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Saturday, Sep 25, 2021

Opinion: Safety for Tattnall Square Center for the Arts

Everybody on Mercer’s campus, and even off campus, seems to have heard about the armed robbery that took place in Tattnall Square Park a few weeks ago. The incident occurred only a few days after shots were fired in Mercer Village at a group of students and an alumni. The students on campus were in an uproar, parents were concerned about safety and President Underwood himself sent out an email promising better security on campus. And while there has been an increase in security throughout Mercer Village, there has been a notable lack of Mercer Police officers where it matters most: the park itself.

Just across the other side of the park stands a building that few people know about. Tattnall Square Center for the Arts is located near the roundabout on College Street, just past Alexander II Magnet School. To most people, Tattnall Square Center of the Arts holds no special significance. But for the theatre majors, actors and students who attend the various classes within the Center, the theatre is a huge part of their lives. These same students are now showing a growing concern for their safety when traversing campus to get to their classes and rehearsal.

What most people don’t realize is that getting to TCA requires that you either walk on the path alongside College Street (where a theatre student was robbed just last year), drive a personal car or most commonly, walk through the park. With the recent events that have transpired, several students have expressed their concerns about their safety walking through Tattnall Square Park; even going so far as to refuse to walk through the park and instead give up their parking spaces to drive two minutes down the road because they’re afraid of getting mugged in the park.

According to Center Coordinator of Tattnall Square Center for the Arts, Amy Watson, around 48 students are currently enrolled in classes that take place in TCA’s classrooms. During audition days, rehearsals and show days for theatre students, most people who are involved in a show are at the theatre every day.

As the stage manager of the upcoming production, it is my job to make sure that all of the actors show up on time for rehearsal, set up the space so that the actors have everything that they need for a run and physically be there during the run to take blocking notes and answer questions. Between having classes at the theatre and being the stage manager for a show, I am at Tattnall Square Center for the Arts every day of the week, save weekends. I also do not have a car on campus, which is the case for several other students who are theatre majors or actors in the show.

Every single student here at Mercer pays large sums of money to attend classes. We are all promised a safe environment to get to and from classes. I believe that it is the University’s responsibility to ensure that their students are safe. There seems to be a great deal of concern for students who attend classes on the main campus. In my opinion, however, theatre students are completely overlooked.

With the events that have recently taken place, we as a community need to step up and take care of all of our students. Especially the ones who have to cross through Tattnall Square Park to get to class. Whether it’s stationing a police officer within the park at all times, or having some shuttling system for large groups of students walking through the park to get to class, Mercer needs to make the pathway to Tattnall Center for the Arts safer for students.


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