Today in Cluster history, an article was published concerning Student Government Association action on “Rules About Campus Dancing.”
Mercer’s Baptist heritage has had varying levels of influence on the organization of campus functions. This influence has gradually shifted to a representation of Mercer’s founding history, rather than a regulatory standard of values.
When this article was published on March 27, 1959, mixed-dancing was considered inappropriate and therefore not allowed on campus. Dance events, such as Greek functions and other parties, were required to be held off campus.
On-campus dancing was considered a violation of student conduct and a direct disregard for the Georgia Baptist Convention values and rules.
According to the Cluster article, “the Student Senate [was] quietly looking into the rules concerning dancing on campus with an eye towards the possibility of on-campus dances.”
It was noted that there would be a large amount of opposition to the idea, both from students and from faculty, but as a representative group, the SGA held the “responsibility of determining and carrying out, as far as possible, the wishes of the majority of the campus.”
The student vice president, Don Mims, pointed out in the article that, “while students’ minds come under the influence of many liberal teachings while here at school, their feet are restricted.”
In an even earlier article titled “Camouflage,” published on March 28, 1930, The Cluster raised the question, “Should the administration of a denominational school force a large percentage of the student body to lie…and resort to camouflages and ruses simply because the administration thinks the honored name of the university should never be connected with the word, ‘dance’?”
At the time, organization of most social dancing functions would be approached discretely and with the aforementioned “camouflages” of subtle invitations and aliases.
Evidence of similar plights can be seen in later Cluster articles, leading all the way into the 1970s.
The voices of the growing majority were eventually heard and now there are numerous on-campus dances and functions throughout the year supported by the university’s administration.
According to Mercer University’s website, the school’s mission statement addresses Mercer as “a faith-based institution of higher learning that seeks to achieve excellence and scholarly discipline in the fields of liberal learning and professional knowledge. The institution is guided by the historic principles of religious and intellectual freedom, while affirming religious and moral values that arise from the Judeo-Christian understanding of the world.”
In today’s Mercer culture, these core foundational values are still upheld but are represented in new forms that are more conducive to this generation’s social and entertainment preferences.
Direct Baptist representation is still alive through the Baptist Collegiate Ministry. This past week they supported Mercer’s value of service through their Spring Semiformal, an on-campus dance, which raised proceeds for their summer missions program called SendMeNow.
The value of community, in an environment that inspires collaboration, support, and respect can be seen in two other on-campus dance functions. The Beats of Mercer Dance Competition hosted by Mercer’s Indian Cultural Exchange will showcase a variety of dances, representing many different cultures and individual expressions.
Also, this past week, Quadworks and Alpha Phi Omega hosted a Spring Fling for Mercer students to come out and enjoy a fun night of dancing. This event was open to non-Mercer students as well, furthering Mercer’s emphasis on a connection with the Macon community.
The Mercer Cluster archives hold many more fascinating examples of the University’s progress since it’s foundation. These archives are available to students in the Tarver Library or online.