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Last Wednesday Mercer’s annual SHAPE Carnival took place in the University Center. The intention of the Carnival was to help raise awareness on sexual assault, hazing and alcohol prevention by having participants partake in different games and events.
The aim of the carnival is to help people understand the consequences of participating in alcohol, drug, and sexual abuse related activities.
The event is the biggest one of the year for SHAPE.
“Every organization on campus is invited to participate,” said SHAPE executive board member, Jessica Holmes. Each organization creates their own booth with their own ideas on what their booth should offer. SHAPE members help organizations with information and facts to present at each booth to educate participants.
Last year over 450 people attended the carnival. This year’s SHAPE event was also apart of the Greek Week festivities where competing fraternities and sororities could gain points for their chapter by partaking in the carnival. The event was one of several during the week in which greeks could gain participation points for an overall prize which will be annouced at the Greek Awards on April 22.
The original location for the carnival was on the Quad but due to weather it was moved to Heritage Hall in the University Center.
Some booths this year included an inflatable obstacle course put on by Chi Omega. Participants going through the course were required to wear goggles that simulated the vision of an intoxicated individual.
AWARE had a booth that had participants through pies at an individual’s face. At each booth people were asked to answer questions or given facts related to drugs, sexual assault and alcohol.
Included at many booths were candy and small prizes.In order to receive a free t-shirt participants were required to go to 22 booths and have the booth sign off on a number box card made by SHAPE.
SHAPE is comprised of staff, faculty and students who meet every Thursday in the Connell Student Center.
Other events put on by SHAPE during the year include Hazing Awareness Week which will take place this coming September and Oksoberfest which is held in October.
Man was charged with murdering two Mercer students in 1995
On Feb. 21 Andrew Allen Cook will be sentenced to death for the 1995 murder of two Mercer students.
Cook was convicted in a 1998 trial of murdering 22-year-old Grant Hendrickson and 19-year-old Michele Cartagena.
At approximately midnight on Jan. 2, 1995 Hendrickson and Cartagena were parked at a small peninsula at Lake Juliette in Monroe County just north of Macon. Cook fired upon the vehicle 14 times with an AR-15 rifle and then fired five times with a nine millimeter Ruger handgun.
Both victims were hit multiple times. Cook did not know Hendrickson or Cartagena. Cook was 20-years-old at the time.
Hendrickson was a Macon native and was a fourth year student majoring in physics and electrical engineering. A member of Pi Kappa Phi and SGA senator, he attended Tattnall Academy in Macon where was an honor grad.
Cartagena was from Midland, Ga., and majored in physical therapy at Mercer. She was a member of Alpha Delta Pi where she was spirit chairperson. She attended Spencer High School and was valedictorian of her class.
“The University community is greatly saddened by this unexplained and senseless crime,” said former Mercer President R. Kirby Godsey in an address to the student body on Jan. 5, 1995.
The case went unsolved for almost two years. During that time NBC’s “Unsolved Mysteries” re-enacted the crime for television audiences in September of 1996 before Cook was caught.
Cook was arrested in December of 1996. His father and FBI agent John Cook was responsible for bringing Cook to the authorities.
John Cook unsuccessfully attempted to persuade the district attorney to accept a guilty plea for a sentence less than death. At trial, he testified for the state in the guilt-innocence phase and for his son in the sentencing phase.
John Cook had been in the FBI for 29 years and this caused several media outlets to broadcast the events of the trial on a national scale.
“When John had to go on the stand and testify, that’s when Connie Chung and 20/20, Readers Digest, and several other big time media outlets got real involved in it,” said Charles Weston, senior lecturer at Mercer. “The fact that this honorable law enforcing office had told the truth on the stand and it ended up putting his son on death row, it’s not an everyday case.“
The Grand Jury indicted Cook on Feb. 17, 1997, and the state filed its notice of intent to seek the death penalty on Feb. 27, 1997. The trial took place from March 9-19, 1998. On the last day of the trial, the jury convicted Cook and recommended a death sentence.
Cook was found guilty of two counts of malice murder and two counts of felony murder and was sentenced to death for one of the murders.
Cook made multiple attempts to appeal. He filed a motion for a new trial on March 23, 1998, which was supplemented on June 4, 1998, and denied six days later. Cook filed a notice of appeal on July 31, 1998, and the case was docketed Aug. 19, 1998. The case was orally argued later that year.
In 2002, a lower court overturned Cook’s death sentence but in 2008 the Georgia Supreme Court reinstated the death sentence for Cook.
On Oct. 26, 2007 John Cook came to Mercer to share his personal story of the ordeal.
“The interesting thing in this case, that cannot be denied, that cannot be ignored, the interesting thing in this case is the fact that the state may never have convicted Andy Cook had his daddy not been a man of incredible moral character,” said Weston. “There are plenty of people who would have gone and never told anybody.”
Details of the investigation appeared on Investigation Discovery Network’s “Unusual Suspects” series in 2010. The series features cases in which perpetrators were found to be people least expected to be criminals.
Andrew Cook is to be executed by lethal injection at 7 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison.
Distinguished Mercer Alumnus and Governor of Georgia Nathan Deal was selected for the honor of Georgian of the Year according to Georgia Trend Magazine.
Deal was featured in the January 2013 issue.
Deal is the 11th Mercer alumnus to hold the governor’s office. He was inaugurated as Georgia’s 82nd governor in 2010, and since has worked earnestly to improve Georgia’s economic position.
Susan Percy, editor at Georgia Trend, interviewed Deal for the January issue.
“We look for someone who has made a big statewide impact, someone who has really influenced the lives of citizens of Georgia for good,” Percy said.
The editorial staff from Georgia’s only statewide business magazine made the decision based on Deal’s earnest work in improving Georgia’s economy.
“He was kind enough to say that he was very honored,” Percy said. “He seemed very pleased.”
As a business magazine, Georgia Trend highlighted Deal’s attention to the business community and his leadership in the legislature.
The magazine also recognized Deal’s focus on issues that are important to the economy and his role in job creation.
“We found that this made him the best candidate,” Percy said.
According to Georgia Trend, Deal highlights two priorities, public safety and public education.
In his first year in office, Deal revamped the HOPE Scholarship Program and followed up last year with a criminal justice reform and tax reform package.
“I just believe that good decisions are made with good information,” Deal said, according to Georgia Trend. “I don’t ever presume that I have all the information. If an issue is raising enough concern or interest for people to express their opinion, I think it’s my duty to listen, to consider whatever evidence they have to support their position. They deserve to be heard. My job is then to decide what is the best course of action and what direction should I lead in.”
Deal earned his undergraduate degree from Mercer in1964 and continued his educated at Mercer’s Walter F. George School of Law.
While at Mercer, Deal was student body president and later served a term on the Mercer Board of Trustees.
Georgia Trend Magazine also revealed their list of 100 Most Influential Georgians. Mercer President William D. Underwood was selected on the list.
The magazine recognized that Mercer’s enrollment has increased over 20% since Underwood took office in 2006.
Georgia Trend also highlighted Underwood’s accomplishments for his work in overseeing the Center for Collaborative Journalism and continuing the school’s service-oriented approach to learning.
Former U.S. President James Earl “Jimmy” Carter Jr. joined Mercer University’s Board of Trustees on Friday, Nov. 9 during Homecoming weekend. Carter is the first former President known to serve as a board member.
