Student organizers who intended to live at the new The One Ann Arbor apartment complex delivered an open letter to the University of Michigan dean of students Friday afternoon. The group is asking the University to help provide support for the more than 600 displaced students who planned to live at The One this school year.
The One is a newly constructed off-campus housing development located on Pontiac Trail in Ann Arbor, over two miles away from Central Campus. Most of its tenants are students, who were notified on Aug. 19 — five days prior to their expected move-in date — of construction delays that would push back their move-in date to Sep. 9.
Ten days later on Aug. 29, tenants were again told that more delays have further pushed back their move-in date, leaving U-M student tenants still unable to live in the apartment complex one day before the first day of classes.
John Harris, principal at Trinitas Ventures, the parent company of The One, told The Michigan Daily in an email Wednesday that The One received nine temporary certificates of occupancy Sept. 8 and had 45 students move into the complex Sept. 9.
Harris didn’t immediately reply to request for comment when asked about the latest tenant open letter to the U-M Dean of Students office or about former and current tenants’ continued concerns.
When speaking about the experience, LSA senior Krystal Webb, a former tenant who terminated her lease yesterday, said she felt stressed with the constant uncertainty of her temporary living situation. She also said she felt that the whole ordeal was taking a negative toll on her mental health.
“I literally lost so much sleep those nights because I didn’t know if they were going to put me in a hotel,” Webb said. “They weren’t telling us. Just recently, I decided I couldn’t do it anymore. It just felt like a game, because I’m sure that they know that the move-in dates couldn’t happen on those days. But they were still giving us false hope.”
Organizers are requesting that the University issue a statement to The One regarding its treatment of U-M students and that the University cut its advertising ties with The One by removing ads for the complex on the off-campus housing website Beyond the Diag.
Conrad Kosowsky, fourth year PhD student and one of the organizers of the letter, said he felt that the University shouldn’t be advertising housing that doesn’t exist.
“I think it’s really bad of the University to be providing a platform for an apartment complex when that complex is treating university students so incredibly poorly.”
They are also asking the University to provide tenants with meal swipes at dining halls. According to the letter, “a representative survey of tenants” showed that over 50% of respondents have skipped meals and/or school-related events to save money.
“It appears that hundreds of students have not yet received their promised stipends from The One and therefore cannot use that money to purchase food,” the letter reads.
Webb said that when she contacted the Dean of Students to obtain meal card swipes for tenants who were living in hotels, she was met with unreasonable options and little support, especially for students given hotels in farther cities.
“‘The One is giving you $50 a day. You can use that,’” Webb said the Dean of Students told her. “But for some people who were out in Canton and Livonia, that’s not really a viable option because they have to use that $50 a day to get to campus.”
Other requests included encouraging faculty to create virtual learning opportunities for students who are commuting to campus or staying in hotels due to their housing displacement, as well as providing alternative transportation resources for tenants. The One has provided a shuttle service to get to campus; however, organizers say the shuttle timing is unreliable.
“The One has offered inconsistent and poorly timed shuttle service to its current tenants, with long, unscheduled wait times and some routes taking well over an hour to arrive on campus,” the letter reads.
Given these and other difficulties, 70% of survey respondents reported that “the emotional distress from the delay will affect their academic performance,” according to the open letter.
“At this difficult time, we need you to advocate for us,” the letter reads. “University students were pressured (78% of respondents); given inadequate information or insufficient time (98% of respondents); and had days when they didn’t know where they would stay (70% of respondents).”
Kosowsky said the University should provide transportation resources like Blue Buses or parking passes for the students who commute 20-30 miles away from campus. So far, Kosowsky said the University hasn’t been helpful with regards to parking.
“One of the students who helped deliver the letter today tried to get a parking pass,” Kosowsky said of a commuter who was ineligible for a parking pass and was unable to get special permission from the parking office. “So now he doesn’t have a great place to park his car when he drives to campus, which he needs to do because the shuttles don’t run frequently.”
The letter currently has 312 signatures, and organizers reported that around 250 tenants have contacted each other on social media to support each other.
Daily Staff Reporters Christian Juliano and Justine Ra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.