Earlier this month, the University of Oklahoma chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity placed itself in the national, controversial spotlight. In a video distributed on social media, members of the fraternity were caught on phone video singing, clapping and chanting, “You can hang them from a tree, But they’ll never sign with me. There will never be a n***** SAE.” The two members who had “leadership roles” in the chant were quickly expelled by the president of the University of Oklahoma, but further actions continue to be taken in retaliation to the event, including the removal of the letters of the SAE house, the disbandment of the fraternity, the suspension of all of its members and protests and demonstrations against the fraternity. An examination of all SAE fraternities for any racist behavior or discrimination has occurred since the video has emerged. It isn’t the first time that the fraternity has been in hot water. Even on our campus earlier this year, Mercer University’s SAE was suspended and had its letters removed from the house after a downtown brawl with Alpha Tau Omega. The fraternity received its letters back earlier this semester. Somehow, I know that this event should come as no surprise. Racism is not as dead as so many would like to believe. It is not hiding or fighting to rise up again. It is real and alive. It is substantiated by this, so it shouldn’t be surprising. But it still is to me. Over spring break, when this whole controversy happened, my father and I watched the film “Dear White People.” The movie follows a community of black students at a college as they fight the administration from sending the school back into segregation through a new housing selection process. The students also seek equality in society as a whole. It cumulates into a ridiculous black-face event orchestrated by the campus’ most popular and prestigious fraternity led by the son of the university’s president. The film comments on the role of blacks in the media and our society. It is a hilarious and beautiful movie, one of my new favorites. Anyway, the connection that I am trying to make is how true this movie is. The film was made early last year, but it is current to today because it seems as though it was made as a direct comment to this whole controversy. The University of Oklahoma SAE didn’t black-face or mock black people, but they were directly racist on camera, just like the fraternity in “Dear White People.” Not only that, but in secondary footage, members tried to stop the filming and hide their racist actions. They directly offended all black people and closed them off from the fraternity by throwing history in their faces — in our faces. Honestly, this is more than just a bunch of white boys being racists. This more than just an argument about if the “n-word” is okay or if racism is still alive. This is evidence. It is a direct sign of how right “Dear White People” is because each time something like this happens it shows how close we are to those times of segregation and racial separation. It shows that racism is not dead. It never even went sleep. It has been awake and alive this entire time. It is just a more subtle source of oppression now. But it is still our unfortunate reality. In an iconic scene in “Dear White People,” the students go to the movies but end up arguing with the movie clerk about the movie selection. They narrow movies down to three categories based off of their portrayal of black students: those that don’t have any black people in them, those that portray them incorrectly, and those that portray them in the past as slaves or members of the civil rights movement. As they say in the film, “So, we have black people dying in the past, and black people dying in the present.” With events like these of the University of Oklahoma SAE, we see that this statement accounts for more than just black people. With each act of racism, I think that we have humanity dying in the past and the present.
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Mercer students and their eager stomachs will soon rejoice. Auxiliary Services and Aramark Higher Education also known as Mercer University’s Dining Services announced the future construction of Einstein Bros. Bagel Bakery, to be located in the Tarver Library, according to a news release. “We are pleased to partner with the Tarver Library team and Aramark to upgrade and expand the amenities for the Mercer community,” The Director of Auxiliary Services, Ken Boyer, said in a statement. “The new Einstein’s will be built out in the 24-hour study space and will provide upgraded furnishings, remodeled study room spaces, and the Einstein’s concept. Construction will begin right after graduation in May with an opening date in mid-August just before the start of the fall 2015 semester.” Einstein Bros. Bagel Bakery is the nation’s largest operator of bagel bakeries and the leader in the quick yet casual segment of the restaurant industry. The chain specializes in bagels and a cafe-style menu, Einstein’s will provide fresh baked goods, made-to-order sandwiches, crisp salads, soups, grab-and-go items, soft drinks, and coffee. “Einstein Noah Restaurant Group is moving with the cultural shift toward food that is fast, but never tastes that way,” according to a statement. Mercer Dining Services will also be expanding the current meal equivalency in the fall. The meal equivalency program began this past fall. Starting in the fall of the 2015, lunch and dinner meals that include all Mercer Dining locations at the University Center and the new Einstein Bros. will be added to improve on the meal equivalency program. Mercer University has been making several changes to improve and advance the university and its atmosphere for the students, faculty, and staff.
