then seen as an "asset to the university." Eventually it becomes an arm of the university.

Lauren Kern is correct in the trend of universities becoming "Market-Model University"-based. This may be okay for a graduate business school, but for a university such as Rice espousing a true liberal education, I think not.

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