Mercer is a host to a handful of meme accounts, but the owner of Mercer Affirmations has made it clear that she wants hers to be a meme account of the people.
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All faculty and staff of Mercer University are now required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a communication from University President Bill Underwood. The requirement comes as a result of President Joe Biden's executive order requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all federal contractors and their employees.
Mercer’s Fine Art and Design seniors will present their recent work in Hardman Hall's Plunkett Gallery starting Sept. 17 with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. The show, entitled “Summer Salon,” will feature the students’ recent work from outside of class.
Over 70 cases of COVID-19 were reported on Mercer University’s Macon campus this week according to the weekly testing summary. The number has nearly doubled each week since students began moving back on campus.The week freshmen moved in for Bear Beginnings, August 13-19, the Macon campus reported 18 positive cases. The next week, which was the first week of class, there were 29.This week, 71 students and 5 faculty members tested positive on the Macon campus. One Macon graduate student is hospitalized, according to the university's report.An accurate positive test rate for the Macon campus is unable to be calculated, as Mercer does not break down the number of tests administered on each campus. Only a total number of tests across all campuses is provided, which was 945 this week.Mercer is currently requiring surveillance testing of all unvaccinated students, faculty and staff, and masks are required for members of the Mercer community who are unvaccinated.According to an email from University President Bill Underwood, “more than 81%” of students have completed or begun the process of being fully vaccinated. However, the university failed to provide information that makes that metric significant. Neither a campus-by-campus breakdown nor the total number of students on each campus was provided.The Cluster reached out to the Provost’s office to request more in-depth vaccine data for each campus, but the office declined to provide any new information.To schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment with Mercer Medicine, visit the scheduling website.Members of the Mercer community are directed to call Mercer Medicine at (478) 301-4111 or the Student Health Center 24/7 hotline at (478) 301-7425 if they begin displaying symptoms. Students who are enrolled in a course in which a student has tested positive will receive an email notifying them of their risk.
Mercer Panhellenic will begin the first round of fall formal recruitment virtually via Zoom Friday.Each round was scheduled to be in-person originally, but three members of Panhellenic sororities reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 Monday and Tuesday, according to the Office of Campus Life in a Thursday email.During the first round, also known as “open house,” participants in recruitment visit each of Mercer’s four Panhellenic sororities: Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Gamma Delta, Chi Omega and Phi Mu. This means there is a potential for high transmission of the coronavirus if it were to be held in person.The latter two rounds and the bid day celebration on the final day are still scheduled to take place in person. Masks are required both for members of sororities and potential new members during recruitment.If more cases are reported, Campus Life says they plan to move rounds virtually as necessary.If students participating in recruitment have a preference to participate in each round virtually, Campus Life says that is an option for them.“Students who participate in the recruitment process virtually will be at no disadvantage to those participating in person,” a representative of Campus Life said in an email to The Cluster. “Mercer Pan has put policies in place that exceed Mercer’s event policies and is prepared to host as safe of a recruitment process possible during this continued pandemic.” Editors’ Note: Mary Helene Hall is a member of Alpha Gamma Delta at Mercer University. This article was edited by staff members of The Cluster unaffiliated with Greek Life.
Mercer’s all-new Outdoor Recreation Complex got a warm welcome from students during the annual Recreational Sports & Wellness “Rec the Night” event last Thursday. Rec the Night typically takes place in the University Center, but the opening of the ORC gave those behind the project the chance to show it off for the first time. The event featured free food and shirts, games, a water slide, athletic club booths and more. “We're trying to make sure that students know where we're at,” RSW Director Todd Thomas said. “I think once students see the facility with their own eyes, I think they'll really see that it's a state-of-the-art facility." The new facility will serve as the home of RSW programs as well as outdoor club and intramural sports such as soccer, ultimate frisbee and flag football. The ORC is located just off-campus next to the Macon Dog Park in the College Hill Corridor. It has one large field that is larger than a soccer field, one small “warm-up” field, and a building with restrooms and an office space. The project cost “approximately $1 million,” according to RSW. ORC fields are going to be put to use immediately — several intramural groups have seasons that begin throughout September. “We're really excited to have a place that is just for intramurals, club sports, rec sports — a place that is just for Mercer students to come and recreate,” RSW Graduate Assistant Brenna Wortham said. “This is a place specifically designed for the average student, not student-athletes.” To learn more about RSW activities including club sports, intramurals and more, visit their page on Mercer’s website.
