The Rice Initiative for a Sustainable and Ethical Today joins campus

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The Rice Initiative for a Sustainable and Ethical Today, also known as RISE Today, is a new sustainably driven group joining Rice campus this year. Led by Baker sophomores Meredith Carle and Sarah Kim, RISE Today examines sustainability through a broader lense. RISE Today’s mission statement outlines goals to promote sustainable and ethical lifestyles on Rice campus and the city of Houston. Through means of education and activism, RISE Today will address topics such as fair trade, human trafficking, and the impacts of consumerism. By addressing sustainability through this broader lense, RISE Today distinguishes itself from other environmental groups on campus and creates a niche of its own.

Founders Meredith Carle and Sarah Kim both had backgrounds in promoting ethical lifestyles before they met at Rice. In high school, Meredith earned the Girl Scout Gold award for creating a course on human trafficking. Sarah was a member of the Korean Chapter of the International Justice Mission, and through it she raised money to support victims of sex and labor trafficking. Both Meredith and Sarah carried their passion for social justice to Rice, and when they met as members of Baker college, they teamed up to form RISE Today.

Sex and labor trafficking may seem like distant horrors to most college students, but this is far from reality. The Polaris Project estimates that human trafficking is a $150 billion dollar industry, and there are an estimated 40 million slaves worldwide, many of whom are in forced labor in construction, agriculture, domestic, and sex work. A 2017 article from the Houston Chronicle reported that there are at least 300,000 trafficking victims in Texas, and Houston is “a hub for human trafficking”. RISE Today aims to educate students on what they can do to limit their support for companies that use forced labor. Profits drive the human trafficking industry, and consumers can help by voting with their dollar. Through educational events and product fairs, RISE Today can educate Rice students on how to cast their vote.

RISE Today also aims to transform Rice into a fair trade university. The organization’s overarching goal is to have Rice University pass a resolution saying it will dedicate itself to expanding use of fair trade products in campus facilities such as the bookstore and serveries. Some examples of fair trade products already on Rice campus are the coffee in the serveries and coffeehouse and the Alta Gracia clothing brand in the bookstore.

RISE Today meets on Thursdays at 6:00 in the Baker Library. However, if you can’t find the time the commit to another club, then support RISE Today’s mission by examining the choices you are making with your lifestyle, and ask yourself what changes you can make to live a more sustainable and ethical lifestyle.