With the expansion of the Lofts at Mercer Village, students and community members now have a variety of dining options in the Village. Luckily, the restaurants are so conveniently located to one another, that one does not have to answer the age-old question: tacos or pizza? But which restaurant rules them all? The Cluster has information on each Village restaurant to help you decide. Francar’s Buffalo Wings Carl and Sharon Fambro moved their wing restaurant from Log Cabin Drive to Mercer Village three years ago, proving that married couples can make good business partners. Francar’s offers more than 40 original sauces for their wings, strips and chicken fingers. The most popular? According to Carl Fambro, Mercer Gold is popular on anything. The restaurant also features Southern favorites like macaroni and cheese, fried okra and collard greens. Fambro says the restaurant is unique because it has a college theme. “We invite students to bring in college T-shirts, pictures, (and)hats to make it a place they’re comfortable coming to,” saod Fambro. Fambro also tries to keep up with the ever-changing demands of college students. To accommodate vegetarian patrons, he has added veggie burgers to the menu and introduced the chicken strips because of their popularity. The restaurant has also added fried pickle chips, grilled chicken and vastly increased the amount of macaroni and cheese to keep up with demand. Francar’s is now offering two new sauces: Smoking Teriyaki and Flaming Caribbean, and patrons can now get their strips with spicy breading. Jittery Joe’s This popular coffee shop was introduced to Mercer Village in 2008. Caleb Morton, a barista at Jittery Joe’s, said the shop is unique because all of their coffee is handcrafted. As a matter of fact, everything in Jittery Joe’s is homemade, and they will have homemade soups to add to the mix soon. Morton also believes Jittery Joe’s has unique customer service. “We’re so willing to talk to people…it’s a welcoming environment,” he said. While students can get an astonishing variety of coffees, frozen coffees, fruit shakes, teas, muffins and pastries at Jittery Joe’s, they can also pick up a sandwich and chips. The most popular sandwich is the classic turkey and cheese, Morton said, and the Frosty Joe (the answer to a Frappuccino), is always a hit as well. Senior Matt Townsend frequents Jittery Joe’s “because it’s convenient and the prices are cheaper than other coffee shops in Macon. Aside from the food, Jittery Joe’s is a favorite meeting and studying spot for Mercer students. Margarita’s at Mercer Village This Mexican restaurant opened a branch in Mercer Village in August 2011. It is one of the restaurants housed on the first floor of the Lofts at Mercer Village, and it has become a favorite of Mercer students. And with its lunch specials and happy hours, it’s not hard to see why. Several social fraternities and sororities have also rented it out for functions. It is the only restaurant in Mercer Village to feature a full bar. Some favorites include any and all nachos offered and the “taco loco,” a huge taco shell filled with taco goodness and topped with melted white cheese. Senior Emily Garrott is a frequent visitor of Margarita’s. Fountain of Juice This sandwich, soup and smoothie shop has been open since mid-July 2011. Employee Brandon Bish said the restaurant is unique because it features fresh ingredients and all produce is organic and bought from local farmers. The most popular menu items are the turkey apple swiss Panini, the California club and the classic chicken salad sandwich. Along with a variety of smoothies, the shop features carrot, apple and celery juice. Patrons can choose from a variety of sandwiches, salads, soups, smoothies, breakfast foods and entrees like pasta and fish tacos. Bish said the most popular smoothies are the Ultimate Breakfast (made with banana, orange, blueberries, flax and protein) and the Detox (made with pomegranate, orange and banana). Supplements like protein or flax can be added to any smoothie. “It’s really fresh and delicious,” Bish said. He also said the restaurant does not feature fried food, which he says is prominent in the area. Another former employee said he has not worked at FOJ for several months but still visits to get food regularly. “It’s addicting,” he said. Ingleside Village Pizza Another restaurant transplanted from another Macon location to Mercer Village, Ingleside Village Pizza has been open in its Village location for about four years. Their pizza dough is made on site daily, and they also serve salads, subs and breadsticks smothered in garlic butter and Parmesan cheese. Patrons can build their own slices of pizza or choose from the special options like White pizza (with spinach, garlic, ricotta cheese and mushrooms) or the Ultimate Village (with…well…everything). IVP also has the self-proclaimed “largest selection of imported beer in Macon.” The restaurant also has a selection of domestic beer and wine. Senior Kruti Desai visits Ingleside frequently.
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In the third and final week of what is now a month-long campaign, SGA presidential and vice presidential candidates will go head to head in the Bear Rock Cafe at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 3. Sophomore Mollie Davis and her vice presidential pick junior Joshua Lovett will try to best sophomore Dalton Turner and his vice presidential pick junior Justin Robinson as they answer questions from the audience. Current SGA president Jordan Locke will monitor the event. The Cluster will provide minute-by-minute updates from the debate here. 7:59 p.m. Tables at the Bear Rock Cafe are full as students fill out question cards and prepare to watch the debate. The candidates have taken the stage. 8:03 Locke announces that the debate will begin in a few minutes as students are still trickling in. 8:07 Turner and Robinson give their opening statements. Turner said "the reason we're running is because we're so passionate about the school." Turner says he wants to foster school spirit and foster the same love of Mercer that he and Robinson share. 8:09 p.m. Davis and Lovett give their opening statement. Davis says "I want to run for this position because I love Mercer. I am passionate about the opportunities I have sought out for the student body...I don't want this position because I want to be something. I want this position because I want to do something for Mercer." Lovett emphasizes that they are not running for themselves, but for Mercer students as a whole. "A vote for us, is a vote for what Mercer needs and deserves." 8:11 p.m. First question from Locke: what issue on your platform are you most passionate about and why? Robinson said the most important platform is transforming the Bear Rock Cafe into a viable "hang out" place for student. Turner said his important issue differs from Robinson's, which he believes makes them a good team. Turner said his most important issue is increasing student excitement and participation in athletics. Davis said she is most passionate about where Mercer will be one year from today. She said she wants to see students having jobs in Macon and attending athletic games, adding a quip about wet tailgating. "They can have a beer at the game like an adult," she said. She said she wants to emphasize that Mercer is not a destination, but something to participate it. Lovett said "our platform is a holistic approach to changing student life here." 8:15 p.m. Locke asks Turner and Robinson how they will increase green initiatives and recycling on campus and how this will benefit the university. Robinson responded that they are setting up an incentive program where recycling will be turned into something tangible for students. Turner believes that when students see other students involved in recycling, they will want to become involved themselves. Turner mentioned that they have worked with Physical Plant to bring a nationwide program calling Recycle Mania to Mercer. 8:18 p.m. Davis and Lovett answer the same question. Lovett says that they have spoken with Physical Plant and see that Mercer is recycling, but we need to increase resources. Lovett says their ticket wants to support the efforts that are already working. 8:19 p.m. Turner responds that we should always push for more, and he believes the incentive program will help. "We're not going to stay here. We're going to try to push it to the next level," he said. 8:20 p.m. Locke asks Davis and Lovett how their initiative for wet game days in designated areas will improve student pride and spirit. Davis responds that they have polled students, and the result of the polls shows that a designated tailgating area at designated games appeals to students. Davis said her research has showed that students do not want a wet campus. "I think that this would definitely increase attendance at athletic games," she said. Davis said she feels this initiative will draw alumni and community members to games. She also said it will cut down dangers like drunk driving that happen when drinking is done in an uncontrolled and hidden environment. She said she has spoken with Chief Collins and Dean Pearson, who are excited about the idea. Turner and Robinson rebutt. Turner pointed out considerations that need to be taken for a wet campus. He brought up polls that have been done that show that 40 percent of students do not want to have a drink at a party. He also said that he believes alcohol on campus can cause a problem with the beautification of campus. "We have more important things to focus on," she said. Davis responded that the poll results Turner mentioned were from 2009, and 58 percent of the students she has polled were in favor of the initiative. 