MerServe and QuadWorks are co-hosting a banquet simulation Friday to raise awareness about hunger, poverty and food insecurity on a global scale.
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The Mercer volleyball team played their final four games, walking away with two wins and two losses against UT Chattanooga, East Tennessee State, Samford and Furman.
Homecoming has officially begun, and it looks like it is going to be “out of this world" with the return of the popular lip sync battle along with four other events for competing organizations.
Macon Burger Week is back starting Nov. 1 and running through Nov. 7, with fifteen participating restaurants and two brand new awards. According to Taylor Evans, the director of public relations for the Georgia Beef Board, who hosts Macon Burger Week, the week is off to a great start.
Volleyball went on a three-game winning streak following a loss to Wofford Oct. 22.
Jasmine Lake, a senior at Mercer University, hosted a Sexual Health Education Week for her Service Scholars project from Oct. 19 to 22.
Halloween is almost here, but it being on a Sunday this year may put a damper on any costume party plans if you have classes Monday morning. So instead, put on the costume Saturday and spend all day Sunday getting your scare on!
Mercer Theatre performed a reimagined version of the Shakespearean classic Hamlet through the perspective of a Black American during 2020.
Nine members of Mercer’s chapter of Society for Women Engineers (SWE) visited Indianapolis to attend SWE’s national conference this past weekend.
The Mercer University debate team began their 2021-2022 season at the Rice University Classic Sept. 25 after excelling in last year’s season.
A new health education course hosted mental health speaker Abraham Sculley on Mercer’s Macon campus Sept. 23 to raise awareness about suicide and prevention in a collaborative effort with Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and Sexual Assault, Hazing and Alcohol Prevention (SHAPE).
MerServe’s annual Be a Good Neighbear service event will be held on Sept. 25 this year, returning to its preexisting format after being held over the course of two weekends in the 2020-2021 academic year. The event, which will offer over 20 volunteer sites, will require masks and social distancing for participating students.
After realizing the lack of recognition for many Black-owned student businesses on campus, junior Melody Gervin created an Instagram account dedicated to featuring and supporting her classmates. Gervin is the owner of black.owned.mercer, an Instagram account that she began in the summer of 2020 amid the Black Lives Matter protests. Her account has over 700 followers and has featured over 20 businesses since she first began posting in June. Gervin wanted to bring attention to Black Mercer students’ businesses after seeing social media encourage people to support Black business owners. “A big thing that was going on was to start and to continue supporting Black-owned businesses because we saw that big corporations valued the Black dollar, but didn’t value Black people,” Gervin said. “It’s very important to give your money to someone who actually values you and your life and the life of your brothers and sisters. It’s really good to just pour back into your own community.” She originally conceived of the idea as a Twitter thread, but her roommate suggested she create an Instagram account to feature businesses instead. “I saw a lot of Instagram pages about Black-owned businesses, and they had a lot of the bigger ones that are more familiar, and I just thought to myself, there’s a lot of Black-owned businesses here at Mercer that probably don’t get enough recognition that they need to. Instead of just focusing on the big ones that everyone knows about, it’ll be better for us to support the people in our community right here,” she said. When she first began her account, Gervin reached out to businesses she already knew of and asked for their permission to be featured. As the account has grown, however, business owners now reach out to her for features. That’s how Toni Walker’s business, Urbane TB LLC., was featured on Gervin’s Instagram. Walker said that another Mercer student recommended she reach out to Gervin about having her business featured, which Gervin did in September 2020. Walker said their sales increased when they were featured, and they gained more exposure. “I know a lot of people think that you support a small business by buying from them, but when you give us a follow or repost a picture from us, it really helps us get off the ground. Our biggest problem is other people knowing about us, and it’s really helping that challenge we’re facing right now,” Walker said. After their original feature on black.owned.mercer, Walker said Gervin reached out again around Valentine’s Day to see if they had any specials going on. Urbane TB LLC was one of nine businesses featured in Gervin’s “Black-Owned Valentine’s Day Gift Guide.” Gervin wanted to encourage people to remember to buy from Black businesses for different holidays like Valentine’s Day. The guide is also one of her new strategies for increasing interaction with her account. She plans to do similar posts in the future but also hopes to have a physical event to support the businesses and students that she features. “I didn’t think it would get to this level,” Gervin said. She said a lot of people have reached out to her to let her know that they like the idea and the platform she’s built over the past few months. “It’s been a really good experience seeing how supportive people are and how people want to support Black businesses, because I know we’ve been going through a lot this year. It’s been a difficult year altogether, but I think stuff like this helps bring the community together, and that’s really enjoyable,” Gervin said.
