TRIGGER WARNING This article or section, or pages it links to, contains information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors. The number of rape reports on the Mercer University campus increased steadily from 2014 to 2016, according to the university’s annual security report. Two rapes were reported on campus in 2014, seven in 2015 and 10 in 2016, the report said. The numbers are part of a required federal report under the Clery Act, and it includes crimes that were reported to the Title IX office. In comparison, the University of Georgia, which has over six times more undergraduates students than Mercer, had 15 rapes reported on-campus in 2016, according to UGA’s Clery Act report. UGA also reported 47 additional rapes with an unknown location and 34 with a confirmed off-campus location. Mercer didn’t report any rapes of unknown locations or off-campus locations in its 2016 report, and the Title IX office said it was because none were reported. The Clery Act requires universities and colleges that receive federal funds to disclose statistics about crime on campus. The law is named after Jeanne Clery who was raped and murdered in 1986 at her residence hall at Lehigh University. Melissa Graham, Title IX coordinator at Mercer, said that she believes the number of rapes hasn’t increased on campus, but there has been an increase in the reported of rape. “I think we've created a culture here that people feel comfortable coming forward and reporting,” Graham said. “So, I would be concerned if our numbers didn't go up, because I think our educational efforts and our communication efforts have increased.” Graham said the Title IX coordinator was a part-time position until 2015. “We had a Title IX coordinator, but Mercer took the extra step to make it a full-time position just focusing on Title IX,” Graham said. What happens when a sexual assault is reported? Sexual assault can be reported to the Title IX office directly from students, from Mercer Police and from other mandatory reporters, which includes faculty. Title IX is a civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. This includes addressing campus sexual violence. Graham said that once a sexual assault is reported to her, she sets up a meeting with the reporting party. If any medical exams need to be performed, Graham said she can facilitate that process by getting the student to the hospital or a doctor. Graham said that she always encourages students to get a medical exam after an assault. “I also tell them that if they didn't do that, that it's not a problem. You don't have to have gone to the hospital to pursue an investigation,” Graham said. She can also put “interim measures” in place, such as changing a student’s living arrangements, she said. These actions are explained in more detail in the graphic. During the “intake process,” Graham said she notifies the reporting party, the victim of the assault, of their rights throughout the Title IX process. Then, Graham said she explains what takes place in an investigation. There are four options: a criminal investigation through law enforcement, a Title IX investigation through the university, an investigation with law enforcement and Title IX, or no investigation. If the university has reason to believe a reported assault may have a broader threat to the Mercer community, Graham said the university may decide to continue with an investigation even if the reporting party does not want to participate. However, Dean of Students Douglas Pearson said this isn’t common. "Most of (the cases) aren't like that," Pearson said. "In rare cases, we may choose to investigate it with or without their consent." She said the process begins with investigators going through evidence and conducting interviews with the parties involved and any witnesses. “I make sure I talk about preserving evidence. It's not just a forensic exam. It's emails, text messages, pictures,” Graham said. Graham connects students with support services if the students believe they need them, she said. “We typically close out the conversation with, ‘What can the university do for you?’ and ‘What do you want the university to do in terms of investigation?’” If a student would like to proceed with an investigation, Graham said the responding party, or person accused of the crime, is notified to meet with Graham. Graham said she or Dean of Students Douglas Pearson will meet with the accused and go over the same information that they went over with the reporting party. “Obviously, (the responding party doesn't) really have an option of it being investigated. I'm telling them typically that it's being investigated,” Graham said. The investigation is reviewed for an informal or formal resolution, Graham said. An informal resolution, such as a no-contact order or another interim measure, does not go through the Mercer’s judicial process like a formal resolution. No action is also an option. If the accused is found responsible, Mercer has 15 different sanctions that can be placed against the accused including expulsion, according to the Student Handbook. Graham said that throughout the Title IX process, she encourages students to seek out a person of support, and she provides the students with resources. “I give them options because sometimes people don't realize that we can help you move a class or move residence halls,” Graham said. “We walk through the intake paperwork. You know, this is what's available to you. What can we do to help you?” For more information about Title IX on Mercer’s campus, visit the Sexual Misconduct and Relationship Violence page on Mercer’s website.
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The Plunkett Gallery in Hardman Hall at Mercer University will have its current exhibit called “Emerging Forms” up until Friday, March 23. The work in the exhibit was created by still life photographer Whitney Ott who graduated from Mercer University in 2008 as an English literature major with a photography minor. “I approach the subtle beauty and forms of my subjects using methods that are Minimalistic, yet allow the objects to be seen and appreciated in unexpected ways,” Ott said in her statement in the gallery. She said in her statement that this series was inspired by the “darkness and subtleties of 17th Century Dutch painters” and the food and floral photography of Irving Penn, a famous American photographer. “The photographs in this collection represent my perception of both ends of the light and dark spectrum,” she said in her statement. Craig Coleman, professor of art at Mercer, said that the exhibit is filled with beautifully lit still lifes that are composed well. “The lighting is done in such a way that the photographs look more like paintings from the history of art,” Coleman said. He said students should come to the exhibit to see the work of a Mercer alumni. “They should come to see what an (alumni) from Mercer University has done … with the knowledge of photography they learned here and how they used that to build a career in photography,” Coleman said. He said that students should look for the creativity that is behind each image and that a lot of the images are of food. “If they come and look at the show, they’ll get hungry,” Coleman said with a laugh.