8:24 p.m. Locke asked each vice presidential pick what qualities he has to compliment his running mate. Lovett responded that he and Mollie are great friends and that they share a passion for making Mercer better. They see each other every day, he said. "I think my girlfriend might be a little jealous of that at times," he quipped, to much laughter from the audience. Robinson said that he and Turner are both heavily involved on campus and cited his experience as a Residence Assistant as helping him understand students, particularly freshmen. He said that he and Turner both want to listen to students. They will attempt to get suggestion boxes back, he said. 8:26 p.m. Locke asks Turner about his and Robinson's proposed volunteer committee for SGA. Why should SGA oversee this? Turner responds that SGA would provide a forum for such a group and allow SGA to use its resources to help. He pointed out that Macon is the 7th poorest city in the United States, and he wants SGA to get involved in helping the community and increasing volunteering and awareness of volunteering. "SGA would get no credit for this, we wouldn't be overarching for this, we just want to help the students out," he said. Davis responded that "the last thing grassroots movements need is more SGA red tape." Davis said she has spoken with Chelsea Flieger, president of L.E.A.P., who said that her organization flourishes better without SGA interference. Davis said her platform includes helping students get jobs in Macon, which will benefit Macon in the long run, both economically and socially. Turner said he has also spoken with Chelsea Flieger. She is worried about L.E.A.P. specifically, he said. Turner said programs for jobs outside of Macon would not benefit freshmen and sophomores as much as juniors and seniors. 8:30 p.m. Locke asks Davis why getting jobs in the Macon community is important and why it is SGA's responsibility. Davis answered that it has not traditionally been SGA's responsibility, but she thinks it is important. She said she has spoken with the mayor about this and believes it is feasible. "Macon needs Mercer students," she said. It is not an overreach of SGA's power, she said. Robinson responded that SGA should continue to strengthen its Macon connection, but that it can be done through their proposed volunteer programs. He wants to continue to expand programs like Taste of Downtown to include more downtown establishments. Lovett responded that their liason relationship would also open up service learning opportunities. He mentioned that he has spoken to Stephen Brown from Career Services, and Brown is very excited about the idea. 8:34 p.m. Locke asks a question to both parties that will have no rebuttal. He asks each ticket to give details of their plans to increase athletic participation on campus. Specifically, why will Turner's grassroots program work, and why will Davis' incentive program work? Turner answered that giving out a T-Shirt is not sustainable. He said he wants to get athletes to reach out to students more so students will want to come see them play. "Having passion for a T-shirt is fine, but we want people to have passion for Mercer," he said. Davis said that she believes incentives are good. She is a business major, she said, and incentives are business. She also asked why students would respond well to incentives for recycling but not to incentives for games. She said they are basing their incentives program off programs in place at other universities like Kennesaw State University, where it has been successful. She explained that the program will be sponsored. Lovett pointed out that their "spirit theme days" will be grassroots-centered to get students involved in athletics. Davis said she believes dorm storming from athletes is a great idea, but she is also aware that dorm storming is annoying. 8:39 p.m. Locke asks each ticket how their previous SGA experience has best prepared them to serve in the positions they are vying form. Davis answered that she was on the Heritage Life committee, which plans the Christmas Tree Lighting and Pilgrimage to Penfield. She faltered when attempting to name the amount of the committee's budget, forgetting whether it was $70,000 or $80,000. She said due to her involvement with this committee she is very visible to students, and she cited her passion for the student body again as more important than her involvement. Lovett agreed that his passion for the student body is more important than his experience, although he has served on SGA for two years. Robinson answered that he is the former PR and Elections chair. This is his first year on SGA, but he said he has learned to take in information and really listen to his constituents. Davis answered that he has served for two years and is currently sophomore class president and chair of the Macon Connections committee. Turner complimented Davis' work on Heritage Life but also said that his experience on Macon Connections allows him to create and expand new events rather than just continuing existing ones. He mentioned again that he has experience listening to constituents. "It's great to have a great plan, but it takes great leaders to implement that plan." 8:45 p.m. Locke opens up for audience questions. The first question was directed to Davis and asked her why she feels Turner decided to hold a pep rally and what purpose it served. Davis responded that she has asked herself that same question "particularly when I was trying to take a test, and my phone was blowing up with people asking me where my band was." She said she feels some people run for their own purposes and on their own popularity, and that she is not doing that. All her events are geared towards helping students understand her platform, she said. "I think you would have to ask Dalton why he had a pep rally," she said, "but if you come to our events like Margaritas with Mollie on Thursday I think you'll see why we don't have to have events like that to campaign for ourselves." Turner quipped "Margaritas with Mollie" and smirked. He responded that he had the pep rally because it fits with his theme of spirit of Mercer. He said that he is hurt by the implication that he is running for himself. He said he has spent too much time listening to students for that to be true. "We're not worried about alcohol," he said. "We're worried about volunteerism." They had the pep rally, he said, to form a connection with Macon and to make students excited about coming to Mercer and "give them something to dance about." 8:49 p.m. Locke asks a question from Branden Ryan, currently studying abroad in Hong Kong and visiting Malaysia. The question concerns how to increase transparency in SGA. Turner answered that he will provide suggestion boxes again and wants to hold SGA in a more open space where students can see what is going on. He wants SGA members to go to student organization meetings to increase their presence. Lovett answered that their campaign directly addresses this idea. He wants to match students to committees by their interests or majors because the SGA bylaws state that non-elected students can serve on SGA committees. Lovett faltered, and Davis took over, stating that she believes involvement in SGA will help SGA do their job better as it will help them see what their constituents want. She mentioned the recent Cluster controversy and said she thinks if nothing else it shows that students are becoming aware of SGA. She wants SGA to be freed from "past traditions" and "former senator's goals" nd have SGA be a fluid body. 8:53 p.m. Locke asks each ticket if they think the recent legislation that extends the campaign time was a good idea. Davis answered that she has been able to meet more people as a result of the legislation. She called herself an "underdog" and said she is not as popular as Dalton, so she is glad that she got a chance to get her name out there. "This is different from Homecoming Court," she said. Turner answered that his running mate sponsored the legislation and that, although a longer campaign is tough, he believes it is good. "It's been great, it's been a long haul," he said. Turner said his approach is different from Davis and Lovett...more grassroots and less focused on "flashy" things like "getting people to come get margaritas." Turner said students are seeing what SGA can do as a result of this. He said the platforms are different, but they speak to themselves. Both candidates joked that they don't know if they can do three weeks again. "I usually cry sometimes [after a sleepless night]" Turner said. Turner said he respects Davis and Lovett for doing this, and he says he wouldn't work this hard if he didn't do it. Would he do it again? "Yes, because I love Mercer," he said. 8:57 p.m. Locke asked a question to both tickets about whether campus safety is an important issue. Robinson answered that safety is a concern that will never go away. "It's not something I think we can back off of at all," he said. He mentioned increasing lighting, especially with expansion of residence halls. He wants to boost up presence of officers on campus. Turner mentioned that he was on the campus improvement committee last year, and he said that Mercer Police has amped up its efforts. He said he wants students to be knowledgeable about interactions with potentially dangerous locals and how best to handle them. Lovett said their ticket has also spoken with Chief Collins about these issues. He said Mercer Police is on board to help and added that he wants to bring back the Monthly Crime Statistics report. Davis pointed out that her ticket surveyed students today and found that the number one issue is blue light phones and more lights on campus. "We think that's a great thing for SGA to do because it's what the students want," she said. 9:03 p.m. Locke asked a question about what each candidate would do if they were in the position of Locke when he recently asked for Mitchell's resignation. Davis said she respects the right to free speech and thinks it is important to not stifle it. She does agree with Locke's decision, however, and agrees with Mitchell's decision to step down gracefully. She believes the article was not intended to be spiteful but believes there was unintended harm from it. She said that SGA as a whole has not done the best of working on unity and that everyone could do better about confronting people personally early on and reaching out to new senators. People who don't get along should meet outside of Senate to create a more cohesive body. Her ticket looks forward to ironing out differences before senate so it doesn't come out in a "harsh" way. It was an uncomfortable situation for many senators, she said, and she supports president Locke's decision. Turner said he supports President Locke's decision. Turner said you cannot knock the writer of the article for his caring and passion for Mercer students. At the same time, he said, SGA has a duty to students to be welcoming to students and listen to them, and he believes students shouldn't be put down and think that other members of SGA see them in a negative light. It is really important to acclimate students to SGA, he said. His ticket wants older SGA members to take younger ones under their wings and teach them about passion like that of the article's author. Turner said the only reason he thinks the article hurt people was that it was personal and made people think SGA was not united. