At most schools and universities, students of the same race congregate amongst themselves in large groups. This is more than evident at St. John’s when walking through Marillac Cafeteria, the campus library, and of course, “The Strip.” The term “The Strip” refers to the gathering area outside of Montgoris Dining Hall where African American and Latino students often gather to socialize.
“There are some people who go ‘The Strip’ after class and judge the people walking by them like it’s a fashion runway,” sophomore Eddie Jean said. Hence, this is how the area has been labeled as “The Runway” to some. Other nicknames for the area include 8 Mile, the Gauntlet, and the Patio. Some students that have walked through the area, which is frequently populated, have stated that they have experienced verbal abuse or have felt greatly uncomfortable under the stare of the judging looks they are given by some of the individuals who hang out on “The Strip.”
A St. John’s student who wishes to remain anonymous expressed her discomfort from walking through the area. She said, “Sometimes I would get these dirty looks that basically had the attitude of, ‘you don’t belong here’. It’s ridiculous.” Some students have even gone as far as walking out of their way to go through the Residential Village in order to avoid passing by Montgoris.
But most of the students who reside in the area outside of Montgoris claim they do not really pay attention to the students who pass by. Most of the students who socialize in the area gather there to meet with their friends because they feel there is nowhere else to congregate as a community.
Many questions remain. Is this really a serious issue? Is all of this discomfort and fear really because of a two minute walk down a crowded sidewalk? Why is it that no students express nervousness in the company of large groups of Asian and Indian students in the library or speak about being judged by the white students who hang out inside and outside of Marillac? Why are the people who hang out on “The Strip” singled out?
The issue is not “The Strip” itself. The real issue concerns the fear amongst students on campus. Why are students not putting in the effort to talk to one another? St. John’s University is located in the most diverse city in the United States and the fact that students are hesitant or even afraid to talk to one another is utterly ridiculous.
It is indeed sad to see this positive image of St. John’s and its diverse community slowly deteriorating into segregated corners. This issue regarding “The Strip” tells us that St. John’s students have little sense of community and respect for one another. This story stretches beyond the idea of a crowded sidewalk, it reaches into a fear that is unspoken by our students. It will never subside until we take steps forward to unite together.