The Traditions Review Committee (TRC) is a committee established by the Office of Student Leadership and Service to review and evaluate Meredith's traditions and ensure they are inclusive and accessible. In doing so, their goal is to enhance student enjoyment and get more students involved in traditions on campus. The TRC held a meeting on Sept. 18 to review survey results on Cornhuskin’ with a focus on revisions like demystifying the tradition, providing more opportunities for student involvement and making the event more accessible.
Students have often grappled with the mysterious nature of Cornhuskin’ and have expressed frustration with being met with the typical response, “you just have to experience it,” when seeking to find out what Cornhuskin’ is. A few responses to the survey said that such obscurity was discouraging to their willingness to participate. To combat this, the TRC began Corn 101 sessions last year to explain the different aspects of the event and give students an idea of what to expect when participating in Corn. A few students had also explained their confusion on the history of Cornhuskin’, having been given a variety of information about its possibly racist history, which made some hesitant to participate. In response, the TRC gave a brief history lesson on the titling of Cornhuskin’. They explained that Cornhuskin’ was initially a celebration of feminism because women could not participate in husking corn in the Midwest. However, the difference between the title Cornhuskin’ and the event of corn shucking is the involvement of racist history and its relation to enslavement. The TRC also stated that the history and language of Cornhuskin’ are still being researched, and they are looking to see what information students already have about Cornhuskin’.
Another common issue is that students who have jobs find Corn to be exclusive because practice schedules often conflict with their work schedules. One thing the TRC recommended to Corn’ co-chairs in order to make Corn more inclusive was being more flexible with practice scheduling. Another thing brought up by the survey responses was the concern that the same groups perform at Corn every year. Because of this, the TRC decided to implement more student performances through talent showcases, and the involvement of more groups in between performances. Wings students and students with families, verbalized their concerns about being able to bring their families to participate in Corn activities. The committee explained that the lack of available seating within the amphitheater makes it difficult to provide guest access, but they did emphasize that families could get involved in the parade and other festivities throughout the day. The survey results showed that most students were least satisfied with the theme reveal aspect of Corn, to which the TRC responded by bringing more excitement to that particular event. the TRC mentioned introducing food trucks and corn-a-grams that will increase crowd participation.
One of the most common words found within the survey responses was accessibility. A main concern was that Cornhuskin’ is a loud and often overwhelming event for those with sensory sensitivity. To alleviate this issue, the committee proposed the availability of sensory bags and a designated quiet area. The grab bags would include things for noise cancelling, and the quiet area would provide a space for students to take a break from all the activities in the event that they find overwhelming. Another thing that had been revised last year was the discontinuation of hall raids as part of Cornhuskin’s tradition, as the sudden loud noises would often disturb and frighten unsuspecting residents. Another issue is the physical accessibility of the amphitheater, where the main event is held. Students expressed frustration with being unable to get into the amphitheater because of the rugged paths and other obstacles. As a solution, the TRC will offer information about the accessible pathways into the amphitheaters so that everyone is able to get in and enjoy the performances.
In conclusion, a lot of the information about Cornhuskin’s history is not conclusive, as there is still research being done to see what exactly students have heard and what they’re concerned about. They have also included more ways to receive information on Cornhuskin’ that is open to everyone, rather than being promoted for freshmen. The TRC hopes to encourage student involvement by continuing to take in feedback from students and further review it to see what they can do to improve the overall experience of Cornhuskin’.
By Elaina Irving, Contributing Writer
Photo by Kayla Dunn