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, he said, and he is glad someone is passionate and trying to make their university great. 9:08 p.m. Locke asks each ticket what they disagree with the most on their opponent's platform and why. He asks each candidate not to respond to the other's answer in their response. Turner says he disagrees most with the jobs in Macon. He feels it is a great initiative, but he thinks it is designed to just sound good to students. He doesn't think it is feasible, he said. He said he wants a connection with Macon but thinks that volunteerism is the best way to do it. He thinks that Davis is promising jobs that she cannot deliver to the entire student body. Davis says on the whole Turner's ideas are good. The thing she disagrees with the most, however, is that it is unoriginal. "this has been a tenant of almost every SGA president before him," she said. "Leadership is about changing as fluidly as the student body changes." Turner's platform is fine, she said, if it is what students want. She said Turner's platform lacks original ideas that are changing with the student body. 9:14 p.m. Each ticket gives their closing remarks. Davis thanks students for coming and talking with her about ideas she has been "thinking about since November." She said when she thought of running for SGA she didn't do it because she thought SGA president would be fun - she did it so she could get the ideas she has done. Finally, she said she realized the best way she could make SGA everything she wants it to be would be to run. "Running for student body president is the best way I can make these things happen for you," she said. "Regardless of the outcome of this election, I am still going to pursue my goals." She thanked everyone who has supported her and helped her campaign. She said that she will not pursue an executive position if she loses this election, as she will not be able to serve as a senator on SGA next year. Robinson said that both he and Turner have "dived into" Mercer. He said he feels like through his involvement he knows what is on the hearts and minds of Mercer students. Turner said the campaign has been tough. He said he and Robinson rally behind one another. It is great to see that students care about their platform, he said. He mentioned the wet campus again, saying that he is not pushing the most "popular" ideas. He said that Mercer is a unique and special place, and he wants to "enhance it through our platform and our students." He said his ideas are similar because Mercer is founded on great traditions, and he wants to change but stay true to who we are as Mercerians. He and Robinson might not be the greatest debaters, he said, but he will always listen to Mercer students and care about them. "Don't ever question whether we care or not, because we do," he said. Elections take place April 9 - April 13.
SGA kicked off what will be a month-long campaign with qualifications last Monday. Sophomores Mollie Davis and Dalton Turner announced their candidacies for SGA president, and students also signed up to run for class offices and Senator at Large. The candidates’ presence on campus has increased along with the campaign time and spending limit. Several senatorial candidates have developed a large Facebook following, including Branden Ryan, Sharpe Sablon, and Sage Harris (running for senior senator) and Bentley Hudgins (running for Senator at Large). Javon Denson, running for Senator at Large, is utilizing YouTube, posting daily video updates on the progress of his campaign. The presidential candidates are taking advantage of the lengthened campaign season as well. Davis and her VP pick Joshua Lovett had a banner above Connell Student Center the day after qualifications, and they are an unavoidable presence. The two have put flyers around campus, constantly updated their Facebook and Twitter and purchased goodies like stickers for potential voters. Turner and his VP Justin Robinson have similarly started a campaign with flyers, Facebook posts and buttons. Davis is a sophomore double-majoring in business and English with two years of experience on SGA. She is the current Heritage Life Committee Co-Chair and is also involved in Delta Sigma Pi Professional Business Fraternity and Reformed University Fellowship. Lovett is a junior double-majoring in political science and business with two years of experience on SGA. He has served on the fiscal affairs committee and the Public Relations and Elections committee. He is also a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. Davis has a platform based on four central issues: Macon relationships, athletics incentive program, revamping student government and campus improvements. “I have a vision for the future of this student body and will empower leaders from all spheres of campus to set and achieve great goals for themselves, their organizations, and their peers,” Davis said. This passion is not limited to senate meetings; it includes a passion for increased school spirit, improved campus resources, and an investment in the local community.” Turner is a sophomore majoring in political science with two years of experience on SGA. He is currently sophomore president and chair of the Macon Connections committee. He is involved in several other organizations on campus, including Mercer Ambassadors, Mercer Service Scholars, Student Admissions Team and Alpha Tau Omega. Robinson is a junior majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology with one year of experience on SGA. He is currently the Public Relations and Elections Chair. He is also a Resident Assistant for Plunkett Hall and is involved with Quadworks. Turner’s platform covers more issues than Davis’, including community connections, the Bear Rock Cafe, athletic attendance, freshman-centered programs, a new recycling initiative and improvements to the Fresh Food Company. “I’m passionate about the school and all the great things this university has to offer,” Turner said. “The main thing I feel Justin and I can offer is to get students excited about coming here. We have a great academic atmosphere here at Mercer, but we want to enhance the spirit here and get students more passionate about this university and what it has to offer.” Voting for all candidates will take place the week of April 9-11.
On March 1, Mercer seniors Liz Bibb and Gene Mitchell met with Rebulican candidate, Newt Gingrich for The Cluster. Liz: Thank you for being with us today, Mr. Speaker. In New Hampshire, you talked about people being able to set up personal retirement accounts. We haven’t heard a whole lot about that in the national news since. Is that still an important issue on your platform? Gingrich: It’s very important. We’re actually encouraging students on college campuses to organize in favor of it. It helps save social security the right way, which is by moving to a savings and investment model rather than politicians in charge of your life. It will be totally voluntary. You will take the part of the tax that you pay and it would go straight into a savings account. It would build up your entire lifetime so that when you did finally retire you would build up probably two or three times as much money as you would with the current system, and no politician would control it. Gene: it sounds like you thought a lot about this, and it sounds like a fascinating idea, but you have to win the presidency to implement it. Gingrich: That’s right. And that’s part of my deal with young people is that they have to help me win the presidency to implement it. I think it goes both ways. Gene: So Georgia is going to be very important on Super Tuesday for you. How well are you going to do on Super Tuesday and where are you going to go from there? Gingrich: Well the number one concern has to be carrying your home state, as Governor Romney found out in Michigan. I think we’re going to do better here than he did in Michigan. I’m here campaigning for four straight days because this is important. I think by the middle of March this will look like a different race. Liz: Speaking of college students, I remember you speaking in South Carolina about how most college professors are abundantly liberal. Do you believe this diminishes a college education if this is the case? Gingrich: Yes. I think it ends up being mostly propaganda. There’s a significant degree to which the thing people are taught in college aren’t true, and they have to spend years unlearning them. Gene: So as President of the United States, how do you fix that? Gingrich: Well, you don’t. You just point it out and hope that people fix it themselves. Gene: So then should students do something alternative to college education? Gingrich: On occasion. It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. I think as long as you understand that most of what you’re getting is propaganda, then you’re armed against it. Liz: What are you doing to reach out to young people in your campaign? Gingrich: First of all, we’re aiming for $2.50 gasoline, which most young people find desirable. Second, we have a very aggressive jobs campaign. You’re not going to pay off your student loans if you can’t get work, so I’m trying to find a way that every young person can get a job. Third, I’m trying to offer you a social security plan that takes power away from politicians, gives it to you, and gives you two or three times as big a return as you will get under the current system. Fourth, the issue of Islamist radicalism and the issue of national security is your generation’s issue. You’re the ones who will be at risk of getting killed. So I think having a policy of strength and peace through strength is a very important part of a message to young people. Gene: You’ve spoken about being a bold Reagan conservative. One of the things Reagan was known for was being able to attract democratic voters in a general election, how are you going to be able to do that? Gingrich: Well, 79% of the country believes we ought to be energy independent. So you campaign on issues that will bring people to you. I think you’ll find a lot of democrats in Macon who think $2.50 gasoline is worth voting for. I think you’ll find a lot of people who think paychecks are worth voting for. So, I hope on issues, not on personality, not on gimmicks, to bring people together in a big way.
