On Nov. 16, a second DeLux Brunch was hosted by the Arts & Humanities’ Common Experience Committee in conjunction with the Traditions Review Committee (TRC) and the Black Student Union (BSU). This event aimed to explore the history of traditions at Meredith College, including Cornhuskin’. Cornhuskn’ is a tradition with high student participation and has been taking place for a very long time. The Herald reached out to key participants and stakeholders from this event for more information on current Cornhuskin’ conversations and initiatives.
Reagan Doucette, Student Government Association (SGA) Student Life Committee (SLC) Chair, was one of the speakers at the DeLux brunch. Doucette stated at the event that she is also chair of TRC because it falls under the SLC constitution. She spoke about the creation of the TRC, what its role is on campus, and cited its inclusion in the Student Life Committee Constitution as amended in the 2021-22 academic year. However, upon further investigation by The Herald, the roles and responsibilities of the Traditions Review Committee were not ratified into the Student Life Committee constitution.
When The Herald asked Doucette about the exclusion of TRC from the SLC constitution, she said that “currently, [SLC is] working to rectify a mistake with the submission of [the] constitution. This should take place early in the Spring Semester.” The Herald also reached out to Cheryl Jenkins and Emily Saylor in the office of Student Leadership and Service about this miscommunication and they had no documentation of these changes taking place.
Some other members of the TRC are Diversity Equity Inclusion and Belonging Board Chair Charlie Hatch, SGA President Hayden Howlett, Student Leadership and Service staff and Meredith Recreation Association (MRA) President Lizbeth Burgos De Pena.
During the DeLux Brunch, Doucette mentioned that the TRC has been working with members of the Angels for Disability Advocacy (ADA) club on campus at Meredith. However, Rebecca Simmons, president of ADA, later told The Herald that TRC had not worked with the group but had voiced ADA’s willingness to collaborate with TRC if welcomed.
Simmons stated, “I am unaware of any member of ADA operating as an ADA representative or liaison for the Student Life Committee in an official or unofficial capacity” and that “neither the TRC or Student Life Committee have reached out to the ADA executive board to initiate a relationship.”
Doucette mentioned that “[SLC has] informally included Angels for Disabilities Advocacy in conversations via student representatives on the Student Life Committee.”
The Herald also reached out to Abi Turner, ‘23, SLC and ADA member, to ask about their involvement and the potential intersection between their two roles.
Turner stated, “I am an elected representative on the Student Life Committee, but I have never served as a representative of ADA on SLC. I am simply a representative of the senior class.” They explained that they “do occasionally bring up accessibility issues on campus,” but that falls within their role of “reporting student concerns as a member of SLC and is unrelated to [their] membership in ADA.”
When Turner was asked more specifically about their involvement with the TRC, they said that “[they] have had no involvement in the Traditions Review Committee outside of hearing brief mentions of it from [Doucette] during our occasional meetings.”
Mikayla Gephart, ‘23, also serves as a representative on the SLC. When asked about her time on SLC and TRC involvement, she said, “The Student Life Committee had a meeting with SLS and others involved in the traditions review process that members of the committee could attend, but I was not present and I was not active at all in the process except for attending the Student Life Committee meetings”
When asked about her involvement, Gephart said, “ADA has never had an official representative on the Student Life Committee. I and two other ADA members served on the committee last year. One is still there, but I left with one other member”.
The Herald also reached out to Chorro Jobe, BSU President, about the goal of the DeLux Brunch when it came to Cornhuskin’ changes. Jobe explained, “The purpose of the event was to educate our campus on the origins of Cornhuskin’ in order to reflect on it and evaluate students' feelings towards it. With that, now we can utilize this information for the traditions review board to put into consideration so they can work to amend Cornhuskin’ into a celebration that will be inclusive to all and not a reminder of one's tragic history.” Jobe made no mention of working with the TRC when discussing BSU’s efforts for change.
Burgos De Pena also spoke at the DeLux Brunch to discuss current changes MRA had made to Cornhuskin’ and what their next steps will be as a board. When asked about current plans, Burgos De Pena said, “MRA is currently working with the Traditions Review Committee and other organizations to offer the Meredith community opportunities to learn about [Cornuskin’s] history and gather feedback to determine what changes we can recommend.”
Burgos De Pena also added that “MRA's overall goal is to make Cornhuskin' more accessible, and inclusive, and to provide additional opportunities for involvement; but, we cannot forecast future changes because they are dependent on student feedback.”
Kacey Reynolds Schedler, MRA Advisor, said that she supports the work MRA has done. “The changes that were made this year were all proposed and implemented by the MRA Board members. As their Advisor, I supported their stated goals of more diversity and inclusivity for this year's Corn,” she stated.
Students should soon be looking out for a Cornhuskin’ feedback survey to provide opinions and suggestions to the TRC on how to move forward with the Cornhuskin’ tradition on campus. If students have questions about the TRC, they can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Freya Dahlgren, Features Editor