As a program of the College Hill Corridor Alliance, Second Sunday Concerts happen every second Sunday of the month, from April through October. These free music events offer an opportunity for Mercer University students to become involved and to become part of the Mercer and Macon community. The next Second Sunday Concert is on Oct. 13, featuring Percy Sledge & the Bluesmasters presented by Cassidy Dental Associates and MRI Center of Central Georgia. Joshua Lovett, a recent Mercer graduate and employee of College Hill Alliance, said that Second Sunday is, “one of the coolest cultural experiences in the Macon area.” For those freshmen and other Mercer students who have not yet attended a Second Sunday event, Lovett asks, “On a very base level, it’s a Sunday afternoon. Would you rather doing homework or listening to free, live music with your friends in a park?” Jessica Walden, the Director of Communications at College Hill Alliance, said, “One thing that is great about Second Sunday is that it brings the community together—the students with the community and the community with the students. It creates one community.” She said that “even though Second Sunday is a music event, the music is secondary to the experience. It’s about a congregation and community.” According to the College Hill website, Second Sundays offer, “one of the best community picnics in Macon.” These family and student friendly events include live music in Washington Park, a cash bar and food, and a fun, relaxed environment. The concerts are free to attend and within a five minute drive or trolley ride from campus. College Hill Alliance is a program that was started as a result of a class project by Mercer students in 2009. The Second Sunday concerts first “started out with 30 people attending now has over 1,000 to 1,200 at some points,” said Lovett. Walden said that Second Sunday events, “can make you feel like you’re at home, even though this may not be your home yet. When you’re in school and whether you’re facing the next four years or at the end of those four years, it’s all about the people who are going to help you in that next phase, after school.” Outside of the music, the community and the fellowship, Second Sunday is a great place to connect. When you become actively participating in community events, people notice. Hopefully, we do a good enough job to where you enjoy it, you want to come to more and maybe even want to stay here.” With the recent addition of a trolley stop to Washington Park before and after the event, Lovett said, “As a student, there’s no reason you shouldn’t go to all of them, but it is definitely something you at least have to do once.” It“taps [students] into Macon’s music heritage, which is a big part of who we are,” said Walden. The emphasized sense of community and unity of Macon and Mercer students is both beneficial for students and city residents. Walden said, “It’s a picnic-style show so I can’t think of any better way of being able to mix with Macon than sharing a picnic blanket right next to somebody who has lived in Macon all their life. [Students] get a chance to be in a community off campus and to take a little bit of ownership and pride in Macon which is their home for a while.” Lovett agreed, “When [students] picked Mercer, not only did [they] pick a great school, but a great community in Macon. The earlier on [they] get that, the greater the experience is going to be.” As far as genres and differing styles of music, Walden said that College Hill Alliance tries to vary the music, including both regional and local artists, so that it will appeal to everybody. She said, “We are very deliberate with all the music that we choose and that it does have a wide appeal.” For Mercer students, Walden said that as long as students “are open-minded to a variety and a mix of music, they will always find something they like at Second Sunday.” Additionally, Lovett said the Second Sunday concerts are an opportunity to “experience the rich history and the offerings that Macon and the Corridor has.” The upcoming event on Oct. 13 is highly recommended by College Hill Alliance and Mercer University staff to experience one of the community’s relaxing atmospheres of relaxation, fun and unity.
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On Saturday, Aug. 31, the Mercer University men’s and women’s cross country teams competed at the Georgia Cross Country Invitational against the University of Georgia (UGA), The Georgia Institute of Technology (GA Tech) and Emmanuel College. Located at the Equestrian complex of the University of Georgia, also referred to as the Georgia Stampede, the UGA Cross-Country Team and Oconee County High School co-hosted the event. For the women, Linda Wrede, a freshman competing in the 5K, took 13th, the highest of standings for the Mercer women, with a time of 19:23.21. Sony Prosper, senior competing in the 8k run, also took 13th, the highest standing for the Mercer men, with a posted finish of 26:50.35. Wrede commented on her race. “I am from Germany, so I’ve never run in a collegiate race like this before; everything was new for me. Before the race I was concerned about how well the other teams [would] perform and how fast they could run, but after the gunshot, all my fears were gone and I just concentrated on the race.” Wrede continued, “For future races I hope to improve my strategy and continue practicing to become faster; I really want to break the 19 minute mark.” Seniors Davis Trexler, finishing 26th with a 27:29.55 time, and Sony Prosper both posted exceptional times in the individual standings, starting their final season competing in Mercer men’s cross-country team. On the women’s team, Kami Orrender, sophomore, finished 28 with a time of 20:02.52. Lena Hamvas, senior, just 18 seconds behind, finished in 33rd place with a posted time of 20:20.28. Both the men and the women’s teams took home third-place honors in the team standings. They will also both compete on Saturday, Sept. 14 at the Commodore Classic, hosted by Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Senior Sony Prosper said, “As a team, we could’ve done better but it was just the first race. I feel that we are nowhere near our prime or peak. So we still have a long way to go before conference.” Wrede, said, “I’ve run a lot of races before, but the first college race is always something special and unique. I’ve never had [the op- portunity] to compete as a team, so I am glad to be part of such a talented team this year where you can easily find friends. Everyone supports one another while practicing in the heat, rain, or in the competition. I think the strength of the team is to provide motivation for every single member and to [encourage] for future performances.” Prosper also commented on the team saying, “When you put on the Mercer jersey, you basically make a commitment to endure pain. We want you to put in 100% effort when you put on that jersey, that’s what I’m trying to get across.” Prosper continued saying, “This year we’re trying to focus on regionals. Last year, we finished 12th out of the 26 teams of the south; we’re trying to make top 10. In terms of growth, I would like to see some of the new runners get accustomed to the 8K because that’s a new distance for some of them. For returning runners, just continue staying strong and continue being positive. For me, continue working hard and to have them work hard.”