The Young Puns film at a Newt Gingrich rally at Hephzibah Children's Home on Zebulon Road, where Gene and Liz interview Newt, and the team gives post-rally analysis. Produced by Shawn Patterson, Joshua Whitfield, and Raquel Offield.
The second installment of the new political talk show, hosted by Gene Mitchell, Liz Bibb, Trent White, and Matt Hickman and produced by MERCER99.
Fox News Contributor Juan Williams was the guest speaker at this year’s Executive Forum, held Tuesday night in the President’s Dining Room. Williams has spanned the field of journalism, working as a columnist for The Washington Post, a senior national correspondent for National Public Radio and now a Fox News Contributor. President Bill Underwood said he chose Williams as the speaker because he is “one of the more thoughtful political commentators we see and hear from today.” “I think he is representative of the best tradition of journalism, and that is that he really tries to be a thoughtful, independent commentator,” he said. Williams alternated between serious political discussion and personal anecdotes during his speech. He began by giving his predictions for the upcoming elections. Republicans will take control of the House and the Senate, Williams said, because it would be too difficult for the Democrats to regain control of the House, and the Republicans only need to pick up four seats to hold the majority in the Senate. “My prediction is that the Republicans are going to have control of Capitol Hill after the 2012 midterm,” Williams said. Williams also believes that President Obama will be reelected, largely because of a tradition of presidents who won against opposition parties serving more than one term. It helps, Williams said, that Obama has no challenge from his party for the nomination and, “he has the ability to again and again point to the sins of the past for creating many of the difficulties he’s faced during his first term.” A divided government like this, Williams believes, leads to likelihood of more political polarization and inaction that has been “demonizing the American political process for the past few years.” Williams said if changes are made by both the president and Congress, this can be avoided. Williams also spoke lengthily about the evolving social structure of America. Women, he said, are becoming increasingly important in the political process and will in fact determine the outcome of the upcoming elections. He shared a story about a high school he visited in Minneapolis where he asked to meet with the brightest students, the student leaders and student athletes who had potential to get athletic scholarships to colleges. Women made up at least 50 percent of all of these groups, he said. Political ads are often targeted towards women, Williams pointed out. “[Politicians] want her to be convinced that the opponent is a bum and he or she is their savior,” he said. Williams opened the floor for questions after his talk, and the audience turned the conversation back to the current political field. One audience member asked how we can overcome the intense divide that has been present lately in American politics. Williams called for politicians to overlook party lines and do what is best for the country. “It’s not just about Republican or Democrat…it really is about holding the center and determining how we as Americans move down the road,” he said. Williams was also asked about Media Matters’ views on Fox News, a subject with personal meaning to him since he stated that Media Matters “got him fired” from National Public Radio after he made comments on Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor that some viewers interpreted as discriminatory towards Muslims. NPR requested that Fox News stop identifying himself as an NPR correspondent after the incident because he espoused different views on the different networks. Williams’ political ambiguity was something that attracted Underwood to him, however. “He’s someone that people have a difficult time categorizing…is he liberal, is he conservative? You don’t really know,” he said. Williams said Tuesday that he felt Media Matters was a leftist media outlet trying to punish people who are on the right. His comments were not meant to be discriminatory, he said, but he was attempting to have an honest conversation about a real attitude towards Muslims that is present in American society.
SGA passed legislation Monday night to increase the campaign time for presidential elections to three weeks and the voting period to one week. The amount presidential candidates can spend on their campaigns was also raised to $750, and the amount senatorial candidates can spend was raised to $500. The legislation, authored by Senator Justin Robinson and co-sponsored by Parliamentarian Gene Mitchell, was originally brought before Senate a week previously and was voted down due to concerns about the amount of money being raised and the constitutionality of the proposed campaign length. Concerns about money were settled as Senator Bradshaw moved to friendly amend the original limit of $1,000 to $750 and Senator Robinson friendly amended it after discussion by Senator White and President Locke of their own campaign expenses. The question of constitutionality arose because of a passage in Article 7, Title 1, Part 2 of the SGA Constitution that states: “The Senate shall hold its yearly general election within two weeks of spring break to elect senators and members of the executive branch who are subject to election.” Some senators interpreted the language to mean that the election day for both senatorial and presidential candidates must be held within two weeks of spring break, while others felt that the two week time period referred to the beginning of the campaign. Although the motion passed, Senator Matt Hickman voted no because he was never convinced of its constitutionality. “I think it’s unconstitutional in the way that I read the constitution, however I can see how the language could be seen as constitutional. But given the general language in that one clause and in another clause later on, it makes it clear that the language includes the campaign as well, and the campaign will go beyond the intended two weeks that’s in our constitution,” Hickman said. Mitchell, who stated that his job as Parliamentarian is to inform the president on the accuracies on understanding of the constitution and its bylaws, believes a deep reading of the constitution was necessary in order for senators to pass the legislation. “The first time Senator Hickman read this phrase, he understood general election to mean that the time frame for presidential and senatorial elections could be staggered. The next week, he argued against the legislation because he understood within two weeks to mean that the election day for both has to be held within two weeks,” Mitchell said. “I would say that is a very shallow reading of the constitution.” He also pointed out that Hickman’s view was extreme, as most of Senate did not agree. Mitchell said he was compelled to put his name on the legislation after a conversation with Senator Robinson in which Robinson expressed a desire to make the election process more democratic, get more students out to vote and consequently help SGA be more visible to the student body. “I looked at his legislation and found it to be not only constitutional but also very democratic,” Mitchell said. “Looking at what Senator Robinson wanted to do and what the legislation could do, I couldn’t help but put my name on it so he at least knew he had my support.” For more on this story, visit www.mercercluster.com
Mercer’s Student Government Association unanimously approved legislation to contribute $2,500 to place new recycling bins on campus. Students for Environmental Action (SEA) requested the money from SGA’s special funding account. SEA originally requested $7,875 from special funding, enough to purchase three new recycling bins, which amounts to nearly 50% of the remaining money in special funding. After two weeks of deliberation, SGA approved the legislation to fund $2,500. A request has been made to the Board of Appropriations to match the $2,500, and President Underwood has committed to funding the rest. Monday night’s vote came after the legislation had been tabled two weeks previously due to concerns over the amount of funding requested. Parliamentarian Gene Mitchell had moved to table the legislation because the request came before a turnover in the voting body due to elections and in order to give President Jordan Locke and Vice President Ike Ekeke time to speak with the administration about the issue. “The first time [the legislation] went through, I could tell that there was no one who was anti-recycling, but I could tell there were some senators who were a little leery about giving so much of our special funding budget to the recycling program,” said Jordan Locke, SGA president. Over the past two weeks, SEA president Katie Martin organized a movement to gain student support for the recycling initiative. SEA members and SGA members wrote a letter template to senators asking them to vote in support of the legislation and took copies to classrooms and dorms asking students to address them to their senators. Senators received more than 200 letters. “It was really grassroots organizing at its finest on Mercer’s campus,” Martin said. Martin explained that the new bins are needed because the existing program has been so successful since its inception last fall. SEA has met with Physical Plant to determine the best locations for new bins. Currently, the