By: Kwynn Townsend-Riley – Columnist
When I first came to the University of Dayton there was a word that I heard all of the time, a word that is so close to alumni and current students’ hearts. It’s a word that describes student life atmosphere. A noun that makes the University of Dayton, to most students, the University of Dayton.
Of course the word is GHETTO. The Ghetto is the word I heard the most my first year. Yes, I saw the word “community” on brochures, heard it from faculty and staff, and it is printed on my academic calendar. But, that is not the first word an upperclassmen student said to me; she said “You guys better come to the Ghetto for a real community: Free beers for all first years!”
That is when I knew what kind of school I attended. I attend a school that calls something what it is not. For example, we call ourselves diverse, yet African-American students make up only 4 percent of the student population. We call ourselves a “community,” but not all student bodies are currently being represented or acknowledged. We are a school of students that are choosing to a call a student neighborhood a GHETTO.
As a senior, I know I do not live in a Ghetto. The University of Dayton student neighborhood is NOT a GHETTO. Ghettos do not consist of fully air conditioned homes, with washers and dryers. Ghettos do not house upper class college students. Ghettos are not adjacent or in a mile radius of family restaurants, grocery stores or movie theatres. Ghetto was the name used for the area housing the Jews during World War II. Ghetto is the term used now for dilapidated, low income housing, or “projects” housing a minority group. Ghettos are in food deserts, where you have to travel 30-45 minutes just to find a decent grocery store. Calling the University of Dayton student neighborhood a “ghetto” is simpleminded.
If the sky is blue, why call it orange? Can we, as students, become more mature?
I understand, this is a tradition. Alumni even call the student neighborhood the Ghetto. But there are many traditions that the University of Dayton has broken. Did you know that it was “tradition” to not allow women at the institution? Did you know that it was a “tradition” to house male and female students separately? Did you know that it is not “tradition” to allow upperclassmen their own houses?
We have the opportunity to live in such beautiful homes! Why would you want to call it the Ghetto? Ghetto is not cute. Ghetto is not inviting. In fact, it is the opposite. We are smart, brilliant in fact, students.
If we know that the sky is blue, then we know how to call something what it is. The neighborhood that we live in is not a Ghetto. Let’s break some traditions.