The Mercer shuttle has announced new routes, times and an additional pick-up area for the 2021-2022 academic year. The shuttle, managed by the university and the Macon Transit Authority, is a service to allow students a safe method of transportation. Each route has three pick-up and drop-off locations: Mercer bridge inside the Stadium Drive campus entrance, Greek Village side entrance near the Mercer Police Department and the corner of College Street and Coleman Avenue. The pick-ups and drop-offs run in that order each time. The downtown evening route runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. in 30-minute loops. The sole downtown stop is the corner of 3rd Street and Cherry Street. The final shuttle returns to campus by 3 a.m. On Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m., the shuttle loops each hour. From campus, the stops are the corner of 3rd Street and Cherry Street and the Grey Highway Walmart. To campus, the stops are the Baconsfield Kroger and the corner of 3rd Street and Cherry Street. The Wednesday route is no longer available due to a lack of riders, according to Director of Campus Life Carrie Ingoldsby. “I think the Saturday daytime route will be a better option for students that need to grab groceries or hit Walmart or downtown Macon,” Ingoldsby said. The shuttle can be tracked via the “Trolly Tacker,” available as a website or apps for iOS and Android. Students must wear masks on shuttles at all times regardless of vaccination status, and passengers must be seated at all times. Students may request alternative disability accommodations by calling the Macon Transit Authority at (478) 803-2500. “I am excited that we have the shuttle fully operational this year,” Ingoldsby said. “I hope that students take advantage of this option.”
Fall recruitment for Mercer’s fraternities and sororities is quickly approaching, and according to Fraternity and Sorority Program’s 2020-2021 review, most of the Greek Life organizations are currently in good standing. However, there are a few exceptions. Alpha Kappa Alpha is suspended for the 2021-2022 academic year due to hazing, according to FSP. It is reported by FSP to be the only chapter at Mercer that will not be able to take in new members during the fall 2021 semester. The Mercer Student Code of Conduct defines hazing as “any act or activity required for the purpose of initiation, admission into, affiliation with, or as a condition for continued membership in a group or organization.” The code also specifies that “express or implied consent of the victim will not be a defense.” Hazing is currently illegal in the state of Georgia under the Max Gruver Act. The act was signed into law in May 2021 and went into effect in July. Alpha Kappa Alpha did not respond to The Cluster’s request for comment as of 6:15 p.m. Saturday. Six additional chapters are either on probation for the fall 2021 semester. The following chapters are on fall 2021 social probation: Phi Mu — alcohol-related violation Phi Delta Theta — alcohol-related violation Sigma Nu — alcohol-related violation Kappa Sigma — social event violation For fraternities and sororities on social probation, sanctions have occurred after the student organization was found responsible for a Student Code of Conduct violation. The following chapters are on academic probation for the fall 2021 semester: Phi Beta Sigma Omega Psi Phi A fraternity or sorority on academic probation did not meet academic expectations during the previous year. “The conditions for each probation is dependent on their case, so there is no blanket statement that can be made about what events each chapter can attend or host,” Associate Director of Campus Life and Student Involvement Meredith Keating White said in an email to The Cluster. “Under social and academic probation, they are still active chapters on Mercer’s campus.”
