With its low self-esteem and high urban blight, Hartford is the ultimate underdog city. Sad City Hartford documents the joys, sorrows and eccentricities of New England's Rising Star.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hartford College Students Invent New Slur

The Hartford Courant's Kathleen Megan reports from behind the iron gates of Trinity that students mobilized and rallied for a "zero-tolerance" policy on both racist and homophobic incidents on campus.  While the well meaning students didn't articulate what exactly a "zero-tolerance" policy would entail, the rally was prompted after a recent racist and homophobic incidents occurred on campus.

Megan reports that while Trinity students use garden variety slurs, they have also added a slur of their own to their racist repertoire;

"Several students of color said that white students on campus often mistake them for "Hartford locals" — a term they said is used in a derogatory way.
When students use the expression, Hernandez said, it means "you're not good, you don't belong here." That's a message he said some students of color have gotten from other students at Trinity."

While this blog has previously explored some of the stark contrasts between the city and its institutes of higher learning, it seems that a select group of Trinity students have decided that not only did they just so happen to win the sperm lottery and be born into means rather than the inner city, but they feel that they are warranted in looking down their collective noses and that they are better people because of where they happened to be born.

A long time ago in a land much more blighted than Hartford, my father told me "there are only two things that are completely out of every one's control; where they are born and who there parents are." It seems to me that these Trinity students could have benefited from this advice.

The outlook of some Hartford students can vary from comedic to quite troubling.  On the comedic side, while recently on The Colin McEnroe Show, Trinity students told of a fellow classmate who was told she had "street cred" because she ventured off campus to buy a soda. More troubling is when we overheard a student of another institute of higher learning state that when going out in Hartford he "brought his gun" in case any residents "tried something."

A Trinity student and future Sad City contributor sends us this note;

"The term "Hartford locals" is often used by Trinity students to denote Frog Hollow and Behind the Rocks residents that live in Trinity's surrounding area.  I would agree that it is often used in a derogatory way, and would argue that it is mostly due to the ignorance of many students who come to Trinity and subsequently lock themselves in to the campus grounds and choose to extend themselves into the surrounding city as little as possible.  Those who come from wealthy, suburban backgrounds are warned of the dangers of Hartford, and socially have little need to leave campus once they have arrived.    Fear of Hartford locals is pervasive throughout campus.  The walkways through the Trinity grounds are riddled with campus safety call boxes, and cars are frequently broken into.  On multiple occasions, car windows have been smashed yet the possessions within left untouched.  Professor Michael Lestz, who attended Trinity for his undergraduate degree and has taught at the school since 1980 describes it as a "town-gown split."  Says Lestz: "You have a population of students who often come from very well to do backgrounds who find themselves living in a neighborhood that is predominantly poor and working class, so there is a clash due to class differences, income differences and the culture differences that come along with that."  Sadly, this fear sometimes manifests itself within the community's population and augments racial discrimination. "

The irony of Trinity students using "Hartford locals" as a slur isn't lost on us. Trinity, with its annual tuition of over $50,000, is like many other Hartford institutes of higher learning, very expensive.  So what these students (of all Hartford higher education institutes) should keep in mind in deriding Hartford, while paying significant sums of money to attend school here, is that they are just making it painfully obvious that they couldn't get into the Ivy League.

Now back to your regularly scheduled squash match.


  1. It is also important to note that it is not just Trinity students who use this term.

    Campus safety advisories sent out from the Administration introduces all students to this term every year by blaming any incident of crime on campus to that of "the Hartford locals."

  2. We've been dealing with the same issue in New Haven for decades, with Yalies disdainfully referring to us as "townies" and us referring to them as "easy marks"

  3. Hey, let's not forget that, place of birth and parentage aside, there are some people who are actually better than others. Smarter, prettier, healthier, more understanding and cooperative, more civilized, etc. You know -- better.

  4. "hartford locals" have made their own reputation. the reputation associated with the term was earned by their own conduct, not dreamed up in the mind of some college kid. Regular shootings, rapes, and theft in this city has not set the "hartford local" as a role model citizen.

