By: Ebony Munday – Columnist, Junior
Before my first day of classes in the fall of 2012, I got a glimpse of college life and experienced various cultural differences amongst my peers on a campus tour. As I took in the campus atmosphere of students rushing to class, my tour guide pointed proudly to her right and I quickly learned of “the Ghetto,” the infamous traditional name of the student neighborhood. I was shocked at the use of the term because I have never heard it used in such an endearing way. When I hear of a neighborhood being called a ghetto, I think of old small houses on the brink of falling apart, potholes and speed bumps in the middle of the streets, and trash polluting everyone’s patchy, brownish-green yard.
Although I have had the privilege of not experiencing what it’s like to live in an actual ghetto neighborhood, I have visited and even stayed for days at a time in many homes of close friends from my high school who struggled through this type of environment. There is constant activity or shouting from neighbors, loud music vibrates the house as multiple cars roll by showing off how loud their stereo systems can go. It isn’t very peaceful. So imagine my surprise when I gazed at this renovated neighborhood to try to attach the term to its appearance. It was hard for me to get used to referring to the neighborhood as a ghetto, but over time I grew accustomed.
I am not in any way offended by the neighborhood nickname; however, I do feel the name should be changed to something with a less negative association. I understand that the students here at the University of Dayton love and honor their traditions and that they associate no negative connotation with their name for the neighborhood. But, I cannot understand why anyone would want to classify a beloved campus ground that has positively impacted student lives with a word that represents poverty and struggle.
In my sociology class, we discussed how students refer to the neighborhood as the Ghetto. I heard mostly opinions about keeping the name due to tradition, and, most interestingly, it was believed that the neighborhood was a ghetto before being bought by the University of Dayton. After reading an article opposed to changing the name of the neighborhood in Issue 19 of Flyer News, I grew even more confused about the reasons to keep the namesake. A student argued that the neighborhood was never an actual ghetto, which made me question why keeping the name is so important to students.
I understand the professional perspective on how it can be inappropriate for college students to refer to their home as a ghetto, but I don’t think that is the reason why it should be changed. Thinking back to the many times I have been to a real ghetto makes me wonder, how would they react to the name of our student neighborhood? They might take offense because they have experienced the struggle of living in poor conditions. I believe students could brainstorm and rename the neighborhood to something that better represents the positive atmosphere it gives students as they enjoy parties, their weekend breaks from class or even nightly walks with friends.
I know it’s hard to break tradition, but I think that having a name that reflects the happiness of students would be more appropriate. I’m sure the difficulty in changing the name of “the Ghetto” would be that students would still call it what they want. This may be a reason to keep the name and uphold tradition. If that’s the case, my main focus is to get students to understand that not all cultures of the student body or beyond will interpret the meaning to be appealing to something that represents the safe and secure home of UD.