Mercer President William Underwood nominated the 39th President of the United States for appointment to the board.
“When [Underwood] nominated him for the Board of Trustees, the board enthusiastically endorsed that nomination,” said Larry Brumley, Senior Vice President for Marketing Communications and Chief of Staff.
According to Brumley, Underwood and Carter have worked together on projects in the past.
According to 13WMAZ, Carter said, “I’ve been very excited about what’s happened at Mercer, particularly in the last six years under Bill Underwood’s presidency. I think he’s the best college president that I’ve ever known. I think great things are destined for Mercer.”
Carter is the former Governor of Georgia. He last spoke at Mercer University in 2008, when he delivered a President’s Lecture Series in Willingham Auditorium.
According to the Macon Telegraph, Carter said, “I have been impressed with how Mercer is combining research and service to solve real-world problems that improve the lives of people around the world. I believe Mercer has a very important mission, and I look forward to learning more about the university in the years ahead and helping advance its mission as a member of the Board of Trustees.”
Mercer’s board of 45 members met on Nov. 9 to induct 10 new members.
The other nine trustees include Barbara (Babs) Baugh, president of the Baugh Family Foundation, San Antonio, Texas; Neville Callam, general secretary, Baptist World Alliance, Falls Church, Va.; Holly McCorkle Jones, attorney and civic leader, Jacksonville, Fla.; Lt. Gen. (retired) Claude M. Kicklighter, former Pentagon inspector general, McLean, Va.; Thomas W. Malone, Atlanta attorney; M. Diane Owens, Atlanta attorney; Miller Peterson (Pete) Robinson, chairman of Troutman Sanders Strategies, Columbus; Raymond M. (Thad) Warren III, chairman and CEO, Warren Environment Inc., Atlanta; and Jerry S. Wilson Jr., former senior vice president and chief customer and commercial officer for the Coca-Cola Company.
Mercer alumni include Jones, Kicklighter, Malone, Owens, Robinson, Warren and Wilson.
Members serve five-year terms, with the full board meeting twice a year in the fall and spring. Smaller committees derived from the board meet throughout the year.
“All of our trustees make valuable contributions to the university and bring important expertise to help advance Mercer,” Brumley said.
Some projects discussed and approved by the board at the meeting were three new graduate programs and the construction of Cruz plaza.
Carter held the presidential office from 1977 to 1981. In 2002, he won a Nobel Peace Prize. He founded The Carter Center in 1982, a nonpartisan and nonprofit Center that tackles national and international matters of public policy.
“It is quite a distinction to have a former president of the United States on the Board of Trustees,” Brumley said. “I expect President Carter will be a very active and engaged trustee.”
In the upcoming months, Mercer University will see a drastic change to the center of its campus in an innovative revamping project headed by the President’s Office.
The plan was made possible by a significant donation from one of Mercer’s trustees, Milton L. Cruz, in the spring. Cruz addressed the problem of the closed road that runs through campus from Greek Village to the end of Tarver Library.
“We ended up hiring a landscape architect firm to help us plan. The president said that this is not the only place that we need to make changes to and [we need to] look at a master plan of the interior of campus,” said Dr. James S. Netherton, executive vice president for Administration and Finance at Mercer University.
Currently, the plan is to completely redo Porter Patch, from the Connell Student Center, Tarver Library, the University Center, Sherwood and Mercer Hall Residences. Current concepts include taking out the street roads and putting in place transportation footpaths that would meet all students, faculty and staff needs for travelling across campus. A freeform shape that would present the buildings in the area would connect the paths. The plaza would also lead off into intimate areas with surrounding water features. The plan will maintain the large trees already on campus and include more greenery and garden space.
The bear statue that sits along the stairway to the University Center is also set to move to the plaza. The goal is to have the bear in a more prominent area where people would like to go, as the plaza would be the new center of campus.
“One of the things you want to try to do on a college campus is create spaces where students will want to linger, so you can sit down, you can visit with other students, hold outdoor classes and group meetings, and hopefully in the center of campus, accommodate special programs,” explains Dr. Netherton.
The Stetson School of Business building and Jack Tarver Library will see significant impact in the redesign. The plans call to create a plaza right in front of Stetson that will square up with the library on the second floor so that it is easily accessible.
“If we ever decide to have an outdoor graduation or outdoor convocation in the center of campus, the plaza out in front of Stetson would be the stage and the space in the middle would be where you could put up chairs,” said Dr. Netherton on the spaces future involvement on campus activities.
In recognition of Cruz’s donation the project is presently titled, “Cruz Plaza,” but is subject to change as proceedings continue.
The Plaza’s beginnings are still being worked out by a collaborative effort between President Underwood and members of his staff, the construction partner, and the architect.
“We’ve developed conceptual plans for really transforming the center of campus by making it more functional, more attractive and more in keeping with the rest of the campus,” said Dr. Netherton.
As for when the construction will begin, it is still undecided.
“That kind of work is going to really tear the campus up. It’s going to take a long time and we want to minimize the impact on the students and what we’ve got going on,” said Dr. Netherton.
The plan at present has the construction timeline beginning at the end of fall semester, which would roll over into spring, and finish up through the summer. The project is estimated to take eight months to complete, though which year the plaza will commence is up for discussion. At present, only computer generated images display what could be the new plaza, but no topographical surveys of the land have been completed to verify the plans.
“I don’t think we are going to be in a position to start it this December. That’s still a little bit up in the air, but it looks unlikely. If so, our plan would be to start construction in 2013 and have it finished in August of 2014,” explains Dr. Netherton.
Mercer’s campus has been adding and improving buildings and programs over the last few years and this plaza will contribute.
The construction is an effort to make the campus more functional for students and to appeal to potential undergraduates.
Dr. Netherton hopes that this will transform experiences on the interior of campus. “A different kind of learning goes on outside the classroom and I’ve always been a big believer in creating spaces where students and faculty can do things and where visitors of campus can interact with students and faculty. Sometimes in a totally unplanned way, really nice things happen. But those happen to a great degree based on whether or not you provide the space and the opportunity for those things to happen.”
Starting this Friday a new era of fan-based incentives will begin here at Mercer University. Through a collaborative effort between the Student Government Association and the Athletic Department all sports played home and away are subject to a point based system starting with the Women’s soccer game this Friday, Aug. 31, against Alabama A&M.
At each game, students must swipe their Bear Card at the designated student check-in table or student gate to collect their points. Every game is worth points, with some weighing more than others. Point totals can be checked by visiting the Bear Card Online Card Office where each student’s total will appear as a dollar amount until redeemed for a stated incentive. Students may also check their points totals at any of the Value Transfer or Kiosk Stations around campus.
“This is something that Athletics had been looking at from last year. We did a lot of incentives with students during basketball season… Our goal was to get students to come out to every event,” said Daniel Tate, Assistant Athletic Director for Marketing.
Tate describes some games as hard to attend due to student’s schedules and classes but hopes the incentives of prizes will entice them to go.
Every event is worth anywhere from one point to three. Certain games that are referred to as key games, will be worth three points. Students who attend the six 3-point games throughout the semester will be rewarded with priority homecoming tickets. Only by attending and swiping in at these games can students get their homecoming basketball tickets. Conference games are worth 2 points each.
