Mercer Law School’s Association of Women Law Students is set to host the third annual Lauren Giddings 5K to raise funds for the Lauren Giddings Scholarship. The race and scholarship are named after a former Mercer law student, Lauren Giddings, who was murdered in 2011. Giddings had recently graduated law school and was studying for the bar exam. Her neighbor and classmate, Stephen Mark McDaniel, was charged with her murder and subsequently plead guilty. The funds raised by the event will go towards covering several AWLS members' bar exam expenses. “Lauren Giddings was a runner, and her family and the school really wanted to have an event that was in remembrance of her. She would have wanted Mercer students to have help with bar preparations,” Emily Newberry, the AWLS Fall Philanthropy Co-chair, wrote in an email. The bar exam is one of the final hurdles for law students, and passing it grants a license to practice law in their given state. “This scholarship is very important because it covers the cost of Bar Exam preparations, which are well over $1,000,” Newberry said. Aside from finances, the race and scholarship both contribute to the legacy of Giddings. Grace Hamilton, a pre-law student, said that keeping Giddings’ legacy alive is an important part of combating the type of misogynistic violence that led to her death. Hamilton also said that receiving financial aid for bar exam expenses would make pursuing a legal degree more feasible and accessible. “What she wanted to do was to advocate for people, and she would want to empower other women,” Hamilton said. In previous years, AWLS has raised around $8,000, which comes from a combination of race registration expenses and donations, Newberry said. The group has welcomed around 130 people in previous years and is working with various other campus organizations to put on this year’s race, including Bear Care, the Federalist Society, the Second Amendment Society and the Black Law Students Association. The race will be held on Nov. 7 at 8:30 a.m. at Central City Park. The cost of registration is $40, which goes towards the scholarship funds.
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The Mercer Green Coalition staged a climate strike on Sept. 28 to raise awareness for issues of environmental sustainability. The strike was held on Cruz Plaza and was done in partnership with the Friday for Future movement. “The biggest thing is that we hope that people make changes in their personal lives and their habits, but obviously we would like to see a change in the way that Mercer itself is structured and how it handles sustainability issues, which is something that we have been trying to do for the past two years since the Green Coalition was formed,” said Emily Harvey, a Mercer Green Coalition member. The strike, which was inspired by the young activist Greta Thunburg, incorporated groups from several local colleges and high schools. “We got some emails from groups at Middle Georgia State and some from Milledgeville, as well as from some Macon high schools that wanted to join us,” said Nidihi Saakshi, director of the Mercer Green Coalition. “It was nice to see that people were interested and willing to travel for it.” One of the ways for students to participate in the strike was to pose with signs displaying various climate and environmental concerns, in addition to artwork with memes and witty phrases. “We had people come out Wednesday to make the signs, and they were really excited and engaged with it, so we hope things go well,” Harvey said. While the strike was the latest action taken by the Coalition, they have been active on environmental issues since they were founded. “The Green Coalition has done a lot to try and improve sustainability on campus. We do have recycling on campus, but it is out of the way and people don't really know about it. We have pushed for institutional changes in that way that Mercer builds buildings, what they use in them and the way that sustainability is thought of on campus,” Harvey said. While the Coalition is primarily focused on campus sustainability issues, they also have a wider outlook. “We hope to engage in conversation, to get people talking about climate change so that they can push and show the university and the community that they want change and that they are passionate about it,” Saakshi said. This wider perspective is also reflected in the makeup of the group. “Green Coalition isn't an organization. It’s made up of student organizations that have partnered together: Bear it Natural, SGA, Greener Mercer and the Vegan club,” Harvey said. With this range of members and a goal of sustainability, the Coalition has set its sights high. “We would love to see a world with a future,” Harvey said. October is International Campus Sustainability Month, and Saakshi said the Coalition will have three events throughout the month. More information will be posted on their Instagram and through Bear Blurbs.