I confess that I wear yoga pants. Since I am a 20-something-year-old female college student, this statement is probably not a surprising one. After all, when you step outside of your residence hall in the morning, you see more yoga pants than blue jeans, khakis, jeggings or dresses. Yoga pants might just be the most important and widely used garment in a young girl’s closet. But things weren’t always that way, especially not for me. I grew up watching “What Not to Wear” with a mother who needed two walk-in closets for her entire wardrobe. With the style advice of Stacy London and Clinton Kelly in one ear and my mother’s drive to impress everyone on the first meeting, I was the kid who was always wearing the most trendy outfits in school. Fashion was my life. It got to the point that I started to plan out a future in fashion design at SCAD — until reality hit, of course. Today, fashion still means the world to me. As my friends say, I never leave the room without “being dressed as a person.” I can’t leave the room wearing just sweatpants or just a plain shirt or even just blue jeans. I have to jazz it up with a nice jacket, a snazzy pair of shoes, or something more. Fashion is an expression of your personality and your identity, but it is also a matter of comfort. To be honest, I didn’t know what yoga pants were until my freshman year of college. It was then that I discovered that almost every girl on campus adored them. Even one of my close friends loved them to the point that they were a staple of her wardrobe, and she had more yoga pants than jeans. I didn’t see what the appeal was at the time. I knew what I didn’t like about them. I hated that they didn’t cover what pants needed to cover. They were see-through and sometimes did all the wrong things to a girl’s butt by making it misshapen or way too cheeky. Instead of a girl covering this flaw with a tunic-style shirt or a dress, she would often just wear a regular shirt with it and not care what her butt looked like. It irritated me to the point where I pledged to never wear yoga pants if I could help it. Then, my friend took me to Target and had me try on a pair. They were the most comfortable piece of clothing I had ever worn. So, to make a long story short, I now own like four pairs of them, and I wear them often. But I never let my butt show. I always wear a dress that’s maybe too short to wear on its own or a long shirt that covers everything the way it is supposed to. The problem that everyone has with yoga pants is that they seem immodest and too sexy for young women. People automatically place them in the wrong category with leggings, jeggings and tights. The thing about all of those things is that they are a beautiful element of fashion when worn the right way. Your butt has to be covered. Ladies, it just has to be covered. The material used to make things like yoga pants or leggings is see-through, meaning that you might as well be wearing a sheer dress and brilliant color underwear. Look, we can’t tell guys to stop objectifying women when we practically invite them to it. I’m not saying that guys should objectify, but we can’t walk both lines here either. Leave things to the imagination. It’s classier. Yoga pants aren’t a sin against humanity. They are comfortable. They make women feel good. And men do like women in them, which is just a bonus. Regardless of that, though, women have the right to choose what they want to wear. No man can take that from them. That shouldn’t even be a question. Clothing is freedom. Fashion is liberty and expression. It is options and choice. It is just like voting. No one should be able to stop us from doing it. Yoga pants are nice. I do agree that they are worn incorrectly, but that’s my opinion. Girls and women have the right to choose how they want to dress. But there are ways to dress yoga pants up to take them from ass to class. We just have to accept that there are a bits of fashion that need to be dressed up like everything else in our wardrobe.
Macon has become a prime location for filmmakers and TV producers. With films being filmed in Macon and going off to have great success, Macon as well as other cities in Georgia is becoming quite the hub for the visual entertainment industry. “It’s been great to see the excitement of people seeing parts of our city in ‘Trouble with the Curve,’ ‘42,’ and ‘Need for Speed,’” Chris Floore, Assistant to the County Manager for Public Affairs, stated to the Cluster, “and we want that to continue.” Recently, ‘The Fifth Wave’ was filmed in Downtown Macon. Based on the novel by Rick Yancy, the new movie directed by J. Blakeson follows sixteen-year-old Cassie Sullivan, who tries to survive waves of alien invasion in a world that has already been knocked back into the Stone Age with a decimated population. “(‘The Fifth Wave’) had a location crew here regularly meeting with Macon-Bibb County, businesses and property owners on the logistics of closing the streets, building the sets, landing a helicopter on the streets and more,” explained Floore. The crews associated with “The Fifth Wave” were scheduled to only be in Macon from Jan. 2 through Jan. 13 for set production and filming. During that time, they caused damage to buildings downtown, including broken windows and other damages inside of the buildings. A supervised explosion from a bus for the film caused the damages. However, repairs quickly started only a few hours after the fireball was set off. “The repairs following the explosion are still underway in a few spots,” Floore details, “but it is coming along quickly, and the location crew has been working directly with those in the area to make sure everything is restored.” An estimate projects the direct economic impact of the production to be more than $400,000, including hotel rooms, payment for extras, catering, fuel consumption and other services. This estimate does not include any compensation provided to businesses or residents in the area for the inconveniences or for having to close during the production. The cost of the repairs are being covered by the company producing the film. The significant impact of the film industry to Macon’s economy is part of a much larger aspect of a changing Georgian entertainment culture. Within the last year alone, the state had an economic impact of $5.1 billion generated by feature films and television productions made in Georgia, and the industry expects to grow. Since 1972, more than 800 film and television projects have taken place in Georgia including “Remember the Titans,” “Fried Green Tomatoes,” “Zombieland,” “The Blind Side,” “Water for Elephants,” “Beauty Shop,” “Contagion,” “The Crazies,” “We Were Soldiers” and every movie by Tyler Perry. These films have primarily been filmed in areas inside and around Atlanta, but that is quickly changing as movies follow their television counterparts such as “The Walking Dead,” “Finding Carter,” “The Vampire Diaries” and “Teen Wolf” in being filmed in other areas of Georgia. Aside from generous tax incentives offered to qualifying productions, Georgia is also a “Camera Ready” state with diverse locations, production resources including experienced and affordable crew bases and professional support to aid in the success of any size production. The state as well as its cities intend to continue being ready to play their part on the silver screen as big movies and TV shows such as “Captain America: Civil War,” season 2 of “Finding Carter,” “Doctor Strange” and season six of “The Vampire Diaries” look to Georgia for location to film. As Floore states, “We will continue to be Film Ready and strive to be film-friendly, as it brings great, positive attention to our area and has a significant impact on our economy.”