plan is to put two bins near Winship-Adams and Garden apartments and one near Connell Student Center. Mercer also stands to make money off expanding the recycling program, Martin said. Currently, the cost of managing the recycling is higher than any profit made from materials like cardboard, paper and aluminum cans. “By having more bins, you have more recycling, and you can cover the cost,” Martin said. She believes this is an important step towards sustainability for the program. Senator Mollie Davis expressed reservations Monday night for senators doing legwork for constituents. “I applaud senators for working for causes like this, but I feel like in the past when organizations have come up and not done background work or not been fiscally conservative like we’d like them to, we’ve turned them down,” she said. Senator Trent White, who helped Martin pass out letters, said he felt compelled to help with the initiative because it’s an issue that’s been very important to him. The move to bring recycling to Mercer was started during White’s presidency. White said that, in the past, it has been part of SGA culture that senators do not do constituent services, but he disagrees with this mindset. “I think since senators represent students, it’s important for them to take up causes the students want to be enacted,” he said. Senator Bentley Hudgins said Monday night that some of the students who addressed letters to him had approached him with concerns that they had not been adequately informed of the cost of the program and may not have supported it had they known. “I talked to them and I said ‘well I also wanted to ask you did you know that they’re asking for almost $8,000?’ and they said ‘no I didn’t know that,’ and I said ‘did you know they were asking for only three recycling bins?’, and they said ‘no I didn’t know that, and then I said, did you know this is almost 50% of our budget and we can’t afford to do that?’ and they said, ‘no but I wish you would have told me,’” he said. While Hudgins said he is pro-recycling, he also said he has a problem rewarding actions that mislead students. “It’s not an attack on SEA, I just don’t know if they realize what they did,” he said. Parliamentarian Mitchell, who helped recruit students to sign letters, adamantly disagreed with Hudgins. “When 36 people send you letters and your response to that is to question whether these people understand what they’re signing and then to accuse a student organization and members of senate of concocting some elaborate scheme to manipulate senators is utterly irresponsible, and I would hope that students would pay better attention to who they vote for. When people don’t understand what their constituents are conveying, you get answers and responses like that of Senator Hudgins,” he said. Mitchell also stated Monday night that those handing out the letters asked each person if they were in favor of increasing the recycling infrastructure. If students had any questions about fiscal responsibility, they were answered, and every single person who signed was encouraged and waited upon to read the letter they signed, he said. “It is very apparent that Senator Hudgins was blatantly and obviously trying to mislead his constituents by saying ‘only three bins’ because three bins almost doubles the availability of recycling on campus, which Mercer students have demonstrated that they want. For him to suggest to students that we can’t afford these bins is misleading,” Mitchell said. White, after voting an “emphatic yes” to the motion on Monday, said he feels this is an excellent use of special funding, because it is a long term policy. “I think that SGA should be putting its funds towards public services and public goods that benefit the students,” he said. Locke said he is glad the motion passed, but he is ultimately glad the motion was tabled so he could work out a solution that made it easier for the senate body to accept the motion and approve it. He also said he was glad to do the extra work for the initiative. “If students are really passionate about wanting something like this, it is our job to help facilitate that,” he said. According to Locke, the administration was incredibly receptive of the idea. “The administration is pretty good with recognizing when students really want to get something done on campus,” he said. He also believes the amount of support received made it easier for the president to support the initiative, since he feels Underwood is a president who respects students. The Board of Appropriations has not issued a decision on whether it will match SGA’s funding, but Locke said he is optimistic. “I think it would be a travesty if they decided not to use the remaining funds on the project,” he said.
Seniors Gene Mitchell, Liz Bibb, Trent White and Matt Hickman discuss national and local politics on a brand new political show hosted by MERCER99 and produced by Alex Preston, Joshua Whitfield and Tyler Schumann.
Last week, Dr. Chris Grant’s Presidential Primaries and the Media class traveled to South Carolina to follow GOP candidates around the state in preparation for Saturday’s primary. The week proved to be one of the most transformational in the race so far, with the suspension of Rick Perry's campaign, the revelation of Santorum’s Iowa victory and a surprise win for Gingrich in the primary. Wednesday, Jan. 18 The group left Mercer bright and early at 6:30 a.m. hoping to make it to South Carolina in time for a Mitt Romney rally at Wofford College. But, in keeping with the unpredictable nature of presidential campaigns, their schedule changed and they ended up in Greer, S.C. at a meet and greet with Governor Rick Perry. Several members of the class went into the situation with a negative view of Perry, but were pleasantly surprised after meeting him in person. “I liked him more on a personal level, so I guess I can disassociate liking him personally from not liking his policies,” said junior Chase Williams. The class made up more than half of the Perry supporters present at his speech, an ominous bit of foreshadowing of his announcement the following day. He spoke to the students and a few scattered locals at Southern Thymes, a small café in downtown Greer. Perry stressed the importance of recalling regulations put in place since the beginning of the Obama administration. “If they can’t be proven to clearly have a positive impact on the health and safety of our citizens and if they’re job killers, then they’re gone,” he said. He also blasted Obama’s veto of the Keystone pipeline, saying that every barrel of oil brought in from an ally is a barrel of oil that does not have to be bought from someone like Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. “I’m tired of the political correctness that comes out of Washington D.C. all too often where Americans’ interests are put secondary…to some other individual’s feelings,” he said. Perry’s speech focused heavily on patriotism and suggested that America needs a president who will not apologize for American exceptionalism, both militarily and economically. The class shook Perry’s hand one last time, took some pictures and departed for Easley, S.C., where Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was set to address a crowd at Mutt’s BBQ. The difference in the momentum of the two candidates was immediately apparent, as Gingrich’s rally was packed with supporters who waited in line and stood when seating was no longer available. Gingrich focused heavily on denigrating President Obama, indicating that he is looking toward the general election. He drew a comparison between Obama as a “food stamp Democratic president” and the “paycheck Republican president” Gingrich would be. “Obama wants a European system where he can tell us what to do…We’re going to teach him a lesson in the fall because the American people are inferior to no one,” He told a cheering crowd. He repeated his promise to challenge the president to seven three-hour Lincoln-Douglass style debates, with no moderator but the concession of a teleprompter for Obama. “After all, if you were going to try to defend ObamaCare, wouldn’t you want a teleprompter?” he quipped. “I’m confident that without notes I can defend the truth about America better than he can defend his fantasy with notes.” Gingrich also criticized Obama’s decision on the Keystone pipeline, calling him the “most destructive president in modern times.” The crowd was energetic and engaged throughout Gingrich’s speech, giving the class a preview of the positive feelings towards the Speaker in S.C. Not all students in the left with similar sentiments, however. “The crowd that Newt drew to his rally was distinctly different than other candidates. These rallies were characterized by anger towards President Obama, not a hope in the Republican candidate’s vision,” said senior Trent White. “The kind of people he attracts is telling of his candidacy because he does not inspire a unified Republican vision, he simply inspires anti-Obama sentiments. It could be enough to get him the votes, however.” White pointed out that his observations were true for South Carolina, but he is curious to see how Gingrich angles his campaign in other states. Thursday, Jan. 19 The class rose before the sun to leave the Days Inn in Clinton, S.C. for the Mills House Inn in Charleston, S.C. where the popular MSNBC morning show ‘Morning Joe’ was filming. Students packed into a crowded dining room to watch Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski discuss the candidates and hope for a shot of being on television. After the