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Unusual Onyx Celebrations

Photo by Elinor Shelp-Peck

Excitement in the Meredith community continues to grow this week as members of the Class of 2022 and other students who have completed 60 hours of coursework prepare to receive their onyx. Like many campus events this year, Ring Dinner will be held in an untraditional format as a result of COVID-19. On Oct. 16, students have the option of attending a socially distanced, in-person Ring Ceremony on Meredith’s campus or live streaming the Ring Ceremony in their private residences. Although this year’s Ring Dinner is not turning out how the Meredith community had hoped, students are still finding unique ways to celebrate.

Ally Cefalu, ‘22, told The Herald that she does plan on participating in Ring Week, and will be attending the Ring Ceremony virtually. She says that “COVID-19 restrictions are taking away some of the excitement, but definitely not all of it.” If COVID-19 were not in the picture, Cefalu would be celebrating Ring Dinner by taking pictures with more friends from the Class of 2022, but she is still “excited to get [her] onyx and spend the evening with [her] roommates who... have been so important to [her] Meredith experience.”

Jenna Curia, ‘22, agrees that COVID-19 restrictions are making “Meredith milestones feel less celebratory.” Curia wants to participate in Ring Week, but she is unsure how she will go about participating because she is living off campus this year due to COVID-19. When asked if she will be attending the Ring Ceremony, she says, “Honestly, probably not.” While Curia affiliates with the Class of 2022, she decided to receive her onyx last spring when she had completed the required number of credit hours. “This was a decision that required a lot of reflection, and I decided to venture onto this non-traditional track to allow my ring to represent my accomplishments, goals and educational experience instead of Meredith itself,” Curia explains.

Meredith students who take a non-traditional approach to traditions may feel excluded from events that are largely class-based. Curia has found that although Meredith’s traditions are meant to promote unity, they also “cause more division than ever.” She says that while Meredith’s traditions “are wonderful for those who are privileged to belong within them… they exclude everyone else who might fit the box in a different way.” Cefalu also thinks that Ring Dinner celebrations are exclusive to traditional juniors.

Students are also giving new, non-traditional meanings to their onyx because of the continued racism that often goes unpunished at Meredith. Curia says that it is “hard for [her] to be proud of a ring that represents a school that allows for so much racism and discrimination,” so she has shifted her onyx away from only symbolizing a Meredith education. She states, “My onyx is just a ring, an object. But my onyx represents a person, and she is who I’m proud of…She is resilient…she is worth being educated, and that is what I’m excited to celebrate.”

Although this is a year like no other, students are still finding unique ways to celebrate Meredith traditions. And while the phrase “you just have to experience it” still rings true, students will be experiencing Meredith traditions differently for the foreseeable future.

By Molly Perry, Staff Writer


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