Karen Sneddon, former Mercer Law School associate dean, has been named the interim law school dean by Provost David Scott Davis. The announcement comes in the wake of Dean Cathy Cox’s appointment to president of Georgia College and State University. “I value Mercer's students, alumni, staff, faculty and administrators,” Sneddon said. “I'm pleased to be able to serve in this role.” Sneddon will assume her post of interim dean Oct. 1, the same day Cox her work at GCSU. Sneddon is currently a professor of law and associate dean for faculty research and development. She was a Forrester Fellow at Tulane Law School and an associate at a New York City law firm before coming to teach at Mercer in 2006. She graduated summa cum laude from Louisiana State University and summa cum laude from Tulane Law School. “I’m grateful that Professor Sneddon has agreed to serve as interim dean,” Davis said. “She is well-regarded as an outstanding scholar and teacher by her colleagues in the Law School and has filled important leadership roles across the University, including serving as chair of the Faculty House of Delegates.” The announcement of Cox’s appointment to president of Georgia College and State University came Aug. 12. She has been the dean of Mercer Law since 2017. “I appreciate the leadership that Cathy Cox has provided for our law school over the last four-plus years,” Davis said. “She will be an outstanding president for Georgia College, and as a graduate of Mercer Law School will always be part of the Mercer family.” A search committee will be appointed to conduct a national search for a new law school dean, according to Mercer Director of Media Relations Kyle Sears. Sneddon will hold her position until a new dean is appointed.
Mercer students were treated with a new source of entertainment this summer. Mercer Affirmations, an Instagram page that features memes relating to life as a student at Mercer, was started in July and has been going strong ever since. The Cluster had the opportunity to sit down with the curator of the page, who we’ll call “Affie,” as she has requested to remain anonymous. She is a junior at the university. Affie began the page this summer during an internship in social media and marketing. “It was a really awesome opportunity,” she said. “But in between creating posts for the internship, it was really boring. I'm not gonna lie, it was very boring. I was sitting at a desk 24-7.” One source of entertainment for Affie? Checking out affirmation comedy pages. “They’re so funny,” she said. “They crack me up.” Affirmations are a form of meditation in which a person states or focuses on a statement they would like to come true. For instance, an affirmation regarding grades could be, “I will achieve a 4.0 GPA this semester.” Comedy pages take a lighthearted approach to the format and poke fun at the universal experiences or thoughts of their followings. When Affie first created her page, it started out as a joke between her and her friends. Then, it started to gain a strong following. What she realized was that the experiences around campus that she and her friends were laughing about were experiences that many across campus resonated with. “There have been so many instances on campus where we've had just Mercer things,” she said. “Just like, things that we've bonded over.” One recent example of this campus-wide “bonding” was a tornado warning issued early Tuesday morning. When Mercer Police contacted students via email with a warning, Affie got to work. “It was like 5 a.m., and I woke up,” she said. “I was like, ‘You know what? I should document this.’ So I made a post about the tornado." The tornado post was a hit, gathering over 500 likes and becoming the most liked post on her page.
Students and faculty will not be required to have their COVID-19 vaccines for the fall semester, according to an email Thursday from university President Bill Underwood.Vaccinated students and faculty will fill out a "screening questionnaire," and unvaccinated students and faculty will be required to be tested for COVID-19 prior to the start semester."While the University currently has no plans to require students and employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19, we strongly encourage all eligible individuals to be vaccinated before the fall semester," the email says.Unvaccinated traditional Macon campus undergraduate students will be required to be tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis, the email says. Other unvaccinated students and employees will be subject to basic surveillance testing. Fully vaccinated students will not be required to participate in surveillance testing."These protocols are based on current conditions, and we will continue to monitor developments throughout the summer," the email says.Vice Provost Kelly Reffitt says that the goal of these protocols is to get as many members of the Mercer community vaccinated as possible."We just want to encourage students and employees to get vaccinated this summer if they haven't, and we look forward to seeing everyone in the fall," Reffitt said.According to the email, students and faculty receive another email with instructions to prepare for the fall semester.
Mercer will no longer require students, faculty and staff who are fully vaccinated to wear masks on any of its campuses, according to an email from the university Monday. The updated guidance is a stark contrast from previously requiring all members of the Mercer community to wear masks while indoors or at campus events. The announcement comes after the recently updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines stating that it is safe for people who have been fully vaccinated to leave the mask at home. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic,” the CDC’s website reads. In addition to the new mask rules, fully vaccinated members of the Mercer community will not be selected for surveillance testing. “Based on the data of increased vaccinations and decreasing positivity rates, it’s time to revise the University mask policy for those vaccinated students and employees,” Vice Provost Kelly Reffitt said. “It’s a step toward a pre-pandemic university experience. Many people are relieved that we have finally gotten to this point and are happy to remove their masks.”