show, students had the opportunity to shake hands with the cast and take photos. Fortunately, the class was also able to score an invitation to ‘Morning Joe’s’ luncheon in downtown Charleston where Joe and Mika took questions from the crowd. Before lunch, however, the group attended a Ron Paul rally at the College of Charleston. Paul energized the younger crowd with his often-used liberty rhetoric. Rather than calling Obama out by name, Paul criticized the government as a whole. “They can’t manage our lives, they can’t manage our country and they certainly can’t manage all these countries around the world,” he said. Foreign policy was a key topic of Paul’s speech, and he stressed that he is not an isolationist, but a non-interventionist who still favors a more free and open society. Paul also called for a full audit of the Federal Reserve System and said "the only thing our current government is good at is creating debt." The group had a few hours of free time to explore downtown Charleston before heading to North Charleston where the CNN Presidential debate was held. Two students had the opportunity to attend the debate, while the rest watched either from a Mexican restaurant across the street or with fellow political science students at Presbyterian College. Friday, Jan. 20 The students got a later start, arriving at a Mitt Romney rally at a tree farm in northern S.C. around 11 a.m. The rainy morning did not seem to deter Romney supporters, as many of them braved the showers to hear the governor speak. Senior Sean Kennedy, however, said he noticed the energy of Romney’s crowd was distinctly lower than that of Gingrich’s crowd the previous day. Students spent the afternoon scoping out candidates’ headquarters in Columbia, where they would be volunteering the following day. They hit a Santorum rally at a restaurant in Chapin, S.C., but the room was at capacity, so they had to settle for a handshake outside as the senator walked in. Saturday, Jan. 21 The group split their volunteering time between Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich's headquarters. Ron Paul’s was not the first campaign senior Gene Mitchell had ever worked on, and he found it much more organized than the local campaigns he has experience with. “Everyone there who was working for him, even those like myself who were not Ron Paul supporters, were really inspired by what [Ron Paul] had to say,” Mitchell said. Students who volunteered for Paul and Gingrich mostly made phone calls for a phone bank, but Romney’s volunteers got some more field experience, going door-to-door and standing in the rain holding signs. After dinner, the majority of the group headed to the Columbia fairgrounds where Romney supporters awaited the results of the primary. The students stayed to hear Romney’s speech after the early victory call for Gingrich, and several got the opportunity to shake his hand. The group left for Macon Sunday morning, exhausted but exhilarated. Grant, who chaperoned the trip, said he feels the it was a success. “I think anytime you can see politics unfolding before your eyes it’s really beneficial,” he said. “It takes it out of the classroom and makes it real in a way that you can’t do just by reading about it.”
*Updated January 26, 2012 At the close of fall semester, Mercer President William Underwood announced an effort sponsored by the Knight Foundation to bring together professional journalists and students in a joint newsroom in College Hill Corridor. A $4.6 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will create the Center for Collaborative Journalism, to be located on the first floor of Phase II of the Lofts. Mercer is partnering with The Telegraph and Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB Media) to give students a chance to work alongside professionals in the field. The effort is also aimed at expanding media involvement in the community. In coming years, the joint newsroom will lead community engagement projects that involve Macon residents in creating the news by choosing which issues to cover, reporting, debating problems and creating solutions. “We hope Mercer’s Center for Collaborative Journalism and GPB Radio Macon will shine as examples of the kinds of journalistic excellence in the digital age that helps communities build themselves,” said Beverly Blake, Macon program director for Knight Foundation. “I am proud of Macon, and I want it to thrive. A vibrant information ecosystem will help that.” Mercer is receiving $3.74 million of the grant to create the center itself, which will be part of a mixed-use building in the Lofts also housing Mercer students. “GPB is a trusted Macon citizen and an active presence in the communities of Central Georgia,” said Teya Ryan, president and executive director of GPB Media. “Combining the talents of the Telegraph newsroom with GPB Radio and tapping into the digital DNA of Mercer journalism students, we will create a town hall for Macon and Central Georgia with more enterprise reporting, more storytelling about this community and far greater reach across all media platforms.” In addition to GPB staff, editors of The Telegraph will have offices in the Center. “Our goal with this partnership is to harness our collective resources to elevate community and civic journalism, involve and engage more citizens, readers, listeners, web and mobile users, and provide a unique learning environment for both new and seasoned journalists,” said Sherrie Marshall, Executive Editor of The Telegraph. Phase II of the Lofts is set to open in July 2012. The Journalism and Media Studies department will be in the Center. “In order for local media to survive, they have to go hyper local,” said Jay Black, assistant professor of journalism. “Small community newspapers will have to beef up their reporting on local issues because it’s the only place people can get info about their community. What we’re trying to do with this new center is find a way of teaching this hyper local news in today’s converged media atmosphere,” added Black. Cynthia Gottshall, head of the journalism department, is optimistic about the effect the move will have on students. “[They] will have the direct opportunity to work with professionals. That kind of collaboration can only benefit the students,” she said. Kaleigh Manson, a junior journalism major, is also excited about the Center. “Hopefully it will open up opportunities for for students,” she said. Larry Brumley, Senior Vice President for Marketing Communications and Chief of Staff, said it has not yet been decided how student media outlets like The Cluster will be affected by the move. According to Brumley, the administration is focused on recruiting a director for the Center and will hold a prospective student visitation day on March 24 for high school students interested in journalism and communications.
Mercer’s ServiceFirst program, now in its third year, provides opportunities for Mercer graduates to expand their borders and use their undergraduate education to assist in service projects around the world. ServiceFirst was established in 2009 and sent 17 students to such diverse locations as Beijing, Thailand, Philippines, Liberia and Eastern Europe in its first year. The program is an offshoot of the Institute of Life Purpose, directed by Dr. Scott Walker. Walker also founded and manages ServiceFirst. “ServiceFirst gives graduates time for personal reflection prior to going to graduate school by doing something that is worthwhile,” Walker told The Mercerian. “To have an experience that is posiive, fun and intense prior to the next chapter I life, it gets you ready to take that next major academic step.” The program is intended to give students a year to explore service options before returning to the United States to pursue a career or graduate school. Most projects last nine to 12 months, but the program also offers several semester-long and one-month opportunities, including some positions in the United States. Most placements involve teaching English, but students also work with world hunger relief, water purification projects, and teaching theatre, journalism and computer literacy for schools in Liberia. Walker said he began thinking about ServiceFirst when he was working at Baylor University in Texas. After coming to Mercer, he was impressed with the university’s commitment to service and sought to implement a program that would give students opportunities to take that service worldwide. Students who participate in the program often learn valuable lessons about the world and themselves while abroad, Walker said. The program has indeed acted as a spring board for many Mercer graduates who have participated. Mark Young, CLA ’10, was accepted into New York University Law School after travelling to China, Abby Roswell, CLA ’10, is currently in the Peace Corps after teaching English to Chinese English teachers and Ryan Schomburg, BUS ’10, is working toward a Master of Global Economy and Strategy at the Graduate School of International Studies of Yonsei University in South Korea, to name a few. Mercer alum Wesley Sanders participated in ServiceFirst in Bangkok, Thailand after graduating in 2010. He taught English to students between the ages of 8 to 12 at Wattana Wittaya Academy, a school for girls. Sanders said he loved his students and the experience. “I could tell stories all day,” he said. Upon his return, Sanders began graduate school at Georgia State University and is now getting a Masters of Public Administration in Nonprofit Management. For more information on ServiceFirst, visit www.mercer.edu/servicefirst.
