If you ask just about any Meredith student what the school’s biggest tradition is, the response would likely be a near-unanimous cry of “Cornhuskin!” (with the occasional “You just have to experience it!” thrown in, paired with a mischievous smirk at the confusion of any poor freshman that deigns to ask). Meredith prides itself on being a particularly insular “sisterhood,” with the annual traditions being rites of passage for the student body. The excitement leading up to Corn Week is so palpable that it borders on hysteria: all this in anticipation for the myriad of events that make up the week-long bacchanal that is Cornhuskin’. With such features as road signs, a bonfire, hall raids and an after party, it’s easy to see why Corn has become the largest campus event of the year. Although I have only been to one full Cornhuskin’ celebration during my freshman year (Corn was all but canceled my sophomore year due to the Plague), it was easy enough to notice how the entire student body is swept up in it all—whether they wish to be or not.
I admit that when I was an impressionable freshman, the spirit of Corn filled me in the same way that the Holy Spirit imbues a snake-handler at some particularly devout rural Appalachian Churches of God. I was eager to see the dances, competitive hog callin’, apple bobbing and all the quirky facets of this much-loved celebration. However, it became apparent that some traditions were less thought out than others. Hall raids quickly became the bane of my existence, and the amphitheater where the week’s climax occurs is far from accessible. My dear readers, while I understand that hall raids can be an exciting part of Cornhuskin’, running down the halls banging pots and pans while making a racket the Maenads of old would be jealous of is not the most enjoyable experience for residents with sensory issues or any sort of post-traumatic stress. Despite an email being sent out a day in advance, if I wanted to avoid a breakdown in the middle of the night, I would have to evacuate my dorm room and remain safe in the 40-degree weather outside while I waited for the end of the raid like a peasant during a siege. The amphitheater was not much better, as students with any sort of mobility limitations are given the option to brave stairs with an approximate drop of two feet or otherwise be relegated to the spots with the lowest visibility. I myself became very close with a crepe myrtle tree that seemed more eager to see the festivities than I was.
Overall, my point is that while Meredith traditions are an integral part of student life here, there are many students who are unable to participate, knowing that some events pose a threat to their wellbeing and others have been planned with little regard for their needs. If hall raids were to occur earlier, when students could find refuge somewhere else on campus (such as BDH or the Cate Center), hall raids would be less of an issue for students with sensory concerns while remaining fun for the people who wish to continue the tradition. The performances in the amphitheater would be enjoyed much more if accessibility was taken into consideration (a ramp is not that hard to construct, and the recent renovations to the Meredith Lake prove that cost is not an issue). Cornhuskin’ is a fun and memorable experience for so many Meredith students, and it is a shame that members of the student body are unable to participate due to a lack of oversight and consideration by the school itself.
A very tired junior