By Ethan Nichols, World News Editor
Norwood is a beautiful community. It is a diverse community. And it is a community I was raised in.
I was raised just a few minutes away from campus. Norwood Kroger? The one Xavier students refer to as “kro-ghetto?” That’s where my family got our groceries. “Nor-hood?” That’s where I went on playdates, went for bike rides and spent my time as a child.
I grew up just minutes from campus and never once interacted with or met a Xavier student or faculty member until I started at Xavier. The “Xavier Bubble” is real — I’ve experienced it firsthand.
Xavier talks a good game about engaging with and supporting the community, but we regularly allow for classist and racist language to be used to describe a neighborhood that Xavier resides in. This comes not only from students but from faculty as well.
Referring to our neighbors as living in a ghetto and coming up with demeaning names for community establishments is not only classist and racist, but it only furthers the divide between Xavier and the community.
As a Community Engaged Fellow, I commit to 10 hours a week of community service. This program is designed to help bridge the gap and “pop the bubble”.
One of my service sites is at the Life of the World Cafe. Located in Norwood, the cafe is a pay-as-you-can breakfast spot that serves the surrounding community. Primarily volunteer run, all of the food made is grown locally and prepared fresh everyday.
The people who run it are neighbors, the people we serve are neighbors. Community is the point. And that’s what I love most about Norwood — the community. The people.
Norwood residents genuinely care about each other. I was speaking with a guest at the Life of the World Cafe a few weeks ago and, he was describing to me how at the beginning of every semester, he approaches the Xavier students living on his street and knock on the door, give them his phone number (and occasionally baked goods) and try to establish a relationship with them.
There are ways we, as students, can help to break this cycle though. Get off campus, visit local businesses and stop demeaning our communities.
There are so many local establishments you can visit in Norwood. Quatman Cafe, Gordo’s Pub and Grill, Sorrento’s Italian and more are all in close proximity to campus.
Many Xavier students frequent Rookwood Commons for retail shopping or the restaurants without realizing that it is located in Norwood. Norwood is an expansive and diverse community and one that all Xavier students should strive to support and care for.
Whether walking, biking, driving or taking public transportation, there are endless means to get off campus and into our surrounding communities. Finding ways to connect and immerse yourself in Norwood and other neighborhoods should be something every Xavier student strives to do in their four years here.
But this isn’t just on us. The University should be finding more ways to connect us with our communities. Whether through hosting community events on campus, creating experiential opportunities for students in Norwood or through other means, it can’t be all on students, most of whom are brand new to the area, to figure this out on their own.
In addition, the University should be doing more to model this behavior for students. Xavier should be proud to reside partially in Norwood. The University could certainly do more to promote and take pride in this.
The next time you catch yourself or one of your friends referring to Norwood as the “Nor-hood” or Kroger as the “Kro-ghetto,” stop and think. Not only is it racist, classist and perpetuating harmful stereotypes, it’s harming Xavier’s relationship to our surrounding community and neighborhoods.
This is my neighborhood, this is my home. Respect it.