Emily Rose Thorne
At the Senate meeting of Nov. 13, the Student Government Association heard from the Center for Career and Professional Development regarding Handshake, went through gallery reports and discussed the problems students faced while trying to register for classes as well as an alleged act of racism on campus.
During Gallery Reports, Vice President and Dean of Students Douglas Pearson spoke about Mercer’s plans regarding race relations in the future. He said that he and a student panel met to discuss implementing “a series of programs on race issues for the spring” and asked SGA for insights from the whiteboard outreaches to help him tailor that program.
Next, he spoke about the “alleged flyer” posted outside the Connell Student Center last week that said, “IT’S OKAY TO BE WHITE.”
Pearson referenced a statement he provided to The Cluster that said, “It should not be the role of the University to protect students from ideas or opinions that they find controversial or offensive, but rather to model and engage students in thoughtful debate and civil discourse. However, [the flyer] does not appear to have been intended to promote respectful dialogue or discussion.”
“Clearly the University doesn’t condone this,” he told SGA. “We have a proud tradition of embracing diversity.”
He also said he wants “to engage in dialogue with people about what we can do about these types of issues” and said that his door is always open to students who wish to express any concerns.
The whiteboard from that day’s outreach, which asked students whether they had experienced racial discrimination on campus within the last year, was not addressed during open Senate.
Emily Rose Thorne
Pearson then asked those Senators present for feedback about registration. “It’s significantly worse this year, especially since the system changed,” Sen. Adam Penland said. “The fact that MyMercer changed two weeks before registration has been horrible.”
Penland said that, as a Peer Advisor, he had difficulty helping his freshman Orientation Group with registration.
Sen. Michaela Jones said that “[Upperclassmen] waited an hour and a half for theirs to even load.”
Several of her friends and peers had trouble accessing the registration portal and saving their classes.
Other Senators weighed in with advice and identifying issues they faced while registering. Senators Jones and Alexandra Kirschbaum said that when students were able to add classes, sometimes their choices did not save.
Sen. Joseph Muldrew warned against using the quick-add feature, saying that it worked even more slowly.
Sen. Christian Hartley suggested that Mercer invest in larger, more reliable servers for students to utilize during registration, and Sen. Grant Denton emphasized the importance of Peer Advisors and other upperclassmen relaying these messages and offering help to freshman students, who registered Wednesday.
“It’s not working. We’re having to develop tricks as a student body,” said Sen. Michael Smith.
“We’re teaching tricks to freshmen.”
“As an institution, this is unacceptable,” Pearson said. “This is not the way the system should work.”
Next, a guest speaker delivered a presentation to Senate.
Stefanie Swanger from the Center for Career and Professional Development introduced Handshake, a new networking website that aims to give any student at any institution equal opportunity to connect with jobs and internships.
Handshake is replacing Bearlink, and Swanger said that the site has already greatly expanded students’ opportunities.
She said that CCPD created a private account for every Mercer student and encourages everyone to utilize this service.
Afterwards, Fiscal Affairs Chair Penland and Sen. Sam Bruck announced 5 funding requests from different organizations on campus.
SGA unanimously approved a Bear Grant from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers for t-shirts, a special funding request to reimburse SNMA-MAPS for a week of events for pre-medicine students and a Conference and Lodging request to reimburse them for registration fees from a conference on improving the organization.
Two requests from Bear It Naturally were tabled for next week due to a lack of a voting quorum presented by Sen. Jones abstaining.
Sen. Kirschbaum delivered the Academic Affairs Committee report and announced that she will meet with Dean Hammond to discuss extending library hours for finals week.
Sen. Hayes Rule announced that the College of Liberal Arts decided against removing the Experiential Learning requirement but does plan to revise it and clarify the details of it to students.