While a warning about the Honor Council is included in nearly all syllabi, the experience of what it’s like to be an Honor Council Justice and what the Honor Council really does is shrouded in a kind of mystery. Part of that is because there are only three types of students who can attend Honor Council hearings: Honor Council Justices, students accused of cheating and student witnesses. All three are bound to confidentiality per the published Rights and Responsibilities for students charged with plagiarism. Student witnesses prevented from discussing the investigation with anyone other than the Investigating Justice, Chief Justice or student counsel. Justices themselves are bound to confidentiality as members of the Honor Council. The Honor Council itself is composed of roughly 25 students as members of the council, with a student-run executive board. The executive board is only composed of three students: the Chief Justice, Associate Chief Justice and the Clerk. “Having a student Honor Council, there’s a different gravity to it in that it gives students a chance to be judged by their peers, and I think in a way, we can have more understanding as peers than a faculty council would have,” said former Chief Justice Gabrielle D’Alessandro. While primarily operated by students, the Honor Council also had an advisory board of five professors that change every semester. They also work with the Provost if they want to make changes to the Honor Code and meet with the deans for appeals. The average Honor Council member is called an Associate Justice. D’Alessandro said that the position isn’t too much of a time commitment, even on a weekly basis. Associate justices are required to attend five out of roughly twenty possible hearings per semester, along with any general meetings. Associate justices are also required to investigate at least one case per semester, where they’re the Investigative Justice for that case. When investigating a case, D’Alessandro described the position as more time-consuming, because the justice is meeting with the professor, student and witnesses to collect information and evidence. After the case has been explained, the justices deliberate over the verdict and, if found guilty, sanctions. Most sanctions tend to fall under one of the following categories: a letter of censure, which is on your academic record; an educational sanction; a zero on the assignment, which D’Alessandro said was the most common; course failures or suspension or expulsion. Former Associate Chief Justice Kallie McDaniels said that there has been a move towards more educational sanctions. “I don’t think anybody would say there’s value in only punishing and not educating and explaining and making it a teaching moment,” said McDaniels. When a student receives an educational sanction, the Honor Council will send one of the directors in the Academic Resource Center all of the information about the case and any other relevant information. The director meets with the student to help walk them through what they didn’t understand. McDaniels used a plagiarized paper as an example for an educational sanction, where a director would help a student understand the plagiarism by going through the offending paper. She said it was an intensive process for several weeks, including activities to better understand the topic. It’s a confidential process, so students won’t know if someone is in the ARC for an educational sanction. McDaniels said that most students who have an educational sanction don’t return to the Honor Council. “We want to make sure that people don’t make these mistakes again, but we don’t want to just be judge, jury and executioner,” said McDaniels. Both D’Alessandro and McDaniels encouraged interested students to consider applying for the Honor Council. They said their experiences helped them grow as students and leaders. “Something I appreciate about Mercer’s Honor Council, and Mercer in general, it’s a learning opportunity to learn and grow from your mistakes,” said D’Alessandro. “They want to give you the opportunity to prove yourself and become a better student, and I think our sanctioning allows for that.”