“I want to lose some weight.” “I want to volunteer more.” “I want to get fit.” “I want to find love.” “I want to procrastinate less. “I want to be better with my money.” Sound familiar? They should, considering that you have most likely heard them or even said some of them yourself. These are just a few examples of some popular New Year’s resolutions. You have probably seen them posted all over social media along with such ads on TV commercials and storefront windows that advertise the famed slogan, “New Year, New You!” New Year’s resolutions are a way to set a goal and deadline for yourself. The hope is that, by the end of the year — or even sooner than that — you will have accomplished your goal and be all the better for it. But do making New Year’s resolutions actually resolve anything? From a statistical standpoint, New Year’s resolutions are as productive as any fad or trend that comes and goes. According to a recent study done by the University of Scranton, only 45 percent of Americans actually make New Year’s resolutions. Although a majority of people maintain their resolution for almost a month, only 8 percent of people actually achieve their resolution by the end of the year. Numbers aside, though, we have all known someone or tried ourselves to complete a New Year’s resolution and failed. It isn’t a purposeful action. After all, goals are important. We need goals as human beings to know where we are going and how to get there. It gives us purpose. The deadlines that often accompany said goals give us determination and focus to reach and achieve our goals. New Year’s resolutions are just a process of setting goals and creating a deadline, but if it were that simple, then wouldn’t more people have a long list of complete New Year’s resolutions? The fact of the matter is that making New Year’s resolutions is an overwhelming ordeal. Most resolutions call for a lifestyle change or a complete overhaul of old habits. For instance, to lose weight, one usually has to change his or her eating habits as well as to make time and effort to exercise. People have to change their entire mindsets in order to accomplish their goals. This is a difficult task alone, but then you have to take on the fact that this is meant to be an immediate alteration that most people attempt to jump into headfirst without preparation, expecting the changes to just happen and for them to accept them. To put it simply, Rome was not built in a day nor a year. I am not saying that New Year’s resolutions are pointless and terrible. That is far from the truth. A lot can happen in a year, which also means that a lot of changes can occur. Those changes can be the ones that could guide you toward your end goal, whatever it may be. The point that I am trying to emphasize is something that my friends tell me all the time: that it is important to take steps. If you have a New Year’s resolution, recognize that it is a process. You have to make steps and take them one at a time. If you want to lose weight, start by making time to exercise throughout the week. Once you get into a routine, start tackling your diet. Make healthier options every now and again until it becomes a routine as well. Then, you will be on your way to losing weight. New Year’s resolutions are not an assignment that you can complete overnight. They are literally a yearlong journey to a new you. Treating it that way will really help you complete a New Year’s resolution, probably for the first time ever.