A rising star has been spotted on the Mercer Women’s Soccer team; freshman Nicole Icen from Marietta, Georgia, scored three goals in a single game against Davidson College, leading the Bears to victory. Icen, who plays center forward, first got into soccer after seeing her dad and older sister’s love for the game. That love stuck with Icen as she started her first year at Mercer “My favorite part is making a pass that is almost impossible, and it gets through, and everyone is on the edge of their chairs,” said Icen. Icen’s perspective on soccer changed when she got to Mercer. “My whole life, I have been taking soccer lightly,” Icen said. “But since I got to college, it has been a different atmosphere.” It was the high stakes of college soccer and the camaraderie of her teammates that made Icen take soccer more seriously. Icen’s performance is also bolstered by her mentality while playing. "When I am playing, I don't think about it. I think that is my thing, that is what makes it easier for me to play; my mind is clear," Icen said. “I am way more calm; I used to shoot it way over the goal. I am more composed." It was this clarity that gave Icen the ability to not only score three goals against Davidson but to go on to score in other games. Looking forward to the rest of the season, Icen is hopeful for what the Bears can accomplish. "We are really good this year, I hope that we will win our conference,” Icen said. “I have high hopes that if we keep playing the way we know we can, that will break some records." While the Bears are gearing up for the rest of the season, Icen is gearing up for her business classes and seeing what the future holds for her. "I don't know if I will play after college, but it has been really fun playing here. The girls are really great," said Icen. The full season schedule can be found on the Mercer Athletics page.
[sidebar title="" align="left" background="on" border="all" shadow="on"] This is an opinion article. Any views expressed belong solely to the author and are not representative of The Cluster. [/sidebar] The burden of textbooks has become too much for many students to bear. I am not talking about the weight of the books, but rather their price. The expected cost of textbooks at a private, non-profit,four-year university is $1,240, according to CollegeBoard. My own textbook budget is about $1,000 per year, and while this may seem small compared to my tuition cost, that extra $500 every semester has left me broke and stressed at the beginning of the semester. For this reason, I have concluded that the administration of Mercer University must take steps to reduce the price of textbooks that students are required to purchase for their classes. In particular, the University must institute a price limit on the books and materials that professors make mandatory. Now, before the economics department comes for my head, I would like to explain what led me to this solution. It was my frantic searching for cheaper textbooks than the campus bookstore offered and learning the term “principal-agent problem.” This problem has to do with one party, the agent, having the power to control what decisions that the subordinate party must make, according to The Intelligent Economist. Simply put, this is when the professor picks the textbooks and class materials without having to be the one who picks up the bill. The students, the ones paying, do not have the control that normal customers have; the students do not have the option of not buying the good. There are, as any student would know, ways of working around the issues of price. Oftentimes, books are available as PDFs for a lower price, cheaper versions of materials could be found on sites like Amazon, a friend could loan you the book you need, etc. However, these solutions are simply working around the price and not addressing the issues of the high costs. The administration should put into effect a limit on what books could be used in classes based on the price. This price limit would be unique to each department and would take into account the types of textbooks and materials needed for certain classes. An upper-level anatomy class would have different needs from INT 101. Furthermore, I propose that the price limit should be created by a committee whose members would include both faculty and students. The purpose of having a mixed board is so that the faculty do not forget the cost the students have to pay, and that the students do not forget the value of a quality textbook. As an additional safeguard, all price limits would be contestable. If any professor who feels that they can not give students the high-quality education they demand within the limits set by the board, they can appeal the price limit set for their department or class and have it waived. While the notion of a price limit on class materials and the creation of a board may seem like the beginning of more needless bureaucracy, they would be small steps toward addressing an issue that plagues all Mercer students. Scholarships and grants oftentimes do not cover the cost of supplies, leaving students who were in need of assistance reaching into their already-beaten wallets. It is true that some professors take cost into consideration, and, of course, no professor wants to make students pay more than they need to. However, the students need to be actively involved in determining what products they are buying and what they are paying. The heavy burden of textbooks can be carried only by professors and students working alongside each other.
The men’s soccer team played against the Cincinnati Bearcats Aug. 30, just days after the preseason preparation ended. Head Coach Brad Ruzzo said they had “six days to prepare for opening night, to button up something and get some final details down.” Their training did not start when classes came back into play, however; the Bears had been honing their skills and strengthening their bodies all summer. “A lot of guys play on teams in the summer, and that’s their training,” senior goalkeeper JR DeRose said. “We are focusing on tactics and not just trying to keep taking hits.” DeRose himself spent the summer recovering from a hip injury; his summer training was focused on getting back into shape for this season. The summer training was important for the team, as they only had about 14 days of preseason conditioning. To make the most of this limited time together before the season kicked off, Ruzzo relied on a mix of training methods. “Some of it is a big-picture thing, most of it has been geared towards Cincinnati,” Ruzzo said. One of the big picture methods was to add a goalkeeper coach to the team, which DeRose credits for his improved performance on the pitch. Looking forward, Ruzzo is not focused on training for individual teams as much as he is focused on creating tough, dedicated players who can last the 90-minute matches. “You aren't just gonna win games based on talent, you are gonna win games on heart and effort,” Ruzzo said.