A cart full of dozens of old books was wheeled through the isles of The Old Book Sale on March 1, and people filled the old building in Central City Park in search of stories for sale. The Old Book Sale was hosted by Friends of the Library from March 1 to March 4 in Central City Park at 150 Willie Smokey Glover Drive. [gallery ids="23587,23586,23585,23584,23583,23582"] According to the Friends of the Library website, there were over 100,000 books in 75 different categories at the event. Anitra Hardeman wheeled around a cart full of books at The Old Book Sale on Thursday, March 1. She said her and her son, Derek Hardeman, have attended the book sale every year since it began. "I love it!" she said. Anitra said she keeps a notebook with a list of all of the books she owns in it. She said she brings the notebook to the sale every year so that she can decide which books she needs to buy. Anitra and Derek sat down after rummaging through the books at the sale to record all of the dozens of books they were going to buy. Derek said he loves coming to the sale every year. "One year I had the flu, and I still came," he said.
Mercer Village vendors, like Francar’s Buffalo Wings and Nu-Way, said they believe the parking situation in Mercer Village dissuades customers from coming to their stores. “We love being there, but parking not being available on the street or in the commercial spaces is hindering our business,” said Nu-Way Co-Owner Jim Cacavias. Cacavias said during winter break, Nu-Way’s sales increased around 30 to 40 percent which he said shows how much the parking situation hinders his business. Although Jimmy Smith, general manager of Sauced Pizza, said students make up 75 percent of their customers, he said he still believes parking is a problem in Mercer Village. “We love the growing campus, but instead of maybe stacking Lofts on top of Lofts maybe build a parking deck or two parking decks per side of campus to help alleviate the parking problem,” Smith said. Cacavias said the university should implement parking management systems like other universities by selling parking decals for specific lots. He said that might make enforcing parking more manageable. Subway Manager Wayne Crowell said he thinks Mercer Police should “crack down” on enforcing parking. “I think the students take up the parking spots for the customers, and it costs us business,” Crowell said. Mercer Police Chief Gary Collins said they usually have issues with students parking in the retail spots at the beginning of each semester. “We have to ticket, and once in a while, we have to tow vehicles,” Collins said. “Until the word gets out, then it settles down some.” Collins said if anyone has complaints or sees a car that needs to be ticketed, they can call Mercer Police to report it. Mercer Police Officer Gary Mills said in a previous interview that people should only park in the retail spaces in Mercer Village if they are customers. “One of the places that we really keep a check on is Mercer Village and the retail stores and keep those spots available for them,” Mills said previously. Jittery Joe’s General Manager Dustin Prater said Mercer Police does a great job at the beginning of the year, but it seems like it gets worse as the semester continues. He said that it is a difficult situation because they also have students that want to study at Jittery Joe’s for longer than the two hour parking limit. Prater said over the seven years he has been at Jittery Joe’s, the increase in the number of students has also given them more foot traffic. “Growth is good. You just have to make sure your infrastructure keeps up with it,” Prater said. He said with the increase in restaurants and decrease in parking spaces over the years, lunchtime is a “nightmare.” “I have heard people say that they would like to come over here for lunch, but they just don’t feel like dealing with parking, which is kind of frustrating,” Prater said. Carl Fambro, owner of Francar’s Buffalo Wings, said he’s experienced the same problem. “If you come out at lunch time, you can see people just circling around trying to find a parking spot,” Fambro said. He said he loves that Mercer’s campus is growing. When he attended Mercer in the late 70’s, he said he could see from one end of the campus to the other, and parking is just a problem that comes along with the growth. “Parking’s a growing pain,” Fambro said. “The shortage in housing, that’s part of the growing pains. We gotta get through it, but it’s just still uncomfortable now.”