It is that time of year again. That stressful, nerve-racking, why-is-this-the-struggle time of year that Mercer students call registration is quickly approaching. With registration beginning for honors students and athletes next week, most students are reminded of the horrors of this time of year. It starts with the email containing the date and time when you are allowed to begin registering for classes for the next semester. Usually, that is when it starts to get hard to breath from the stress. Following the link to the class schedule for the next semester, the hyperventilation accelerates. Problems of all sorts arise when it comes to your classes, class times, the professors, and the class locations. Then, your stomach plummets as you open the handbook to look at the classes that you have to take. When is this class offered? How many hours is it? When am I supposed to take it? Registration can be overwhelming, especially if it is your first time or you just do not know what you are doing. However, once you know how registration works, everything is bound to go smoothly. To help you get to this state of calm instead of calamity, here are a few tips. Be prepared. This tip is more than just a song from The Lion King. Scar needed to plan ahead before he took over Pride Rock. With registration, you have to have a plan, or, in this case, you need a four-year-plan. Your four-year-plan allows you to plan your schedule for the next four years based off the classes that you need and the ones that you want. The best part about it is that you have everything you need at the palm of your hand. Now, you do not have to go looking in the handbook for the classes you need. They are all there for you. Plus, the four-year-plan comes in many shapes and sizes. If you do not already have one, ask your academic or major advisor for one before you meet with them for your appointment. Or, go to theMercer University’s Macon Registrar’s website to print off a trial schedule worksheet for each semester. Or, simply go onto Excel and craft one yourself. The possibilities are endless. You just need to choose one to follow through with. My next tip is to plan for change. What makes registration the hardest is how frequently things change. The course schedule updates at least once week, certain classes fill up faster than others, and you realize that that one class might not be worth the fight. It’s okay. Change during registration can only be expected. Welcome it, and prepare for it. When you are making your schedule, make a back-up schedule in case you do not get into a class. Then, make another in case you do not get into any of the classes that you want. This technique is especially important for freshman and sophomores considering they are some of the last to register and they have the most competition when it comes down to getting into the classes they want. Be flexible with registration so that when the hits come, you can dodge them and recover quickly. Learn the secrets of the trade. Freshman, beware. There are over eight hundred of you guys. So, the classes that you guys need — the WRTs, GBKs, and general education courses — are going to fill up quickly. Not to mention, there are sophomores, juniors, and seniors who might need to take some of those courses. So, plan accordingly. It is okay to not have your Gen-Eds incomplete until well beyond your freshman year. In fact, that can only be expected. Just focus on the courses you need to take like your WRTs and GBKs as well as anyone of the classes for your future major and minor that might not be offered until way later or never again during your college career. Focus on what you need, instead of what you want. It is better to have a schedule full of requirements that you need, rather than one full of classes that are not necessary that you simply want to take. But, watch those credit hours. It takes at least twelve hours to maintain university scholarships, but it is better in the long run to take at least fifteen credit hours each semester. This way, if you drop a class, you still maintain your scholarship. Plus, you get more bang for your college-buck. If you want to make the most out of your college career though, I would recommend taking eighteen credit hours. Be mindful though that taking nineteen or more credit hours means that you are going to have to pay for each credit hour you are taking beyond the allotted eighteen. So, be careful. Another secret of the trade is more for the day of registration. It is no secret that Mercer University does not have the best Wi-Fi, and with hundreds of kids on the same site at the same time trying to do the same thing, things are not going to get any better. To get the most out of Mercer University’s Wi-Fi during registration, get an ethernet cord to have direct access to the campus’s internet. If you have your own source of internet, it would be best to use that to get online. You can also leave campus for better Wi-Fi. Or, if you just do not have a car or money for these options, find a place on Mercer University’s campus with the strongest Wi-Fi connection. The better the internet, the easier and faster registration will go. Also, on the day of registration, do not forget to be prepared. Have your four-year-plan in front of you. Make a numbered list of what to register for first and last based on your competition for it. Have your back-up schedules ready. One to two hours prior to registration, log onto MyMercer, go to the registration page, and just keep refreshing it. Doing this will keep you one step ahead of the tide of students who will end up wasting time logging in while you are already signing up for classes. One of my most important tips is to stay calm! Registration is stressful. But, it’s going to be okay. The worst thing that can happen to you during registration is that you get waitlisted, and that is not nearly as bad as it sounds. If it is a class that you need, the professor will work with you. If it is a class that you need but can take later, drop it and find another class to fill that hole in your schedule. The point is that registration is really nothing to stress over. Everything will work its self out in the end and it will turn out fine. Finally, celebrate! When it is all said and done, you have gone over your schedule, and you can live with it, go out to breakfast or dinner — depending on when you registered — to celebrate. You have survived registration. That is as good an excuse as any to go congratulate yourself. Registration can be very difficult, but there are ton of resources out there to help you succeed. TRIO Programs and Minority Affairs, Women in Math and Science, UNV classes, and other organizations are offering registration workshops to answer questions and to go through the process. Register offers a telephone helpline during registration as well as theirwebsite filled with helpful tips. Plus, your advisors, preceptors, peer advisors, professors, and your friends are always there to help you. Registration can be daunting but that does not make it impossible. You will survive, I promise.
