Much to our disappointment, Victoria Conley and I ran unopposed in this year’s Student Government Association Presidential and Vice Presidential election. Students were denied the ability to choose whom they believed would be the best representation in SGA because there was only one option. Granted, Victoria and I believe we are the best candidates for the job, but we as students deserve more from each other. Mercer has been growing exponentially in so many facets — especially this past year — and it is our job to ensure that student leadership is not left behind.
Mercer’s physical landscape completely transformed. In less than 10 years, the University Center, Mercer Village, Admission’s House, Cruz Plaza and Anderson Field have risen across our campus. Currently, even more additions are expanding the boundaries of Mercer’s campus. Lofts Phase Three and Four are under development as well as a new home for our Arts and Theater department. All of these physical improvements have radically changed every student’s experience at Mercer. Even in this rapid remodeling, Mercer’s leadership has maintained its commitment to provide a rigorous and meaningful education.
The College of Liberal Arts is the cornerstone of Mercer. Even with the rise of the great football and basketball programs, Mercer’s leadership has been able to keep the focus on each student’s personal development through academics. More majors are being offered to incoming students. Professors are accelerating their courses. The Great Books Program and The Center for America’s Founding Principles have found their home at our university. In addition, the Honor’s Program has been restructured to allow students to really pursue their passions. This only begins to scratch the surface of Mercer’s other academic accolades found in the Engineering, Business and Education schools. Mercer has not left its academics behind.
With all its inward improvements, Mercer has not neglected to reach outward. Our university has renewed its commitment to service and has shown the positive role a private liberal arts college can play in its surrounding community. Evidence exists in our commitment to the Promise Neighborhood, the rise in prestige of the Mercer Service Scholar’s Program, the restructuring of the Center for Leadership and Volunteerism, the commitment to the College Hill Master Plan and the personal integrity embodied in our professors. Mercer lives to create well-rounded students while simultaneously ensuring each student has the ultimate “college experience.” Mercer has not left its community behind.
Our Mercer Bears and their historical basketball season put Mercer on the national stage. For $25, students had a ride to Raleigh, a hotel for a night and a ticket to witness Mercer basketball’s greatest moment in the defeat of Duke and our battle in the NCAA Tournament. Not every student at a small liberal arts college has that opportunity. We seized this opportunity to show the rest of the country the caliber of students that attend Mercer University. We proudly represented our school as classy, well-rounded individuals. Mercer has proven itself over and over to be a top-notch university. Mercer has not left its students behind.
These achievements mean nothing if we the students do not utilize them. Mercer has grown for us. We are the ones who benefit from the united university, bridges being built, and amplified athletics. We owe our new home more than we have been willing to give. Victoria and I ran to be your president and vice president because of our gratitude to Mercer. It’s our time to give back. She and I intend to continue the growth of Mercer, and you are the most important piece of all. All students owe not only Mercer something, but each other. At the very least, students owe Mercer two choices to lead its student body, not an unopposed ticket. If you feel it’s your time, run or apply for the Student Government Association, engage in your student organization or find some way to give your new home your all. I challenge you to make an impact on the school that has invested so much in each of us. We need leaders for the love of Mercer! Don’t leave Mercer behind.