Student Government Association President Olivia Buckner told senators that Founders' Day was not the time to gain votes from students by speaking out against the speaker, according to an email released to The Cluster. “I realize elections are around the corner for many of you, but this is not a time to showboat or grandstand to get votes,” Buckner wrote in the email. [related title="Related Stories" stories="23251,23244,23246" align="left" background="off" border="none" shadow="off"] She continues in the email to remind senators that they took an oath, “to reflect honor and merit upon this organization and Mercer.” Buckner was contacted about the email but was unavailable to comment before Founders' Day activities commenced. After it was announced that Jay Sekulow, a lawyer on Trump’s personal legal team and a prominent figure in the conservative Christian movement, would deliver the speech, students and alumni spoke out against the selection. According to the email sent by Buckner, SGA senators are required to go to the event. A senator could be excused from the event if it was due to another university sponsored event. She said that if senators did not wish to hear Sekulow’s speech, they could assist in other ways, such as t-shirt distribution and set up away from Willingham Auditorium where the speech is being held. If a senator chose not to go to the event at all, it would be counted against them as an absent, Buckner said in the SGA meeting on Feb. 5. “It is an event that promotes Mercer, and how Mercer can instill ethics in us as adults so that we may be successful in our paths, which will invariably be different,” Buckner said in the email. Buckner said in the email that the speaker is chosen by SGA with collaboration with Dean of Students Dr. Pearson, SGA’s faculty advisor, and Mercer President William Underwood. Underwood sends out invitations to their top choices and SGA, Pearson and the Heritage Life Chair, Ashila Jiwani, are notified of who accepted the invitation, she said. She said that SGA must respect that Sekulow took time out of his schedule and made arrangements to speak at Mercer. “Our speaker this year was INVITED,” Buckner wrote in the email. Buckner said it is SGA’s job to represent the student body, and it can be hard to know that their close friends and faculty advisors are disappointed in them in some way, she said in the email. Buckner and Onuh ran for SGA on a ticket of “inclusivity” and “active communication.” “Our administration is strictly focused on active communication and impactful initiatives. With that being said, we really want to work hard with our multicultural organizations and any organization that feels like their voice isn’t being heard,” Buckner said in a Cluster article last academic year. Buckner and Onuh said at the time of elections that they planned to make Mercer a more welcoming environment for minorities. “We want every student to be able to optimize their opportunities, and Oge and I want to be there to make sure that happens. We want SGA to be a place for all,” Buckner said on their 2017 Presidential Election Facebook event. The quote was featured in a previous Cluster article. “This means every student should feel that they have an equal voice.” Freshman Senator Joseph Muldrew said in a statement to The Cluster he felt pressured to remain silent about opposition he felt towards the Founders' Day speaker. “By way of forceful emails, group messages, angry body language, charged texts, and soliciting fellow senators to politely persuade me to be silent, President Buckner pressured my fellow senators to self-censor and to not publicly criticize her decision-making,” Muldrew said in his statement.
Fernando Guardia, a Mercer men’s tennis player, plans to win the Southern Conference (SoCon) with his team this year. “Well, we have high expectations now that we made it to the finals last year in the conference,” Guardia said. “I think our main objective as a team is probably winning our conference.” Guardia, named to the SoCon All-Conference Second Team, also said he wants to classify in the NCAA tournament and win a few rounds. “We have the abilities. We have the talent, so we have high expectations (this) year,” Guardia said. Guardia, from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, said he started playing tennis when he was 10 years old. He said his mother and father played, but he believes his cousin introduced him to the sport. “Since that day, I think I really liked tennis, and it’s been my passion for years,” Guardia said. He said he found Mercer after Coach Eric Hayes contacted him. According to Mercer Athletics’ website, Guardia was ranked No. 308 in the World International Tennis Federation (ITF) junior rankings, which Hayes said is pretty impressive. “He’s been a real good team player, one of our hardest workers, a real good student, so you know, just a well-rounded good young man,” Hayes said. Hayes said a friend of his who coached in Bolivia told him about Guardia and reached out to him after seeing his ranking and skill. Guardia said he talked back and forth with Hayes and was offered a scholarship, which helped him make the decision to move to Mercer. After Mercer, Guardia, a international business and finance double major, said he plans to return to Bolivia to help with the family business of importing oil with the YPF company. “I want to help my country to develop,” Guardia said. “I actually have a family business, so I’m planning to work with my family.” Guardia said his favorite memory at Mercer was beating Furman in the semifinals of the SoCon last year. “We were down 3-0, and they needed just one more point to win, but I think like the guys did an amazing job, and we turned it around. We came back from 3-0 down, and we actually ended up beating Furman 4-3, so that was a huge moment for us,” Guardia said. “I’m just very excited every time I remember that.” He said after making it to the finals last year, he believes they can win the SoCon this year. “I’m proud of each one of the guys on the team, so I’m just hoping to give our best, train hard and win the conference. That’s what we want,” Guardia said.