Like all ideas, it started as a well intentioned plan to make things better. Honestly, it was a brilliant idea when I first heard about it at the beginning of the semester. Well, when I first saw it, I should say. The sign stood in all of its shimmering glory inside of the University Center. It had a dark, navy blueberry background with a large mustard yellow logo. Mayo white letters explained what the sign was all about: “MEAL EQUIVALENCY! Exchange one of your meals for an equivalent dollar amount ($6) at the brands listed below! (4PM - Close) One Meal Plan Swipe per day.” It was news to me and my friends back at the start of the semester. And, what news it was! As sophomores, we had a new meal plan. No longer could we go to the caf anytime we wanted no matter what. Our unlimited meal plans were gone. Now, we had a fourteen-meal membership, which meant that we could only go to the caf for 14 meals per week with $300 of dining dollars to spend at the UC. When it came to eating in the caf, we had to consider when and how we did it. However, let’s be real and honest. The caf is not as good as it once was on Mercer University tours past. The caf is hit-or-miss—miss on most days offering food that carries you through the day but not by much. That’s why the Meal Equivalency was such a blessing to me and my friends. In exchange for one our meals on our fourteen-meal membership, we could go to the UC and receive whatever we wanted without using our dining dollars. Best of all, it did not have to be a meal or whatnot. We could get just fruit or just a sushi plate or just a drink or whatever! If we wanted a meal, we got six dollars off of it and just had to pay the difference. Last year, going to the UC food court for dinner took forethought as if we were a family of four deciding between eating out or cooking dinner because it was so expensive. With the Meal Equivalency, my friends and I were able to have at least $250 dining dollars to roll over to next semester. It was a glorious change of pace. At the time, we thought it could never get better. The only problem we encountered was how agonizing it was to wait until four o’clock. And then the inevitable turn of the tide came. Mercer decided to change the policies of the Meal Equivalency. Now, in order to use the meal swipe, you have to have an entire meal, which means a sandwich or burger, fries or chips and a drink or a milkshake. The meal swipe cannot be used to purchase fruit, sushi or Asian bowls. It has to strictly be a meal, preferably one equal to six dollars. These new implications of the Meal Equivalency make no sense to me and are beyond frustrating to me as a Mercer student. It is not clear to me why they changed it to only include certain meals. From my deductions, the meal swipe is just an extension of our meals at the caf. It should not cost Mercer any more to just continue keeping the meal swipe the way it was. It is all the same money that we pay to them. What is the difference if it goes toward a meal or just a container of fruit and a SmartWater? Moreover, what about vegetarians and vegans? Before the change to the Meal Equivalency, my friends with these dietary restrictions would just go to the UC to get fries, fruit and juice with their meal swipe. The caf does not exactly cater to these dietary limitations, so I rejoiced with them when they were able to use their money to get food that they preferred. However, the meal swipe has changed that. Now, they are back to deciding whether to suffer through the lack of options at the caf or spend their dining dollars at the UC. Sure, some of them could get a veggie burger at Burger Studio or a vegetarian sub at Subway, but for vegans, food does not work that way. Plus, like carnivores, vegetarians get tired of having the same thing over and over again. Here’s the problem for everyone: the price that equals a meal. Typically, a sandwich, a side, and a drink at most fast food restaurants cost more than six dollars. At Chik-fil-A, for instance, a number one—which is the fried chicken sandwich, fries and a medium drink—is around eight dollars. How does Mercer expect us to get a meal with the Meal Equivalency if it only equals six dollars and is bound to go over? If they wanted us to just come to the UC to spend our dining dollars, why did they add this extra piece of stress to the equation? Mercer requires us to have a meal plan for as long as we live on campus. It is their way of making sure that we all get fed. The caf and the UC are our options, and they are made to help us make what will be future real world decisions. It is what college is built do—to train us for the real world. However, with the disappointing hope of the Meal Equivalency, I have no idea what to say about Mercer and their food services. It just seems to be another idea that started with good intentions but ended with disappointment.