  5. Not to know the difference between a student of color and a youth that is off campus...That's just lazy thinking. Trinity considers itself Liberal, but they're not doing enough in the town to prove this.

  6. I grew up in Manchester and never considered Hartford to be too dangerous. Comparatively, I now live in Worcester (MA) and feel that some parts definitely provoke a sense of hyper vigilance. Has Hartford really gotten so bad, that students don't feel the motivation to risk leaving campus? Or is this all relative to where these students originally come from?

  7. "Hey, let's not forget that, place of birth and parentage aside, there are some people who are actually better than others. Smarter, prettier, healthier, more understanding and cooperative, more civilized, etc. You know -- better. "

    This statement could be a quote from the Trinity Tripod's (student newspaper) "humor" section. But anyone who has read that rag knows how transparent the "humor" is. They really do believe this.

  8. As a Trinity student for the past three years, I have never once heard the term "Hartford local" used as a slur. How would that even make sense?

    If some Trinity students do have negative feelings toward Hartford or toward the presence of individuals who are not members of the Trinity community, it is because of the frequent assaults and burglaries that are perpetrated by criminals who prey on the campus.

    Your final remark on the irony of the term "Hartford local" is completely nonsensical. How does this phrase belie anything regarding college admissions....and where did you go to college, by the way??

  9. These kids that are calling people "Hartford locals" also threw a beer bottle at a Hispanic student and called him the n word. It's pretty obvious these aren't Trinity's best and brightest and probably won't ever graduate from college.

  10. In response to the last post: I agree that the kid who committed the recent act of racial hatred (not multiple "kids" as you references) obviously does not represent Trinity's best.

    However, I still reject the premise that those who "call people "Hartford locals" " are the ones who commit acts of racial hatred.

    WHY THIS BLOG POST IS ABSOLUTE TRASH: The term "Harford local" is an entirely appropriate description of Hartford residents. To propose that "Hartford local" is a slur (and that those who use the term are racist) is a tragically ignorant accusation, and represents a hijacking of the English language. Shame on the writer of this article and on the Sad City Hartford blog.

  11. It's tragically ignorant that you think a term with negative racial implications that is being used to stereotype an entire city with a population of upwards of 100,000 is appropriate. The fact that you are defending such nonsense makes you ABSOLUTE TRASH!

  12. I'm not the type to look up or down at anyone more or less fortunate than me, I'm neither rich or poor, I work and make do with what I have, but I avoid the Hartford area because if I am not "one of them" then I am a target for random acts of violence or worse. Perhaps Hartford folks should consider what their fellow residents do to affect their image.

  13. I love the attempted erudition of the offended anonymous Trinity student. You don't need to get out a thesaurus to defend your school.

    Anyway, as a Trinity neighbor in the direction considered safe for jogging, I'm of the opinion that the school is ambiguous in its relationship with the City. I've had beer cans thrown at me for the high crime of being a dork riding my bike home from work passed the campus late on a Thursday night. At same time, some of the most positive and stalwart Hartordites I know are Trinity staff & grads. In the same way that some asshole Trinity students have a racist & prejudicial way of thinking about Hartford residents, I wouldn't write off the whole campus as a bunch of rich racist pricks.

  14. @Anonymous above Brendan. I assume by "one of them" you mean drug dealer or gang member. I believe that you not being one of those types of people makes it very improbable that anyone would victimize you. If no one has any reason to bother you they generally don't and I have found little exception to this during my time in Hartford.

  15. I live in West Hartford. keep those Hartford locals on the east side of Prospect St.

  16. @ the previous comment above: You are part of the problem they are referring to.

    As for those who see Hartford Locals as committing random acts of violence: Hartford Locals don't wait around like a pack of ignorant neanderthals waiting to rob you. We have our own lives to go about, and the fact that you think we are all out to get you shows just how stuck up you really are. it's been shown that most acts of violence and crime in the city have been perpetrated by someone who knew the victim. Very little "randomness" is involved. There's white people who can walk through the North End with no problem. You know why? They mind their own business just like everyone else and go about their way. They understand that we are people too and not every person of color they meet wants to jump them. It all boils down to racism. The more privileged of us want to stay away from the city because "black/hispanic people are scary,ooooooo...."

