In 2019, life for Bhavan Patel was that of the average Mercer student. He was a soon-to-be molecular biology and biochemistry graduate with aspirations of becoming a doctor, and he spent most of his time doing homework and hanging out with friends.
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Mercer University will host COVID-19 booster vaccine clinics throughout the first few weeks of the spring semester, according to an email from the Office of the Provost Thursday evening.
Nearly two years ago, the Mercer and Macon communities stood astonished when the university painted over a mural honoring Black history and advocacy after students had just been sent home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over 100 Mercer students gathered on the Cruz Plaza lawn at midnight Monday morning to scream as finals week began.
The Macon-Bibb County Commission designated $4 million from the American Rescue Plan to go towards an expansion of the Middle Georgia Food Bank (MGFB) during their meeting Nov. 16. The resolution passed unanimously.
Following a week jam-packed full of activities across campus, Alpha Gamma Delta, Delta Sigma Theta, Kappa Sigma and Zeta Phi Beta have won the lip-sync large bracket for the 2021 Quadworks Homecoming competition.
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.
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:
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.
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.”