The movie “The Day After Tomorrow” follows Jack Hall, a paleoclimatologist, on his a journey across America to reach his son. The road to saving his son is filled with a range of dangers that bring him to his limits. The largest and worst of his obstacles is the plague of a new Ice Age brought on by climate change. When I first saw this movie several years ago, I was honestly scared half-to-death. I was a little girl with the definition of a hyperactive imagination, but I had no idea what climate change or global warming was. I was just innocently watching this movie because there was nothing else on TV. Tornadoes, hurricanes, massive snowstorms, flooding and other natural catastrophes could all be incurred just because the temperature went up by a couple degrees. How could something so minimal cause such a grand and lethal series of events? How could nature be so fragile yet so strong all at the same time? How could human beings be the cause of such… chaos? More than 10 years after the release of “The Day After Tomorrow,” I would argue that the world has not changed that much. Just like Jack Hall and the world he resided in, I and so many others see what is wrong with the world when it comes to climate change, but many people in the world still disbelieve. Little legislation has been enacted to alter global warming. Although more eco-friendly options are on the market for consumers to purchase as alternatives to the more environmentally-damaging ones, these products are still more expensive and not nearly as available. Today, many still do not know what global warming is or what horrific effect it has on the world around us. That does not mean that people are not trying to fight against it. Just a few weeks ago, the largest march in history to fight climate change stormed the streets of New York City. More than 300,000 people armed with banners, flags, floats, drums protested global warming under the name of the People’s Climate March. Among these thousands of people, celebrities also participated, including dedicated environmentalists Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo. The march was the first in a series of events held around the world that came ahead of the U.N. summit that would announce initiatives to restrict global warming. The People’s Climate March was designed to bring national attention to climate change. It was successful in that and another endeavor. There are many skeptics of climate change, citing the lack of reality in the issue. These skeptics will often jump to any conclusion they can to avoid tackling the troubles of global warming. One point they chose to mention pertaining to the People’s Climate March was the littering that the protestors committed. Photos of discarded trash populated social media almost as much as information about the march itself. Naturally, skeptics leaped at the idea and started to downplay the march. Oddly enough, I cannot disagree with their views. My problem with climate change, as with many issues that we face today, is the hypocrisy that can be found within those who want to help make things better. There just seems to be a minority of people who are truly dedicated and want to solve problems while the majority just want to be behind the scenes or, worse, accidentally hindering the process as a whole. For the People’s Climate March, this was the difference between the parents who brought their children to the march chanting, “We’re here as a family for the future of our kids,” and those who trashed the streets as if they were not fighting to stop damage to the environment. Hypocrites aside, global warming is a massive problem. If gone unchecked, it can lead to more than just hotter summers and colder winters. “The Day After Tomorrow” could become a reality. Storms of all sorts could lay siege around the planet. A new Ice Age could happen. Millions of people would suffer and perish as a result. The world and humanity as we know it could all be destroyed… All because we did not make a change. In the movie, Jake Hall cried out to so many in order to thwart climate change. He plead with the public, his colleagues and leaders all over the world to change their ways in order to save it. Few listened. Many more suffered. We don’t have to be that way. Climate change is real. It is scary, but it is real. We cannot keep denying the truths that people like those who marched in the People’s Climate March or Al Gore or Bill Nye or that anyone keeps telling us. The world is changing. We are causing that change, and it isn’t in a good way. By our use of fossil fuels and non-renewable resources, we are torturing this planet and ourselves. We have the power to stop that. Only we can change climate change. We cannot change today. In fact, we often do not try to. What we can change and should change are our tomorrows and our days after tomorrow. When we decide to do that, we can make changes for the better instead of the worse.
Downtown Macon is a almost a city of its own with its charming stores, dazzling nightlife, artsy culture and delicious restaurants. There is something for everyone downtown; the hard part is deciding what to do and when to do it. Among this variety of fun and activities lies Ginger Stir-Fry, a modern restaurant that stands out on the corner of Second Street and Poplar Street. Its large stainless steel sign with red letters easily draw customers in. Like many places in downtown Macon, once you are inside, you are bound to fall in love. Ginger is an Asian-infused restaurant that combines traditional Asian ingredients with an American way of service. The restaurant is buffet-style, which gives it a more casual air. However, the modern, Asian-inspired interior design as well as the low-dimmed, colored lighting also gives the restaurant a more sophisticated accent. Walking in, my friends and I were immediately greeted by everyone behind the counter. Although Ginger Stir-Fry is all about self-service, the cashier and the cooks were warm, attentive and entertaining. They seemed to enjoy the restaurant as much as the customers do. At the register, the cashier explained to us how Ginger Stir-Fry worked. The price of our food depends on what we take from the buffet in order to make our ideal stir-fry. We were given two bowls: one large green one and a small red one. The green was for our vegetables, fruits, and starches - a choice of rice or noodles, or both, such as what one of my friends had. The red was for meats. My friends and I were worried about what would go well together. Claiming to offer over 500,000 different combinations, Ginger Stir-Fry offers plenty of different ingredients, some of which I had never heard of - or could pronounce, for that matter. The variety was astounding and perfect for my friends’ eclectic taste for food. Close to the end of the serving line, we were given the choice to add sauces or seasonings to the meal. Like the veggies and the meats, there were plenty of options, ranging from honey garlic soy to teriyaki and more. Finally, my friends and I went to the register, where the meats were weighed. After that came the stirring and the frying. After getting our drinks, we watched as our food was made before our eyes. Ginger is equipped with a 700-degree round Mongolian barbecue grill. Three cooks masterfully stir-fried our meals, seeming to magically keep them separated yet together as they passed our foods between each of them. When the cooks finished with their fantastic show, my friends and I gave them a round of applause before taking our plates and sitting at a booth. To say that the food was delicious would be a severe understatement. For my meal, I kept things simple. I had wheat noodles and green split peas topped with honey garlic soy sauce and seasoned beef. Despite its simplicity, the meal was filled with such rich and delectable flavors that it made me think it was something extravagant. When I asked Desirrae Jones, one of my friends who ordered noodles, rice, green beans, pineapple, mandarin oranges, corn, chicken, beef, egg and seasoned salt, on how her meal tasted, I received an answer that was the unanimous decree of the night: “It was just plain delicious.” Open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, Ginger offers an awesome experience for all that will keep them coming back for more.
