SGA responds to controversy over Founder's Day speaker

Dear Mercer family,

In response to the announcement of Mr. Erick Erickson as this year’s Founders’ Day speaker, a few students and faculty have voiced concerns about his previous controversial statements that have resurfaced this week in light of his most recent career move. Many students and faculty have questioned his place among previous Founders’ Day speakers like the Honorable Judge Yvette Miller, Donald Baxter, Sam Oni, and the late Ferrol Sams.

While the Student Government Association does not endorse Mr. Erickson’s political beliefs or the manner in which he may have previously communicated his views, we stand by his selection as a Founders’ Day speaker. In keeping with tradition, this year’s event will be an opportunity for students to hear from a prominent alumnus about his experience at Mercer University and how that experience shaped his future. As in the past, the speaker was chosen because of his distinction as an alumnus and success in his chosen profession. Mr. Erickson’s political beliefs will not be the focus of the Founders’ Day event.

As Mercerians, we pride ourselves in upholding a community of respect on campus in which dialogue welcomes opposing and diverse views when expressed with professionalism and consideration for others. Let us not abandon these principles at the first sign of controversy. Regardless of Mr. Erickson’s political standpoint or candor, he should be welcomed back into this community as a Mercerian to be heard and respected by our faculty, staff, and students.

This Founders’ Day, our campus has a great opportunity to show that our principles at Mercer are more than rhetoric and Mercerians are a community regardless of race, beliefs, or religion. Founders’ Day is not a political forum, but a celebration of the uniqueness of our Mercer community and its impact on each of our lives when we allow our actions to be driven by our principles, not our emotions.

However, in light of the concerns several of our faculty and students have expressed, SGA is coordinating an additional event on February 13 with Mr. Erickson on “Civility in Politics.” We are pleased that Mr. Erickson has agreed to attend this event and field questions about his role in national politics. As a community of respect that embraces a diversity of opinions, we believe that it is our role to seek out and create environments where thoughtful and respectful dialogue can take place on a wide range of topics. This event will be held in Conference Room 1 of the Connell Student Center at 2 PM and we encourage all to attend.

Please join us in sharing with others the importance of our response to this event in maintaining a community of respect. If anyone has questions or concerns, please contact us directly so that we might hear your views and explain our own.

God bless and go Bears,

Mollie Davis and Joshua Lovett
Student Government Association President and Vice President
[email protected]