Thursday, March 12, 2009

generators of diversity

RISD students have not relocated. If you ask student where their home is, they will most likely reply a different state or even country. The fact being they’ve been living in Rhode Island for up to four years does not matter, home is defined as another place. I never fully understood this, when people ask where my home is I respond: Providence, where else would my home be. I learned later this was not a common reply.
People come to RISD for college, they don’t move for jobs, to place their children in a better school, to be near elderly parents, or any other reasons other then college. Jacob’s first rule to creating diversity in a city is the district should serve more then one function.(150) I would consider College to be the primary function of the area. Nothing compares to the colleges as far as bringing people into the state. The name ’College Hill’ was not a coincidence.
Jacobs second rule is, “Most Blocks must be short; that is streets and opportunities to turn corners must be frequent.”(150) For the most part RISD is a great example for this rule. The rule implies that people will see each other and bump into each other periodically. This becomes cloudy in a college environment. I’ve had a quite few experiences passing classmates without acknowledging each other. In a city community it is not as common to run into an acquaintance. This intersection is too familiar to the college student, making the situation less meaningful and less obligated to respond every time he/she crosses path with a familiar face. In a comparison to my college experience at Maine College of Art, students always acknowledged each other in passing. Concluding, RISD holds a reputation of being a stuck up school, maybe this behavior has been past down from generation to generation?
“3. The district must mingle buildings that vary in age and condition, including a good proportion of old ones so that they vary in the economic yield they must produce”. (150-151)The campus district of Rhode Island School of Design entangles large industrial buildings, multi-family houses, and modern architecture achievements. Buildings range in appearance and condition. In Jacobs 3rd rule, the east side portrays a structured model to fill the requirements. The rule only depicts the physical structures, without mention of the society inhibiting the environment. The society that occupies the majority of the space are college age students coming from higher economic brackets. This class distinction plays hard against promoting diversity. Realtors know the market and can raise rents coordinating to students need for housing. The RISD area is home to many buildings, but a society that does not “vary in age or condition”.
College hill has a lot of people all in a small area, making RISD completely compliant with Jacob’s rule number four. “There must be a sufficiently dense concentration of people, for what purposes they may be there”. (151)
Jacob states cities do not automatically generate diversity by existing. (148) RISD is a prime example of this understanding. RISD offers stores and restaurants, but all are owned by RISD. The College has unwritten social rules, and behaviors. These culturally learned behaviors override common courtesy of passing in the street. Much of the population is from one social class. Comparing what forms diversity in a city to what promotes diversity on a campus are two very different things. Like Jacobs’s rules to have diversity develop, colleges have diversity promoting centers. The one big difference is that colleges accept the type of person they want, where a city can not as thoroughly restrict its population.

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