  17. "So what these students (of all Hartford higher education institutes) should keep in mind in deriding Hartford, while paying significant sums of money to attend school here, is that they are just making it painfully obvious that they couldn't get into the Ivy League."

    Thanks. I'm a Trinity student and I was reading some of the restaurant reviews on your blog because I have chosen to live in an off-campus apartment year-round and am always looking for new places to eat. But instead of going out to dinner tonight, I guess I'll just sit at home and think about how shitty my life is because I didn't go to an Ivy. Or maybe I'll just sit at home (on Zion St.) because I'm too terrified of my neighbors to go outside. Man, too bad I'm so dumb. And racist, too!

  18. I am a current Trinity Student and would like to clear a few things up. First I will agree that some Trinity students are ignorant towards the residence of hartford grouping them all as criminals. That being said to describe all Trinity students as being wealthy and "local hating" is just as ignorant. its ironic that you write about how bad Trinity students are when you are simply doing the same. Second while trinity does have fences, they are mostly by the playing fields. flying balls and cars do mix well. (perhaps you lack common sense?). Trinity is an open campus and does not lock its doors to the community. As for having all the blue light safety boxes on campus, they are out of concern for the safety of the students. I personally have been mugged while walking back to my dorm and am thankful for the boxes. Students getting held up at knife and gun point by residences of hartford happens more than it should any where. The high level of crime that occurs on campus is in no way a result of the students at trinity, their background, or school policies. Rather it is a result of a FEW hartford residence intolerance of the background of some Trinity Students. If their was less crime on campus especially involving weapons, the school relationship with the city would be much better. Finally as to you saying Trinity is not a prestigious school is completely false. While it is not an ivy league school, most schools are not. Trinity is a liberal arts school while all of the Ivy Leaguers are research institutions. Their is no irony of students paying $50,000 to going to school in Hartford. That is the price of higher education. Hartford should be grateful for have several places of higher education within the city. These schools employ hundreds of hartford residences and pump millions of dollars into the local economy each year. I can personally thing of quite a business that would not be around if it were not for Trinity. With the insurance industry leaving hartford and places of higher education providing much needed money for hartford, the writer of this blog should be grateful the Uhart students and Trinity Students pay so much to go to school in Hartford

  19. So #18 & #19 - what you are saying is you don't appreciate blanket statements being slung around about a group that you happen to be a member of? Because you know.....just checking to make sure that's what you are saying.....

  20. I blame the College for this. For decades Trinity has always had a holier than thou attitude about themselves that has transferred to SOME of the student body. Some of the wealthier students and families do get pampered as the school awaits their endowments. This has gone on since the sixties.

  21. Here's a very specific, non-blanket statement: Hakaan Loob, I previously thought you were just kind of an asshole, but now you've shown yourself to be a really big asshole.

  22. Anonymous Trinity Student from June 23rd,
    You have just proved how you really don't need any sort of grammar or spelling skills to get into Trinity. Just saying...

  23. At Trinity, you can figure out a lot about someone by their view on Hartford. Its fairly clear that the ones who unfairly dismiss Hartford do so because of their impressions rather than real experience. There are shitty people and normal people regardless of socioeconomic standing. A lot of Trinity kids just assume what they hear about hartford is true, while hartford residents due the same to our mostly homogeneous student body.
    Basically, the majority of trinity kids realize that the majority of trinity kids are brutal to be around. it does necessarily represent everyone though.

  24. Having lived within walking distance of Trinity college on and off for 20 years, I will say without reservation that the student population of this institution do not, and have not ever genuinely added anything to the city of hartford. For a "gene pool" that regards itself with great superiority and a sense of entitlement, this writer has never witnessed anything that might support this falsely inflated sense of self. Where are the art shows, musical performances, social involvement and political activism that generally surround college campuses? With the exception of the "Cinestudio" and perhaps at one time WRTC, Trinity and it's student population offer nothing of interest to the neighborhood or the city of Hartford.
    Needless to say, there are most probably a great many good and humane students that attend and have passed through TC. Racism and prejudice work in both directions, toward the "haves" just as easily as toward the have-nots.
    That Trinity students are racist is no surprise to me. The only thing that I find difficult the believe is that a student actually invented something new.