Mercer University's annual Bearstock took place April 17 on Cruz Plaza. The outdoor event, which was free and open to all Mercer students, featured headliner Jesse McCartney. [gallery size="full" ids="28338,28339,28340,28341,28342,28343,28344,28345,28346,28355,28347,28348,28356,28349,28350,28351,28352,28353,28354"]
Rylan Allen and Natalie Yaeger have won the SGA President and Vice President election with over 60% of the student vote.SGA announced the result in the Connell Student Center lobby Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. Election Marshall Jake McCarthy and current SGA President Savannah Lackey rolled out a banner with the results: 623 votes for Allen/Yeager and 411 for Bearden/Mills.“It took me a second to react,” Allen said. “It hasn’t hit me yet, it still hasn’t. It’s overwhelming.”
Mercer University’s Macon campus received its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a Monday night email from the Provost’s office. The university received the Pfizer vaccine, and appointments can be made by Mercer students and employees as well as members of the Macon community who are at least 16 years old. Appointments are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Vaccinations will be administered in Penfield Hall Tuesday and Wednesday. “We encourage you to get vaccinated and continue to wear your mask, as provided in our policy, to protect yourself and others,” the email from the Provost’s office said. Mercer will likely continue to administer vaccines as they receive shipments. According to Medical Director for the Student Health Center Dr. Lynn Denny, Mercer has approval from the Georgia Department of Public Health to administer both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine. Mercer was approved by the Georgia Department of Public Health to distribute vaccinations Feb. 25, according to an email from President Bill Underwood sent out that day. The university remained in a state of uncertainty as to when it would offer the vaccine for over a month while awaiting its vaccine order. The Atlanta campus received its shipment of vaccines March 25, according to an email from the Provost. Before scheduling an appointment, be sure that you are able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Impacting factors include but are not limited to recently testing positive for COVID-19, allergies to any of the ingredients or having an autoimmune disorder. If you are unsure, check with your doctor before scheduling your appointment. Members of the Mercer community are directed to call Mercer Medicine at (478) 301-4111 or the Student Health Center 24/7 hotline at (478) 301-7425 if they begin displaying symptoms. Students who are enrolled in a course in which a student or instructor has tested positive will receive an email notifying them of their risk.
All residents of Georgia age 16 and over are eligible starting today to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, according to an announcement from Georgia Governor Brian Kemp.The announcement took place on Tuesday in Atlanta at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.The order comes after President Joe Biden ensured all Americans will be eligible for vaccination by May 1 at the latest. Georgia is the sixth state in the U.S. to allow all residents to be vaccinated, according to the New York Times.Currently, people over 18 are authorized to receive any vaccine. People between the ages of 16 and 18 can only receive the Pfizer vaccine. Where does Georgia stand?According to Amber Schmidtke, a former Mercer School of Medicine professor who releases a daily digest of COVID-19 updates and health information, about 75% of Georgians will need to be fully vaccinated in order to approach herd immunity. That’s almost the entire population of Georgia over 16 years old.“We could approach herd immunity if every adult in Georgia took the vaccine,” she said. “But that is unlikely at the moment considering issues of barriers to access and vaccine hesitancy. We will need a vaccine for kids in order to get to herd immunity in Georgia.”Schmidtke’s most recent daily digest on March 22 says that Georgia still places last in vaccine distribution. About 19% of the state’s total population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, and only 11% of the total population is fully vaccinated. When is Mercer going to start giving out the vaccine?Mercer was approved by the Georgia Department of Public Health to distribute vaccinations Feb. 25, according to an email from President Bill Underwood sent out that day.According to an email from the provost’s office, Mercer has yet to receive their order of vaccinations.