Prick. Test. Zip. Ally Fordham is ready to play a soccer game. Fordham plays for the Mercer University’s women’s soccer team, and she has Type I diabetes. “It was a bit of a shocker when it came to me,” Fordham said about when she first found out she was a diabetic. “Once I kind of got a grasp on it and saw other people living with it, I like told myself that that wasn’t going to stop me from what I wanted to do because I knew that I wanted to go on and play college soccer.” Fordham said she found out that she was diabetic just over a year ago—right before she started applying for college. “It definitely crossed my mind for a minute like, ‘Will I be able to?’” Fordham said she took a week to weigh her options and found that some professional athletes have diabetes as well. “I knew like right then that I could still do it,” she said. As a freshmen, she has become a starter on the team and won SoCon Player of the Week. “I came into preseason, and I told myself that I just need to show my work rate, work really hard on the field, do everything that I can do, and SoCon Player of the Week just shows that what I’ve been doing so far is obviously putting me in the right direction,” Fordham said. Fordham said being a diabetic has been a learning process, and she said she has had to adjust her life to manage it. “There are some tough days, but it’s definitely like manageable as long as you’re like on top of things,” she said. [gallery ids="22680,22679,22681,22682"] Fordham’s coach, Tony Economopoulos, said the team trainer monitors Fordham on and off the field to make sure her sugar stays at a healthy level. “It’s a huge testament to her character to balance that with being an athlete and balancing her diet,” Economopoulos said. “She’s very positive, and she has an infectious attitude.” Fordham said she checks her blood sugar level before each meal and before and after each practice. On game days, she checks her blood sugar level before the game, during halftime, after the game and every hour after the game for two to three hours. Mercer’s women’s soccer team played Samford in the quarterfinals of the Southern Conference and lost ending their season Saturday, Oct. 28. Fordham, from San Diego, California, said her family got her to start playing soccer when she was younger because the sport “runs in the family.” “My family had me playing soccer for as like long as I can remember,” said Fordham. “I’ve just always loved it and continued to do it.” Fordham said she hopes to return home after she graduates from Mercer with a mechanical engineering degree. “I want to use my mechanical engineering degree and go back to San Diego, California where there are diabetic companies back home where I can use my degree to help make special insulins and diabetic tools for Type I diabetics like myself,” Fordham said.
The student population of Mercer University has increased in total enrollment by about 300 students in the past five years. An increase that brings more people - and their cars to campus. One of the biggest complaints about these increases has concerned parking. Mercer Police said they have issued a total of 3,715 parking decals already this year on the Macon campus. The issued number being higher than the 2,927 total parking spaces on campus. Jenna Eason Kyle Sears, the director of media relations at Mercer University, said this is normal. “On any university campus, you are going to have more decals than parking spaces because you never have everyone on campus at the same time,” Sears said in an email. Based off of information from other Georgia schools, he’s not wrong. The University of North Georgia (UNG) issued 16,699 parking permits on their 5 campuses with a total of 7,759 parking spaces, said Beverly Martin, the Parking and Transportation manager. According to the University System of Georgia Data Warehouse, the UNG had a total enrollment of 18,219 in fall 2016 while Mercer had 8,623, according to Mercer’s Office of Institutional Effectiveness. The University of West Georgia (UWG), with a total enrollment of 13,308 students in fall 2016, has issued 7,479 decals, including their Newnan campus. The university has 3,917 parking spaces, not including their Newnan campus, said Heather Topping, the Parking and Transportation Services departmental assistant. Parking regulations are different at Middle Georgia State University (MGA). This year, they issued a total of 6,024 commuter and residential decals with 6,010 designated parking spaces. MGA allows two decals for their commuter students, but they have a registration fee of $10 for parking that is included each semester in their student fees, said Chief of Police Shawn Douglas. According to their websites, UNG and UWG require their students to live on-campus until they have completed 30 credit hours unlike Mercer, which requires students to live on-campus for their first three years. MGA requires students to stay on their Macon campus until they have completed 30 credit hours, but on their Eastman and Cochran campuses, students must complete 60 credit hours before moving off, according to the MGA website. Gary Collins, Mercer University’s chief of police, said parking is not the issue, but people actually complain about the convenience of parking. “You will hear from different ones, ‘There’s no parking at Mercer.’ Well, that is not true,” Collins said. “We have ample parking at Mercer. It’s not next to the building you may want to go to, but we have ample parking.” Collins said it takes about 10 to 15 minutes to walk from one side of campus to another. Officer Gary Mills said the baseball lot is the best place to go if you cannot find parking on campus. “If you wait until the last minute to try and find a parking place, it’s probably going to be very difficult, but you’ve always got this right here, this lot to park in,” Mills said. “This is a guaranteed place to park.” Mercer Police has given around 700 tickets so far this year, according to the university. Mills said the first thing he looks for when patrolling campus is people parked on a yellow curb and in handicap spaces. “The biggest problem is people parking where they should not be parking,” Collins said. Mills said if a curb is yellow, people are not allowed to park there even if there are white lines to indicate that a parking space is there. He said they have asked maintenance to cover any white lines that might indicate a parking spot on a yellow curb. Mills said his biggest concern is safety and making sure the flow of traffic is not hindered. On the bright side, he said it is good that they have to enforce parking regulations because it shows their presence on campus. “It’s a positive when we’re out here … because other crimes could be hopefully deterred just with us being visible,” Mills said. Collins said enforcing parking regulations consumes a major part of the department’s time, but he agrees with Mills in that he said it is good for the police to be visible in the community. “At any college or university, the biggest complaint you will hear about almost constantly is parking,” Collins said. “I think it’s more or less a lack of convenient parking.” Collins said the best way to avoid issues when parking on campus is to arrive early and know where each decal is allowed to park. “When in doubt, don’t park there,” Mills said with a laugh. Editor’s Note: This is the first article in a series that will explore Mercer’s changing campus. [related title="Related Stories" stories="17486,16573,16368" align="center" background="on" border="none" shadow="on"]
Growing Pains is a series that explores the changing campus of Mercer University. Over the years, Mercer has significantly increased in student population, and with that increase came concerns about parking, housing and crime on campus, along with other topics of interest. This series examines these aspects of campus and looks to see where Mercer plans to go as a university.
