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Friday, Dec 2, 2022

SGA announces summer projects, plans for the year at first Senate meeting of the semester

SGA has plans for the year ahead. Photo by Jenna Eason.
SGA has plans for the year ahead. Photo by Jenna Eason.

The Mercer University Student Government Association (SGA) reconvened Monday and announced summer projects responding to student concerns from last year as well as plans for the upcoming semester.

New changes in place include a 24/7 micro-market in Tarver Library, a Mongolian grill in the Fresh Food Company and more hands-on methods for senators to engage with the student body. In addition, there are plans to bring sleeping pods to campus in the near future.

Former Contract Services Committee Chair and current Campus Outreach Committee member Chase Peplin said that the food-related changes were made over the summer in response to student requests for increased dining hours and vegetarian or vegan food options.

After extensive conversation with Mercer’s primary food provider, Aramark, Peplin said SGA was able to build an extended breakfast bar and a Mongolian Grill, which provides additional meatless alternatives in the Fresh Food Company.

“Probably the biggest concern that Contract Services and SGA, in general,

SGA announces summer projects, plans for the year at first Senate meeting of the semester

got from students was a 24-hour dining option,” Peplin said. “Dining hours are kind of hit-or-miss sometimes depending on the day, so in response to that, we have a 24-hour dining option, Provisions on Demand (POD) Express, in the library.”

He said POD Express is a self-checkout food option near the 24-hour study rooms that accepts Bear Bucks, cash and credit or debit card payments. The micro-market cannot accept dining dollars because it is not a part of the same system as the other POD stores on campus and is not contracted through Aramark.

“It’s not a full-functioning restaurant, but it’s a step in the right direction, and that’s how progress is made,” Peplin said.

Other major changes for the year come from the Campus Outreach Committee.

Committee Chair Hayes Rule said the Action Plan Committee, a subset of Campus Outreach, intends to purchase two sleeping pods to be located in a central area of campus.

“Essentially, this is a place for students to take a nap for 20, 30 minutes, whether it be in between class, or if you’re a commuter student and you don’t want to go back to your house in between classes, or if you’re in the library late at night,” Rule said.

Rule said that former Dean of Tarver Library Beth Hammond approved the idea, but after her retirement at the end of last semester, he must work with Interim Dean Scott Gillies to determine if it is still possible.

If the library is not a viable location for the pods, Rule said the Committee is considering the Connell Student Center but remains open to student suggestions.

“We want to allow students, obviously, to get sleep. We believe that is an important part of your college experience and doing well in college,” Rule said.

Rule also said that SGA’s office hours requirements will look different this year.

Previously, senators were required to spend one hour each week making themselves available to the student body by stationing themselves in the SGA office in the library or at a whiteboard on campus or by approaching students for one-on-one discussions.

The new office hours program will send senators to sit in on other campus organizations’ meetings to serve as a representative and liaison.

Rule said the program is based upon “the concept of going out and being with the students, serving students, and getting to know them on a personal level” as well as “representing them better and showing our faces out on campus.”

He said 45 student organizations have signed up to have a senator attend their meetings.

“We feel like that’s what we as a SGA need to do, and not only do, but do better than we have in the last few years,” he said.”

The expansion of this program stems from previous attempts last year under former Student Life and Organizational Affairs Committee Chair Michael Smith, who reported receiving limited responses from student groups.

Rule said that while he also wants senators to help organizations address the issues they may be facing, he wants to focus on getting them engaged in what the student body is involved in.

“I want you to have a vested interest in them,” Rule told the Senate. “Show these students that you’re interested and that you care about them.”

In addition to announcing these new programs, SGA approved a $1,674 Conference & Lodging request from The Dulcimer, Mercer’s award-winning literary magazine, to attend the National College Media Convention in Kentucky.

The Student Government Association meets Mondays at 6:30 p.m. on the third floor of Connell Student Center. The meetings are open to the public.


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