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Opinion: The COVID-19 Experience at Meredith

A black and white photo of two residence halls with an empty sidewalk
Photo by Melissa Taylor

Perspective of the Class of 2025:

Enrolling and attending college has been my dream ever since I was a child. I wanted my college experience to include students walking and hanging around campus, a plentiful amount of friends to interact with and a college love story. School is always going to be my top priority, but what’s a college experience like without friends, experiences and secret crushes?

So far, my freshman year at Meredith College has consisted of a lot of depression. Moving here from Charlotte, NC, I knew nothing about Meredith or the Raleigh area. Historically-women’s schools aren’t talked about or even considered much during the college application process. Yet Meredith always has a good reputation behind the name, and I trusted that. The Raleigh area specifically is typically associated with NC State, and, as always, Meredith College is overlooked. Making my decision was all trust-based, without research.

Information sent through emails and posted throughout campus regarding Meredith traditions felt more targeted towards students who have already been involved with Meredith, not us newer students. Not knowing anything about Cornhuskin’ and not feeling entertained with any of the individual events within the tradition, I had no desire to get involved. The events being thrown had me in shock. These traditions didn’t resonate well with me and felt a bit immature.

Not seeing anyone on campus hanging around or any events to meet people made me feel like I go to high school, not college. In high school, there’s more focus on finishing school work and college is about building experience. Where was the experience?

I understand my loneliness on campus is derived from my decisions to not attend traditions, but I also believe I shouldn’t have to put myself in a place where I know I don’t fit in. Every day on campus makes me feel like a piece of me tries to die away, but I fight to not be discouraged and to love myself proudly.

Perspective of the Class of 2024:

I chose to attend Meredith College for many different reasons, with one of them being the crazy traditions that each student can partake in each year. I was most excited for Cornhuskin’ which is like the Meredith “thing” where you “Just have to experience it!”

But, the thing is — I didn’t experience it.

In 2020, Cornhuskin’ was put on the backburner. Not only were the events online and not as big as they usually are, I personally was not able to attend any Cornhuskin’ events because I was in quarantine.

Not only did the Class of 2024 miss out on a proper first Cornhuskin’, we also missed out on a lot of other freshman traditions. We were unable to get our class flowers and walk to the president’s house and also missed out on a traditional Honor Code Ceremony and Fire and Water Dinner. Another tradition that we missed due to COVID-19 was Stunt, which involves all students from each class which wasn’t safe.

Most importantly, the traditions I looked forward to most, the Guardian Angel Dance and Tea for Two were both canceled this year. The Class of ‘24 has not received any information about these events being rescheduled. These events were most important to me because they gave me the opportunity to thank my mother and father and have a day with them in my element.

I hope that the Class of 2024 can get some of these traditions rescheduled and we can get back to the “new normal.” We were the class that didn’t get a high school graduation or prom, so missing more events in college is heartbreaking.

Perspective of the Class of 2023:

Unlike the preceding classes, the Class of 2023 was able to have a normal semester on campus before being thrust into the world of COVID-19 semesters.

We certainly weren’t the most unlucky, but just like every other class we have had our ups and downs. The transition year to college is jarring even in normal circumstances, and having to pack up and quickly say goodbye to all your new friends and classmates left many of us feeling isolated.

During March 2020, I was one of the Fire and Water Tri-Chairs for my class and we had just started full scale planning of our “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Sisterhood” themed event when COVID-19 sent us home. Our event turned entirely virtual, and I was heartbroken. Months of planning and preparation were gone with no promise of a rescheduled date. When we returned on campus for our sophomore year many of our traditions had similar fates: the Class of 2023 did not have a full in person event (excluding freshman year Cornhuskin) until their Ring Ceremony in Fall 2021. Even then, Ring Dinner was a modified event because Meredith was not allowing food at events during that time.

Along with mourning the loss of cherished traditions, we also were often left to find things on our own. We didn’t get a full year of student advising the way every other class has. We were forced to figure out the rest of our first year of college from our respective homes.

Once the seniors graduate, we will be the last class that has experienced Meredith in its fullest and extended capacity. We had classes in person, we had the full experience of freshman year cornhuskin, and we experienced the ups and downs of “boy hours.”

But now, as we watch Meredith lift its COVID-19 protocols, we look to next year. Will we get a normal senior year, or will we see a loss of our senior traditions as well?

Perspective of the Class of 2022:

Seniors on Meredith’s campus will know what I mean when I say that this spring has felt like the first time campus has felt somewhat normal since leaving for spring break in 2020. Over the past two years, our campus has been subdued, a mere husk of what it once was. Despite my personal apprehension at lifting many of Meredith’s COVID-19 protocols and restrictions, the warmer weather and fewer COVID-19 cases statewide have made the campus seem alive again, and for that I am thankful.

When I walked out of the Oaks Apartments one day and crossed through the Science and Math Building, I saw students of all class years mingling on the lawn, talking together, and for the first time in years I could hear the hustle and bustle of a college campus.

This is in stark contrast even to Spring 2021, where my friends and I would sit in the quad and often be the only ones there. Silly as it may seem, I was worried that underclassmen wouldn’t understand how magical campus was during spring, or that our fellow students were struggling too much with the impact of isolation to venture outside. I’m glad to see this is not the case.

Having had a full year and a half at Meredith before COVID-19 pushed us all indoors, the Class of 2022 has a unique perspective when it comes to the pandemic’s impact on students. About half of our college experience has been impacted, and we are just now seeing a slight departure from full pandemic protocols. With the guest policies being returned to normal now that spring break is over, my friends and I have commented that this feels like the opposite of spring break 2020—we’ve returned and everything has changed, but in the opposite direction.

This change feels precarious, though, and with graduation, Class Day and on-campus opportunities for celebration with family coming up, I am nervous that what happened to our Big Sis class may be repeated for us. Our class already had a virtual Ring Dinner—arguably one of Meredith’s most important traditions—and it would be a shame if our graduation was forced online, too. The Classes of 2020 and 2021 were both robbed of their senior years, and I don’t want another surge or variant to sneak up on Meredith and steal away our last couple months, too.

By Melissa Taylor, '25, Staff Writer, Mia Russell, '24, Staff Writer, Rachel Van Horne, '23, Associate Editor, and Olivia Slack, '22, Co-Editor in Chief


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