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Rice University Center for Civic Leadership

Latest News

Why Texas must ban non-consensual pelvic exams [Opinion]

Dec. 1, 2019

Celeste Biltz, Carolyn Daly, Allie Gonzalez and Krithika Shamanna, four students in LEAD/POLI260: Advocating for Change, published an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle this past Sunday advocating for a ban on non-consensual pelvic exams by medical students in Texas hospitals. Through the course—taught by Elizabeth Vann (CCL) and Melissa Marschall (Poli Sci)—the students researched this issue and used advocacy tools to bring it to the attention of the public and Texas state officials.

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Which Races are Headed to a Runoff Election?

Nov. 14, 2019

Several Houston election races are heading to a run-off, including the mayoral race, after many candidates failed to get the 50 percent needed in the last election.

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Latino Student Seeks to Empower His Community

Nov. 7, 2019

This summer, Bryan Najera Demoraes discovered his mission in life. After completing a two-month internship with the nonprofit Latinos for Education, the Rice University junior realized that his purpose in this world is to help Latinos achieve positions of power. 

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How not to vote (and how to prepare TO vote!)

Oct. 25, 2019

by Miranda Lee, CCL Student Staff

I’m early voting in Fiesta Supermarket - one of the designated polling places. I’ve made it past the check-in table to my own personal voting machine. 

Inhale, exhale. Okay, we got this. Choose a language. I select English and the screen changes. Enter your code. My code...my code! I rustle through my purse and pull out a small slip of paper. I carefully enter the digits. A ballot magically materializes on screen. I’m in.

Mission has gone smoothly so far. I begin to make my selections, position by position. For Senate, easy. For Congress, piece of cake. Harris County Judge, yeah, I think I got this. County commissioner…? District...clerk……..? We’ve hit a couple bumps. What to do, what to do. I’ve got it. I pull out my phone and hastily pull up the Houston Chronicle, frantically scrolling to find their recommendations for how to vote on Prop Z and Harris County Trustee Board Assistant Secretary (these are made up).

“Ma’am, please put your phone away.” The poll worker chastises me. I freeze. My cover’s blown; I’ve been made! I panic and rush through, looking for an escape - the straight ticket option on the ballot - but it’s not there anymore. I do my best fudging the rest of the ballot and quickly, carefully retreat back to my car.

Don’t be like me. Visit this website, Your Voters' Guide, run by the League of Women Voters to view everything that will be on your ballot this election. The website provides useful information on the candidates including their positions on the different issues. You can even create and print out a personalized ballot with your choices. 

Another great resource to stay informed about the candidates and issues in this year's local election can be found on the CCL website under the VOTE! tab. Check it out!

Come prepared and informed to the voting booth. If you have an out-of-state driver’s license, either bring another government-issued ID (i.e. a passport) or be prepared to fill out a form confirming you could not reasonably acquire a Texas driver’s license. Voter suppression is real, so stay vigilant. Early voting has begun and runs until Friday, November 1st. Happy voting and good luck!

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So you’ve registered to vote...Now what?

Oct. 24, 2019

by Taylor Phillips, CCL Student Staff

Voting can be a very daunting task for first-time voters and veteran voters alike. 

For many college students, first-time voting can be a lot like taking the S.A.T.  It’s standardized, but it can also be so intimidating that you just want to get it over with. But, just like any important exam, these crucial minutes at the voting booth can have a long lasting impact on your life and community. 

With your ballot, you will be presented an opportunity to have your voice heard on several candidate positions and propositions on the local, state, and federal level. 

It can be difficult to know what many of these things mean and which candidate most aligns with your concerns. 

Fortunately, there are many good sources on the Internet to start your preparation for this big exam. For example, the CCL has a VOTE! Page – a one-stop shop for resources on all things concerning upcoming elections. 

The VOTE! Page has several resources that gives info such as campaign sites, balanced news sources, information about the different propositions, and a nonpartisan dictionary that provides simple definitions and context to hot topics in debate. 

Check it out and stay informed!

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The Student Vote Is Surging. So Are Efforts to Suppress It. [NYT]

Oct. 24, 2019

AUSTIN, Texas — At Austin Community College, civics is an unwritten part of the curriculum — so much so that for years the school has tapped its own funds to set up temporary early-voting sites on nine of its 11 campuses. No more, however. This spring, the Texas Legislature outlawed polling places that did not stay open for the entire 12-day early-voting period. When the state’s elections take place in three weeks, those nine sites — which logged many of the nearly 14,000 ballots that full-time students cast last year — will be shuttered.

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Peace Corps director’s Houston visit spotlights longstanding relationship with Rice

Oct. 14, 2019

Director of the Peace Corps Jody Olsen was in Houston last week for a conference and stopped by three local universities, including the University of Houston and Texas Southern University. Her final stop was at Rice University Oct. 9 to share stories of Rice alumni and staff who have served in the global volunteer organization.

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Addressing a grave injustice

Oct. 7, 2019

Graves’ talk was co-sponsored by the School of Humanities, the School of Social Sciences and the Center for Civic Leadership, which invited civic duty and criminal justice organizations to set up information kiosks in the lobby of Duncan Hall. (Photo by Katharine Shilcutt)

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Register to vote. Houston’s future depends on it. [Editorial]

Oct. 3, 2019

Consider that for a moment. Less than one-third of voters decided who would run the fourth largest city in the country. Now, add in the fact that the 2015 turnout represented only 15 percent of voting-age Houstonians.