From the time he was 6 years old, Jordan Strawberry played basketball. Now, he’s a senior at Mercer and looking to graduate with a degree in criminal justice. “Everybody in my family—like my cousins, my uncles, my brother—they all played basketball, so I kind of just fell in love with the sport and just continued playing,” Strawberry said. Strawberry grew up with six siblings in California where he went to Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana. While he was in high school, his team won three State Championships, two California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section Championships and four league titles, according to Mercer’s Athletics website. Jenna Eason He said he decided to go to Mercer after a visit to the campus. Head Coach Bob Hoffman said he enjoys watching Strawberry become excited when others succeed. “I think he’s continuing to emerge as an effective leader. He’s learning every day—as we all are—what it takes to make people around him better, and I think his mindset and his thought process of thinking of others first has continued to grow,” Hoffman said. Strawberry said his most memorable moment on the court was when Mercer played Samford last year in Hawkins Arena. “It felt good, you know, just to have a big game and be in front of this crowd,” Strawberry said. However, Strawberry said his most memorable moment during his time at Mercer would have to be the Mercer on Mission trip the team took to the Dominican Republic this summer. He said it was good to have experience working with his team in unfamiliar conditions. “It kind of like brought us together because during the tough times we were just kind of like helping each other out, feeling each other, making sure we were getting our work done,” Strawberry said. Hoffman said his favorite memory with Strawberry was watching him interact with the little kids in the Dominican Republic when the team washed the children’s feet. “You could just see him just melting, and he’s different than others in that he’s not as outgoing as far as his loud talk—like I like sometimes as a leader—but he was really embracing that moment, and you could see he was taking it all in,” Hoffman said. “I think that’s what he’s continued to be able to do through the course of these four years.” Looking at previous years, Strawberry said his time at Mercer went by fast, but he is looking forward to the year ahead. “I’m excited for this year to win games and have fun with my team and just make memories,” Strawberry said.
Having a new roommate can be difficult, especially if you are crammed into a single room together. You’ve never met. You hardly know each other. For all you know, this could be the beginning of a really bad horror movie. Don’t worry. It won’t be that bad, but it is a challenge—a challenge that needs to be conquered. Here are a few steps to help you overcome and, if necessary, move on from your roommate difficulties. How to avoid conflict Let’s talk about how you can avoid conflict in the first place. Now, I do not mean bottle up your feelings and never tell your roommate that it drives you crazy when she plays music in the middle of the night. At the very beginning of the year, sit down together, and write down your expectations for each other. Do you expect your roommate to keep his side of the room clean during the year? If you share a bathroom, who will clean it and when? When will the trash be taken out? Make a schedule, and commit to following it. It will help you avoid conflicts to begin with instead of trying to remedy them later. However, if your roommate has had seven tests in two days and hasn’t managed to take out the pile of trash by the door, the least you can do is be understanding. Don’t let it become a habit, but don’t push your roommate away and try to change rooms because of one bad week. When conflicts do arise Conflicts are inevitable, but most are easily solved by just talking it out. “If you’re having problems with your roommate, I think the first thing you should do is talk to your roommate,” said Prataj Ingram, a graduate hall director (GHD) at Mercer University. Tell him that he needs to keep his trash on his side of the room or that you really don’t like it when she borrows your clothes without asking. “Usually people don’t really know how to have a conversation or they’re afraid of conflict, and so they don’t want to have the conversation, but that’s a part of college,” Ingram said. “We’re growing up. We’re maturing. We’re learning how to handle situations.” Ingram said that her freshman roommate did not like her for the first two months because she left her television on while she was sleeping. She said that once her roommate finally told her the problem, they were able to find a solution and become great roommates. If you don’t talk to your roommate, you will sit there miserable while they go along thinking everything it perfectly fine. Talk to them! What if it gets complicated Now, you might be in a situation in which you do not feel comfortable talking to your roommate. You might have tried to talk to your roommate, and it didn’t go so well. That is why you have a resident assistant (RA). Your RA has been trained to deal with roommate conflicts. They are there to be a neutral person to listen to your complaints and make sure each side is heard. “An RA can help to sit you both down, be the liaison between you both and not pick sides—not choose favorites—but just to be there to document and listen,” Ingram said.[sidebar title="The GHDs are as follows:" align="right" background="on" border="none" shadow="off"] Austin Rayford - Plunkett, Sherwood and Roberts Halls Bethany Reilly - Boone, Dowell, Porter and Shorter Halls Prataj Ingram - Gardens and Adams/Winship Apartments, Greek Row and Orange Street Apartments Joey Gemuenden - Legacy and Mercer Halls [/sidebar] If speaking with the RA doesn’t help, go to the GHD. They are the supervisors of the RA’s, and they are trained as well to help with roommate conflicts. When all else fails If you have gone through all of the steps and you still can’t stand your roommate, there is a period of time that the Office of Residence Life allows students to change rooms with no questions asked. Ingram said this is usually the second or third week of school, and you need to email the Office of Residence Life to inform them you want a room change. Then, the process will begin. If you miss this time window, you will need to speak to a GHD for further instructions on how to change your room assignment. Try to stay with your original roommate. If you can learn to live with a complete stranger and become friends, you can definitely succeed in the world, but even if you cannot, there is always an option for you to try again with someone else.
