Tea for Two, a tradition at Meredith College where students are invited to bring an “individual who has been a role model/mentor,” occurs once per class. The Class of 2022’s Tea for Two event was postponed due to COVID-19, and on March 9, 2022, it was announced that the seniors’ Tea for Two would take place on April 9 on Meredith’s campus, unlike previous years’ events. However, some students noticed that in the original invitation language for this historically female mentor-centered tradition, there was no mention of protocols for students with two mothers. On March 22, updated language was announced stating that students may invite an additional guest and instructing students to email the event co-chairs by March 27.
Kaylee Haas, ‘22, said that she emailed the Class of 2022’s president after the March 9 announcement about inviting both of her mothers and was told that only one could attend because of “budgeting issues.”
“I found that to be highly inappropriate. My situation was never addressed and for it to be written off as a ‘budget concern’ was insensitive,” Haas said. Following this communication, Haas posted on social media about the issue, and her post was shared by many Meredith students.
On March 11, the Class of 2022’s Tea for Two Co-Chairs Taryn McKenrick and Rebekah Lakey, Class President Casey Corpening, Class Vice President Susan Llanos and Class Advisor Dr. Heather Bower met with Cheryl Jenkins, Director of Student Leadership and Service (SLS), to discuss the issue. McKenrick, Lakey, Corpening and Llanos were unable to comment.
Jenkins said that she and Dr. Bower proposed revised invitation language to the class officers in their meeting. “Our meeting was productive as we all discussed the draft document and all agreed that [the changes were] the best language for this event going forward,” Jenkins said.
“We know families and support systems are as different as the students they support, and we want this event to be a welcoming place for all of those relationships,” Dr. Bower said. “Moving the event back to campus allowed us to build a bigger table and invite everyone to join us around it.”
Jenkins also explained that SLS “already had the practice of telling students that they can request additional guests for particular situations in the past with our Senior Family Night event.” Because of this, Jenkins said that allowing students to make a similar request for additional guests at Tea for Two was in line with previous practices.
“The reason that it was said that it could not be done in the first place [was] likely…more of a capacity concern,” Jenkins added. “The good news for us…this year is that our capacity is not much of an issue here—we have plenty of space in the courtyard to accommodate any special requests by students.”
Haas said that she is glad that both of her mothers can attend Tea for Two, but says she believes there is “definitely still work to do.”
“I’ve had to pick and choose [between my mothers] my whole life, but back then people weren’t as open as they are now,” Haas said. “With COVID-19 and everything else that has happened these last few years, it is so important for me to have my parents there for my big memories, especially now that we are in a time where they could both attend.”
By Olivia Slack, Co-Editor in Chief