SGA makes progress on adding 24/7 study space and a new parking deck, discusses reforming CLA general education requirements

Emily Rose Thorne, Staff Writer

Due to registration, the Nov. 6 senate meeting started at 7 instead of the usual meeting time of 6. However, this hour setback didn’t take away from anything on the agenda of the SGA senators.

Chair of Fiscal Affairs Committee sophomore Adam Penland announced that there were four funding requests.

Mercer Mock Trial approached Senate with two conference and lodging requests to reimburse the group for Mock Trial competitions they have traveled to this semester.

Consent to approve the funding request was unanimous among all members aside from Senators Michael Smith and Penland, who abstained as members of Mock Trial.

The third conference and lodging request was from the Society of Women Engineers. The final funding request was from AniMercer who asked for a Bear Grant of $300 to fund t-shirts. Both were unanimously approved.

Academic Affairs Committee Chair Alexandra Kirschbaum gave her report next.

“The new [Godsey] science building is going to have 24-hour study spaces on every single floor,” she said.

The building should be finished in the coming months.

Kirschbaum said that she is also working with Dean of the Library Beth Hammond about extending study hours in Tarver Library during finals week.

Next, Sen. Hayes Rule spoke on behalf of the College of Liberal Arts division of the Academic Affairs Committee. He asked Senators to provide their thoughts on two issues currently plaguing the College of Liberal Arts administration.

The first was the experiential learning general education requirement in the College of Liberal Arts. He said that the college felt that this requirement was not explained well to students and that many found themselves scrambling to fulfill it just before graduation.

“They believe that EXP is important to the Mercer ethos, but that students are going to do it regardless of whether it is a requirement,” Rule said.

Rule said that if the College of Liberal Arts kept the requirement, they would have to find a way for students to quantify or prove their involvement. He also added that the average student already graduates with 2.2 experiential credits, while only 1 is required for graduation.

“A lot of students that are in EXP don’t even realize that they’re doing it at the time,” he said.

Rule asked SGA to come to a consensus to share with the College of Liberal Arts about how they feel regarding keeping or removing the EXP requirement.

Freshman Sen. Joseph Muldrew attended the meeting with CLA on this issue.

“As Mercer students, we are engaged, and it’s already incorporated in the tradition,” he said. “It really makes a lot of sense to just scrap the idea altogether. It’s so convoluted, and it [over]laps, and people are just really confused about what constitutes an EXP learning requirement.”

Senators then discussed that many students don’t know which courses satisfy an EXP requirement due to a lack of communication about it. However, many agreed that emphasizing service-learning is an integral part of Mercer’s mission and reputation.

After discussion, the senate decided to suggest reform to the EXP requirement rather than to support removing it entirely.

Rule then asked SGA for thoughts on the problem non-science majors face when it comes to satisfying their natural world general education requirement.

“There’s not enough lab courses available for [non-science majors] to sign up for,” he said. “A lot of upperclassmen are struggling.”

Sen. Clark Myers asked if there was a shortage of science classes or simply a lack of willingness on students’ part to take more difficult science classes like biology or chemistry.

“As far as this, I am in one of those gen-ed classes right now,” Penland said during discussion. “It’s one of the special ones that they don’t always teach. if i can get in it as a sophomore, then i feel like any junior or senior who hasn’t got in it hasn’t got in it because they haven’t tried.”

Senators Ashila Jiwani and Emily Harvey pointed out that many courses designated for non-science majors are only offered one semester each year, making it difficult for students to fit them into their schedules.

Other Senators expressed concerns about forcing students to take difficult courses such as general chemistry or organic chemistry just to satisfy a general education requirement that they might not even be interested in.

Conversely, Myers said that there is a shortage of science professors as well as lab space, and that many professors are already teaching several courses per semester.

Pres. Olivia Buckner announced that Mercer is “adding staff to the science department” despite being “very hesitant” to do so, which will likely help alleviate these shortages.

The Campus Safety and Improvement Committee report by Chair Grant Denton made Senators aware of the new parking deck coming to campus in the coming year. It is planned to combat students’ parking concerns.

He said it will be constructed by Orange Field and will take up “around 69 spots as they are building it.”

When completed, it will house 308 new parking spots over three to four levels. The parking garage will require Bear Card access.

Some Senators were concerned about the accessibility of this parking location to classes. Denton said that Mercer is a very accessible campus compared to other, larger schools.

“You can walk from any point on campus, including that parking garage, to any other point on campus in ten minutes,” he said. “It may not be the most convenient parking, but we can’t just drop a parking garage on Cruz Plaza.”

Denton announced that the parking deck will break ground on Jan. 1 and hope to finish by next fall semester.