Increasing enrollment means increasing demand for student housing. With more and more second years making the transition to off-campus living every year the current borders of the ghetto are simply becoming too small to contain the upper year population. Naturally, this means that students are having to move into rented houses in areas that have not historically been the domain of the Queen’s population. While on the surface this may seem like a benign phenomenon, the consequences for students who find themselves in this situation are very real. Behaviors seen as acceptable or even commonplace in the ghetto are perceived to be antisocial or even psychotic by the residents of most neighbourhoods. Take for example the playing of beer pong on a front lawn or smoking a joint on the sidewalk. Not all hope is lost however. In recent years residential streets around Queen’s campus have been subject to a brand new phenomenon that was until now, undocumented. It’s called “de-gentrification” and how its works is simple.
Take for example a street occupied entirely by non-Queen’s students. If one house becomes a rented student property, the dynamic of the neighbourhood will likely remain unchanged with the students living in the house adjusting their behavior in order to fit in with their new neighbours. Now say six groups of students all move into the neighbourhood in houses that are side by each without normal residents parsing their settlement. This is what researchers call “the critical mass of student residency”, the point at which students begin to openly partake in what is normally ghetto only conduct. Once this level of residency is achieved non-student neighbours quickly begin to move off of the street in order to escape the degeneracy of the students. Their properties are bought by sketchy landlords who in turn rent them to students and let them fall into disrepair. Thus, the street becomes a part of the student ghetto.
In order to better understand de-gentrification I spoke to a group of four housemates moving into a house on William Street east of Barrie, a neighbourhood currently on the cutting edge of being de-gentrified. Josh Williamson Sci ‘20, Trevor Hofstadt ArtSci ‘20, Kevin Lee Kin ‘20, and Nick Kapoor Sci 20 gave me their first hand account of what life at the centre of de-gentrification was like.
“It’s a lot like living in the ghetto” said Kapoor age 19 “except you get a lot of dirty looks from some of the neighbours. No one really cares enough to call anyone out on it anymore though so it’s pretty sick. There’s a lot of for sale signs on this street. I give it 5 years max and this will all be ghetto”. Hofstadt agreed with Kapoor.
“Yeah like we’ll funnel beers from the roof down to the lawn and even though you can tell that some of the neighbours think you’re an unsophisticated savage they kind of get that it’s just the way of the future at this point”.
“You can’t get in the way of progress” added Williamson
When asked about what he thought the future of the ghetto would be like, Kevin Lee had this to say “It’s definitely gonna grow over time. You know we’ve got more students coming here every year and they all need a place to get shitfaced drunk and pass out on lawns. The only way that’s gonna happen is if the ghetto can expand its territory in the coming years. Frankly, I’m pretty fucking stoked for it”.