“We hope our order arrives this week, and we will keep you informed on how to schedule vaccine appointments on the Macon and Atlanta campuses,” the email reads.The Atlanta campus received their shipment of vaccines Thursday, according to an email from the Provost. Appointments are made on a first-come, first-served basis, and vaccines will be administered in Sheffield Gym on the Atlanta campus.Vaccines are available at no cost, even if the patient does not have health insurance.Mercer has run mandatory surveillance testing throughout the spring semester, and positive cases have remained consistently low. According to the last COVID-19 testing update, out of 1,223 administered tests, there were just five positive results and only two of those were on the Macon campus.“A critical component of the University’s comprehensive plan to detect and mitigate the spread of the coronavirus is randomized surveillance testing,” Underwood said in the Feb. 25 email. “I appreciate everyone’s cooperation with our surveillance testing. Your participation makes a difference in keeping our campuses and centers safe and healthy.”The Cluster will continue to post updates from the university as they become available. How do I schedule a vaccine?Mercer Medicine is not scheduling vaccines at the time.To schedule a vaccine appointment, visit the Georgia Department of Public Health website to view a list of locations currently offering vaccines. Among those locations are Navicent Health, Kroger, Walgreens and Sam’s Club.Drive-thru appointments can be made with Navicent Health. The process involves signing up for a specific time, driving to the location, having the vaccine administered and waiting for 15 minutes for an observation period. The patient then returns three to four weeks later to receive their second dose in the same fashion.Before scheduling an appointment, be sure that you are able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Impacting factors include but are not limited to recently testing positive for COVID-19, allergies to any of the ingredients or having an autoimmune disorder. If you are unsure, check with your doctor before scheduling your appointment.Members of the Mercer community are directed to call Mercer Medicine at (478) 301-4111 or the Student Health Center 24/7 hotline at (478) 301-7425 if they begin displaying symptoms. Students who are enrolled in a course in which a student or instructor has tested positive will receive an email notifying them of their risk.
Mercer University’s Student Government Association will host a debate for student body presidential candidates. The debate will be held March 24 in the Connell Student Center at Bear Necessities at 7 p.m. A virtual option is also available via Zoom. Current SGA President Savannah Lackey said that a debate hasn’t been held in three years. “There was no debate my freshman year — there was only one candidate on the ticket — and then last year there was (the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic), and so we actually did not get to have a presidential debate between me and the other candidates I ran against,” Lackey said. The candidates for SGA president this year are current Vice President Ashton Bearden and Sophomore Class President Rylan Allen. Both candidates have been involved with SGA for two years. Their running mates are SGA Senator Caleb Mills and SGA Senator Natalie Yaeger, respectively. Yaeger is also the Lead Lifestyle & Opinion Writer for The Cluster. “We think it's really important for the student body to hear why people are running, what they’re passionate about and their stance on different things so that the students can make the best, informed decisions for themselves,” Lackey said. “Mercer is a great school, but there is always more to improve.” This is the first year that The Cluster will be involved with the debate, which in years past has been moderated by the SGA Election Marshal, who oversees candidates and their campaigns. Managing Editor Mary Helene Hall will deliver questions and talking points to the candidates. Lackey said that SGA has discussed involving The Cluster in the past, but it came to fruition this year in order to have impartial discourse among the candidates. “We think it’s important to have the most unbiased debate,” Lackey said. Students can submit their questions for candidates using a form distributed to students via Mercer email. In previous elections, about 40-60% of Mercer students participate in the student government elections, and Lackey is hoping the debate will improve participation. “People have been clearly active in making sure their opinion is heard,” Lackey said. “I would love it if students would come out and vote and also hear what their candidates have to say because I think it really matters to vote for someone who cares about the same things you care about.” Presidential elections will be held March 29 - 30. Students can vote through their MyMercer accounts. “I think that the students have a really hard choice ahead of them for who they vote for (...) because all the candidates are so wonderful,” Lackey said. “I honestly don’t think the scales are tipping one way or the other at this point. I think it’s pretty even, but that’s because the candidates are that good.”
