Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Family Housing Shuffle Upsets Some

15. July 2004 • Rob Goodspeed
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Due to a “larger than expected” freshman enrollment, University Housing has contacted residents in certain parts of family housing, giving them the option of moving (for free) to other parts of family housing or terminate their lease entirely.

The Graduate Employee Organization is considering it a “big blow to the graduate student community” since the total number of housing units available – currently over 1,400 units – will be cut in half, and since the move comes abruptly after current residents have recently signed one-year leases. Activists are planning to speak at today’s Regent’s Meeting at 3pm about the decision.

An email sent to residents of Family Housing I, II, and II by Carole Henry, Director of University Housing and Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, and obtained by ArborUpdate.com, spells out the changes:

Although it would have been preferable to communicate this to you when we sent lease renewal information, we are sharing this as quickly as possible given an unforeseen set of circumstances regarding a larger than expected freshman enrollment. This is particularly significant because the University has a commitment to provide on-campus housing for all new freshmen.

... University Housing has determined that it is necessary to change the designation of some Family Housing apartments in Northwoods I-III to house single upperclass and additional single graduate students. Current upperclass students with contracts at Baits Houses are being relocated to available vacancies in Northwood apartments in order to make the Baits rooms available for incoming freshmen. We are hopeful that we can secure additional vacancies in Northwood I, II, and III through this communication so that we can successfully accommodate those students who need University housing.

The email makes it clear that if residents don’t respond, the University will assume they’re chosing “Option 3” (Options 1 and 2 are either moving into private housing or moving to another family housing unit at not cost):

OPTION 3
REMAIN IN YOUR CURRENT APARTMENT

You can also choose to remain in your current apartment. Every effort will be made to continue all the services, programs, and activities that you are accustomed to in Family Housing, even though the composition of the community will be changing.



  1. While I’m going to be a grad student myself this fall, I find some of the language in an email being circulated snobbish and worthy of Old Fourth Ward NIMBYs, not supposedly-tolerant and progressive grad students:

    “While they are “allowed” to stay, families with children face living next to 18 year old freshmen.”

    Heaven forbid!
       —Brandon    Jul. 15 '04 - 01:00PM    #
  2. 1. The issues are more than NIMBY – though it’s true that many grad parents prefer the current peaceful atmosphere and worry about the lifestyle differences between undergraduates and graduate students (many of whom are study for examinations [prelims, bar, medical certification, etc.]).
    2. The U secretly made plans to displace graduate students without consulting them.
    3. The eventual elimination of grad student housing in Northwoods 1, 2, and 3 will make it more difficult for grad student families from overseas and out of state to find housing.
    4. Family housing is important for grad student partners who are not students (many of whom are from other countries and do not have work visas). The community is strong and vibrant and will be damaged by these changes.
    5. The university is setting up a two-tiered rent system so that families will be paying different rents for the same units.
    6. The rents are way too high now for poor quality housing. The U has kept raising rental rates at higher than the rate of inflation, while private rental rates have stagnated or declined.

    Dave
       —Dave Johnson    Jul. 17 '04 - 04:48AM    #
  3. Hey there Brandon,

    I live in the Old Fourth Ward (isn’t it weird that they are so attached to the allegedly halcyon, student-less past that they cling to a political category that no longer exists? It’s like referring to yourself as part of the “old Confederacy,” fer cryin out loud) and I do hate the NIMBY attitude to which you’ve pointed.

    However, I also lived with my undergraduate students in Alice Lloyd Hall for two whole years while a graduate student at UM. My experience was that UM housing frequently kowtows to the bad behavior of residents, and does very little to remediate the effects of that behavior on others. For instance, one week some of the students on the 6th floor decided to run an experiment where they unscrewed the fluorescent lightbulbs from the hall ceilings and dropped them out of the windows to see what happened when they hit the ground. One data set was not enough for this sophisticated scientific enterprise! It went on most of the week.

    Dangerous conditions that young adults can be relied upon to avoid (walking on broken glass, stepping in vomit, etc.) are unknown-and sometimes interesting-quantities to the very young. UM housing has such a poor record of remediating hazards in family housing that the residents are really skeptical about how things might work for them and their small children with an undergraduate presence. I understand that fear.

    Good luck in graduate school, by the way!

    Alyssa
       —Alyssa    Jul. 17 '04 - 08:37AM    #