“SGA will be working closely with Athletics this year to market and execute this program. We hope that this program will create among the student body a tradition of wildly supporting the Mercer Bears wherever and whenever they play,” said Davis.
“Although we are still in discussions with the Athletics Department to finalize the rewards, the current list of offerings is very exciting. Lower-level incentives include Mercer decals, t-shirts, and free Dominos pizzas,” said SGA President Mollie Davis. For the top 30 points earning students this semester, the Athletics Department is throwing a VIP Pizza Party in a suite box at a basketball game. The grand prizes for the most dedicated Mercer fans this year may include a trip for two with a team to cheer on the Bears against competitors.
“If we get students to come to the game their the pulse of your atmosphere,” explains Tate.
A “Leader Board” will be regularly updated on MercerBears.com where students can check their standing among their friends and compete for first place. The top ten point earners will be on the Mercer Bears webpage, which will be updated every Tuesday. Tate said there would be an end of the year grand prize.
Though many of the bigger accolades are being finalized, the Athletic Department hopes to have all awards announced over the next few weeks.
The Center for Collaborative Journalism has continued to generate buzz over the past six months with multi-million dollar grants and state of the art classrooms. The center opened to staff and students just a few days before school and from the card swipes and Ipad control docks, to remote control blinds, the center clearly is above and beyond what anyone expected. A center so innovative it has garnered the top prize of media attention, The New York Times. Last week a reporter from the coveted paper visited Macon to write an article on the new center.
Christine Haughney, who has worked for the Times since 2006, was the choice reporter for the article.
Mercer amassed the attention of the New York Times in a series of events. In May, Macon hosted the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, where New York Times columnist Gail Collins won the 2012 Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award. At the awards dinner she sat with Mercer’s President Underwood. Information on the new center was exchanged and later the Times contacted the Center’s Director, Tim Porter about a trip to Macon. Haughney would arrive in the opening days of the center.
“We tried to encourage them to come later, when we would have more of an idea of what we were doing and students would have the opportunity to know what they were doing and what they were interested in but they really wanted to be here for the first day of school,” said Porter.
Porter had the opportunity to be Haughney’s guide throughout her stay in Macon. Haughney appeared at last Monday’s orientation and social where the new program was discussed in detail.
The first day of class Haughney met with employees at the Georgia Public Broadcasting and sat in on one of The Telegraph’s editorial meetings, speaking to various reporters. During the morning Haughney came to a journalism class and made time to meet at Jittery Joe’s to speak and interview students.
“I ended up showing her around all day long...it was a great opportunity to spend time with a New York Times reporter,” said Porter whom also drove her around downtown Macon.
Haugheny met with some prominent Macon figures such as President Underwood and GPB’s CEO, Tae Orion.
“I think it went very well, she said a couple times it was nice to have a story about something interesting and new and exciting happening instead of all of us talking about the decline of the industry. I think it will be a good story for us and for Macon,” said Porter.
Porter mentioned that he does not think the article will be a PR piece but it will show what the center has accomplished.
Haughney was unable to comment on her piece until it runs to print. The story has been delayed due to the Republican National Convention but is set to print in the upcoming weeks.
Haughney has written for several other prominent newspapers including the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.
“It’s not going to be a PR piece for the center, but I think it will a great look at what we’ve done,” said Porter of the article.
Porter was brought on in March of last year. As Director, Porter looked into several other University programs, including Arizona State, Columbia and Missouri, to find a basic structure for the new center. A relatively new phenomenon has been to collaborate coursework and media outlets in a school’s journalism program. “The Center and the JMS Department have been working on reviewing the curriculum and deciding upon how our curriculum will be shaped based on the goals we identify… Students in classes this fall will work with the staff of the Telegraph and GPB more closely in the context of our current curricular offerings.” said Department head, Dr. Cynthia Gottshall.
Mercer’s developing program will see initial changes this semester as teachers and program coordinators alike experiment with the new accessibility of media outlets.
In preparation for a new year, The Cluster has asked Mercer’s President William Underwood a few questions.
Cluster: How long have you been President at Mercer?
Underwood: I began July 1, 2006. This is my seventh year.
Cluster: What attracted you to Mercer?
Underwood: Mercer has great students and a great academic reputation. My predecessor, Dr. Kirby Godsey, was also a great recruiter. He very effectively made the case that Mercer is a special place with the potential to accomplish things in the lives of students that could not be accomplished elsewhere.
Cluster: What does the ‘D’ in William D. Underwood stand for?
Cluster: Describe a typical work day.
Underwood: Fortunately, there is no typical day. Among my favorite things about being president is that each day presents new and sometimes unanticipated opportunities and challenges.
Cluster: Favorite memory at Mercer?
Underwood: I’ve got many great memories, but my favorite recent memory is of Mercer Village packed with several hundred students and alums watching outdoors on a giant screen television as Mercer defeated Utah State for last year’s CIT championship.
Cluster: What is your choice restaurant in Macon?
Underwood: Macon is fortunate to have many really good restaurants, including all the restaurants in Mercer Village. My favorite is the Tic Toc Room, which is located downtown.
Cluster: If you could have any other job, what would it be?
Underwood: I’ve never thought about this. When I was a courtroom lawyer, I loved that job and thought I would never do anything else. Then I became a law school professor, and loved that job. I love my current job as well. When my time as president is complete, I will probably return to teaching law school.
Cluster: There have been some significant improvements on campus over the last few years, including the new Mercer Village and the football stadium, how important was the implementation of these factors for the future of Mercer?
Underwood: I think these changes have been necessary to create an even more vibrant learning environment at Mercer, something necessary if we are to continue attracting talented students, faculty and staff. Mercer is rapidly becoming known as one of the most vibrant and energetic universities in the Southeast, which is a very good thing.
Cluster: Where do you see Mercer ten years from now?
Underwood: I see Mercer becoming nationally recognized among the premier private research universities in the Southeast – recognized as a place with an intensive focus on every student being engaged in empowering and inspiring learning experiences.
Cluster: What has been your greatest accomplishment at Mercer thus far?
Underwood: Presidents often get credit for accomplishments that are really the work of others. I am proud of many things that have been accomplished by members of the Mercer community over the past six years, but I am probably most proud of the Mercer on Mission program, which offers an unrivaled and life changing learning experience for students. Dr. Craig McMahan has done extraordinary work in leading this program, and many of our faculty members have been engaged in developing exceptional learning experiences for students, combining study abroad, service learning, and research in ways that are unique to Mercer.
Cluster: What are your hobbies and interests?
Underwood: I enjoy reading, especially good fiction and history. I’m also very competitive, so I like sports. I’m a fan of the Mercer Bears and the New York Yankees.
Cluster: What does it mean for you to actually live on campus? What are the advantages? Any disadvantages?
Underwood: There’s always something interesting going on within walking distance – intercollegiate athletics contests, concerts, theatre productions, and provocative lectures. Also, the UC is nearby, as is my favorite coffee shop – Jittery Joes.
Cluster: Mercer has been stepping it up in sports, what are your expectations for this season?
Underwood: Our men’s basketball team will be favored to win the conference and represent Mercer in the “Big Dance,” following last year’s 27-11 season and CIT championship. Our baseball team will likewise be favored to win the conference. Our women’s basketball team will surprise people this year. And several of our other teams are poised to make major strides this season as well.
