What’s In a Name?

Ghetto Signs
As a graduate of Queen’s University, I am getting excited to celebrate my 5-year Homecoming this Fall. The University has undergone some significant changes since I left, most noticeably the multi-million dollar construction projects including the new Queen’s Centre , the Tindall Field Underground Parking Facility , and the University Revitalization Project . Queen’s has also made strides to scrub off the tarnish it suffered as a result of unlawful Homecoming celebrations in past years, however a solution to the massive Aberdeen street party has not yet been found in all the freshly poured cement and rebar. After numerous failed attempts, the university recently embarked on a quest to improve student housing and rename the Queen’s Ghetto. Could this be the answer the Homecoming fiasco?

Ghettos refer to “a portion of a city in which members of a minority group are concentrated as a cause of social, legal, or economic pressures.” When I think about the word ghetto, stereotypical descriptors including poverty, crime, drug abuse and 50 Cent come to mind, but this isn’t the case at Queen’s. For generations the Queen’s student population has referred to the housing area around the campus as such due to the quality of housing available. Slum lords were even ridiculed by the student government in an annual media attended award ceremony where the worst of the worst was awarded the golden cockroach award . After kick-starting change, the award was recently retired.

Given that I lived in the student housing area, I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, but that’s not to say that the hood deserves a ghetto moniker. It’s a comical exaggeration, especially when you notice the plethora of BMW’s and an occasional Hummer parked in someone’s driveway. Nevertheless the name is indicative of a housing problem that the City of Kingston, and University have been rather slow to deal with. As a part of modest improvements to quality of housing, a community relations campaign has reached it’s final stage which aims to change the name of the ghetto.

According to Ed Rothschild, Sci ’07, “the idea behind the project is to tie the students to the land” with the new title of “student village”. In tandem with greening projects, and a village-wide wireless internet service , the renaming is certainly an appropriate move. But will it honestly stick? Although it may enter into the vocabulary of future classes, my year and all those preceding won’t be swayed. No matter how many signs Queen’s erects it will always be known as the ghetto. Furthermore, I sincerely doubt that revamping the area will deter party-goers from congregating on Aberdeen once a year. It’s already been determined that a large number of the evil do-ers are from out of town. Hence, even if a sense a belonging and pride are instilled in the local student population with all these great changes, people are still going to party, and it may not be enough to stop a few bad apples from making Queen’s Homecoming the stuff legends are made of. Good or bad.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

2 thoughts on “What’s In a Name?

  • I completely agree, and nice title by the way because without looking at the title, this is the quote I instantly thought of when reading your article:

    “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet.”

    I assume that was intentional. I attended Queen’s as well but lived off campus, that’s not to say I didn’t experience the ghetto. I spent lots of time there.

    Anyway, renaming the ghetto is not solving any problems, and I seriously don’t think it will stick either!

  • Regardless of whatever they try to name the area, the houses will always be poorly treated, and thus poorly maintained. There is no incentive for landlords to meet any standard above the basics outlined by law. The change has to come from the students, who ultimately have to start respecting their own, and the city’s property. That ain’t gonna happen any time soon.

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