Solidarity is the theme of this year’s Founder’s Week, yet the idea of unity and solidarity seems lost on St. John’s. With five campuses and close to 20,000 students, St. John’s has the potential to be a force to reckon with. However, the large disconnect between campuses has prevented such a movement.
Take, for example, the disconnect between the Manhattan and Queens campuses. The Queens campus is the central hub of the University, while the Manhattan location is merely a satellite campus. A number of students on the Manhattan campus take classes in Queens and participate in the organizations and activities on the Queens campus, which makes sense if Manhattan is only a satellite. However, with its prime downtown location and proximity to the business and financial centers of the city, it seems as if the Manhattan campus is being underutilized.
Although comprised of only a 10-story building, four floors of which are devoted to student housing, the Manhattan campus has a lot to offer. Located just feet from Ground Zero, the Manhattan campus is surrounded by New York’s centers of business, finance and culture and has much to offer from the moment students set foot outside of their residences.
On-campus offerings, however, are slim. With just a short shuttle ride separating the two locations, it seems that the campuses would have a more give-and-take relationship, sharing both students and activities. But even with all that Manhattan has to offer, Queens still dominates in the relationship. The Queens campus has had a chance to develop its own identity, while Manhattan has always been second fiddle.
In addition, events that are held on the Manhattan campus are not publicized well to students in Queens and often go unnoticed by anyone outside of the Murray Street residence. And that’s just part of the problem.
Along with the disconnect between campuses, St. John’s is creating a sense of disunity with its series of solutions to the numerous housing problems. In an effort to provide housing for incoming students, St. John’s has decided to ask upperclassmen to live off campus, either in University owned off-campus housing or in non-affiliated apartments of their own finding. This is just another way to create disconnect.
Upperclassmen are integral to the University community. These students are the ones who have the most experience at St. John’s and are the leaders of the student organizations. They are the students who know their way around and can guide the incoming freshmen both in academics and in leadership positions. Yet the University is driving these current and future leaders off campus in order to make room for new students and in the process are causing a great divide.
Although the University is making strides to form a more unified student body, the disconnects had on the University campuses and in the divisive housing dilemma are only creating a larger schism. If student leaders are unable to live on campus, it only takes away from the amount of programming that the University is able to present.
At an institution preaching unity during this, its 13th annual Founder’s Week, the divide had between its campuses and the alienation caused by its housing shortage are inexcusable.
Without a strong foundation of unity between its students and campuses and loyalty to its upperclassmen, St. John’s ironically falls short of its own mark.