SA outlines top priorities for 2013-2014

Exploring the feasibility of a new student center and facilitating collaboration among Rice’s entrepreneurial organizations will be top priorities for the Rice University Student Association (SA) during the 2013-2014 academic year.

Yoonjin Min, newly elected SA president, said the organization’s main goal for 2013-2014 is fostering discussions about the possibility of a new or remodeled student center. The Rice Memorial Center was built in 1958 and expanded in 1986 to include the Ley Student Center, but Min said the current available space is not sufficient to accommodate more demand for student activities.

“Since the last renovation, our student population has grown tremendously,” Min said. “At the moment, the most accessible space is in the residential colleges, but we’d like to see that change. A new student center would provide space for students from different colleges to intermingle and would allow more and larger events to take place.”

Over the past several years the university has made a number of renovations to the student center, including a relocation and expansion of the student-run Coffeehouse, remodeling of the Bookstore, additional dining services, an expanded convenience store and an upgrade of the restrooms.

Min said that discussions of a new student center began in 2010 among SA members. In 2011, the Asset Liquidation Funds Appropriation Committee (ALFA), made up of faculty members, undergraduate and graduate students, allocated $1 million for a feasibility study for a new student center. ALFA was organized at the request of Rice President David Leebron to solicit ideas and proposals for how to spend $6 million in funds from the KTRU tower and license sale to benefit students and the campus community.

The Student Vision for the Second Century identified the need for a new student center and expanded space for student events, Min said. In addition, the Student Association passed a resolution to support the initiative in October 2012 and hosted a competition for architecture students to design a new student center.

“The idea was to open the conversation and get students engaged with the idea of a new student center,” Min said. “It’s a building that is such an iconic part of college life.”

All new construction on campus is dependent on fundraising.

The SA is also hard at work on facilitating collaboration among entrepreneurship clubs on campus.

“Entrepreneurship is something a lot of students are interested in, and it’s a good fit for our campus,” said Ravi Sheth, SA external vice president. “There are a lot of different groups and programming related to entrepreneurship, but we would like to see these groups be more collaborative in their efforts across campus.”

Like support for a new student center, entrepreneurship is identified as a main priority in the SA’s Student Vision for the Second Century. The organization also passed a resolution supporting entrepreneurial efforts to “produce leaders across the human spectrum.”

“We have been working to formulate a collaborative student vision for entrepreneurship and have identified space, curriculum and funding as our main focus for improvement,” Sheth said.

The SA is working with the various entrepreneurship organizations to facilitate the creation of one large organization called “Rice Launch.” They are also working to create an advisory board to collaborate and support the entrepreneurial culture at Rice.

“By working together, these organizations can have a much bigger impact on campus,” Sheth said.

Other items on the SA’s agenda for 2013-2014 focus on academics, including academic structure, expansion of the center for teaching excellence and increasing student feedback on courses. The SA also wants to work with the Rice Rally Club to promote greater student attendance at athletic events.

For more information on the Rice Student Association, visit http://sa.rice.edu.

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About Amy Hodges

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.