Not ready for new name

On Sept. 15, AMS Assembly passed a motion to rebrand the Student Ghetto as the University District.

The motion, put forward by the Municipal Affairs Commission, was passed alongside an attendant motion that approved the establishment of the Student Maintenance and Resource Team. This team of hired students will clean up garbage, organize recycling, cut grass and even apply fresh coats of paint to houses in the Student Ghetto.

The AMS has launched an advertising campaign for the new name without making any noticeable changes in the housing region around campus. The MAC’s proposed changes should have come before the rebranding.

Ghetto is a word steeped in a dark history, with ties to Jewish segregation in Renaissance Italy and the Second World War. It’s also used in North America to refer to impoverished urban areas.

Our nomenclature is inappropriate. The Student Ghetto isn’t comparable to historical ghettos, but the term’s common acceptance at Queen’s will prevent the renaming from taking root.

The AMS hasn’t explained to the student body why University District is a preferable name and has instead tried to institute a new vernacular without communicating with students.

The first step in the renaming process shouldn’t be rebranding. Instead, the AMS should start by improving housing standards in the area. The student body will be more willing to see the Student Ghetto as the University District if change occurs beneath the surface.

This isn’t the first time the AMS has tried to rename the Student Ghetto. In 2007, the Student Ghetto area was officially renamed the student village, but this failed to enter popular vocabulary. This name change was superficial, and didn’t have any supporting policy.

The term Student Ghetto has stuck because of the nature of housing in the area. Houses are rundown, unclean and many landlords treat students unfairly.

Rebranding the region requires a multi-faceted change. Landlords need to treat students like first-time homeowners and less like destructive transients.

Students also need to rise to the occasion. Any attempts to rebrand the Student Ghetto will hinge on student support. Otherwise, the area will remain unchanged.

Changing the Student Ghetto’s name is the recycling of an old idea that didn’t work. For the results to be different this time, the name change needs to be backed up with substantial action.

Until we see change, the new name simply won’t stick.

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