The Mercer University debate team had a strong showing at The National Parliamentary Debate Association’s championship, with the novice team sweeping the competition to earn a first-place win. The tournament was held March 14-17 at the University of Utah. Mercer’s team, comprised of both the novice and varsity teams, placed 12th overall. “The novice team won three things: the final novice round, overall sweepstake award for team record and speaker points, and Yasmeen Hill won first-place speaker,” said Vasile Stanescu, couch of the debate team and professor of communications at Mercer University. With all pairs of varsity debaters making it to the final elimination round and the novice team sweeping the awards, Stanescu is counting this season as a success. “No one expected us to win two years in a row. We needed to show that we were still in the game and that we were up and coming,” Stanescu said. The success of this season has acted as fuel for the team’s ambition. “After seeing what we can achieve, it just makes me want to work a lot harder,” said Hill, a journalism and media studies student from Marietta, Georgia. Hill is the second African-American woman to win the top novice speaker award, and she and debate partner Cameron Dawkins are the first novice team comprised of two African-American women to win both the final round and the overall novice sweepstake award, according to Kyle Bligen, assistant debate coach. While celebrating their strong national showing, Hill said the team still remembers what debate is about and why they are willing to put in the long hours and hard work. “Debate is a space where young visionaries and advocates can come together and really advocate for what they believe in,” Hill said. She started her journey to national champion status on a whim, when Dawkins invited her to a debate practice because her former professor was the coach. Hill said she wanted to see what it was about. After spending time with the team, she was hooked. “I was like, ‘I’m definitely on this team, I love these people,’” Hill said. The strong bond that Hill felt with her teammates is a large part of what powered the team to their wins. “The great teams, the ones that really win, are not (just) great debaters but great friends,” Stanescu said.
The Macon-Bibb County government is critically underserving the most vulnerable members of our community: those struggling with homelessness. An estimated 10,174 people struggle with homelessness in Georgia, according to the Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. Nearly 500 people in Macon, Ga. are believed to be homeless, with possibly more living in the rural areas of Macon-Bibb County, according to Lester Ward. Macon-Bibb County has one emergency shelter, the Salvation Army shelter located at 1955 Broadway St. This is the only shelter that offers free housing to those that would otherwise spend the night in a park or under an overpass. In Macon, Ga., the remaining housing aid is made up of transitional shelters, a type of housing assistance offered by the government that is aimed at getting people to stable housing. Transitional shelters charge a percent of one’s income in exchange for a place to stay. However, many people on the streets in Macon cannot qualify since they have no income. Martin, who did not want to give his last name, is someone who recently joined our community after coming from Atlanta to start a new life. His experience in Macon, Ga. highlights the flaws in a system that relies on charitable programs to take the place of the basic requirement of a government: keeping citizens safe and alive. Martin went to the Salvation Army shelter for assistance, but the shelter turned him away without any help because they were at capacity. “You’re telling me that you can’t help me at all…that there is no other place in Macon?” Martin recalled saying to the shelter worker. Martin was told to come back the following Monday, a full week away, and perhaps a bed would be open. No other aid was available. No effort was made on the part of the Macon-Bibb government to keep a human being from sleeping on the ground without any food. “Macon does not provide help to the homeless… no help at all,” said Martin. Macon-Bibb County needs a government-funded shelter, one that will be able to provide emergency housing to those who are seeking to break the cycle of homelessness yet do not qualify for the transitional housing programs. A government shelter could offer improvements over Macon’s current charity-based shelter. It could provide an increase in the physical number of beds and would have a legal obligation to provide housing and assistance to all applicants; two issues that have plagued the Salvation Army in recent years. One shelter would be the least that the local government could do. However, this would constitute a major improvement in the services currently offered. “I think they should be aided. Healthcare should be provided, food should be provided, shelter should be provided,” said Freshman Nursing Student Britney Sanders. The Macon-Bibb County commissioners should care for those citizens who cannot care for themselves. The county must offer a hand to aid those facing homelessness in our community so that they may be able to rejoin and improve this community. Homelessness care strike anyone at any time; the commissioners would certainly prefer a government shelter to the streets.