The residential college system is the heart of campus life. Its purpose is to foster democratic self-government, faculty-student interaction, and intellectual and cultural activity outside the classroom. These ideals are fundamental to the distinctiveness and success of the Rice undergraduate experience.
Every student, regardless of the choice to live on or off campus, is a member of one of our
11 residential colleges. The colleges are small communities where students live, dine and interact with peers, faculty, staff and alumni; develop strong relationships; and contribute to the betterment of each others' lives and intellectual achievement. Within our colleges, legacies are born, traditions are celebrated and student spirit thrives.
Prior to arriving on campus, students are randomly assigned to a residential college. Each college is a microcosm of the whole student body, which ensures that the colleges are enriched by the full range of our students' backgrounds and life experiences, academic interests and talents.
Student leadership is integral to life at Rice. Each residential college maintains its own student-run government and manages a budget for supporting social events, resources, facilities, and entertainment both on and off campus. The elected student leaders of each college also organize Orientation Week (O-Week) for new students, provide peer leadership for academic and social concerns, and serve on universitywide governance and social programming groups.
Officers and Representatives
Each college elects approximately 30 members to serve on the college's cabinet and to act as representatives to the Student Association, the Rice Program Council and the Honor Council.
The executive cabinet is made up of the president, internal and external vice presidents, treasurer, secretary, parliamentarian and a new student representative. The full cabinet also includes floor representatives, a college court, coordinators, student support representatives and campus representatives.
Each college appoints students to serve as academic fellows, who serve as tutors, and keep regular "office hours" in the college commons to assist with homework, writing papers, studying and other academic concerns.
There are also student health advisers who are trained by Rice's Wellness Center. They serve as the first point of access to college residents for general questions about physical illnesses, first aid, and they offer support for stress management and other well-being issues.
Orientation Week (O-Week) is designed to introduce new students to academic and student life at Rice. It is coordinated through the Office of First-Year Programs and the student director of orientation.
Assisting the student director are O-Week coordinators from each of the residential colleges. These upperclassmen live on campus over the summer, designing each college's O-Week theme and planning orientation activities. They are in charge of matching new students with roommates, creating college O-Week handbooks, updating the O-Week Web site and serving as the first point of contact for incoming students and their parents.
Every freshman is assigned to an O-Week group within their residential college. While group size varies from college to college, students are generally placed into groups of 10-12 freshmen, and three O-Week advisors. They attend academic and university programming information sessions, register for classes, learn to navigate the campus and take the Honor Code exam. They enjoy several social events throughout the week, including dinner in the home of a faculty or staff associate, scavenger hunts around campus, talent shows, team-building exercises, campuswide get-togethers, the Rice Rally and Rice Carnival, and a night out in Houston.
Within each residential college, a team of dedicated faculty, staff, graduate students, and alumni offer their time, knowledge and friendship to undergraduates. They assist with premajor advising, research opportunities, internships, time management, university rules and regulations, involvement in extracurricular activities, exploring Houston, and the cultivation of the myriad of campus resources and personnel dedicated to the undergraduate experience.
Each residential college has two college masters, a Rice faculty member and spouse, who live with their family in a house adjacent to the residence hall and college commons. Masters oversee student life and activities in the college and have responsibility for its general operation and well-being. They serve as advisors and confidants; promote responsible student government; encourage student-faculty interaction in the college through cultural and educational programs, social events, and other activities; and help students understand the university's broad curriculum and vast experiential learning opportunities. In addition, masters oversee the resident associates and college coordinator, share meals, offer advice and help foster student success in and out of the classroom.
Faculty Associates do not live in colleges but they support students in very important ways: Divisional Advisors are faculty members from Rice's humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering divisions who provide premajor advising. (Music and Architecture students start on their majors immediately and have advisors within their schools from their first day on campus.) Each college has between six and eight faculty advisors.
Faculty Associates are members of the Rice faculty who are socially affiliated with individual colleges. Through informal interaction with students, they offer academic and career advice, as well as insight to life at Rice. They often dine with students in the college commons and take part in college social and athletic activities, sharing their expertise and support.