This is an opinion article. Any views expressed belong solely to the author and are not representative of The Cluster. Back in 2017, the National College Health Assessment released a report that said over 50% of students experienced above average or tremendous stress. That was before anyone had even thought about COVID-19, pandemics or quarantines, so it really isn’t surprising to realize that the amount of stress that students are under has skyrocketed. With the increase of stress that students are feeling, it’s inevitable that it will lead to burnout. In a previous article for The Cluster, assistant director of Counseling and Psychological Services Corey Wetzel said, “Burnout, professionally, is defined as exhaustion or lack of motivation after prolonged periods of stress.” One of the simplest ways to deal with burnout is to take a break, relax, reassess what you’re doing and then come back to your everyday life with a fresh look at everything. That’s why breaks have been so important to workers and students for so long, especially with the way they help reduce stress and the need for a recovery period at the end of the day. Vacations like spring break are even better! Taking breaks not only reduces stress hormones and blood pressure, but it also makes you feel happier and better physically as well. There’s a reason that people look forward to spring break so much, and it’s not because there aren’t classes for a week. It’s the rest and relaxation away from classes that students get that they haven’t been able to since the beginning of the semester. Mercer’s revision of the 2020-2021 academic year has drastically altered the breaks available for students. In the fall semester, there were three main changes: there was no fall break, students had classes on Labor Day and exams were held online when students went home during Thanksgiving. This semester, Mercer has replaced spring break with four random reading days spread throughout the semester. The issue is that these reading days aren’t actually breaks. According to Mercer’s coronavirus webpage, they’re meant to give students time to prepare for exams and assignments. Faculty are encouraged to still be available, which also prevents them from receiving a break throughout the semester as well. While the university still plans on giving students Good Friday and did give Martin Luther King Jr. Day off, the problem is that this still severely limits students’ ability to take a step back and recharge. Many students have to use the reading day as an extra day to catch up or work ahead on assignments. While the change was intended to prevent more students from leaving campus, it doesn’t seem to have been working. While the number of students leaving campus every weekend probably isn’t tracked, more and more of my friends and classmates have been leaving each weekend to get away from campus. They’re not partying; they’re just going home for the weekend due to being unable to see their families or friends throughout the semester. It simply prevents students who either can’t go home on the weekend or can’t drive from doing the same thing. While there needs to be limits in place, this isn’t the way to do it. Instead of completely removing spring break, Mercer could have just required students to be tested when they came back to campus and prior to classes starting again. They could have even shortened break by a day to make sure that students had time to be tested and receive results prior to classes starting again. There are only four reading days anyway, instead of the typical five for spring break. There are valid concerns about how a spring break would have risked exposure. However, for a campus that opened amid student protests last semester, it certainly feels like Mercer chose the option that would negatively impact the students that they’re meant to be helping.
There are a wide range of scholarships available for numerous different categories, including university, field of study or demographic. For students who belong to the LGBTQIA+ community, here are five scholarships to consider applying to. The Point Scholarship The Point Foundation provides scholarships to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students, but also includes mentoring and leadership development programs and events for recipients. During the 2019-2020 academic year, they sponsored 85 students total through the Point Scholarship and the Community College Scholarship Program. Along with those two, they also have a scholarship for queer students of color. All three scholarships have different application deadlines, which can be found on their website. Rainbow Scholarship Offered through the Rainbow Special Interest Group, a subgroup of the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers, the Rainbow Scholarship is intended for students interested in participating in study abroad programs. The programs must last at least 28 days and be eligible for credit to receive a scholarship. Applications are available through the Fund for Education Abroad website. The Rainbow Special Interest Group’s information about the scholarship can be found here. Gamma Mu Scholarship Programs The Gamma Mu Foundation’s primary scholarship is for gay men, but they also offer two more scholarships to students within the LGBTQIA+ community. While preference is given to students from rural areas, any gay male student under 35 is able to apply. Applications close March 31 this year. Interested students can apply here. “Out to Innovate” Scholarship for LGBTQ+ Students in STEM Established by the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals Inc., their scholarship is intended for both undergraduates and graduate students majoring in science, technology, engineering or mathematics programs that are also lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or an active ally of the LGBTQIA+ community. The application window will open April 1, and more information can be found here. Traub-Dicker Rainbow Scholarship Offered by the Stonewall Foundation, the Traub-Dicker Rainbow Scholarship is intended for lesbian women either entering or currently enrolled in a higher education institution, including graduate programs. Applications will open in March and can be found here.