When you are going to college, many people like to ask, “What’s your major?” For some, the answer has been the same since the day they graduated high school, but for most, it has changed at least once throughout their college career. Eighty percent of college students change their major at least once, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. It’s okay not to have everything figured out. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are thinking about changing your major. Talk to your advisor. I know it might be intimidating talking to your advisor about changing your major when they have dedicated their lives to that topic, but that is what they are there for. Talk to your advisor and then talk to an advisor in the major you are thinking of switching to. Then, talk to a professor from a completely different department to get a neutral opinion. It never hurts to get as many different perspectives as you can. Do some research. Make sure you understand what changing your major means for your future career. Will you be changing your career path altogether and move on to something you are more passionate about, or will you stay on the same career path and just change your major to something more enjoyable? The one thing you don’t want to do is to change your major to something that will not prepare you for the career you want. See if you can get as much information about your new major as possible before you make the decision to switch, maybe even opting to shadow a professional if you can. Think financially. Changing your major could mean that you need to have more credit hours, which will inevitably cost you more money. Consider whether you need to spend more money to change your major and whether or not it is worth it to you. You might be able to change your major without any added financial burden, but it’s always good to be sure of your decision. If you have gone through all of these steps and are sure you want to change your major, the next step is to officially change your major through the Office of the Registrar. Lucy Wilson, the registrar for Mercer University’s Macon campus, said there are just a few simple steps to make the change. How to change your major Get a Major/Specialization/Minor Declaration form. You can either get one from the Office of the Registrar or print one from the Registrar’s website. Fill out the form! Get the signature of your new advisor or the head of the department you are transferring to. Sign and date the document at the bottom of the page. Turn in the form to the Office of the Registrar. Wilson said that a student does not need their old advisor’s signature to change majors, and a student will only need a dean’s signature if they are changing colleges. For example, if a student was changing from the College of Liberal Arts to the School of Engineering, they would need a dean’s signature. “It’s good to, of course, look at the catalog and talk to the department that you are thinking of changing your major to before making the decision,” Wilson said. It is always scary to make major life decisions, but if changing your major will benefit your future, there’s no harm in looking at your options and making the change.
Whether you are an incoming freshman or a fifth year senior, coming back to college after a long, relaxing summer can be a bit of a shock. Following these few simple steps can make the transition a little smoother. Get organized! The first thing to do when you step foot on Macon soil is get a planner. Write down every class you have, and once you receive your syllabi, plan out your assignments. If you know you have to read 50 pages for biology class by next week, start early and read a few pages a day. Planning out assignments and being prepared is the best way to start a new semester. Usually at the beginning or end of a planner there are a few blank pages for notes. Write down longterm goals, and then use your planner to achieve them by the end of the semester. Write a few reminders every few weeks throughout your planner, or have smaller goal deadlines throughout the semester in order to achieve your final goal. Stay healthy! Mercer has an amazing facility with a gym, basketball courts, an indoor track and an indoor swimming pool in the University Center (UC). The UC also provides group fitness classes during the year that you can find on their website. If group fitness isn’t your thing, try doing exercises in your room. Look up a workout routine online that you can do in the comfort of your own home: I prefer Pinterest for new and fun workouts at home! Mental health is just as important as physical fitness Keeping your mind healthy can be tough with all of the stress of returning to college. You have 20 assignments to complete in your first week, and you still haven’t unpacked all of your colorful pens yet. It can be overwhelming to say the least. But, when the world feels like it is crumbling around you, you need to take time to work on your mental health. Do yoga! Go for a walk! Talk with a friend! Check out the Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) on campus! It is located directly behind Mary Erin Porter residence hall complex. Remember that your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Never neglect your mind. Use technology to your benefit US News wrote an article suggesting college students should try five different apps to organize their busy schedules: iStudiez Pro, Quizlet, inClass, iProcrastinate and Outliner. Whether you try some of these apps or use Google Calendar to organize your daily life, technology can be a great help when trying to remember what you have to get done. When your schedule gets so intense during the middle of the semester, it’s nice to have a gentle reminder on your phone to read for your Great Books class or study for your math class, and it’s even better to have a reminder to go to bed on time and to take a breather in the middle of the day. Use technology not only to remind you about what you have to do but also to remind you about what you need to do in order to take care of yourself. Get ahead early! When you are writing out your assignments in your planner or setting reminders in your phone at the beginning of the semester, try to do a little more work than required. Instead of reminding yourself to read 50 pages for biology, go ahead and read 55. Getting ahead on your assignments at the beginning of the semester will help you stay ahead when the semester starts getting tough. It’s always good to start early! Coming back to college can be a bummer, especially when you have to go from watching an entire season of a show on Netflix a day to watching one a week, but preparing yourself and taking care of yourself can help you not only survive but have a little fun too.
