Two years ago Mercer’s Honors Lounge was forced out of its location in the Liberal Arts building to make
room for the satellite office of William Paterson University. Space has been tight on campus, and Mercer’s best students did not have a specific study area for several semesters.
As of February 8, a new Honors Study Space has been opened in SC 137A, adjacent to the cafeteria. The space offers students in the Honors, Phi Theta Kappa, and the NJ STARS programs a place to study, conduct group projects and collaborate with other intellectually rigorous students. The room has keycode-only access and a private WiFi network.
Creator and Co-coordinator of the Honors Program Dr. Carol Bork worked to get the new space without using another group’s room. The space is going to be shared during the Summer. Prof. Bork said she has only heard good things so far about the influence of the Honors Study Space.
“Since collaborative work is involved in a lot of the honors program, it is important for them to have a space in which to do work. I think the Study Space is great. It is helping students do their best work,” said Bork.
Miranda Horn, a second year Communication major, is a member of the New Jersey STARS program, which provides scholarship for students in the top 15 percent of their high school class to attend community colleges in New Jersey. She said she was completely unaware that NJ STARS students are allowed in the Honors Study Space.
“I don’t go to the STARS meetings, and until recently, I didn’t hear anything about an Honor’s Study Space opening in the school,” said Horn.
When asked what she thought about the concept of an Honor’s Study Space, she said, “The idea is there because it is rewarding hardworking students taking on Honors classes for their dedication, but unless you are on a friendly basis with the other people there, why would you want to hang out there?”
Not everyone agrees with the addition of the Honors Study Space. Connor McAdams, a first year music major, says, “I think it rewards intelligence in a way that not only separates those select students from the common students giving them higher statues but does so in a way that is unfair and degrades the rest of us.”
Dr. Bork noted that, “The lack of space dedicated for students is unfortunate. I think it would be great if there were more spaces around campus accessible to more students. It could be used as a model for something we could ultimately provide for all students.”
In 2005 Prof. Bork formed a volunteer committee to investigate the possibility of forming an Honors Program at Mercer which would be similar to successful programs already available at many community colleges around the state. In Fall of 2006 she was named a coordinator, and the first semester to offer Honors courses was the following spring. Students in the Honors program must have a high GPA and be prepared for smaller class sizes and more rigorous course work. The fledgling program has expanded every year; now there are roughly a dozen Honors classes offered each semester.
She said “Honors students do really well, with a much higher [degree] completion rate.” She later mentioned that scholarship money and easier acceptance into transfer programs are among the benefits of taking the harder Honors courses.
Dean of Liberal Arts Dr. Robin Schore mentioned that “the college needs more places to hang out.” He believes that although “space is tight” the new Honors Study Space is “a great thing for the students.”
Second-year Mercer Honors student and Liberal Arts major Dan Povio states, “The Honors Study Lounge is definitely a welcoming atmosphere: there’s no music blasting or people yelling, except [for] the occasional political argument. It’s a relaxing room to get work done and have nice conversation with your honorable peers.”