Mercer students, faculty, alumni and community members gathered in Penfield Hall to celebrate Veteran’s Day last Friday. This year, the annual ceremony put on by Mercer Veteran’s Association was incorporated into Homecoming week, a decision MVA president Gene Mitchell was very pleased with. Due to the timing of the event, the organization had the unique opportunity to have Lieutenant Colonel John Taylor, a Mercer alumnus from the Class of ’61, speak at the ceremony, Mitchell said. Taylor was ‘on campus to celebrate his class’s 50th reunion. We were excited to have his perspective as an alumni and a veteran. Homecoming week also gave us the unique opportunity to reflect on the relationship between veterans and Mercer University and to demonstrate its long history,” said Mitchell. “Lastly, we were fortunate enough to have current student show their respect for not only veterans of Mercer’s campus but also of the past and present.” The ceremony opened with a welcome delivered by Mercer President William Underwood, the posting of the colors by Mercer ROTC members and an invocation by SGA President Jordan Locke. This year’s event featured two speakers: Lieutenant Colonel John Taylor, a veteran of the U.S. Army, and Major General Robert H. McMahon, Commander, Warner Robins Air Logistics Center. Taylor credited Mercer with preparing him for a career with the Army that he did not originally intend to have. “I think that’s what Mercer is all about. It prepares leaders for a lifetime of service,” he said. McMahon spoke about the calling men and women in the armed services feel to serve their country. “Nearly 236 years has taught us that the world is not safe,” he said. “Yet each time there is a new threat and our nation calls us, there is somewhere a man or a woman to raise a hand and say ‘here I am…send me.’” Mitchell believes Mercer was fortunate to have McMahon speak at the ceremony. “I hope this represents a future relationship between Warner Robins Air Force Base and Mercer University on a diversity of issues, including the education of veterans,” he said. The ceremony concluded with Mitchell speaking on his perspective as a Marine Corps veteran and recognizing members of the Mercer community who have served or are close to those who have served. He specifically recognized Leigh Ann Junod, whose husband is currently deployed to Afghanistan, and gave her flowers. Mitchell said there are both practical and theoretical reasons for honoring veterans. Practically, he said, our country has recognized over the years that something must be done to ensure the success of those fighting for our freedom when they return. “Theoretically speaking, nations have always honored their heroes,” Mitchell said, “and America is no different because we as a nation realize that the sacrifice of those who put their lives on the line for the safety and security of all of us is one that mere gratitude does not accomplish.”
Mercer University honored an annual tradition on Oct. 21 as approximately 400 students loaded onto eight charter buses and made the two hour trip to Penfield, Ga., the site of Mercer’s original campus. The theme of this year’s Pilgrimage to Penfield was “Take a step back in your future,” and the evening featured reflections by Mercer alumna Sarah “Honey” Withers. Students who attended the event visited Jesse Mercer’s grave (and the graves of other important Mercer figures), attended a service in the original Mercer chapel, ate dinner provided by Aramark and enjoyed a fireworks show. This year, there was a slight change to the graveyard ceremony. Instead of reading a litany by Jesse’s grave, students participated in a round of Mercer trivia to test their knowledge of Mercer history. Senior Matt Hickman, Co-Chair of the Heritage Life committee, said SGA had received comments from students in the past about the eerie nature of the litany. “We wanted to do something that would erase the negative connotations of being in a graveyard and do something more entertaining and fun,” Hickman said. Trivia was chosen as a way to both inform and engage students. Dr. Steve Brown, associate dean of student services, spoke to students in the graveyard about the history surrounding them. Jesse Mercer, founder of Mercer University, is buried in the graveyard along with Billington Sanders, the first president of Mercer. Students also visited the graves of Spright Dowell, president from 1928 – 1953, and the man responsible for the construction of MEP and Connell Student Center. Brown also spoke about the most recently placed grave, that of James McAfee, long-time investor in the theology program at Mercer who was buried there in 2004. Senior Christopher Driver delivered this year’s ‘Mercer Reflections’ in the chapel, telling freshmen that he understands the emblematic character of Porter Osbourne Jr. much better as a senior than he did when reading it going into his first year at Mercer. “I’ve learned that I can and should help other people, but that these people often end up helping me more,” Driver said. The chapel service also featured a history of Penfield, delivered by Dean Doug Pearson, a musical performance by Junior Liz Skinner, opening and closing remarks from Senator Matt Hickman, Co-Chair of Heritage Life, a speech by Mrs. Withers and a litany read by Senior Senator Trent White. Sophomore Class President Dalton Turner closed the service with a benediction and led the audience in singing Mercer’s alma mater. Withers, introduced by her granddaughter, Senator-at-Large Sarah Brown, spoke about her love of Mercer and encouraged students to make the best of their time here. “You are a blessed privileged generation because you have chosen Mercer and Mercer has chosen you,” Withers said. “Don’t squander your time in worthless endeavors and seize each day so that you will never be haunted by regret or thoughts of what might have been.” Withers detailed the differences between Mercer in her time and present day, including family style dinners in MEP separate from the men on campus, curfews for women and compulsory chapel services. According to Withers, students still managed to have fun with what could be seen as relatively strict rules. Each year, the male students held an intended ‘panty raid’ in MEP in which they would raid girls’ dorm rooms and confiscate pairs of frilly underwear. One year, Withers said, firetrucks came and were stationed in front of MEP with fire hoses ready to shoot at full force. “Not a one [boy] crossed the street…the girls were so disappointed,” Withers joked. Withers also met her husband at Mercer and cited the day he proposed to her in Tattnall Square Park as one of her best memories from college. Freshman Morgan Smith enjoyed her first trip to Penfield. “The food was good, the fireworks were fun, and I liked hearing from Miss Honey about how Mercer used to be,” she said. Hickman believes the event was a success. “I couldn’t have asked for a better event,” he said. “We had really good speakers, and the events outside of the chapel went smoothly as well. Mollie Davis ran everything spectacularly.” Although the event is intended for freshmen, many students go multiple times throughout their college career. Hickman himself has been every year, first as a freshman for his FYS class, then as a preceptor and member of SGA and finally as one of the coordinators of the event. “It’s kind of bittersweet knowing I won’t go back to Penfield as a student,” he said.
I don’t pretend to be a music aficionado. I enjoy music, and I enjoy live shows, but I most certainly am not an expert. On the one hand, this might diminish my appreciation of performances, but on the other hand, I believe it might enhance it. I am able to appreciate the show organically without being bogged down in the minute details. With that in mind, I humbly present my top five favorite performances from Deluna Fest 2011. 5. Big Boi. My appreciation of Big Boi is limited to the Outkast songs I enjoyed in middle school and a few singles like “Miss Jackson” and “I Love the Way You Move,” so I was somewhat unsure as to how much I would enjoy his show. I was pleasantly surprised. Not only did he play the aforementioned singles, but he also played some Outkast hits, which surprised me as I expected he would have stayed away from those while performing solo. Either way, he kept the crowd’s energy up throughout his set, despite the mid-afternoon sun beating down on the sand. 4. Matt and Kim. If my knowledge of Big Boi was limited, my knowledge of Matt and Kim was practically non-existent. I had heard of them and knew they had a reputation for fun, however, so I was excited for their set and, again, I was not disappointed. They delivered a high-energy performance with heavy crowd interaction that inspired balloon-throwing and shirt-waving. Men in the crowd were reduced to screaming teenage girl status, loudly proclaiming their undying love for Kim. They incorporated bits of covers, kept songs short and moved quickly, making for an all-around exciting performance. 3. Weezer. Weezer was amazing. ‘Nuff said. They played an energetic mix of their radio hits, fan favorites and fantastic covers. The three Radiohead covers in a row blew my mind, and their cover of “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People was a big hit. Rivers Cuomo interacted well with the crowd, wading out among us at one point to hop two security fences and belt out “song Rivers sang” on a sand dune. The crowd was the largest I saw at the festival, energy was high and the songs were exciting. Although I’m not familiar with a plethora of Weezer songs, I was not bored during their almost two hour set. 2. Girl Talk. Or more adequately, “gurl tawk, gurl tawk,” as the crowd chanted when the lights dimmed for Greg Gillis to take the stage. I love Girl Talk’s records, particularly to keep me awake on a long drive, but I was somewhat curious as to how he would put on an interesting show with no instrument but his laptop. The answer became obvious when fifty-two lucky audience members (who received playing cards from a deck before the show) were decked out with glowsticks and Native American headdresses and warpaint and sent onto stage to party with Greg Gillis. Not only that, but he threw various awesome stuff into the crowd, including rolls of toilet paper, water and masses of confetti. Gillis kept the energy going as well by dancing furiously on stage, ripping his shirt off and yelling sporadically at the crowd. When Girl Talk left the stage, I felt like my brain had been run over by an 18-wheeler. And that’s a good thing. 1. The Shins. The Shins are my favorite band of all time. I cannot emphasize this enough. I was literally bouncing up and down in anticipation of their show, but when they took the stage I froze in awe and amazement. They delivered a perfect show, blending popular songs from the radio and songs from early albums that only true fans would know. I was also surprised by their back to back covers, but pleased by the choices – “Breathe” by Pink Floyd and “Ashes to Ashes” by David Bowie. The highlight of the show came, however, when James Mercer announced after playing a song I didn’t recognize (WHAT?!? A Shins song I don’t know?!?) that it was in fact from their forthcoming album. Nothing could have made me happier, as I indicated by my high-pitched girlish scream. Seeing The Shins was a dream come true.