Based on the book series of the same name, “Bridgerton” follows the titular family in Regency-era London during the “social season,” the period during which young women came out into society in search of a husband. The first season of “Bridgerton” adapted the first book of the series “The Duke and I,” following the eldest daughter Daphne Bridgerton’s (Phoebe Dynevour) first social season and her encounters with the Duke of Hastings Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page). When the season first begins, Daphne is a favorite of Queen Charlotte and thought to be the most incomparable woman. When her eldest brother Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) drives away all of her suitors except for the unpleasant Lord Berbrooke, she is desperate for the chance to regain society’s attention in the hope of finding someone she truly loves. Luckily for her, the new Duke of Hastings is equally desperate to stop the mothers from trying to marry him to their daughters, and so they cook up a scheme: they will pretend to be courting one another to make Daphne more desirable and Simon unavailable. At the same time, there are a number of other plotlines running throughout the season, such as the new anonymous columnist Lady Whistledown (voiced by Julie Andrews), the other Bridgerton children’s struggles with love and their place in society and the new arrival of another upper-class family named the Featheringtons. One of the major flaws of the series is that it tries to have too many stories in one season. With eighteen main characters and even more recurring characters, it’s impossible for each character to be fully fleshed out, have their own story arc and play into the main plotlines of the season. The series does its best, but can’t quite manage it all. Despite including too many plotlines, the storylines are captivating and, for most of them, well thought out. If a viewer finds themselves disliking one plot, they don’t have to wait long for another one to take the focus. The series is consistent with the main plot of the first season, however, about Daphne and Simon. Their relationship with each other grows faster than in a typical romance plot because they experience a nonstandard relationship twist in the middle of the season. With so many characters, it makes sense that some of them feel irrelevant to the series. The last episode features another Bridgerton’s arrival, but viewers are more likely to question why the showrunners felt the need to introduce her at the end of the season, or even at all. Of the Bridgerton children themselves, only Daphne, Anthony and Eloise (Claudia Jessie) are given consistent storylines throughout the season, while two of the brothers begin getting storylines in the latter half. The series tries to encourage female empowerment and diversity, but their results fall a little short at times. While Bridgerton daughter Eloise often discusses her dreams of independence and praises the anonymous columnist Lady Whistledown for her own freedom, most of the female characters of the season still operate within the bounds of what is socially acceptable for them to do, regardless of their personal desires. In regards to race, creator Chris Van Dusen purposely included people of color into the series, with the idea that Queen Charlotte, whose potential African ancestry is debated, opened up the doors for people of color to be titled like their white peers. While the series is meant to address race, according to Dusen in a New York Times article, it doesn’t devote much time to it past a single expository conversation in the middle of the series. In the many subplots in Bridgerton, there isn’t one that relates to race or even discusses it. While casting many actors of color is great, there isn’t any commentary on it in the show, despite what Dusen may have said. Content warning: This section of the article includes spoilers. It also includes discussions of sexual assault. The other problematic issue of the series is a scene between Daphne and Simon in episode six, “Swish.” The two have wed and Simon has told Daphne that he is unable to have children, which is actually because of a vow he made to his abusive late father. When Daphne discovers that the issue may not be a physical inability, she makes a far more duplicitous choice. When the two are having sex later on, she refuses to let him pull out at the climax, even as he tries to tell her to stop. While the incident is treated as a betrayal, along with Simon not telling Daphne that his inability to have children stemmed from a vow instead of a physical inability, the show doesn’t address the fact that the heroine raped her love interest at all. Furthermore, the series puts much more emphasis on Daphne’s anger over Simon’s lie rather than Simon’s reaction to his wife raping him. It’s hard to consider their ending a happy one without addressing Daphne’s actions. Bridgerton has been renewed for a second season, set to start production later this spring.
