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New first-years, juniors, seniors elected to SGA for the 2023-2024 term

Five of eleven first-year candidates claim senate seats in “extremely close” race

<p>(from left to right) Senator-at-Large Alex Norwood &#x27;24, Conner Khan ‘27, Noah Porter ’27, Lakeeya Brockington ’24, Ceazia Wright ’24 and SGA President Benjamin Smith ’24 pose for a photo after the Student Government Association (SGA) election on Sept. 7, 2023 in the Connell Student Center. Brockington, Khan and Porter were elected as senators; Wright was elected as first-year class president. Atia Bailey ’24, Matthew Campbell ’27, Ivana Opoku ’25, Lekhan Patel ’27, Olivia Scott ’25 and Satchel Sumner ’24 were also elected to SGA, but did not attend the announcement.</p>

(from left to right) Senator-at-Large Alex Norwood '24, Conner Khan ‘27, Noah Porter ’27, Lakeeya Brockington ’24, Ceazia Wright ’24 and SGA President Benjamin Smith ’24 pose for a photo after the Student Government Association (SGA) election on Sept. 7, 2023 in the Connell Student Center. Brockington, Khan and Porter were elected as senators; Wright was elected as first-year class president. Atia Bailey ’24, Matthew Campbell ’27, Ivana Opoku ’25, Lekhan Patel ’27, Olivia Scott ’25 and Satchel Sumner ’24 were also elected to SGA, but did not attend the announcement.

At a Student Government Association (SGA) Town Hall meeting on Tuesday, new candidates for the first-year, junior and senior classes shared their visions for Mercer’s student community. On Thursday, five of the 11 first-year candidates were elected to SGA Senate by their classmates.

The newly elected representatives were announced at 6 p.m. in the Connell Student Center on Sept. 7. The 10 elected positions among the three classes were filled by Atia Bailey '24, Lakeeya Brockington '24, Satchel Sumner '24, Olivia Scott '25, Ivana Opoku '25, Ceazia Wright '27, who was elected first-year class president, Noah Porter '27, Lekhan Patel '27, Matthew Campbell '27 and Conner Khan '27.

"We wanted to say thank you to everyone who ran, it was a very close election," Benjamin Smith '24, student body president, said.

The Town Hall meeting where students got to know candidates, held Tuesday evening in Willet Science Center, kicked off with a question from the audience, asking candidates what their plans would be for the student body if elected.

MJ Walker ‘27 was the first to speak and said their goal is to “be a Mercerian within the community and to be someone very approachable.” They said that they have previous experience in student government and a “fresh perspective” on issues, drawing from their life experiences.

For Trinity Scales ‘27, uniting the diverse backgrounds of Mercer is not just a goal; it is a mission that promises to create a more inclusive and harmonious campus community. “I want to be somebody that represents both the minority and majority here at Mercer," she said.

Wright said she wants to make Mercer a more inclusive space, not just across race or gender, but by promoting student engagement that encourages new activities outside of students' comfort zones. She also said she has a goal to improve the pipeline of communication with Mercer students and the administration, hoping to ensure that students feel heard.

Meredith Zierten ‘27 said she was focused on the goal of helping students discover their place within the Mercer community. Whether through involvement in student organizations or community service, she wants to use a position on SGA to guide students on their journey at Mercer.

Another question from the audience was what aspects of leadership the candidates felt were the most difficult, and how they planned on improving in those areas.

Conner Kahn is majoring in Elementary Education, and he said he recognizes the significance of understanding his limits as a leader. He answered that it was important to be self-aware when determining manageable tasks and effectively executing them.

Sean-Michael Sargent ‘27 said that listening and understanding people are the most crucial aspects of leadership but can also be the most challenging. He added that accommodating everyone's needs can present further difficulties.

Senator-at-Large, Public Relations and Elections Committee Chair, and Election Marshall Alex Norwood '24 asked candidates what they would do to support the underrepresented communities at Mercer.

Ivana Opoku has observed an often unrecognized underrepresented community the creative community. As a junior majoring in finance, she said that Mercer can enhance its support for students by better connecting their entrepreneurial aspirations with their creative talents.

Shan Khan ‘27 said in his repsonse that “we are only a minority if we think racially, ethnically, or financially. However, under the name of humanity, we are a majority, and under the name of Mercer University, we are also a majority.” He said his commitment is to empower minority groups, conveying that they can achieve anything they set their minds to at Mercer.

The last question Norwood had for the panel was what led the candidates to be interested in becoming a senator for SGA.

Delaila Marquez '27, a double major in Criminal Justice and Journalism, said she is actively contributing to the Mercer community just two weeks after her arrival. She serves as an America Reads tutor, enjoys ballroom dancing and participates in the Opportunity Scholars program. She said her goal for SGA is simple: get more involved in the Mercer community. As a prospective SGA senator, Marquez said she aims to better connect with individuals from all backgrounds.

Amiyah Courtney '27 said she is inspired by the Mercerian spirit of making a change. She asked the audience a question: “How are we going to make change?” Amiyah said she made becoming an SGA senator her top priority after listening to the diverse backgrounds and experiences of her peers during orientation. Courtney said her goal is to assist students in voicing their concerns and struggles and help them find solutions.

Benjamin Cohen ‘27 said he wanted to empower students and encourage them to use their voices to address concerns and issues on campus. He said his passion rests in ensuring that every student's voice is heard. “It’s about time that we represent our entire community rather than just a small select few," he said.

Olivia Scott ‘25 said she has two specific objectives in mind: increasing “promotion” for underrepresented communities and providing more opportunities for students without federal work-study. She emphasized the need for greater flexibility for students who don't have work-study or transportation to off-campus jobs.

Noah Porter ‘27 discovered SGA at Bear Fair and said he quickly embraced a strong sense of responsibility towards Mercer University because of it. He said felt an immediate connection with the roles and values of SGA and is committed to bridging the gap between students and Mercer. Noah said that daily interactions with the campus population were a key quality in an ideal SGA senator.

The first SGA Senate will be held Sept. 11, 2023.


Henry Keating

Henry Keating '24 is a Journalism and History student at Mercer. He has worked at The Cluster as SGA correspondent, State and Local News Editor, Managing Editor and now as the Editor-in-Chief. Henry has held internships at the Macon Newsroom, Macon Telegraph, and Greenville Post and Courier. He enjoys backpacking, rom-coms, pottery and photography.


Karisha Khadayat

Karisha Khadayat is a student at Mercer University and a contributing writer for the Mercer Cluster


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