    1. And what great boon have the townies ever provided the TC student body?

  25. Dear Anonymous above,

    Your generalization is entirely misguided. For your information, Trinity offers art shows which are open to the public at both the Broad Street Gallery at the corner of Broad and Allen Place, as well as at the Austin Arts Center in the Widener Gallery. There are musical performances (also intermittently open to the public) at The Mill on Vernon Street, Vernon Social Center, and other venues, as well as frequent student open mic nights. Trinity also has multiple a capella groups, a gospel choir, and an improv group. Trinity also hosts the Trinity International Hip-Hop festival annually, since 2006, which you can read about at their website (listed below). Also, Trinfo Cafe is a resource to the Frog Hollow community which provides a public space at which people in the neighborhood may come to learn about using the internet and modern technology.

    Here is a link to information about the hip-hop festival (has not yet been updated to reflect the coming school year's line-up: http://trinityhiphop.com/home/

    And here is a link to a complete calendar of public events at Trinity this year: http://b28.cc.trincoll.edu/PublicMasterCalendar/MasterCalendar.aspx

    "Trinity and it's student population offer nothing of interest to the neighborhood or the city of Hartford. " I think you should recant this statement now, considering it is utterly untrue. Thank you for your baffling ignorance.

  26. Wow - look at all of you. You'd think this article was about you specifically, and there you are slinging insults back and forth at each other. What a way to teach our young people. "Can't we all just get along?" is such an overrated statement that no one is willing to even give it a try. There are racist/discriminatory/violent acts on every college campus and college town in the US - heck, Mississippi can't even call itself a respectable college town, and the recent racist act that occurred there about a month ago ring of the violence that occurred in the '60's. We haven't really come far, have we? I was born in Springfield, raised in Worcester, educated in NY and now I live, work, and raise a family in Connecticut. I know what's out there - and it doesn't just come from the rich, white "entitled" kids - racism crosses all boundaries, and those are the boundaries that we have to cross each and every day - whether from work, school, or play. When we are all able to face the facts, to stop denying the truth of what is Trinity and of what is Hartford, then maybe, just maybe, we can begin the process of opening meaninful dialogue and creating a better community for all...

  27. Trinity is a bore!

  28. Two different things are going on at once, and there is a dissonance on this blog owing to the confused messages coming from these two events. The first is internal to Trinity. Students of color resent being considered locals. To them that is derogatory, a fact contained in the very term "Hartford locals" a subset of others sharing the planet. The fact that they refer to themselves as "people of color" is ironic as it is an indicator that they wish to be considered and treated with a consideration based on that they are, somehow, apart. But what has emerged from this debate is the much larger relationship, or lack thereof, between the students and staff of the college as an institution and the neighborhood surrounding the campus. Former president Evan Dobelle played into this schism by shoring up the palatinate approach to Hartford. He created a buffer zone of residential buildings outside the campus walls. Dobelle reinforced the 'walls' of Trinity by erecting wrought-iron fences and aluminum poles with flags which both celebrated the college and defined its territory. Politically Trinity expanded its IDP program graduating politicians and city officials such as Efrian Hernandez and Eddie Perez and tapping into state and federal political connections to construct the Learning Corridor. At the same time, Trinity expanded its eastern boundary as an outgrowth of SINA, the Southend Institutions Neighborhood Alliance. In cooperation with the city's daily newspaper, SINA director Perez was crowned as Hartford's mayor. The college, always somewhat of an open air castle, was more secure, a constant worry for campus recruiting which was addressed by public relations bus tours of parents through neighborhoods the college was in the process of reclaiming. As an institution, the uneasy relationship with Hartford becomes clear whenever leadership of the school changes. Trinity has always offered the opportunity of a top-tier education within a rich urban environment. But the richness has to be sought out by students raised in privilege. In my day we walked down to Park Street and played pool and had a few beers out in the neighborhood, or formed a food coop or went to the Hartford Stage Company. But the city has itself become more foreboding. Rather than giving in to fear, the students need to seek a better understanding of Hartford and its people. Hartford is a microcosm for the world in many ways. The causes of poverty and violence, ignorance and injustice are everywhere. I can say, as a graduate of the school, and a Hartford local who still lives nearby, I remain grateful for my liberal arts education even as Hartford - and I mean the neighborhoods of Hartford, not the downtown area - has turned into even more of a social services dumping ground. This is the richest state in the union.
    I appreciate the Sad Hartford blog. Because we all need to take ownership of what Hartford has become - a sad city of parking lots and empty, weed-covered lots - before we can reshape it into something better.