Felix Mburu, an undergraduate student on the Macon campus of Mercer University, died in Covington, Ga. during Fall Break. There are few details that have been released regarding Mburu’s death at this time. Instead, Mercer is focusing on remembering Mburu. A grief support group meeting, facilitated by Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and the Office of Housing and Residence Life, was held Monday, Oct. 6 in Knight Hall to help those affected by the loss of Mburu. A memorial service in honor of Mburu is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 12 in Marietta, Ga. Condolences and support for the family and friends of Mburu at home and at Mercer are being requested as all remember him and the life he lived as a brother, son and fellow Mercerian. [box type="info"]For more information regarding the memorial service, call the University Minister’s office after Wednesday at (478) 301-2992. For more information about grieving and support, call Mercer’s Counseling and Psychological Services Monday - Friday between 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. at (478) 301-2892.[/box] For more on this story, come back to mercercluster.com, or pick up next week's issue of The Cluster.
On an ordinary day, you can find me scrolling on Tumblr laughing along to the random things in my feed, but the other day, I noticed that Tumblr had changed. Normally, this is nothing unusual. Tumblr often alters its icons and layout for obscure holidays like Doughnut Day. However, this was not the same thing. All of the icons - my avatar, my buttons to upload a text post, picture, video, link and whatnot - were no longer there. Instead, it appeared as if they were loading or buffering. I started to scroll as I usually do, but nothing loaded. There were no Ice Bucket Challenge videos. No funny cat memes. No “Let It Go” covers. No random Vines that relate to my life. No awkward relationship text posts for me to reblog to my friends. Nothing came up. Naturally, I panicked, checking my Wifi connection and even going so far as to restart my computer. Still, Tumblr continued to elude me of my internet destiny of laughter and glee. Then, Tumblr asked me a favor. It requested me to sign a petition in favor of something called “net neutrality.” All that I had to do was to type my email in the space provided, and then I would have all my images back. However, after I clicked done, it asked me to make a phone call. To a Senator of Georgia. It gave me a scripted message to leave on his phone, but that didn’t alleviate any of the sudden pressure I felt. All I wanted was to marvel at the lives of my favorite celebrities. Instead, I was being asked to make a phone call to my senator. It was outrageous, crazy and something that shouldn’t happen on a normal day. But it did. Suddenly, this normal day became the day when I picked up my phone, dialed my senator and actually left a voicemail for him to possibly hear all in the name of “net neutrality.” Once I had my Internet connection back, I began to wonder: what is net neutrality? I did what any college student would; I Googled it. Net neutrality is the ability to use the Internet without the network’s discriminating against information. In other words, it is the means of going to any and every website that you want to with the same high speed Internet used for each one. In January of 2014, a major court decision placed this principle in jeopardy when it stripped the FCC of its power to enforce net neutrality. Now, telecommunication companies can exploit technologies by controlling what sites get the higher Internet speeds and charging extra to use certain sites. The horror of this invasion is that, without net neutrality, our basic human right to freedom of the press and speech are infringed upon. Large telecommunication companies are given the reins to control Internet speed however they please. Our precious Internet privacy will become nonexistent as networking companies decide which sites gets high speed Internet and which do not. The “World Wide Web” will become narrower and more of a small, isolated country. To place this into perspective, if net neutrality is voted down, we could end up paying extra money just to use Netflix and Hulu at the speed that we use them now. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and other social networking sites could easily end up having slower speeds. Reading a blog or watching a video on YouTube could become a pastime that would have to be sacrificed for the sake of saving money. Simply searching for something on Google could become a hassle because the page’s loading time. These are extreme cases, but they may very well become grim realities that we have to face. Our rights to the freedom of the Internet are in danger. Our liberty to view a movie, to read a story, to put up a status or photo and to scroll through feeds are at risk. The future of the Internet is hanging in the balance. It all depends on net neutrality. So what can you do to help protect your right to net neutrality? Sign the petitions. Write to the FCC. Share everything. Fight for what we protect. Defend what we love. The Internet is ours to control, our right to freedom of expression, and our… everything. We live on the Internet. No one can take our lives away. No one should be able to take our Internet away. Join the Internet Slowdown today to keep what is ours.
