The idea of the planned Jewish studies minor, set to be implemented after achieving $10 million in donations, has convinced us that the administration's focus on academics is expanding and extending in the right direction (See story, page 1). As the first specific religious studies program at Rice, a diverse student body will have the opportunity to extend their knowledge into new realms, and potential students will have yet another reason to look at Rice with intrigued eye.
But let us not stop here with this sole program. We hope that this new curriculum, slated to begin next fall, will be the harbinger of better things ahead. There is no reason for us to assume that this will be the last minor established at Rice, let alone the lone religious studies program offered by the university. However, we would like to call for the continued growth in both areas.
For example, the fact that Rice does not offer a Middle Eastern studies program is something of a travesty. If the Jewish studies minor requires only an additional three professors, a Middle Eastern studies program would require even less, for the necessary classes and faculty - not to mention interested student body - is already in place. A bit of reorganization, a la the Business minor or the Film track of the visual arts major, is all that would be needed to create the major.
If President David Leebron's Vision for the Second Century is truly to include an increasingly varied student body, it will be necessary to continue this promising trend. The goal of having a student body comprised of 10 percent international students can be more easily attained, and Rice's desire for diversity can take one step closer to fruition. Following the implementation of the Jewish Studies minor, the next logical step will be the other major religions of the world, and from there, the university can boast a religious studies program it can be proud of. We cannot wait to see what step they take next.