  29. I work at Trinity and I've yet to come across racists students. There are a few that ruin the bunch, but I don't feel the need to generalize. There was a black girl who committed something racist..saying something about a monkey...in the Spring Semester a couple years ago. The College made a big deal out of it(as it should) and had a rally against racism(maybe two years ago) and then she comes out of hiding saying that she wanted to see what reaction would come out of it. There are rich kids here, yes, but they're very appreciative of the staff. Yes, they are pampered, but they don't expect it really. I'm not a grad from Trinity and probably will never be, but I'm appreciative of the College because they treat their employees like Gold(they have yet to lay me off in this dying economy)..the Neighborhoods suck, they do, I grew up in them and I remember when the gate was put up around '88 or so. I lived on Brownell Street(or avenue) where the Learning Corridor is, and it was a dump for the time that I was there('96-'97) so the Corridor gave it a nice look. They've since torn down the residential area on Crescent Street for what looks like a Long term Project to be completed by 2020..expanding the college. I mean if they want to keep the students safe, I can't blame them as when I wait for the bus on my way home, all I see is thugs. It's not a racist thing it's a class thing, Alot of the neighborhoods surrounding Trinity are Section 8 neighborhoods. Even the police substation on Affleck Street is vacant for the better part of the day. Working class my ass, Why do you think the Park Street bus is no longer going to the Mall after 6pm they don't want anybody from Park Street up there.
    Do I think Trinity's trying to fence themselves away from the Neighborhoods...Hell yes, but it's for good reason too. I wouldn't wan them coming into my yard either. And Trinity has tons of stuff for the public to see as well. They're not closed to the public although they don't make you feel as comfortable...but then again if you're not used to being around rich people, why would you feel at ease? I'm not rich and I sometimes feel uncomfortable around The President himself as he says hi to me, but that's because I've never been around rich people. Hartford's become a Social Service dumping ground as one of the posters stated, and it's TRUE. I have to look high and low to find a decent apartment where the neighborhoods won't case my stuff and try to steal my stuff while I'm at work. These are the same people who the Government is trying to help, and this is the thanks they get: prey upon the working class. I can agree that most of these Students at Trinity do not leave campus unless they are minorities, but I mean look at what happens when they venture. I don't want to hear that they won't get mugged if they minded ther business. THEY ARE MINDING it, and NO most of the locals IF you ask them, would not know that Trinity has rich people living there. I didn't know about it until I started working here, but I'm from Boston so who knows, I don't know Hartford's history and don't care to know. it's been the bane of my existence ever since my mom moved us out here.

    I don't think trying to work with people from the Ghetto ever works because for the most part they take advantage of what is given to them and they never appreciate it. Very few do so, but that's far and in between.

    Trinity has a funny way of addressing issues but they DO communicate with their staff and students thoroughly.

    If the Mayor were to eliminate alot of the Section 8 vouchers, there would be a change unseen before in Hartford as a whole. Damn near everybody living around me has an EBT card for which they DON'T buy food, but instead conduct open-market Welfare fraud. If we want to make Hartford a better city, eliminate the Section 8 and welfare already. The people on it need some tough love.