SGA President decides to keep prayer part of meetings

SGA President Raymond Partolan announced his decision to keep SGA’s invocation, a prayer said before each senate meeting, for the rest of the year in response to last week’s proposal for its removal.

Partolan said that he conferred with the executive SGA officers before reaching his decision on Monday.

“We’re a faith-based institution and we have convocation before athletic events, before special convocation and regular convocation,” Partolan said. “To do away with invocation at senate, it just doesn’t seem like it’s consistent with our identity as Mercerians.”

The SGA invocation began at the organization’s inception and was called to be removed by Senator Caleb Maier last week. An hour-long discussion followed, which concluded in leaving the decision up to Partolan.

Maier wasn’t present at Monday’s senate meeting, but Senator Joshua Whitfield, who also backed the proposal to remove the invocation, acknowledged that while he respects Partolan’s decision to keep invocation, he still feels disappointed.

“I feel like since the invocation is such a powerful, symbolic representation of the Christian faith, we are doing a bit of a disservice to religious minorities on campus,” Whitfield said. “I think as a Baptist school we should be very careful to preserve religious liberty.”

Some of the other senators were pleased with Partolan’s decision. “I think that he (Partolan) gave it proper timing and proper thought,” Senator Peyton Fanning said. “ I think he heard all of the opinions, and his reasoning behind it is very good. Since we are a private institution and it is a staple at all events that we do, doing it in student government is a fine thing.”

SGA will continue opening senate with invocation every Monday at 5:30 p.m. in Conference Room III. Meetings are open to the student body.