Cluster: What are you looking forward to this year at Mercer?
Underwood: I always look forward to students returning and the campus coming alive. We have a very strong class of entering students this year. I’m also looking forward to seeing the completion of the footballlacrosse complex, the opening of the Center for Collaborative Journalism, and completion of the Emily Parker Myers Welcome and Admissions Center. The CCJ is the single most exciting initiative currently underway in the field of journalism. I’m proud that Mercer is taking the lead nationally in developing a new model for preparing future generations of journalists that emphasizes experiential learning in the digital age.
Cluster: What advice would you offer freshmen?
Underwood: The same advice I gave my son when he began college last year. You only get to do college once. Squeeze all you can out of the experience. Take advantage of all that college has to offer. Study hard. Think about the great questions. Learn everything you can. Get to know your professors. And take time to be involved with student life, religious life, athletics, music, and theatre. But also get some sleep.
Here come the Greeks! That’s right, next week begins the annual tradition of recruitment amongst the 17 International Greek Organizations. The Greek Community has been a tradition at Mercer since 1869 and currently comprises 26 percent of the student population. The Greeks consist of three governing councils, the National Panhellenic Council, Interfraternity Council, and the National Pan-Hellenic Council.
Recruitment is a process that happens all year for all councils to bring in new members to the organization. Formal recruitment is a period during the year where IFC and Pan chapters conduct a formal process to recruit new members. IFC has a schedule of events for potential new members and chapters also schedule informal events. NPHC has a new member informational week (Sept 10-15) and an Intake Process.
The National Panhellenic Council consists of four sororities at Mercer, Chi Omega, Phi Mu, Alpha Delta Pi and Alpha Gamma Delta. The recruitment process is a series of formal events that are run by the Panhellinc Council, a group of representatives comprised from the four sororities. These events allow potential new members (PNMs) to learn more about the Greek community, sorority life and individual sorority members. “It is a week long, with three main evening events during which you will be entertained, laugh, meet new people and have fun,” said Cindy Drury, advisor for the Panhellenic Council.
During recruitment there a quite a few rules that sorority members have to adhere to. “We have a document called the Formal Recruitment Guidelines that outlines all of these rules and guidelines. These rules are in place to make sure that every chapter displays and encourages virtuous behavior, thorough cooperation, honesty, and fairness,” said Drury. Those going through recruitment most also adhere to a few technical rules, which are explained during Information Night on Tuesday, Aug. 21.
To help assist with the decision making process the Panhellenic Council trains a group of women, known as Pi Chis, for the purpose of providing a more enjoyable and less stressful atmosphere during membership recruitment week. All Pi Chis remain disaffiliated during recruitment week. Disaffiliation enables Pi Chis to answer questions and guide potential members without bias or preference to a particular chapter. “Your Pi Chi will provide information about the week, accompany you to recruitment week functions, and provide a listening ear as you make decisions concerning sorority membership,” explains Drury.
Anyone interested in recruitment should attend a dessert social in the MEP refractory at 8pm Monday, Aug. 20. Formal Recruitment begins on Tuesday, Aug. 21 and concludes with Bid Day on Saturday, August 25th. The last day to register for Panhellenic Recruitment is Tuesday, August 21st at 7pm. Panhellenic costs $35 to start the recruitment process. This money goes toward a t-shirt cost and other fees Panhellenic has to pay to ensure a successful and smooth recruitment.
IFC consists of eight fraternities, Alpha Tau Omega, Kappa Alpha Order, Kappa Sigma, Lamda Chi Alpha, Phi Delta Theta, Pi Kappa Phi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Sigma Nu. Formal Recruitment begins Monday, August 20 with Bear Fair. All chapters will have tables there and IFC will be there to help register men. The first informal event is Monday night, August 20 when the IFC executive members will be available to talk to any interested men in Plunkett basement and Roberts foyer at 7pm. Computers will be on hand so that men can register for recruitment. All men will need to be registered for recruitment to go through the process. Registration for IFC recruitment is free.
Freshmen can expect a great opportunity to make connections with not just current Greek men but also alumni and other first year students. “Even if guys are not sure, I would encourage them to sign up and go through formal recruitment because of everything offered the first two weeks. They will be invited to a ton of social events and get to know a lot of people. Also, every chapter is very different so finding a chapter that fits you is pretty easy once you get to know each chapter. That is why formal recruitment is so important at Mercer. It allows both new and current men to experience all of the chapters and really get to know some of the members to make sure it is a good fit,” said Carrie Ingoldsby, IFC Advisor and Director of Campus Life and Student Involvement. The process is almost two weeks long so there is ample time to get to know people.
IFC Execs run Formal Recruitment. They are not the same as NPC’s Pi Chis but they are still there to work with potential new members.
“It’s a great overall experience that will make college life more meaningful and fun. If you are coming into college with not just a desire to connect socially but also to make career connections from Engineering to Business to Law then I would recommend Greek Life. Greek alums represent a wide variety of career choices. It is also a chance to get academic support for those more challenging majors including pre-med and Engineering. Greeks work hard and are involved across campus in other leadership roles. Greeks also give back to the community through philanthropy projects and events. I would encourage all students to try it out. For example: athletes or those with busy majors will find that Greek chapters have a lot to offer them,” said Ingoldsby.
The National Pan-Hellenic Council, Inc. (NPHC) is the umbrella organization for the nine historically African-American fraternities and sororities. Although it is not known exactly when the organization came to Mercer’s campus, it was organized in May 1930 at Howard University, Washington D.C. The stated purpose of the organization as written in 1930 is, “Unanimity of thought and action, as far as possible, in the conduct of Greek letter collegiate fraternities and sororities, and to consider problems of mutual interest to its member organizations.”
NPHC is a Greek council composed of nine fraternities and sororities: Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, and Zeta Phi Beta, Alpha Phi Alpha, Phi Beta Sigma, Sigma Gamma Rho, and Iota Phi Theta. This coalition is frequently coined as “The Divine Nine.” The Divine Nine members can also be classified as either Collegiate Chapters, or Alumni Chapters. The Alumni Chapter members serve as a guide or mentor to the Collegiate chapter members during their entire collegiate experience which includes support during the membership intake.
As NPHC fraternities and sororities do not recruit but instead host formal informationals, interested students should attend NPHC 2012 Information Week held Aug. 20-24th. During this week each organization selects a specific day to represent their organization by wearing paraphernalia and conducting a university-wide program in which educational material including the organization’s mission, membership criteria, and social calendar are provided for interested candidates.
Interested males and females will have several opportunities to meet and ask questions of current NPHC members by attending any of the university-wide programs that are held during the academic year.
While membership into NPHC is restricted to students who possess at least 30 credit hours and meet the GPA requirement specified by each organization, all students are invited to attend the NPHC 2012 Information Week activities. Attendees can expect to meet new faces, learn more about NPHC Greek organizations and have tons of fun.
NPHC membership costs vary due to several factors including, but not limited to, the administrative fees required by Mercer and each organization’s national association. The amount collected may also vary based on the number of trainings, conferences, and community programs that are planned for an academic year.