After playing on the Mercer University men’s soccer team for four years, Ian Antley returns after graduating to be the new volunteer assistant coach. “I think it’s a good thing that I know a lot of guys on the team. I know that they respect me. I respect them,” Antley said. “It’s good to have previous relationships, so I’m not coming into a brand new team where I don’t know anybody.” Antley, from Newnan, Georgia, received his degree in communications, and although he originally planned to play professional soccer , he said he decided to return to his alma mater to get a masters degree. Antley said he started playing soccer when he was around 6 years old. He played with the Coweta Cannons in his hometown until transferring to the Concorde Fire Soccer Club in Peachtree City where he remained until he was recruited by Mercer’s coach, Brad Ruzzo. “I absolutely love the sport. I love the competitiveness. I love getting out here and competing,” Antley said. “A lot of people don’t like to run, but I kind of enjoy it.” He said that he sees a different side to the game now that he’s a coach, and he has to take on a different role. “I can’t be as joking and laughing with the guys as I usually am out here playing. I’m on a whole different aspect of things,” Antley said. He said his new role also gives him a new appreciation for his former coaches. “I see how hard they work for us behind the scenes so that we can play and have a good season,” Antley said. Ruzzo said that he has a history of hiring people, like former player and coach Ashani Samuels, because they understand how the program works, how he works and the “culture of it.” “We’re happy to have Ian on board. He’s going to probably go down as one of the greats for the program, and you know, he was part of a class that won 43 games and two championships,” Ruzzo said. “He knows what it takes to win, so it helps with the younger guys and even the older guys to kind of have that familiarity within the program.” Antley said he is ready for the season to start and loves being in his new position. “I played with them last year. I really enjoyed it — won a championship in ‘16 — and hopefully we get another championship this year,” Antley said.
Voicemails saved on a cell phone inspired Margaret Hart to create an art show called “Intimacies of Telephony” that is now on display in Hardman Hall’s Frances Sewell Plunkett Gallery. Hart’s creativity originated from voicemails left by her late mother. Hart said she was unable to get the files off her old flip phone. “It housed an emotional catalogue … and as long as I had the phone, I could play back the messages,” Hart said in her artist statement in the show. The show is an installation of many phones that Hart has collected and stored in jars with oil. It looks like a science experiment. “There’s an interesting visual effect that happens with the light coming through the oil and refracting on the phones, but also, the curvature of the jars creates a distortion which is interesting, too,” said Craig Coleman, associate professor of art at Mercer University. In addition to the phone installation in the center of the room, the show also includes framed works along the wall that are related to the phones, a video created by the artist and a research paper, Coleman said. The show will be in the Plunkett Gallery until Oct. 28. “[Students] should come see the show because it’s probably a type of art they’re not very familiar with, that they haven’t seen much of before or maybe not at all,” Coleman said. Hart lives in Boston where she is a professor at the University of Massachusetts and the chair of the art department there. Coleman said he invited her to display her artwork at Mercer because he was acquainted with her from attending graduate school together at the University of Colorado. Coleman said the show was very unique and different from the types of shows students usually see because the students could be a part of the show. “It’s not very often that you can be inside of an artwork, and this show you can actually walk through it and be inside of the art,” Coleman said.
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When the rafters rattle during a performance and the music is felt within the souls of the people in the audience, the performance becomes an experience the audience struggles to forget. Dr. Douglas Hill, the director of undergraduate study at the Townsend School of Music, said the Mercer Brass Quintet’s tuba player, Eric Bubacz, makes the rafters rattle at the end of one of the songs they are playing in their next performance. The Mercer Brass Quintet will perform for free in Fickling Hall on Sept.13 at 7:30 p.m. Hill, trumpet, Jonathan Swygert, trumpet, Jay Hanselman, horn, Hollie Lawing Pritchard, trombone, and Eric Bubacz, tuba, will be performing seven pieces with a brief intermission. The show will last about an hour. “You might surprise yourself and find something that you really never would’ve heard or seen before and really enjoy it, and you could pursue it some more,” Hill said. Hill said the quintet tries to pick songs that are from different time periods and styles. Some of the compositions include “A Suite of 17th Century Dances,” “Take the A-Train” and “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.” Hill said that people should come out to the different concerts to get out of their comfort zones in the particular types of music they like. Many students from different disciplines come to the music building for these concerts and to participate in the bands and singing groups. “There’s all kinds of world music that people have no clue about that’s really cool,” Hill said.
