Flooding in Meyerland will be the focus of Rice’s inaugural Houston-Centered Policy (HCP) Challenge, a competition in which teams of students submit specific policy proposals designed for the real-time challenges faced by Houston communities. Following weeks of workshops and panels with community leaders and Rice professors, these proposals will be judged by a panel of experts Thursday, Feb. 22, at 6 p.m. in the Kyle Morrow Room in Fondren Library.
Rice students help out in a flooded Houston neighborhood post-Harvey. (Photo by Brandon Martin)
Judging this year’s HCP Challenge will be Ellen Cohen, mayor pro tem and city council District C representative; Lee Wunsch, past president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston; David Robinson, city council at-large 2 representative; Bill Fulton, director of Rice’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research; and “flood czar” Stephen Costello, the city of Houston’s chief resilience officer.
HCP brings students into conversation with neighborhoods and local government working to address issues such as the repeated inundation of Meyerland and its surrounding areas with water in the last few years — most recently and notably during Hurricane Harvey, when 1,900 out of the neighborhood’s 2,300 homes were flooded.
Rice hosted a similar Houston policy challenge event for Rice students in 2016, tackling the topic of mobility. Though its student-generated proposals for policy changes were impressive and the public presentation of those ideas was well-attended, the challenge was organized as “kind of a one-off,” said Libby Vann, Center for Civic Leadership director of programs and partnerships.
But two students on the winning team — Martell College seniors Elizabeth Kalomeris and David Ratnoff — found the challenge left them changed. They wanted to ensure other students would have the same opportunity in years to come, but as seniors they knew they’d have to get buy-in from younger students and Rice faculty alike to ensure the HCP Challenge would …