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Off death row and on a mission: Graves to tout criminal justice reform Oct. 7

Sept. 18, 2019

Today, Graves travels the country sharing this story. And Oct. 7, he’ll be telling it in Duncan Hall’s McMurtry Auditorium as he challenges his audience to mobilize for reforms to our nation’s criminal justice system. “An Evening with Anthony Graves” is free, but registration is required.

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Get Involved: Local issues impact us all

Sept. 17, 2019

College students often have to ride bikes or take buses. Transportation safety is often determined by local policy. Many of us witnessed Hurricane Harvey and must grapple with the local implications of climate change and large-scale natural disasters; we all breathe the same air with locally-determined pollution levels. And yet, many of us tend to overlook what’s happening at the local level. Everyone should be informed about local issues, including young people.

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Rice students pay it forward as Urban Immersion hosts its largest cohort yet

Aug. 30, 2019

Urban Immersion is one of the most popular programs offered by Rice’s Center for Civic Leadership(CCL), a weeklong dive into Houston for incoming freshmen and transfer students before their first semester. Over the course of six jam-packed days, students are introduced to the city’s social issues through the community partners who address them. There is always a waitlist — and it is always long.

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Rice students score $25,000 for Plant It Forward Farms at philanthropy conference

Aug. 12, 2019

For the past three years, Rice has partnered with The Philanthropy Lab, a Fort Worth-based organization dedicated to supporting philanthropy education at universities. Together, they offer an annual course in charitable giving that culminates in the distribution of real money to local organizations. Competing against students from Harvard, Stanford, Northwestern and 11 other universities across the nation,  Lindsay Josephs and Thresa Skeslien-Jenkins ’19 spent three days pitching Plant It Forward and persuading their peers to award it a large chunk of the lab’s $150,000 conference purse.

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Rice University graduates win Fulbright grants

May 16, 2019

The Fulbright Scholarship Program sponsors U.S. and foreign participants for exchanges in all areas of endeavor, including the sciences, business, academe, public service, government and the arts. Elizabeth Asonye, Mahdi Fariss, Amy Kuritzky and Ricky Lozoya are Rice's 2019 Fulbright grant recipients.

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Annise Parker Impact through Public Service Award

May 15, 2019

Devoting yourself to public service while completing a rigorous Rice education is no small task. Last weekend, Navya Kumar and Sonia Torres received the Annise Parker Impact through Public Service Award for doing just that.

Each year, the university honors a graduate who exemplifies the values and ideals of the commencement speaker. This year’s speaker was Annise Parker ‘78, Houston’s mayor from 2010-16, who graduated from Rice with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, psychology and sociology.

View full story by Katharine Shilcutt of Rice News HERE

Goldwater Scholarships

May 6, 2019

Two Rice University undergraduate students have been awarded Goldwater Scholarships for the 2019-20 academic year — and the fact that they happen to be buddies is no coincidence.

“It’s funny that Sahil Patel and I both won because we’re great friends,” said Jones College junior Takuma Makihara. Both Makihara and Patel were nominated by Rice and selected based on academic merit from a field of 1,280 natural sciences, mathematics and engineering students nationwide.

View full story by Katharine Shilcutt of Rice News HERE

Houston Action Research Teams (HART)

May 3, 2019

Not everyone visiting the Houston Arboretum on a recent Saturday morning wanted to have their birdwatching or nature-walking interrupted by a survey-taker with a clipboard. Some people gave a quick “no” when approached, but others eagerly tackled the survey’s four pages.

This is how Rice senior Ramee Saleh and her fellow students on this Houston Action Research Team (HART) spent their last semester, trekking along the trails and gathering survey data on visitor experiences for the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center.

View full story by Katharine Shilcutt of Rice News HERE

Giving to Learn Award Ceremony

May 2, 2019

For the third year in a row, students in the Philanthropy in Theory and Action course ended their semester by handing out giant checks to deserving nonprofits in the greater Houston area. Taught by Vida Avery through Rice’s Center for Civic Leadership, the class gives students an understanding of the history, philosophy and practice of philanthropy.

Students in the class learn about ethics and the importance of community investment while working with local nonprofits including Plant It Forward Farms, The Beacon and Children at Risk. This year, these and six other nonprofits were awarded $50,000 in grants by Rice students at an April 18 ceremony and reception in the Anderson-Clarke Center at the Glasscock School for Continuing Studies. 

View full story by Katharine Shilcutt of Rice News HERE

Center for Civic Leadership’s annual Service Awards

May 1, 2019

Community service is a mission Rice students take seriously, especially those honored at the Center for Civic Leadership’s (CCL) annual Service Awards luncheon. Held April 22 in Farnsworth Pavilion, the event recognized undergraduates and grad students alike whose commitment to service goes above and beyond.

“What’s going on at Rice (is) kind of amazing,” said John Collier, executive director of Caring Friends In Deed, which provides one of the annual service scholarships through the CCL. “We see this tremendous energy from these extremely bright students who are giving 10, 15, 20 — we have even seen 30 — community service hours a week, and we wonder how you have time to go to school.”

View full story by Katharine Shilcutt of Rice News HERE


April 20, 2019

The Arctic Circle. The border between El Paso and Juarez. Tokyo.

These are the far-flung destinations three Rice students will be heading to this year as the university’s newest recipients of a trio of travel fellowships.

Lia Pikus, a Baker College sophomore who’s double-majoring in music and political science, won the Arthur and Shelley Gottschalk Traveling Grant for Musicians, which awards up to $2,000 to a student enrolled in Rice’s Shepherd School of Music. It’s a brand-new award established by Arthur Gottschalk, professor of composition and theory, who founded the university’s electronic and computer music laboratories.

View full story by Katharine Shilcutt of Rice News HERE