“As NPHC organizations do not recruit, the University and Macon community alike can expect to see the spirit of Greek unity, motivation for academic excellence and commitment to public service demonstrated during the Information Week held August 20-24th and in the days that follow,” said Melinda Robison-Moffett, Co-Advisor of NPHC.
Mercer’s Student Government Association has taken an active role in initiating two new programs for students to become involved in for this upcoming semester.
The first initiative is a motivation program partnering with Mercer’s Athletics Department. Though the program is still being finalized some of the details include a points-based incentive for students to encourage them to attend athletic games and events.
The second is a collaboration between Mercer students and businesses in College Hill and downtown areas. The initiative is cleverly titled Paint the Town Orange and stems from last semesters SGA Presidential race where elected President and Vice President, Mollie Davis and Josh Lovett, proposed a plan to create jobs and internships for students amongst local businesses. “In essence, SGA is going out on behalf of students to businesses and explaining the benefits of hiring students and how to hire students through Career Services. In addition, we ask that applicable businesses offer deals or discounts to Mercer students. In return, SGA will list and market these “Mercer friendly” business on our Facebook and our website,” explained Davis.
When businesses sign up, SGA provides them with Mercer gear, including team schedules, posters, etc., so that they can show support for the Bears in their place of business. These businesses will also place the SGA decal in their storefront windows to show the community their support of Mercer.
SGA is partnering with College Hill, the Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Macon, Unity-N-Community, and other existing avenues to get the word out to local businesses that wish to participate. At this time, 10 businesses have registered and pledged to post over a dozen jobs and internships in fields like graphic design, marketing, journalism/ photography, business management, accounting, and music venue promotion. Paint The Town Orange is in its initial stages but has already confirmed partnerships with the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority, Saturna & Company (a CPA firm), the 567 Center for Renewal (a multifaceted non-profit downtown), DonSon Productions (a custom laser-engraving business), 11th Hour and other local businesses.
SGA has taken the steps to ensure the program’s sustainability and growth by working with Mercer’s business school to create a service-learning course that will market the program throughout Macon and on campus. “Josh and I are both in the class and will work closely with that team of students to ensure that we create as many opportunities as possible for students,” said Davis.
The program will be formally announced August 23 at a press conference with Mayor Reichert and Mike Dyer, the president of the Chamber of Commerce.
“We are very excited about the potential of this program to create a sustainable connection between Mercer students and the Macon community. In the long run, we would love to see students living and working in Macon after graduation. As Mercerians, we have so much to offer the local community; it’s just about matching Macon’s needs with Mercer’s abundant resources, namely its educated, service-oriented, vibrant student body,” said Davis.
For more information on the Paint the Town Orange initiative you can e-mail the address firstname.lastname@example.org.
SGA is a body of elected representatives that connect Mercer’s administration with the student population. The Senate body meets weekly to discuss issues and pass legislation to enhance student life on campus. Meetings are held every Monday at 5:30 pm in Conference Room II of the Connell Student Center.
Last weekend Sandy Beach was taken over by a throng of boat racing enthusiasts. What type of boat they raced drew in countless spectators from all over Macon.
Fourteen teams of twenty paddlers raced on Lake Tobosofkee in the “Heart of the Dragon” Festival in Chinese style dragon boats. The forty-foot boats are designed to carry one drummer, a person to steer, and twenty paddlers and race over a short distance against one other boat.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Heart of Georgia ran the Festival, aiming to raise funds for their organization to help young children and teens.
“It goes to put mentors in the lives of children. And then to support those matches so that they’ll last longer for greater effect for
the impact on the children,” said Dianna Glymph, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of a fifteen county area of central Georgia. This is the third annual event and fourth festival for the dragon boats. Over the past four years the fundraising has managed to amass over a hundred thousand dollars.
Those who participated in the race were asked to raise a minimum of $25 with a goal of $115. The goal amount is what it costs to recruit, screen and train one mentor. Some sponsors of the event included Geico, State Bank, Wells Fargo and Georgia Power. Several sponsors made teams to participate in the competition. The Second Wind Band, a group of Georgia Power Employees, volunteered to show off their musical talent.
The race took place last Saturday on a stunning spring day that made the conditions just right for some competitive racing.
Though there is not much of a dragon boat league blossoming in Macon, participants were more than enthused over the festival.
“This is my fifth time doing it, I’ve done it with two Mercer teams, an independent team and twice with the wellness center,” said
Philip McCreanor, Associate Professor in the Environmental Engineering Department and Director of the Engineering Honors
Program. “I wish it happened more in Macon, it’s a good time.”
Teams were given two scheduled one-hour practices to prepare to the adjustments of using a dragon boat. Mc-Creanor elaborated on what it takes to be able to compete in such a sport, “Big thing is core strength, but it’s also endurance so it’s a little different.”
Mercer students have competed in the race in the past but no team entered in this year, perhaps due to the conflicting BearStock.
The race takes on a history of tradition in dragon boat racing that dates back 2,400 years in ancient China. Nowadays it is a cross-cultural sport with events all over the world. The exciting sport has grown to become so popular that it is now the fastest growing team water sport. Even becoming a notion for corporate bonding trips.
“It’s lots of fun and activity, it’s a strong team building exercise. You really have to learn to count on the person in front of you and behind you,” said Glympth.
The Festival was not just dedicated to the boats, in the morning a Dragon Disc Golf tournament took place at Claystone Park. During the races teams who brought tents to escape the hot sun had a tent decorating contest.
According to the festival’s website, the event raised over $17,000 for the Big Brothers Big Sisters. The organization has been an essential part of middle Georgia for over 50 years. In 2011, over a thousand children were matched with a Big Brother or Big Sister.
These volunteers help create vital relationships with vulnerable children in the community.
To learn more visit the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Heart of Georgia today.
In recent weeks several new developments have placed the Lauren Giddings murder case back into the forefront of Macon crime.
Skeletal remains were discovered earlier this month though there is currently no evidence to prove they are Giddings’ remains. A skull, ribs and leg bones were found behind a Gray Highway shopping center. Macon police spokeswoman, Jami Guadet, told reporters that the bones are being sent to the crime lab.
Lauren Giddings’ dismembered body was discovered June 30, 2011 in Macon, Ga. after friends and family reported her missing. Giddings’ torso was found in a curbside garbage bin at a 16-unit complex across from Mercer’s School of Law. Giddings and suspect Stephen McDaniel were law school classmates at Mercer University and neighbors for three years. Giddings was 27.
McDaniel’s was arrested July 2 and has been held in custody ever since.
McDaniel’s attorneys are currently asking for a bond entitlement seeing as McDaniel’s was not indicted within 90 days of his arrest. McDaniel’s was indicted in December for 30 counts of child exploitation charges. He entered a plea of not guilty. The bond the attorneys wish to seek is on the murder charge, a separate account in the charges.
“The issue there is that their claiming that there’s a statute that requires the prosecution to have indicted within a certain number of days. I cannot conceive that a situation where any type of bail bond would be set by a judge that this man would be capable of making. You just don’t let an alleged murderer…you don’t let them make bond. And you certainly don’t let them do that in a potential death penalty case,” said Mercer Criminal Justice Professor, Dr. Charles Weston. Dr. Weston worked in the District Attorney’s office for 28 years, becoming District Attorney in 1994. He has also handled several death penalty cases in the Macon Judicial Circuit.