Every institution has that one person who has worked there forever. For Mercer University, that person started her career the same year Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech and John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Easter Glover has worked for Mercer since 1963 and doesn’t plan on retiring. She has worked in the cafeteria, in the residence halls and now, in the laundry room. “They told me I could work here as long as I want to, so as long as I'm doing pretty good, I'm going to try to work,” Glover said. Glover rides the bus every day to work, and one of the other employees usually picks her up at the bus stop at the corner of Adam Street and Coleman Avenue to take her to the University Center where the laundry room is for National Management Resources (Nationals), the university’s cleaning service. “Ms. Easter catch the bus, and Ms. Easter is here doing her work and doing it cheerfully, not grumbling and complaining,” said Leila Lucas, a Nationals worker who has known Glover for around 10 years. “Even during the summer time, she's on the bus coming to work.” Glover began working in the cafeteria when Rufus Carrollton Harris was president of the university. Glover said times were a little different when she first started working in the cafeteria. She said that she, along with all the other black workers, had to pull chairs to the back of the kitchen to eat after all of the students were finished. She simply said, “I reckon they didn't know no better.” When the new supervisor arrived, he said that it didn’t make any sense for them to eat in the back. “You ain’t got no business sitting back here eating. Everybody get in that dining hall to eat,” Glover said, impersonating the supervisor. Glover continued to work for Mercer throughout Raleigh Kirby Godsey’s reign as president and now under President William D. Underwood. Glover’s supervisor, Crystal Little, said that Glover knows a lot of people that work at the university and talks about them on a regular basis. “They'll come in and she'll know them by name, and I don't even know them,” Little said Glover has a twin sister who also used to work at Mercer before her health became a problem, Lucas said. Now, the two sisters live together in west Macon. Lucas said she always wanted to meet the twins when she first started working at Mercer because she had heard all about them working together for so long. “They live together, and they will always be together,” Lucas said. Lucas said Glover is a very private lady that doesn’t like to share about her personal life much. However, Lucas said she is a joy to work with and Little agreed. “She gives you wisdom when you don't want it,” Little said. “She's a real joy even with her age, and she's real nice to be around just to listen to an older person.” Lucas said Glover is like a battery that just keeps going all the time and that she is inspired by Glover’s perseverance. “She says to me that I'm going to work as long as I can, and that's what she's doing — working, working, working, and the more I think about my friend, I would like to do the same,” Lucas said. Lucas said Glover is lovable and friendly in her own way, and she is glad to know her. Glover said that if there is anything she would want people to know about her, it’s that she is a Christian and a child of God. “The only thing I know is that I'm still working because I need to work to support myself. I would hate to go looking for something. I'm just staying while I'm here,” Glover said.
Lillie Barnett, a music and biology major, presented her research of “Stress and Group Cohesion in University Choir” in Fickling Hall on BEAR Day 2016. Barnett said she wanted to find a way to connect her two majors and wanted to pursue the effects music has on a person’s well-being. Her research consisted of three main goals: to measure group cohesion, psychological stress and physiological stress. Barnett used a Group Environment Questionnaire (GEQ) to measure Mercer University Choir’s group cohesion. The questionnaire was given to participants once a month for a period of three months. Barnett used the Stress Appraisal Measure (SAM) to calculate the singer’s perceived stress. She asked participants to think of their midterm exams while taking the questionnaire to measure their perceived stress for the upcoming tests. The SAM was taken before and after a rehearsal. The final portion of the research was taking saliva samples from the singers before and after the same rehearsal in which the singers participated in the SAM. Barnett tested the pH levels in the saliva to calculate the amount of physiological stress the singers had during that time. Then, Barnett conducted a statistical analysis of the data using a computer program. The overall conclusion was that singing in the choir promotes lower stress levels. Barnett suggested that this conclusion means singing programs can be implemented in other types of institutions and organizations to help reduce stress levels as well. Richard Kosowski, director of graduate studies and an associate professor in the Townsend School of Music, said that Barnett had planned for this project for over a year. “She’s very detailed in how she presents her findings, and she’s just a great student,” said Kosowski. “I think she has a great future as a researcher." Taylor Steen presented a research paper she wrote about H.G Wells’ The Time Machine on BEAR Day in Knight Hall. Her paper was about the arrogance of man in the novel, specifically focusing on the arrogance of the time traveler in the book. She described how the Eloi and Morlocks are viewed in the book, and she said they are written in a negative light. “Both groups are flawed, not only by the time traveler’s biased standards, but also by their absolute extreme nature,” Steen said in her presentation. She said the time traveler asserts his thought that he has authority over the Eloi and Morlocks, as well as authority over time itself, reiterating his arrogance. “That’s really arrogant to assume that mankind has this authority over such abstract concepts,” Steen said.