[video credit="Hailey Christian" align="right"][/video]One of Mercer’s football buses caught fire outside of a Golden Corral in Columbia, South Carolina, Friday.The team was headed to Lexington, Virginia, for their game against the Virginia Military Institute.Joey Carpenter, a student at Mercer and a football team manager, said everyone was inside eating lunch when a customer ran in to tell them that the bus had caught fire.“A lot of the stuff inside either had smoke damage or was covered in glass,” Carpenter said. “We were originally told that nothing inside would be salvageable. Luckily, they let us go through it, and the majority of it was fine.”Carpenter said that the staff and team’s possessions that were damaged will be reimbursed. “Our boss went and bought us all new clothes and whatnot,” she said. “As for electronics and everything, that’ll be next week.”Mercer Sports Information Director Travis Rae told 13WMAZ that no coaches, staff or players were on the bus during the accident, and no one was hurt.The cause of the fire is still unknown. “All the online articles say they don’t know,” Carpenter said. “We’ve heard a billion different reasons, so I’m not sure which one is correct.”The team was still able to attend their Saturday game against VMI. The Bears lost 14-41.The Cluster will publish updates when more information becomes available.
Rachel Cargle, a public academic, writer and lecturer, will be delivering a talk on the way race impacts everyday life as the first program of Mercer’s Women’s History Month celebration. The keynote address, “For Your Consideration,” will be hosted by several programs in the community, including the department of Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS), Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives and Wesleyan College. Cargle’s website describes this talk as “eye-opening” as it discusses the intersectionality of race in people’s everyday lives in the U.S. “By both teaching often untaught history as well as fleshing out the modern manifestations of what we often think of as ‘left in the past,’ this lecture will ignite critical conversation among audiences,” the website reads. Chair of the Women’s and Gender Studies program Virginia Young said a student on the WGS executive committee, Cam Wade, suggested Cargle as the speaker for the program. “After researching Cargle and looking into some of her social media posts, I was drawn to her anti-racism work, especially how she has called out injustices in the realm of white feminism,” Young said to The Cluster in an email. According to Cargle, “white feminism” is a version of feminism that focuses exclusively on the experiences of white women, ignoring other, more marginalized identities that intersect with womanhood. Intersectionality, conversely, calls for acknowledging that people can be marginalized on more than one level — for example, not just on the basis of gender but also the basis of race. Ansley Booker, Mercer’s director of diversity and inclusion initiatives, said that she believes this event will be a great opportunity for everyone, not just women, to celebrate the month. “We're celebrating so much,” Booker said. “We're encouraging study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history.” Booker said she expects Cargle’s lecture to have a high turnout, not just because of Cargle’s address, but also due to the format of the event. “We've seen greater turnout with our speakers — they're on a higher caliber — when we offer the Zoom format,” she said. “Then we can share it with the community and the students as well.” The celebration will take place March 2 at 7 p.m., and attendees must register to receive the Zoom link. Cargle’s address is not the only event taking place this month in honor of Women’s History Month. Several organizations have events in store, Booker said. QuadWorks is hosting an International Women’s Day event March 8 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Connell Student Center. Among the planned events, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives is partnering with Macon Periods Easier, a volunteer group that focuses on period poverty in the Macon-Bibb County area, by asking members of the Mercer community to donate period products. Student organizations will compete in a challenge lasting the entire month to donate the most period products. The Mercer community will be hosting several other events in celebration of Women’s History Month.
Mercer Medicine will begin distributing COVID-19 vaccines in Macon, likely in the next few weeks, according to a campus-wide email from university President Bill Underwood Thursday. The Georgia Department of Public Health approved the university to distribute the vaccine once sufficient doses are available. “Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic has been a marathon for all of us, and we are not at the finish line yet, although it appears to be in sight,” Underwood said in the email. Mercer was approved for both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, Medical Director for the Student Health Center Dr. Lynn Denny told The Cluster in an email. “We are grateful to have been approved as a vaccine site, but the lack of vaccine availability has been frustrating,” Denny said. Students will be notified with details on how to schedule their vaccinations once distribution has begun. The Cluster will publish updates when more information becomes available.