Robert Rodriguez has spent much of his directing career switching between adult-oriented action films like “Machete” to exaggerated family movies like “The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D,” the predecessor to his newest film. “We Can Be Heroes” is his first foray back into similar family-oriented action films since the last “Spy Kids” film in 2011, and carries on the charm of the previous films. “We Can Be Heroes” is a standalone sequel that draws on the nostalgia of “The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D” to attract audiences, but manages to sustain that interest through its own unique story. Starring YaYa Gosselin as Missy Moreno, the powerless daughter of retired superhero Marcus Moreno (Pedro Pascal), the film utilizes both new and returning actors in its ensemble cast, including Boyd Holbrook, Christian Slater and Adriana Barraza. The film begins with an armada of alien ships approaching Earth. The invasion necessitates the intervention of the entire superhero team, the dysfunctional Heroics, including forcing former leader Marcus Moreno out of retirement. For the duration of their battle, their super-powered children are placed in the protection of Heroics Program director Mrs. Granada (Priya Chopak), where they are able to watch the battle unfold. When their parents are captured and Heroic Headquarters is breached by alien invaders, however, it’s up to the children to escape and find a way to save both their parents and the world. Rodriguez utilizes the same style that defined his “Spy Kids” franchise, with colorful and strange sets that mark the setting as distinctly alien but fun for viewers, stylized action scenes straight out of a comic book and a diverse cast of characters. Still, the pacing and writing can veer too much into telling audience members what’s going on rather than showing them. One memorable scene towards the beginning of the film introduces the zany characters to both Missy and the audience. Wheels, the wheelchair-bound son of the Superman-esque Miracle Guy, spells out each character’s powers and personalities in an on-the-nose scene. The next scene features all the characters utilizing those powers to break out of the heroes’ headquarters, which would have been a far better fit to highlight what exactly each of them can do. In a similar fashion, the movie doesn’t shy away from hammering in the message of the film. While the captive Heroics constantly bicker, their children tend to unconsciously mirror their parents’ tendencies for petty rivalries until leader Missy gets them to work together. The film’s admittedly intriguing twists push the message in viewers’ faces even further. If you’re willing to let that slide, however, “We Can Be Heroes” has its strength with legitimately fun characters. Missy is a compelling lead, with her unique lack of powers, her close relationship with her father and grandmother and her quick wit. Her journey to becoming the leader of the team is an entertaining one as she becomes more and more confident in her abilities. Her friendship with Wild Card (Nathan Blair) is one of the sweetest subplots, along with his own development as he learns to control his unlimited powers and work with the other members of the team. The other kids have less of the spotlight, but will each earn their own fans. The most noteworthy character, however, has to be Guppy. The daughter of Sharkboy and Lavagirl, Guppy (Vivien Blair) is a show stealer and sure to be a fan favorite. The youngest of the group, she’s unabashedly adorable and shockingly powerful. One of the best lines of the film comes from a guard who’s forced to deal with the five-year-old, realizing, “Oh, no! She’s got shark strength!” While the story is self-contained and wraps up nicely, it’s set up a world ripe for a continuation. While the main questions are answered and the day is saved, there are still things to be asked and possibilities to be explored about Missy Moreno, the Heroics and their children, along with the world surrounding them. If you’re looking for a serious superhero film or even something like the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the DC Extended Universe, “We Can Be Heroes” likely isn’t the film you’ll want. However, if you want to indulge in some updated childhood nostalgia for films like “The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D” or the “Spy Kids” franchise, or even just a fun family action flick, “We Can Be Heroes” is the perfect choice.
