You could say that this year’s incoming class had a very “unconventional” welcome to Rice. After an eventful O-Week, classes were finally starting, and with that came the hustle and bustle of buying supplies, finding classrooms, reading syllabi, and joining clubs. However, by Thursday, we learned that then-tropical-storm Harvey was on its way to Houston and that the campus would be closing at 3 p.m. on Friday. Most of us believed that the storm watch would last only a few days, but clearly, that wouldn’t be the case.
As many may know, Hurricane Harvey was a devastating and unprecedented storm. Luckily, Rice didn’t experience as much damage as the rest of Houston did. There was hardly any flooding on campus. We were safe and well-fed, thanks to our amazing Housing and Dining staff, and we had access to hot water, electricity, and wi-fi. Sometimes, our only concern was what to do for the entire day.
So, what did we do during our extra week off?
Movie nights, karaoke, Zumba, Mario Kart tournaments, dodgeball, Sporcle quizzes, anything to keep ourselves entertained. Towards the end of the week, Rice professors offered lyceum lectures on topics from “The Physics of Music and Sound” to “The Debate Over Confederate Monuments.” Even though Harvey trapped us indoors, I was able to meet and bond with other students, many of whom are now my best friends here.
But the best thing that came from Harvey was seeing the number of students who got involved in the Houston community. There were many opportunities to help hurricane victims, and Rice students were always there to take them. Students were volunteering at disaster relief centers, donating supplies, and helping families clean and rebuild their homes. It was amazing to see the compassion that was in Rice and in Houston throughout the week.
Since then, Houston has still been recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, but it’s nice knowing that Rice will always emerge above any disaster as a community.