Mercer’s Student Government Association voted Monday night on legislation to approve Bear Grant applications. Requests for Bear Grant funding were submitted several weeks ago, and student organizations eligible for funding met with SGA’s Fiscal Affairs committee prior to Monday’s senate. Discussion about the vote became heated as the night went on. A key point of contention was the transfer of money from both the Conference and Lodging Fund (new this year) and Special Funding to make up for a budget overage in Bear Grant Funding. “I was pleased to see Senators taking an active stance when approaching student issues. However, the contention of transferring a relatively small portion of the budget was quite unexpected – especially on my part,” said SGA President Jordan Locke. Locke said that because the Conference and Lodging Fund is a new addition to the SGA Budget, he and Vice President Ekeke had to make an estimation as to how to allocate money to the three Fiscal Affairs fund: Bear Grants, Special Funding and Conference and Lodging. “Although approximately $2,000 seems like a lot to be taken out of the line item for Conference and Lodging Funding, there will still be approximately $20,000 left in the budget. The legislation did pass, with a single amendment to delay voting on Students for Environmental Action’s grant request until next Monday’s senate.Senior Trent White, Senior Senator for SGA, voted no on the legislation.“I voted no because the bill was over budget. Funds were moved from Conference and Lodging funding to cover the extra $3,462. Judging from years of past experience, several organizations will not be able to attend conferences as a result and we will most likely get more than this amount in refunds at the end of the year. This refund money will therefore not go to student organizations as it was originally intended,” White said.White also stated that there is a mechanism in place for Fiscal Affairs to cut a small percentage along all line items, and he feels this process was bypassed.Locke said he is pleased the legislation passed and, although the committee went over its proposed budget, he does not think groups seeking funding for conferences will be adversely affected. “Per last year’s budget, we estimated that if a Conference and Lodging Fund had existed, we would have spent approximately $16,560. The monies that will remain in for Conference and Lodging will be approximately $20,000. Therefore, theoretically, we’ll be able to fund even more organizations than last year,” he said.Locke said that Student Organization Funding is important to his administration, a reason why the Fiscal Affairs Budget is larger than any other committee budget, including the executive/operational budget. Although the conversation was heated at times, Locke said he is glad the discussion took place. “Democracy as an institution would not be nearly as effective without discussions like the one we had on Monday. I am personally pleased that funding was passed and am looking forward to seeing the student requests for the remaining funding,” he said.
Mercer students gathered on the tenth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks to honor those who lost lives or loved ones. Alpha Phi Omega partnered with Campus Life and the Religious Life center to put together the ceremony. The memorial service began in Newton Chapel and finished with a candlelight vigil and flag-raising. SGA President Jordan Locke opened the service, sharing Jesse Mercer’s words: “Divided, strength is weak, but united, strength is powerful.” Shé Farquharson of Alpha Phi Omega shared a poem titled “One” by Cheryl Sawyer; Mercer Veterans Association’s president Gene Mitchell read two passages of the Bible and Stephen Boyer and Tionna Crawford performed “Let there be Peace.” Maaz Sheikh of the Muslim Student Association read a passage from the Qur’an. Craig McMahan, University Minister and Dean of Chapel, said the reading was a good way to foster understanding between religious groups on campus. “Terrorists should not be the measure by which we judge all Muslims,” McMahan said. McMahan also shared a message to conclude the chapel service. “Tonight I stand here in this safe place, this sanctuary, and I wonder how you and I will construct our own memorials,” he said. He focused on positive aspects: “What will the memorial for September 11 be?” McMahan asked. “Will it be hatred; will it be fear; will it be suspicion; will it be sorrow; will it be grief? Or will it be light … the light of sacrifice for others?” “God help us, the God of us all help us … to honor those who have given their lives … by carrying on their lights,” he said. Attendees of the service then proceeded in silence to the flagpole between Connell and Roberts Hall to hold a candlelight vigil during which “Amazing Grace” was sung and “God Bless America” was played on the bagpipes. The service concluded with a prayer led by McMahan. Mitchell, who is a veteran of the Iraq War, said the service was important because 9/11 is something that all Americans identify with. “As an American who lived and experienced that, the least I can do is remember those who gave and lost their lives as a result of that day,” he said. The service also honored the service men and women who died while rescuing people from the towers. According to McMahan, APO students took leadership on the project. “Although 9/11 was a tragic event and will never be forgotten, it was also a moment in history in which everyone came together and supported one another,” said Maya Robinson, president of APO. “We wanted to re-establish this support system and bond on campus by bringing Mercer students, faculty, and the Macon community together. Therefore, helping with the 9/11 Memorial enable us to honor the lives lost through unification and show that as Americans we can move on from the past and start building towards a brighter future one step at a time.” McMahan emphasized that this service was important because Americans are now at a critical point of determining how we are going to move on from the tragedy. “I think it’s very important, as we remember what happened, to not be given over to the grief and pain and sadness,” he said. “Now should be a time for remembering what was good about that day – that it gave ordinary Americans the chance to act in extraordinary ways, McMahan said. “The most fitting memorial is to live into and live up to the kind of sacrifices that were made.”
U.S. News and World Report ranked Mercer No. 9 in the South in the "Best Regional Universities" category as part of its annual ranking of universities. This is the 13th consecutive year that Mercer has made the Top 10. The University is also ranked No. 7 in the South in the category of “Great Schools, Great Prices,” and Mercer’s School of Engineering has been placed again among the top 50 undergraduate engineering programs in the nation. The “Great Schools, Great Prices” ranking reflects the magazine’s selection of institutions based on a number of criteria, including academic quality and the net cost of attendance for students receiving need-based aid. Mercer has ranked among the South's 15 best universities for 22 consecutive years. More than 500 universities are ranked within four geographic areas – North, South, Midwest and West. Mercer’s overall score of 81 in the magazine’s rankings places it among the top 25 regional universities in the country. "Mercer has consistently been rated by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 universities in the South, but in recent years the magazine has been highlighting Mercer's great value," said Larry Brumley, Senior Vice President for Marketing and Communications and Chief of Staff. "For three consecutive years, the magazine has rated Mercer among the 10 best buys in our region, which underscores the excellent return on investment that our students and their families receive from a Mercer education. We are particularly pleased with this recognition."