Resident Associates (RAs) are graduate students or staff members who live in an apartment located in the residence hall at their respective college. RAs are there to offer guidance about life at Rice and lend support to students. They are knowledgeable about university policies, curriculum, and student-life opportunities. RAs also lead study and snack breaks, eat their meals in the college commons with students, and attend college meetings and functions.
College coordinators are staff members who serve as daytime contacts for students. They typically keep a 9-5 schedule and their duties include managing the college's office budget, notifying students about academic deadlines, sorting the mail, and acting as the primary contact between the residential colleges and other university offices. The college coordinator's office is the nerve center of the college, a main meeting place where students stop by to chat and get answers to questions on everything from how to pay a parking ticket, replace a room key or when to meet important deadlines.
Staff, Alumni, and Community Associates
Other college affiliated associates are Rice staff members, alumni and Houston residents who either volunteer or are selected by the colleges to participate in college activities, lectures and discussions and share their experience and interests with the students. Associates often dine with students in the college commons, host events at their homes, bring snacks to college study breaks, coach or play on college sports teams, appear in college-produced plays and lead field trips to places throughout Houston. They offer insights about living in Houston, such as recommending restaurants, shops and entertainment options.
Social, Cultural and Intellectual Pursuits
The residential colleges serve as a hub of student life. They provide entertainment that supplements cross-campus events including Archi Arts, Esperanza, Crush Party, and the KTRU Outdoor Showcase. Each college has offerings that bridge the social and academic aspects of Rice, allowing students to combine their usual studies with innovative college-designed courses, an array of student plays, and college-sponsored events off campus. Each college has distinct offerings, limited only by the students' imaginations.
Every residential college hosts events throughout the year that showcase each college's unique personality and most are parties that are open to all Rice students. One college hosts an annual Casino Night. Another has an annual Renaissance fair. There's also an '80s party and a Halloween bash, widely considered to be the biggest party on campus.
There are smaller events, too, exclusive to members of the individual colleges. For example, Lovett College throws a party called EOL (Edgar Odell Lovett) Day, where there's food, music and a slip-n-slide. Hanszen College coordinates an off-campus ice skating trip for its residents. Brown College offers movie nights. Regardless of where students live, their college offers plenty of opportunities for relaxing and unwinding.
Every semester, each college sponsors courses on a wide variety of topics that are taught by faculty, students, staff or community associates. A sampling of previous college courses includes "Video Games as an Art Form," "The Wonderful World of Musicals: An Analysis of Musicals from Broadway to Disney," "Building a Team in the Modern NBA," and "Yeezus Walks: the Career and Context of Kanye West."
Proposed classes are committee-reviewed and approved by the dean of undergraduates. Classes are usually one to three credits, take place in the college commons or nearby classrooms and are open to all undergraduates. Students register for college courses through the Office of the Registrar.
Every residential college presents one or two theatrical or musical performances each year, produced, directed and cast entirely by students. Occasionally, plays are authored by current students as well.
Staging takes place in the college commons. The costumes, sets and lighting are entirely student designed, built and constructed. While the production is financed by the college hosting the play, casting is open to students from any college on campus.
Sports and Competition
Defending college pride is an energetic pastime at Rice. During O-Week, students learn cheers for their college (and jeers for their rivals). Through a variety of teams and events, residential colleges take on opponents to compete for bragging rights, acclaim and prizes.
Intramural teams from the residential colleges compete against each other, playing everything from basketball to Ultimate Frisbee. Team play is organized through the College Sports Representatives and is supported in part by the Barbara and David Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center. College sports teams compete against each other for the coveted President's Cup, awarded to the college that accumulates the most points throughout the year in college sports play.
Rice's annual Willy Week celebrates the birth week of founder William Marsh Rice. It is one of the University's best known traditions. The first Willy Week was held even before the beginning of the residential colleges in 1957.
The Rice Program Council hosts Willy Week, marked by campuswide picnics, parties and pranks. The residential colleges compete throughout the week, culminating in a day of activities. Students and alumni gather on campus for the last day, and compete for their colleges in a number of events including a water balloon fight, a cheer battle, and a bike race.