Complaining about paying to better areas you complain about that you’ll only live in for an inconsequential amount of time is one of the most blatant and egregiously ignorant arguments from a clear vantage point of entitlement and privilege.
Matt Petrillo stated in a March 19 opinion article that he wants “a contiguous border” between the Temple area and North Philly under the premise of avoiding an unnecessary tax hike, as if one doesn’t already effectively exist through the high cost of real estate in proximity to Temple and security checkpoints placed all around Temple’s perimeter, but what this shows is his, and many others likewise, complete lack of empathy and supposed “investment” in the community.
Students didn’t make the mess? This is for all intents and purposes somewhat true, but if Temple students want to come to North Philly, and claim to be residents, whether they live in a gentrified neighborhood around all of Temple’s amenities or away from Temple’s land-grabbing in a genuinely harsher neighborhood surrounded by real North Philly residents, and not other students, they should view these problems as their own to help resolve for the benefit of all people who call Philadelphia home, and not just bemoan these issues from a clear and distinct distance and distaste for the area and its people.
Further, if Petrillo had done his research, he would have found that even though the North Central Neighborhood Improvement District is a response by city officials to answer a community outcry about how Temple students treat their neighborhoods, residents are also wary of the NCNID, fearing that absent landlords and contractors will have control of the area, as the board is made up solely of landlords and contractors, and only landowners are allowed to vote on the issue. Residents are opposed to the NCNID because of many of the same reasons students are.
So, yes, if your grievances are the same as Petrillo’s, leave North Philly. But don’t just leave to go to another section of the city: leave it entirely. South Philly areas are no less destitute and no less crime-ridden, unless you happen to live in the chintzy areas like East Passyunk, near Center City, and by Broad Street.
All in all, Petrillo’s article is a pathetic attempt to absolve students from any responsibility to the surrounding community. He even so explicitly states, as almost a subconscious affirmation of his own entitlement and desire to be a separate entity in North Philly that “we don’t want to pay any more and we don’t have to.” What does he care? He is graduating this year and will never live in North Philly again, by choice. He is a selective resident of North Philly, which is a privilege real residents don’t have. Being a selective resident of your city in any form or part only propagates the issues facing the urban poor. If we as university students are to close the gap between “us” and “them” we need to recognize privilege where privilege exists, and being a college student of any rank that is able to choose to live in and leave an area as he or she pleases is a privilege many will never have. It is unbecoming for a major university, its students, and its newspaper, to continue to promote thinly-veiled contempt for North Philadelphia and its residents.
Geoffrey Volcovici, Class of 2013
Christina Warner, Class of 2012