Over the past semester and a half, Mercer’s Student Government Association (SGA) has been supporting student organizations and creating opportunities for students to pursue their passions. Student government is made up of a senate, executive officers, and multiple committees, including the powerful Organizational Affairs Committee, which manages student organizations and special funding for those organizations.
So what have they been up to?
To begin with, SGA has been investing time into passing “Rules & Procedures” bills, which help to determine both the processes and the purposes of student government. Among the bills published during this election term, “2223,” there have been 3 of note:
Senate Bill: 2223-RP-02, “An Act to Codify the Abilities of the President Related to the Issuing of Executive Orders” AKA “The Executive Order Act”
This bill limits the ability of executive orders and sets time limits and veto policies for any orders dictated by the elected SGA President, as well as setting a time limit of how long these orders can be in effect over the senate. Executive orders are also given enumerated powers strictly over the behavior and process of the senate, not the student body.
Senate Bill: 2223-RP-03, “An Act to Codify Civic Engagement Activities as an Annual Program of the Student Government Association” AKA “The Civic Engagement Act”
The bill reads:
“The Public Relations and Elections Committee recognizes the importance of Civic Engagement among the students of Mercer University. Civic engagement not only allows students to learn about how government and society operates, but also promotes self-determination, self-confidence, and social skills, which have a lasting impact on participating students and their peers. It is with this in mind that the Public Relations and Elections Committee seeks to make a permanent change to their committee directives."
SGA has seen it appropriate to advocate for Mercer students to be involved in the American system of elections and government and to educate them on the subject. This act makes it an annual and official duty of SGA to partner with students and “community partnerships” to advocate for their involvement in the systems in a nonpartisan manner.
Senate Bill: 2223-RP-04, “An Act to Adjust the Directives of the Organizational Affairs Committee” AKA “The Roundtable Act”
This act enables not only the institution of seed money for fledgling student organizations but also empowers the Organizational Affairs Committee to better serve the organizations “by broadening the definition of the biannual event formerly known as President’s Roundtable,” according to the bill.
The senate removed the specification that the biannual leadership event was to be called “President’s Roundtable” hoping that this will free up the Organizational Affairs Committee to broaden its ability to serve and connect leaders in student organizations across campus.
Campus Security v. Campus Safety
In addition to the Senate ratifying organizational constitutions and modifying its own processes, the senate can also make special “resolutions” for actions they wish to take or directions they want to lean into for student organizations and student extracurricular education.
Senate Resolution 2223-CSI-01 is a resolution to formalize SGA’s relationship with Mercer Police by creating the Campus Security Subcommittee. The legislation reads:
“Recognizing the importance of ensuring the safety and security of all members of the campus community. Understanding the need for active collaboration between students, faculty, staff, and Mercer Police. Acknowledging the role students play in promoting a safe and secure campus environment The Student Government Association of Mercer University hereby establishes a campus security subcommittee to work in collaboration with Mercer Police to address and prevent security concerns on campus.”
There are 11 parts of the official purpose statement:
“1. Collaborate with the campus police to identify and address security concerns on campus, including but not limited to, crime prevention, emergency preparedness, and crisis management.
2. Develop and implement strategies to improve the overall safety and security of the campus community.
3. Provide regular updates to the student government association and the campus community on the activities and progress of the subcommittee.
4. Provide training and educational opportunities for students, faculty, and staff on safety and security-related topics.
5. Work to create an inclusive and safe environment for all members of the campus community, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or other characteristics.
6. Review and provide input on campus safety-related policies and procedures.
7. The subcommittee shall maintain regular contact with the Student Body, Mercer Police, and other relevant campus stakeholders.
8. The subcommittee shall meet at least once a month and provide regular reports to the student government association on its progress and recommendations.
9. Draft a bill to adjust the Committee Directives of the Campus Safety and Improvement Committee to host a town hall semesterly.
10. Draft a bill to adjust the Committee Directives of the Campus Safety and Improvement Committee to add the Campus Security Subcommittee and its directives.
11. Evaluate a proclamation in support of Mercer Police’s efforts to maintain a safe campus.”
SGA already has a Campus Safety and Improvements Committee, which the new Campus Security Subcommittee will be under. The current chair of that committee is Michael Olay '23.
While Campus Safety and Improvement is focused on the broader quality of life on campus, the Campus Security Subcommittee will be more directly involved with the safety of students and the safety of facilities on campus. It remains to be seen whether this will make a substantial change for student safety on campus. However, it does show that SGA is attempting to address the concerns of students and parents who feel the Macon campus is unsafe, and to begin to address the tensions between some of the student body and Mercer Police.
In addition to revisions on its own process, SGA has been operating through its senate and Organizational Affairs Committee in order to approve new student organizations and special funding. New student organizations must present in front of student government and get their organizational constitution approved by the senate in order to become a student organization that has access to official requests for funding from SGA in the form of things like Seed Money and Bear Grants.
Three new student organizations have been approved so far this year, including the “Kinesiology Exercise is Medicine Club,” “Mercer Colorguard Club” and “La Mesa,” a Spanish-speaking club.
Henry Keating '24 is a sophomore at Mercer, studying Journalism and History. He has worked at The Cluster as both a writer and SGA correspondent. He enjoys playing and listening to music, hiking and camping, and photography in his spare time.