If you’ve done some thorough research about Rice, you probably know that when you drive up to your residential college for your first day, you’ll be greeted by anywhere from 30 to 50 advisors who are on campus just to help new students transition into their new homes. This memorable moment is simply the beginning of a week that is sure to be full of them: O-Week.
During O-Week, new students have the luxury of not having to worry about any of their classes. Required for all new students, O-Week takes place the week before the first week of classes and is designed to be 50% academic introduction to Rice and 50% introduction into your residential college.
The week requires a lot of intense work and meticulous planning. To prepare for the week, three students from each residential college (except for Wiess, which has two) are chosen to be O-Week Coordinators. As members of Lovett College, my two fellow coordinators and I have been working tirelessly all of second semester summer with the Office of First Year Programs (FYP) to make sure all of the new Lovetteers have a fantastic introduction into Rice and Lovett. We selected upperclassmen advisors from a competitive pool of applicants, created the book that new students receive in the mail before coming to Rice, paired roommates based on new students’ roommate questionnaires and are now working on planning various events to take place throughout the week. Each residential college also has an O-Week theme; Lovett’s theme this year is O-Week 2014: Pass the Torch. We’ll have all sorts of Olympics-themed events, t-shirts and decorations at Lovett during O-Week.
O-Week is one of the finest examples of the welcoming atmosphere on campus. All eleven residential colleges have a team of 30-50 students who have given up the last two weeks of their summers for the sole purpose of making sure the incoming class feels included and welcome. It’s a fantastic system and one that the O-Week Coordinators and FYP work to improve each year. There’s nothing quite like 50 upperclassmen you’ve never met shouting and cheering your name, and that’s exactly what will happen your first moment on campus as a Rice student.
The crowd was beyond restless. The football team beckoning for their fans to join them to celebrate a Conference USA Championship, their first since 1956. The guards could not prevent the entirety of the student section from rushing onto the field to celebrate with our team.
The festivities began six hours earlier, when (at 8 am) roughly 1000 Rice students made their way to the football stadium for a tailgate, complete with coffee and breakfast tacos. As game time drew nearer, students made their way into the stadium to cram into the student section. The entire section was full, a sight which I had not seen anything close to throughout my time at RIce. Residential college spirit often takes precedence over spirit for our university as a whole, but today, we were a unified front with a common enemy: Marshall.
The enemy, however, could not keep up with the Owls, who were invited to play in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee following the game. After scoring 21 points in the first quarter, we coasted to a 41-24 victory, causing an on-field celebration the likes of which rival the one that occurred at Auburn just a week prior (okay, maybe not that large, but the intensity was equal).
I chose Rice over a state school because of the comfort provided by the residential college system and the closeness between students and faculty that a smaller school provides. However, on this one cold, Saturday morning, we had the energy and support for athletics that I imagine a state school provides. And on this Saturday morning, we were ever so proud to be Owls.
Had my first shift at my new job this week. Terrible hours. Eleven to one-thirty at night. My job is at Rice’s only late-night food provider on campus, The Hoot. At The Hoot, we sell multiple kinds of pizza, chicken sandwiches, and various other cheap snacks. We’re open from 9 pm to 1:30 am, and Rice students will stop by The Hoot when in need of a study break or simply a quick snack. It’s a fantastic place to have on campus; it makes staying up late to study significantly easier and has a solid enough variety of snacks to fill whatever moonlight dietary need you may have. However, my favorite part about The Hoot is not that it’s convenient; my favorite part is that it is an entirely student-run business.
Student Run Businesses (or SRB’s for short) are an important part of Rice’s value on experiential education for students. There are four: Willy’s Pub, Rice Coffeehouse, The Hoot, and the Rice Bike Shop. And when I say a business is an SRB, I don’t just mean the low-level employees are students. Everyone from the cashiers to the general managers are students. We order the food and take inventory and keep track of quarterly profits, just like any other business. Even better, any student can be involved in an SRB. There are SRB employees from all six schools of study at Rice, along with all 11 of the residential colleges. These businesses truly represent the way Rice hopes for students to learn, and it’s a totally unique experience to be a part of one.