As the 650 freshmen and 125 transfer students flood the Mercer University campus, issues concerning convenient parking continue among students. As posted on the Mercer website by the Mercer campus police force, “Possession of a decal does not guarantee a parking space. The responsibility of locating a proper space rests with the driver. The lack of a parking space, being late for class or work, parking illegally for only a short time, leaving your flashers on, etc. are not valid excuses for parking illegally.” With this said, convenient parking spaces have become rare. Freshman Nate Flowers, a resident of Roberts Hall, said, “Most of the time I end up parking behind MEP or Plunkett Hall. The parking lot beside Roberts is really small, so there are never any spaces, and the lot behind Roberts is only for upperclassmen. With starting a job off campus, it’s really difficult to walk across to Roberts.” Additionally, Molly Wilkins, a Mercer graduate student and Local Editor for The Cluster, said, “Parking was an issue when I was a freshman in 2001 living in Dowell Hall. It’s interesting to me that it continues to be an issue. Even now I am taking evening classes—they are held in Stetson—and good luck finding a parking space when everyone arrives at 5:30 (p.m.).” Jonathan Beale, a sophomore, said, “I live in Mercer Hall and with three dorms and [Greek row], it’s difficult to find parking in the lot.” Beale continued by saying that parking in other lots make for “a longer walk that’s inconvenient.” Kate Thomas, a sophomore, said, “If you live in one of the halls of Mercer, Sherwood or Roberts, you take your chances on getting a spot. If you don’t get a spot behind those dorms, parking gets desperate.” Addressing the inconvenience issue, Chief Gary Collins, chief of Mercer University Police, said, “We have plenty of parking right now. Overall, Mercer students are very fortunate with the parking; it’s unfortunate that people can’t park right outside of where they want to go. During class days, it’s supposedly more of a pedestrian campus.” Chief Collins continued, stating that the lack of an annual fee for parking marks Mercer University as a rare exception among other colleges and universities. This proves true compared to the Georgia Institute of Technology Annual Permit price (2013-2014) at $704; and The University of Georgia parking permit pass—after granted the opportunity through a priority system—ranging from $180-$360 with a campus size of 759 acres. The limited favorable parking not only poses inconveniences for Mercer students, but also to staff. Dr. Curtis Herink, a Mercer professor since 1983, said, “Most every day I’m here between 8 and 8:30, and by 8:00 most of the in-campus spots have already been filled up. I park on the peripheral campus, next to Tatnall Square Park so I get within 2 or 3 blocks which is closer than if I would have parked on the in-campus lots.” However, Dr. Herink also said, “When I first moved to Macon, I lived about 1.3 miles from campus and I walked to school every day.” He continued saying, “Students have to pay (their) dues. My advice would be to find a parking spot that is more or less permanent and then walk because (Mercer) is a small campus.” Additionally addressing the potential inconveniences of Mercer parking, Chief Collins, said, “Don’t always think you can park close to where you are going; however, if you see a legal, available space, then I think you should take it. There are more parking lots that are open to all decals; there’s available parking, unfortunately we have to walk a little.”
On Friday, Aug. 30, Mercer University held a dedication ceremony for Cruz Plaza, which commemorated the donors and design team, as well as introduced the plaza to the community. Hosted by Mercer President William D. Underwood, the key speakers of the event included Robert Hughes, principal of HGOR Architects, Chris Sheridan, president of Chris R. Sheridan & Co., and the members of the Cruz Family. The Cruz Plaza construction project broke ground on Dec. 12, 2012 first by removing Edgewood Avenue and then by providing architectural landscaping. Now, more than nine months later, what Underwood called the “heart of our campus,” was dedicated to recognize the efforts of the construction, design and founders of the project. The event served as the official completion of the project. Underwood said that the Cruz Plaza dedication was “a historic event in the life of this university,” and was “every bit as historic as the (football) game.” The plaza received its name from the primary donors of the project: Mercer graduates Milton L. Cruz, his father Juan L. Cruz Rosario and his sister Zoraida Cruz Torres. Milton Cruz, now chairman, president and CEO of Medholdings Inc., said, “We want Mercer to continue the tradition of not only providing the highest education, but also building men and women of strong character, high moral values, high ethical values so that when they graduate, they will go out into the community to do good.” Cruz continued by saying, “[Cruz Plaza] is a place where students, faculty, staff and the whole Mercer University community can come together, interact and learn from each other.” Zoraida Cruz Torres said, “It’s an honor that our family is among the many contributors to this university.” Chris Sheridan, president of the general contractors for the project, said, “The Cruz Family has opened their hearts and, by opening (their) hearts to Mercer, given the heart of the campus.” President Underwood also commented on the Cruz Family’s generosity saying, “No family has a greater love or commit- ment to Mercer than the Cruz Family.” Currently the geographical center of campus, according to President Underwood, “Cruz Plaza will be the center of (Mercerians’) college experience.” Once the “eyesore” of the university’s Macon campus, the area now contains a large park, tables and chairs, two water features and hosts the site of the iconic Mercer Bear statue. Dr. James S. Netherton, executive vice president for Administration and Finance, said, “The design is multi-purpose,” adding that it may be considered for graduation ceremony purposes. Ruth Drake, a Mercer alumni and namesake of the Homer and Ruth Drake Field House, attended the ceremony and said, “(Cruz) has done a wonderful job transforming everything: the buildings that are here look beautiful now. The whole environment has changed.” Mercer student Allison Harrison said, “(Cruz Plaza) is a great space for students to enjoy the beauty of the campus. (The dedication) is a great way to introduce it to everybody and show our appreciation—especially for those who have helped provide financial support."