Rice University Students Petitions VP Pence Off University Grounds
Rice University, commonly known for being a private research institution, lies in the heart of Houston, Texas. On March 28th, Rice University News & Media announced Vice President Mike Pence will deliver remarks to the community about Venezuela on April 5th at the University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. As this announcement swirled with additional press across social media, several Rice students demanded the university to reverse their invitation to Vice President Mike Pence by creating a petition against him on delivering his address.
If one were to look over this petition, one will come to find the argument is one-sided. Instead of focusing on the content Vice President Pence is addressing that regards the Latin Community on campus, they seek only victimization upon other groups such as LGBTQ+ and POC. Individuals who are part of or aligned with the LGBTQ+ community, as well as people of color, strongly believe that our national leaders do not vouch for them based on their personal stance. The petition expresses how Vice President Pence’s voting records and beliefs “are against” those identity groups and having Pence on campus causes an issue with the community. Additionally, the creator of this petition is seeking pledges to stop all future donations to Rice University if the administration allows Pence to speak.
Rice Student Organizations released a statement on April 2nd, addressing the disappointment in the Rice administration and the Baker Institute’s decision, of personally inviting Pence, has led to their refusal “to be complacent in the spread of his (Pence) regressive beliefs.” Although stating, “we fully believe in the free exchange of ideas on Rice’s campus and beyond-” the student organizations immediately go against their own statement when continuing to push for Vice President’s presence off university grounds asserting Pence’s positions “are antithetical to those of Rice students and to Rice’s own value statements of responsibility and community.”
Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy demonstrates their vision is building “a bridge between the world of ideas and the world of action” through the impact of policy and a desire for students to become the next generation of scholars by enriching their minds through participation in a dialogue that aligns to the university’s values of responsibility, integrity, community, and excellence. This institute marked a significant moment in history when four former U.S. presidents – Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush- engaged in the opening ceremony, which established a bipartisan tone James A. Baker, III, and university leaders had mandated from the very beginning.
Inviting Vice President Mike Pence to deliver an address about Venezuela does not initiate an attack on any student organization or identity group on campus, nor does this go against the purpose behind Baker Institute and Rice University. This is an opportunity to obtain direct contact and information from a Vice President and expand communication to the community. The action of communication and cooperation between two political parties sets a tone of maturity. The ideology this generation is building based on false accusations will not create scholars that this institution originally desired.