Rice Students Protest Planned for Willy's Statue Sunday

"Willy" will watch over Sunday's KTRU protest while facing the proper direction.
"Willy" will watch over Sunday's KTRU protest while facing the proper direction.

Rice students opposed to the sale of their radio station KTRU to the University of Houston have called for a protest 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon, at Willy's Statue in the quad on campus.

The one-ton statue of William Marsh Rice is, of course, famous for being turned around by students in 1988. Although the episode is often referenced as a student protest of increased tuition costs, actually it was just a prank achieved with an A-frame and ropes and pulleys, according to Rice.

But obviously, it's an appropriate touchstone for students who want to turn things around.

Joey Yang, KTRU program director, said students are angry that they weren't consulted on this after all the work they've put into the radio station. The $10 million will go toward a new servery (cafeteria) on campus; another irony is that the cafeteria would be used by students in the Will Rice and Lovett colleges and Wang is a Lovett college member.

"No one wants to see student efforts sold for food," he said.

Yang also criticized the university's timing on the sale - doing it during the summer, before classes start next Monday.

"We're not happy the way the administration decided to time this. There were no lines of communication to the students," Yang said.

Students have been working on the station for more than 40 years. Yang said KTRU was built initially by students working on their own; it was chartered by Rice in 1970. The university held the FCC license, Yang said, because that made sense.

"We trusted them implicitly to take care of this for us."

Instead, he said, the university just sees the station as something that has material value, which can be sold off as needed.


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