This is an opinion article. Any views expressed belong solely to the author and are not representative of The Cluster. Most people can agree that 2020 was not the best year. Between the COVID-19 pandemic, the turbulent political climate and devastating daily news, New Year’s Eve was more relieving than joyous. With the chaos of 2020 and the arrival of a new year, the question is: is it stupid to create New Year’s resolutions for 2021? Most New Year’s resolutions are dedicated to improving one’s life. Some of the most popular and repeated resolutions are to save money, exercise more, eat better, connect with friends or some other self-help idea that will hopefully make you feel better after the events of the past year. After 2020, typical goals seem almost like a joke. Between layoffs, quarantine and a grim death toll, none of the normal resolutions seem appropriate right now. You may ask what the point is for a New Year’s resolution when 2021 seems to be shaping up to be chaotic in itself. It’s just more pressure on yourself to meet some golden standard in a time that seems intent on making it as difficult as possible, without even getting into the typical failure rate of resolutions. Despite that, there are still many reasons to make New Year’s resolutions. Making progress on goals makes people happier and more satisfied with life, according to Psychology Today. The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to create those goals because it gives a more tangible representation of a fresh start. However, only 8% of people actually manage to keep those resolutions all year, and 80% fail by February, according to the Times Tribune. After 2020, the idea of making a lofty goal is more exhausting than exciting. If you only make one resolution this year, it should be to cut yourself some slack. Psychologist Sophie Lazarus at Ohio State University told CNet that after the stressful events of the last year, putting pressure on yourself to fulfill unrealistic goals is not helpful to you nor will it achieve what you want them to. Instead, focus on making your goals smaller and more achievable this year. Setting goals gives you something to focus on during the craziness of the year, but make sure to give yourself room to fail or make mistakes. New Year’s resolutions are best when they are fun aspirations, not strict assignments that will lead to feelings of self pity or failure if you do not accomplish them. Focus on creating goals that won’t overwhelm you. Limit how many goals you set. If nIf nothing else, one resolution can be prioritizing rest and self-care after a turbulent 2020.
A dance team member bounces in the stands as she waves her metallic pom-pom in the air. The scoreboard switches from showing members of the audience to highlighting the score in orange lights. Players mill back out on to the court as the music playing over the speaker slowly drifts off. Fans settle in their seats, shifting attention towards the court as chants of “Go, MU!” start up in the stands. It’s the first Mercer University basketball game as a doubleheader, with the men and women basketball teams having games back-to-back, and it’s not an unusual kind of game. Due to the pandemic, however, games like this now look a bit different. Last semester, COVID-19 led to an adjusted sports schedule here at Mercer, including football being pushed back until spring. Mercer’s men’s and women’s basketball teams have still been able to play out their seasons, which started shortly after the official last day of classes in the fall semester. The men’s and women’s basketball teams played against the Virginia Military Institute and Furman University respectively Jan. 23. There were only a few people in the box office at the University Center handing out tickets. One sat at the front of the booth to hand out tickets to people outside while another sat to the left to pass out tickets to people already inside the UC. When fans went into the arena, they had their tickets scanned by student workers wearing an orange polo and mask. There is no temperature check to enter the arena, but masks are required unless you’re eating or drinking something. In November, Mercer announced that they would have fans socially distance from one another during games. Last year, the men’s basketball games had a lot of patrons that filled up the arena. This year, the stands are only half-full. Small groups sit together, separated from other patrons by a few empty seats. Most people are wearing a mask, but a handful continues to pull them down to talk to their friends or snack on concessions. When fans go to take their seats, they’re asked to sit in their assigned seat because of the doubleheader. After the men’s game ends, they need to spray down the used seats in the arena in time for the women’s game against Furman. Beyond that, the game proceeds as normal, albeit with many more masks than usual in sight. The dance team, cheerleaders, color guard and band are all in the stands, wearing their group’s matching masks. When a player takes a free throw, they all remain in the stands. Instead of two cheerleaders doing a backflip to celebrate the basket, they cheer with the rest of the groups in the stands. During halftime, the dance team takes the court to perform, but the cheerleaders aren’t able to perform on the sidelines at either game. This particular game ended with an 83-80 win for Mercer, but no one goes down to the court to greet any of the players. The celebration is muted as fans begin leaving the arena, and the band plays the last song. The dance team clusters close together, facing the court for their last dance. When the song ends and most of the fans are out of the arena, student workers, players and band members are ushered out to the University Center. Fans can stay here for the next hour between games during cleaning. Fans interested in attending both games aren’t allowed to remain in their seats for the wait between games like they used to be able to. Other members of staff are cleaning the arena in preparation for the next game, so students take advantage of their break to hang out with friends or buy food. Eventually, they’re allowed to head back inside the arena to prepare for the women’s game at 6 p.m. Then they get to do it all over again. The game experience is less crowded and more conscious of the presence of other patrons than before COVID-19. It can be a bit awkward, especially with multiple games on one day. However, it retains most of the typical game experience while making it safer for fans, players and staff to be there.