Student life on Mercer University’s campuses will look different this year, but Bears can still expect a variety of activity and program opportunities.
On the Macon campus, Student Life staff and the QuadWorks student programming board will continue to host annual events and special programs that students look forward to, with modifications made to maintain health and safety, said Carrie Ingoldsby, director of Campus Life and Student Involvement.
“We will hold ourselves to an even stricter standard,” she said. “We want students to come back and know that there will be activities and events happening. We’ll continue to prioritize safety of students but also provide a fun environment for them.”
On all campuses, many events will be hosted virtually, and most in-person events will be held on a smaller scale and outdoors. Masks and social distancing will be required, and hand-sanitizer stations will be available. In addition, safe options will be offered for community service activities, events to promote civic engagement since it’s an election year, and athletics-related programs from the Mercer Maniacs, Ingoldsby said.
Mercer has extended its typical Macon campus Opening Day for incoming first-year students to three days, Aug. 12-14, and residential students will move in during designated times. First-year students will still have a number of Bear Beginnings orientation events the weekend before classes start to help them become acquainted with the University and their peers. Activities will include a virtual comedy show, sessions with their assigned orientation group (“O-Group”), an outdoor movie night, Convocation, and the virtual Bear Fair where they can connect with more than 100 Mercer student organizations.
“We still want students to enjoy their out-of-the-classroom experience,” Ingoldsby said. “Things will look a little different as we navigate everything with COVID, but we’re certainly still planning to offer them a good variety of events, both face-to-face and virtual. The goal is to provide them with a good campus experience with the understanding that we also have to follow strict safety precautions.”
Fraternities and sororities will be allowed to conduct recruitment and intake processes, with most happening online and a few face-to-face meetings. Smaller, outdoor events will be held rather than large-scale gatherings. Campus Life held the first sorority and fraternity information session online on July 29, and additional Zoom sessions are planned at 2 p.m. Aug. 6 and 11.
Group fitness classes for students will be held outside with participants spaced at least 10 feet apart, and intramural sports will be available this fall with some adjustments, said Todd Thomas, director of Recreation Sports and Wellness. Decisions about spring intramurals have not yet been made.
“What we’ve heard from people is they want to play,” Thomas said. “Plus, exercise is an important part of physical and mental wellness. We’re taking a number of precautions and measures to make them as safe as we can. We’ll be doing temperature screenings of all participants upon arrival. Masks will be required unless you are actively participating in the game.”
Spectators and team members off the field will also have to follow social distancing protocols, and hand sanitizer will be provided at the events.
All intramural sports will be played outside. Volleyball may be moved outside or canceled until spring, and the fall preseason basketball tournament has been canceled.
Flag football teams will play four people at a time instead of seven, which will eliminate the screen-blocking aspect of the game. Soccer teams will play three instead of seven and volleyball teams may play four instead of six to minimize congestion. Measures are being taken so participants don’t share equipment such as jerseys.
Students can stay up-to-date on campus events by looking for “Bear Blurbs” in their email, following Campus Life on Facebook and Instagram, following QuadWorks on Facebook and Instagram. In addition, upcoming activities can be found on the Mercer events calendar.
General protocols for all students events and programming can be found on Mercer’s COVID-19 website.