by Olivia Bretzman ’22
There have been countless conversations about respect for neighbors in the Elmhurst neighborhood and other surrounding areas beyond our campus due to last year’s COVID-19 trials. The Providence College community attaches many stereotypes to these communities and, frankly, to anything other than PC.
These negative stereotypes and assumptions prove that PC is a bubble––one that, if unaddressed, creates an environment of fear and misunderstanding about our surroundings. There seems to be a truly disheartening belief about the areas around PC. While the rates of crime and gang activity are incredibly high in any city, the assumption that everyone who lives in the area is involved in that activity is rash and nonsensical.
The saying “Chad Brown Turn Around” was preached to students of years past, perpetuating these stereotypes. This phrase creates tension between students and residents of the Elmhurst neighborhood, especially those past Chad Brown Street. However, if you find yourself on any side street past Chad Brown, you will see families outside with playing children and encounter friendly smiles and conversation.
Along with the local residents and PC students that live in the area, many other college and university students rent houses in this neighborhood. The fact that they are not PC students does not mean anything—the stereotypes surrounding students of other schools are astoundingly narrow-minded.
Aside from neighborly realities, the fact of the matter is that off-campus is called “off-campus” for a reason. The streets students live on, while just steps away from campus, does not give anyone the right to trash the sidewalks with glass bottles, empty cans, or litter of any kind.
While people may do what they wish on their own property, littering on community property, or that of one’s neighbors, demonstrates a level of disrespect that no student would stand for in their own neighborhood or home.
When it comes down to it, PC is a bubble in which the good of our surrounding community is sometimes forgotten. PC is a beautiful place with wonderful people and opportunities, and students must open their eyes to the rest of the community in which they take part, the city in which they go to school, and the world in which they live.
One can do this easily by getting more involved in the community. This could include simple things like going out to eat or trying a new bar, or it could be more in-depth and personal, such as volunteering or working off campus.
It really comes down to the reality that not everyone is alike in this world. Within a like-minded or similar community, it is easy to believe that “others” are strange, abnormal, or even dangerous. However, the world is a complex place with people totally different from each other, and that is why it is imperative to recognize the classist and racist stereotypes in order to dismantle them.
I implore the students at PC to reconsider their mindsets about the community around them and to be a bit more mindful of where they are in the world. Students are not the sole individuals in the Elmhurst community, and we should not act as such. Respecting and including other community members is essential to living here; it is our duty to pop the PC bubble and ensure that we are not continuously perpetuating harmful stereotypes that create division among PC students and permanent residents of the Elmhurst neighborhood.