Mercer's student perspective: Cruz Plaza

It really is spectacular just how much of a difference these last six months have made to the school. From the fountains, to the renovated Porter Patch, the modifications make a striking impression on anybody who looks at them. To somebody who knows nothing about Mercer University, the new campus would make it obvious that great things are done here, and a visitor would immediately recognize this as a high-class institute that puts a strong emphasis on education and quality of life. The focus on the appearance of campus reflects a high importance of student life, and one would gather a great idea of what it’s like to be a student here.

What about the image of Macon? Do the changes to the campus affect the community as a whole, or does it affect nothing further than the borders of the campus itself? Would a visitor to the town see it as a nice change to campus, or a nice change to the town itself?

Overall, schools do make up a large part of the communities around them. Whether by student involvement, or by citizen interaction with campus, schools and cities are very much linked to each other. In some places, cities are built around the schools in them. Gainesville, Florida is very well-known as a college town. It is, of course, Gator country – Home of the University of Florida. Many people all over the country know that town solely because of that school, and the town has used that knowledge to flourish; many shops and restaurants use the Gator image as a marketing technique. It is a direct impact on society, both financially, and towards the image. Does Macon boast a similar story?

In many ways, it does. When Mercer University moved to Macon, Georgia in 1871, the town was naturally much different than it is today. It was a growing town, and the campus helped to move that along. Today we see that still – one example being the Mercer Village expansion, just a few years ago. That movement alone brought a lot of business to this side of town, and offered many more reasons for non-students to be on this side of town.

While Mercer does offer its mix of activities open to the general public, the new campus will most often be barren of visitors, and will therefore remain almost exclusive to Mercer students. This is a shame because many students are going to prefer campus to Tatnall Square Park, across the street. Non-students are going to prefer Tatnall. This was similar to previous years, but with the nicer campus, there’s going to be even less motivation to visit the city park, and the rift will be even more apparent.

The campus changes are a long time coming, and are extremely welcome by all. It is going to lead to a great improvement on the image of both Mercer University, and Macon itself. Like a ripple, the quality of campus is going to raise the quality of the surrounding areas and eventually the entire town. However, I just don’t see a direct influence to the people of Macon. There is an invisible wall around campus in the form of train tracks and overpasses, and it really puts a damper on human interaction. People only grow when they interact with unlike-minded people, and I just don’t see these offering that. Is that a bad thing? Of course not; that was not the purpose of the changes. They were meant to make campus a relaxing place for students to learn and study, and they do a wonderful job of that. We just need to remember that we have an obligation to the people around us. We are scholars, students, and good neighbors, and we can’t forget that.