The prosecution faced their own legal endeavors as they pursued whether Bibb County Chief Superior Court Judge S. Phillip Brown properly assigned himself to preside over McDaniel’s capital murder case.
Attorney’s for McDaniel accused prosecutors of “judge shopping” while allegedly searching to replace Brown in the death penalty case.
Dr. Weston, who has been in court cases with Brown said, “He’s very easy to work with. He has been known by everyone as being much more pro-defense than pro-prosecution. I’m not leveling that charge. I do know form my own experience with him, he is clearly the most pro-defendant judge I’ve ever worked with.”
Prosecutors made a request for Brown to review how Macon Circuit capital cases are given to judges. This was to ensure that the proper order of assignment was followed. McDaniel’s attorneys countered this claim last Monday by filing a motion claiming that prosecutors were attempting to remove Brown.
On Friday, Judge Ronnie Joe Lane, from Seminole county, ruled that Judge Brown may continue on the case. Lane inquired as to why the prosecution would pursue such a motion if the defense did not object. He suggested that prosecutors manipulate the system indirectly to choose a judge for a capital case.
Assistant District Attorney Nancy Scott Malcor defended the prosecution. Claiming that the selection of judges in capital cases has been assigned in two different ways. “The state became aware of a possible error,” she said to reporters. “We wanted to bring it to the court’s attention. Judge Brown said to file a motion and that’s why we’re here. ... It’s not saying we don’t like this judge or we like that judge.”
Dr. Weston pointed out the obvious concern a prosecution would have in concerns to a more lenient judge. Weston said that since the option in death penalty cases to have a sentence of life without parole, the choice of the death penalty has significantly fallen. “If this is not a death penalty case then I don’t know which one is,” said Dr. Weston.
Despite the arguing in the media and in the court the evidence from both sides has been kept relatively secret. “They have done a remarkable job of keeping the lid on the evidence. I mean there not letting much leak out and that’s the way it outta be,” said Dr. Weston.
A story released by the Macon Telegraph confirmed that all forensic testing on the case has been completed. This would include all evidence gathered by Macon police last summer and sent to FBI and GBI labs.
The Knight Foundation met Feb. 7 with more than 60 community leaders and stakeholders in an effort to enhance Macon’s technology infrastructure to make a bid for a Connect2Compete grant. The grant is part of a Federal Communications Commission initiative designed to make technology and Internet services more available to Americans. Connect to Compete is described as a private and nonprofit sector partnership created to promote broadband adoption and improve outcomes in disadvantaged communities. The company is associated with Best Buy, Microsoft and Career Builder among other top tech businesses. Twenty to 30 cities will be selected to earn the grant that will be announced in September. Macon is under serious consideration, as the city processes its existing resources, creating a proposal for the grant application. Kelley Dunne, CEO of One Economy and one of the leaders of Connect2Compete expanded on the need for telecommunications. He told the audience that 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies have online-only job applications, while 50 percent of today’s jobs require some technological understanding and application. Mayor Robert Reichert was enthused about the potential possibilities demonstrated at the conference. Reichert mentioned that Bibb County’s low high school graduation rates may help the city receive the grant, because there is an obvious need. “This is a game-changer,” Reichert said of the conference according to Macon.com. “We’re taking one of our greatest weaknesses and are addressing it. It’s unparalleled. We have the resources, the commitment and capability.”Connect2Compete is described as an investment in the future of the country.
City council’s Appropriations Committee turned into a fiery storm of criticism on Mon., Nov. 18th when Macon Police Chief, Mike Burns, presented a line of expenditures of confiscated funds.
Burns informed the committee of the spending of $18,000 in confiscated funds over a two-year period. In accordance with state law, Burns can use the money how he pleases as long as it does not include salaries or bonuses as well as projects already budgeted by the city.
What he spent the money on is what is causing many to be so annoyed.
$7,500 of the money was spent on travel for Burns and four of his colleagues to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, held in Chicago, IL, from Oct. 22-26. The city had previously dropped the conference from its budget. The remaining $10,500 was spent on equipment.
The specifics of what exactly the money was spent on during the trip are allegedly on record. After several attempts by the newspaper to contact city hall including a trip to the policefinancial department, no officials at city hall would release the requested information. One department claimed the documents were still under review and said they could not produce such a record at this time; another department said to try yet another department. The city has not yet responded to the newspaper’s request for the records filed under Georgia’s Freedom of Information Act.
Burns and Assistant City Attorney Judd Drake pointed to state law to defend the use of the funds, which was broad in claiming the use of the money can be decided by city’s top law enforcement official.
Though it is not required, Burns claimed he routinely informs Mayor Robert Reichert of his spending intentions and receives the Mayor’s approval.
Regardless, members of council, were critical. Council President James Timley was the most vocal claiming if the trip was so important the Chief should have included it in his budget.
“The city attorney read the state law, and (Timley) disagrees with it,” Burns said when he left the meeting, as reported by the Macon Telegraph. “We’re taking different courses than what is in the city budget. We used confiscated funds to do the things we can’t get the city to pay for. I don’t know why Councilman Timley chooses to disagree with state law. It’s been in effect for years. I don’t know why it’s such a big problem.”
The run down continued at a council meeting the following day when Councilwoman Elaine Lucas scolded the use of the funds. Lucas claimed Drake did not read the entire law at council the previous evening. She brought council’s attention to a section that says the local governing authority, which includes the mayor and council, can use remaining confiscated funds for any law enforcement purpose, such as creating programs for substance abuse, helping crime victims and representing indigent people in criminal cases.
“One section gives a list of suggested, possible uses,” Lucas said Tuesday night to the Telegraph. “Nowhere in that list is something for travel.”
City Attorney Martha Welsh said after Tuesday’s meeting that conflicting statements of the law required a further look into the issue.
Burns appeared on two morning news programs that Tuesday and criticized Lucas and Timley.
Macon.com asked its readers if Macon Police should use confiscated funds to attend law enforcement conferences? Of the 234 who responded to the survey, 86% agreed that law enforcement should use the money, as it is better than taxpayers footing the bill. The remaining disagreed, citing it was not fair to other departments.
Mercer’s student chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA) offers opportunities for leadership, teamwork and networking to its members, comprised of 40,000 professional marketers in more than 600 chapters across over 100 countries. AMA at Mercer began last year and has since garnered up a respectable number of aspiring marketers, though the chapter is open to any students with an interest in marketing.
AMA began in the early 1900’s as a way to bring together marketers to collaborate. “It’s an old organization, there are collegiate chapters all over the country, there’s a lot here in Georgia… It’s a big part of what marketers do,” said Chapter Advisor, Dr. McClung.
According to Dr. McClung, the chapter’s first year at Mercer was about getting organized and finding structure. “This year we are trying to build a network with people who will want to hire.” The chapter works alongside local and prominent marketing outlets.
AMA at Mercer holds two main events each year which allow students to gain valuable training and experiences. The first was held in the fall, appropriately titled, Marketing Week, where all students had the opportunity to attend speeches, presentations and mixers. Speakers included Atlanta Falcons and Robins Federal Credit Union representatives.
This spring, AMA will have a marketing day that will revolve around fashion marketing. “We are going to have a segment dealing with sports fashion. We are going to have someone in from Mary Kay. Other companies that are fashion companies will show us how they market their particular products, and then we will have a networking session so our students can meet people within the fashion industry,” said Dr. McClung.