When I was growing up, my mother always had a camera on her to take pictures. She took pictures of my first Christmas, my first steps, my first words, the first time I read a book by myself and my first, second, third and 100th day at school. She took pictures of birthday parties, weddings, celebrations, funerals, graduations and just happy moments in life. She was relentless in her photography. It soon got the point where some members of the family just held up their hands whenever she came around because they knew that my mother was going to try and take their photo. My mother just wanted to capture the moment. In a time before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other like networking sites, my mother used her camera as a mode of social media. She would take the picture, go to Walgreens to develop them and post them to her many photo albums. Whenever people came over to our house, she would share the photo albums for others to comment and like. There were thousands of photos, and my mom was always ready to show them off to anyone who would sit on her couch and listen. Today, we live in world where, with a few strokes of the finger, you can post and share a picture to the entire world. People from miles away can like and comment on it within seconds. In our world, many can see into your life and judge it as they may, reading it like a book and analyzing it for its meaning. Millions of people post pictures and statuses in order to share their lives to the world or maybe a specific portion of the world. For why they do it, the reasons are limitless, but once that picture is online, all the likes, comments and shares have stopped trickling in and that photo is at the end of your timeline because you have moved onto another concert, another meeting with your friend, another family reunion, or just another part of your life, what does that picture become to you? My mother took pictures not because she wanted everyone to like or comment on them and not because she wanted to be judged for them. She took those photos for the future. Many, myself included, take pictures not for the likes or the comments or the shares or the whatever else. We take them so that we can look back on them later and say, “That was a great night!” or, “Remember when that happened?” or, “I miss them,” or, “They are just as beautiful in this photo as they always are.” Pictures and social media as a whole are ways of capturing the moment so that we can always remember those times of fun, joy, humor and a good life. Social media is outlet for and to memory. With it, we can experience our memories again and make more experiences to remember. My mother passed away when I was 13 years old. However, she lives on with me through the photos - the moments - that she captured. I can look through her photo albums and relive my memories with her even though I will not be able to experience life with her again. Pictures and social media have that power. They can do the one thing that experience alone cannot, and that is bringing those moments and lives that are dead back to life.
“I was sick.” “Traffic was heavy.” “The dog ate my homework.” “My roommate got arthritis in his lungs.” Let’s face it. As cliche and foolish as they might be, we all use excuses like these more than we would like to admit. If we do not want to be in a situation or predicament, our immediate response is to make an excuse. It isn’t my fault that people do this; it just happens. When glass breaks in a house, the children are quick to try to escape blame and create accounts for why they were not at the scene of the crime. Those same kids are not afraid to tell the teachers all sorts of mysterious tales about what happened to their assignments and projects. Eventually, they transition into adulthood, still incorporating the habit of making excuses into their everyday lives. The term “mental-health day” becomes a reasonable excuse to vacation from work or school. “I have a family thing” or “I have to work” is the perfect way to avoid awkward meetings and uncomfortable dates. Want to spend the night catching up on season 3 of Gossip Girl? Well, you might just catch a case of contagious strep throat, stomach flu, or explosive diarrhea. Everyone is capable of making excuses including well-known people, like Bill Clinton and Hitler. But what makes a good excuse? Well, if you haven’t excused yourself, you obviously want to know the answer – possibly because you are a horrible-excuse maker or your method just needs a bit of tweaking. At the end of the day, it just comes down to a few simple and easy tips. 1. Be mindful of whom you use your excuses on. The three most risky people to use excuses on are: parents, teachers, and cops. These three groups are trained to see straight through your ruse. They have heard it all. Not to mention, if you use the wrong excuse on cops, it could easily become your last excuse as a free person. 2. Use excuses in moderation. It is fine to have a “go to” excuse such as, “My (insert body part here) hurts.” However, do not use that excuse to the point of completely losing social contact with others or so much that people start believing you need to be hospitalized. 3. Sprinkle a bountiful amount of truth into your excuses so that they are as believable as possible. For example, if you are late to class, one of the worst possible excuses you could use on a professor would be that One Direction started to perform in Cruz Plaza, and you had to watch because you’re a huge fan of theirs. Instead, try using a more realistic story - the professor in your last class went over on time or you overslept. Just stay as close to the truth as possible, while also creating a legitimate excuse. 4. Keep a close watch on your excuse-telling technique. In the most basic and technical terms, an excuse is nothing more than a little white lie that makes people shrug and turn away. So, treat it like any other comment or statement. Look the person in the eyes, try not to stutter, avoid fidgeting, and stand by your story as much as you can without losing your resolve. Excuses are great and masterful weapons, but with great power comes even greater responsibility.