In March there is the National Marketing Convention held this year in New Orleans. Over 1,200 collegiate students attend from all over the country. They compete against each other, learn from marketing professionals and network. Though Mercer cannot compete in the competition due to its size, they can still attend and meet people. “There are other things going on that will benefit the students,” said Dr. McClung.
The chapter has about 25 students, but hopes to achieve 40 by the end of next year, which would allow them to go into the competition. Students can join at any time for a once a year payment of $45. The money goes towards promotional items, dues to the State AMA chapter, and other expenses.
“We are going through the process of being recognized, state and nationally and we don’t have enough students to enter into the competition but at the end of the year I believe we will.”
Why should you join? Dr. McClung has the answer. “It’s a way to get your face in front of people who are going to hire you.”
For more information on joining the Mercer American marketing Association chapter, e- mail AMAmerceru@gmail.com.
After more than a century-long ban, Macon residents can purchase alcohol on Sundays. Voters approved the referendum 6,782-4,210 on Nov. 8th and it went into effect on Dec. 4, 2011. According to the Georgia Food Industry Association, 128 cities had an opportunity to change the law last month and 105 of those cities approved it.
While Atlanta residents won’t be able to buy alcohol on Sundays until Jan. 1, 2012, after a vote by city council, notable cities near the city center including Roswell, Woodstock and Sandy Springs did approve the sales.
Cities and counties were free to vote on the decision after lawmakers were unable to garner enough votes to repeal the ban over the whole state of Georgia.
Bibb County commissioners unanimously passed the ordinance, which was the final stepping-stone into Sunday’s historic kick-off.
Georgia is the last Southern state to still implement this law. Northern holdouts of the Sunday sales include Indiana and Connecticut.
Georgia’s ban has a long history, beginning with its initial prohibition of alcohol in 1908. After prohibition’s inevitable defeat, the Georgia Legislature passed the Sunday sales ban in 1937. It was passed to adhere to what many believe as a day of worship.
The new bill does come with a price. Many municipalities are preparing to make stores that remain open seven-days-a-week pay a fee. Dunwoody plans on charging an annual fee of $1,100 while Auburn will require $125.
The transition to Sunday sales will not require much effort to those businesses that are already open, such as convenience and grocery stores.
Some liquor stores dipped their feet in the new waters, and were received graciously throughout the day.
Bill Nettleton, owner of Wine Styles, told Fox News Central, “We decided to open up because it is the first day and it’s the Christmas season so we thought we’d try it out and see how things went today.” Nettleton noted that it was a slower day than the usual business of the Monday through Saturday schedule. “People are just not used to going out and buying alcohol on Sunday. It is probably going to take some time and really, I am not really sure if there is any kind of real demand for alcohol on Sunday by the bottle, so we will see.”
Nettleton plans to stay open on Sunday’s throughout the holidays and then decide whether the consumer demand is there to make it worthwhile.
Other liquor stores opted out of the trial run suggesting that the money is not worth having the day off.
Alpesh Patel, manager of Bloomfield Package, told 13WMAZ, “Some people are going to be open, I’ll probably lose some business, it’s not about the money, it’s about the family, quality family time.”
Owners of other stores found that staying closed had economical reasoning.
Maulick Patel, manager of Top Line Spirits told 13WMAZ, “You don’t know how much business it will pull in especially on a Sunday.”
Despite the closing of some stores, many citizens enjoyed the new policy, purchasing drinks at local stores. Some suggested the new policy allows for safer consumption on Sundays, insisting it was better to drink at home than at a bar or restaurant and potentially drive home intoxicated.
On Friday, Oct. 28 Macon first responders radio system went down, allotting for several breaks without proper communication to emergency servicemen. Civilians were still able to make calls to the 911 emergency lines.
According to Jami Gaudet, Public Information Officer for Macon Police, at 2:45 p.m. the radio supervisor reported that the system was down for six minutes. At 3:30 p.m. the supervisor reported another failure. Fire radio was able to transmit via walkie-talkies while the Macon Police Department was unable to do so.
Macon Police Chief, Mike Burns, spoke to the Macon Telegraph of the incident. “All of our dispatchers were using cell phones,” said Burns. “The IT department hopped on it, but they can no longer get parts for it. We don’t know how much longer it will hold up. ... My main fear is that we will have an officer (on a call), and he’ll have no way to call for help. I don’t want any of my officers to get hurt because we can’t communicate with them,” added Burns.
Clay Murphey, Director of External Affairs for the Mayor’s office, said the incident could happen again. The system was purchased over 10 years ago and has had multiple outages besides its most recent shut down.
“The ability for them to communicate together is critical. They need to be able to talk to each other,” said Brumley.
A complete failure occurred on Tuesday, October 25 at 2:20 p.m. The collapse affected MPD, the Bibb Sheriff’s Office (BSO), Macon-Bibb Fire Department (MBFD) and ambulance services. This caused Emergency 911 operators to work solely off portable radios for all calls city and countywide.
“It’s just old and getting parts for it is hard,” said Murphey of the system. The present system does not meet federal guidelines with concerns to inter-operability with other agencies.
A change from the current system to the new 800 MHz radio would solve the disruptions however the money needed to purchase is hefty, a required $8 million to upgrade.
Macon representatives are slowly churning the solution. Voters passed a special purpose local options sales task, known as SPLOST, on Nov. 8. Over 20,000 votes were cast and of those an overwhelming 72 percent were in favor of the tax.
Starting April 1 of next year, the SPLOST referendum will increase sales tax from six percent to seven percent. During the next six years, the tax is estimated to generate $190 million.
The tax will go towards a variety of improvements for public safety, recreation and infrastructure, road repairs and several other initiatives. In addition there is a need for three new fire stations, two in the county and one in the city, which could cost $12 million. The stations should help with the city and country’s insurance rates. Overall approximately $45 million will be contributed to public safety.
If proposed and passed the radio system wont be the only upgrade for police. New patrol with computers and laptops will be provided as well as in-car cameras and non-lethal enforcement devices.
SPLOST is a way for the needs of public safety services to be met without the need for bonds and property taxes.
“It allows us to move into the 21st century,” said Brumley of the necessary improvements.
On Oct. 28 Mercer’s President, William Underwood, approved a policy that will extend employee benefits to same-sex domestic partners. This comes days after Shorter University introduced a Personal Lifestyle Statement asking faculty and staff for the rejection of homosexuality, pre-marital sex and adultery.
Under Mercer’s new policy, benefits are available to same-sex domestic partners of Mercer employees who are eligible for coverage under the Mercer Health Plan and the Mercer Dental Plan. Other benefits available to partners under this policy include tuition waiver, issuance of a Bear Card, and University Center and library privileges.
President Underwood made the decision after receiving input from a study committee appointed last spring. The committee, chaired by Dr. Mary Alice Morgan, Senior Vice Provost for Service-Learning, spent several months researching other institutions that enforced similar policies and considered the legal, financial and ethical implications of implementing such a policy at Mercer.
Institutions with similar policies include Emory, Vanderbilt and Duke.
Larry Brumley, Senior VP for Marketing Communications and Chief of Staff, said they had them look into the best practices and see how they handled domestic partner benefits. “They analyzed the information and made a recommendation for the president.”
The move makes Mercer more competitive in recruiting and retaining staff as the question of domestic benefits is often asked among prospective employees.
Shorter has claimed their policy enforces their stance on Christian values. Since 2008, the University has hired only Christians.
According to Shorter’s president, Donald Dowless, employees who do not sign the pledge may face termination.
Dowless said the school has a right to hire whomever they want. “Anything that is not biblical, we do not accept,” he told WSBTV.
Since the pledge has been made public regional and national media have been reporting on the petitions, opinions and protests. The reaction towards Shorter’s policy is not a welcoming one as faculty, who renamed anonymous, told media outlets that the pledge prompts witch-hunts. Mercer has been used as a comparison in many articles since both schools announced their policies.
Mercer students and faculty seem less burdened by the reaction to their own policy, citing that it is a step in the right direction.
This wouldn’t be the first time Mercer has broken traditional protocol. Mercer was one of the first private institutions in Georgia to allow African-American students.
Does this endanger Mercer’s faith based values? “No, not at all, it is an outgrowth of our core values,” said Brumley. Mercer currently has a discrimination policy that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Mercer has been distancing itself from the strict lines of Baptist affiliation for some years now. The school ended its 170-year relationship with the Georgia Baptist Convention in 2006. One of the factors that led to the separation occurred when a student group on campus was doing a series of programs dealing with matters of human sexuality. Shorter is still associated with the Convention.
This raises the question that as Mercer becomes more liberal will it ever break its ties as a faith based institution?
“Currently Mercer has no intention of abandoning that part of its mission,” said Brumley.
Macon’s newest downtown eatery, Roasted Café & Lounge, is sure to be the next local hangout for Mercer students.
The owner, Nick Rizkalla, who is originally from Los Angeles and a recent alumnus of Mercer University, opened the store three weeks ago. He came to Macon six years ago and decided to stay, believing in the potential of downtown.
The café, located at 422 Second St., sells freshly brewed coffee, lattés, milkshakes, pastries, sandwiches and a signature drink called the Date Shake, which mixes dates in a vanilla milkshake.
The lounge just received its liquor license and now offers a mixture of wines and beers. Some brands include Coors Light, Bud Light and Yuengling.
Comfortable seating and plasma televisions make it an ideal space to watch sporting events, as was done this past Saturday for the Georgia-Florida game. Students will also be enthused to hear Roasted Café & Lounge has free Wi-Fi.
Rizkalla told the Macon Telegraph that the walls would feature art from local artists. “We’re also going to do art-showing parties and keep the art on display ... for sale ... to show support for local artists. There are a lot (of local artists) here that don’t get seen,” Rizkalla said.
The most distinctive piece of the café is the incorporation of hookah, a concept that has yet to join any other restaurant or bar in downtown Macon. Hookah, an instrument used to smoke tobacco, will be made available in the evenings by the lounge using a variety of tobacco flavors.
The cafe cannot allow smoking of the hookah inside their lounge, in accordance with Georgia law, but they are providing seating outside with heating where the hookah can be smoked.
Turkish and Cuban coffee is another interesting quirk of this laid back joint. Rizkalla says to play up the Middle Eastern theme of the Turkish drink he will bring in belly dancers once a month to perform.
“We are going to have acoustic acts come through. We want to make it a low key thing,” said Rizkalla. The lounge has a stage sectioned off for artists to come in and perform. The café plans to have Mercer acoustic acts once a week.
On a larger scale, Megan Jean and the KFB will be performing Dec. 9th at the café. The band has been touring the Southeast for the past few years and will grace the Roasted Café with a sweet sound of American roots and gypsy style.
Promotions for the store can be easily accessed on their Facebook page.
A recent drink deal has been prompted by “checking in” to the café on the social media website. Among the blitz are happy hours that extend to 8 p.m. and mimosas offered up for free during specified hours.
The café will be open Mon. to Fri. at 8 a.m., and Thursday to Saturday they will close at 11 p.m. However, the café will be flexible if people are still relaxing at closing time.
Macon is an old city rich with history. Four locations in particular can be deemed vital in terms of their value and significance.
The birthplace of Macon resides at Fort Hawkins, built in 1806 as an official U.S. Army Fort and Indian Factory for trading and meeting with Native Americans.
As U.S. Army and Georgia Militia Headquarters, Fort Hawkins was the most crucial site in the Southeastern Theater during the War of 1812. Only a replica of the original blockhouse remains while the rest of the site was covered by a couple feet of thick dirt and clay.
In recent years archeologists have uncovered hundreds of artifacts and original groundwork while excavating the site, which for a time had a school on its premises. Now the fort is a blossoming tourist attraction, hosting events such as Veterans Day Open House and its Annual Frontier Fort Christmas. Currently the site has free public programs every weekend with more information located on its website.
Fort Hawkins volunteers hope for the site to become a self-sustaining regional and national educational institution that will also be a proactive, productive, positive community resource, economic generator, and new source of local and national pride.
“This is juicy history here. We want to keep activities here,” said Marty Willett, FHC Press Officer & Project Coordinator.
Right down the street from Fort Hawkins is another, far older and more rugged location. The Ocmulgee National Monument is located on the eastern edge of Macon and according to TripAdvisor is the number one attraction for tourists. The site has many sacred Native American structures, including several massive mounds and a recreation of an Earthlodge. The Great Temple Mound is the largest Mississippian mound on the Macon Plateau and is quite a sight to behold. The park flourishes in history that extends over 10,000 years. For walkers and joggers the park has many tracks through the wetlands and a river trail.
“Macon is rare. It’s not usual that you would have two places, Fort Hawkins and Ocmulgee, so available,” said Willet.
According to patrons the spring and fall are the best seasons for visiting the park, which has free admission. The first two weekends in November will honor Native American Heritage Month by hosting its own Native American Games. The park itself is commemorating its 75th anniversary in December.
If you’re not in the mood to travel very far, then head down to Rose Hill Cemetery on Riverside. It was established in 1840 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Designed by Simri Rose, it was intended as a site to visit and as a gathering place for Maconites and visitors to the city.
The cemetery extends over an eye-catching landscape of hills and trees. Roads built for vehicles provide a variety of routes over the entire cemetery with a creek and waterfall to break up the demure within the landscape.
Most notably, the cemetery holds the graves of the Allman Brothers Band guitarist Duane Allman and bassist Berry Oakley who apparently visited the cemetery for artistic inspiration during their musical years.
A section was also marked off as Soldier’s Square and has lain to rest over 600 Confederate soldiers. Monuments of generals and other significant individuals of war and society can be found about the cemetery.
The youngest of the four locations is the Hay House built in 1855. The 18,000 square foot mansion spans four levels and is crowned by a three-story cupola. William Butler Johnston commissioned the Italian Renaissance Revival mansion and has since been lived in by two other families, the Feltons and the Hays. In 1977, ownership of the house was formally transferred to the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.
Students can pay an inexpensive $5 to tour the entire level of the houseand it is well worth it. The architectural design is unlike many homes seen in Georgia and is unique in glamour and style. Over 15,000 people visit the house each year.
The guided tours present an opportunity to learn about the significance of the homes both in its architecture and technological advances. Guests also hear a social history on the three families that resided in the home providing over 150 years of stories between them.