Students experiencing problems with their landlords may soon find one less ally to help them with their struggles. The Ann Arbor Tenants Union demanded the remainder of its $20,000 Fall 2002 funding from the Michigan Student Assembly on Feb. 7, threatening to discontinue its services if the assembly does not pay the funds in full by Friday.

The AATU is also concerned with MSA’s continued reluctance to negotiate a contract for Winter 2003. AATU Executive Director Amy Ament said MSA has refused to offer the funding entitled to AATU despite the dependent organization’s completion of its contract requirements. She added that AATU continues to advise students in expectation that MSA will eventually supply compensation.

“We have fulfilled every part of the contract and they have not fulfilled their part,” she said. “We continue to serve in a good-faith effort. And now they have stalled negotations with the service contract for Winter 2003.”

Joe Bernstein, MSA student general counsel, said the assembly has not given AATU its entire funding for Fall 2002 because the group has not spent the money it has already been given. He added that MSA is under no contractual obligation to pay the money by a certain deadline.

Because the contract for the fall term will not expire until all the money is paid to AATU, the assembly does not need to write a new contract, Bernstein said, disputing Ament’s claim that the contract has already expired.

While AATU has not decided on a definite response if MSA refuses to offer the funding, it has yet to dismiss the possibility of legal action, AATU board member Nicholas Roumel said. “We hope that (a lawsuit) won’t be necessary,” he said. “We’re currently exploring all of our options.”

Roumel said MSA’s recent refusal to cooperate with AATU comes after a long history of antagonism between the two organizations since the early ’90s. He noted that MSA had once established that 5 to 10 percent of its funding would go to AATU in its by-laws, although in recent years that amount has dwindled to 4 to 5 percent.

MSA President Sarah Boot said her organization has already paid AATU $15,000 of its funding for Fall 2002 and will offer the remaining money if AATU continues to press for it, but completion of payment would sever the ties between the organizations. Boot said she has made no plans to renew MSA’s contract with AATU unless the group presents a specific plan for how they will spend the money.

“If they want (the money) that badly, they can have it” by the Friday deadline, she said. “The problem is that expires their contract with us.”

Bernstein said MSA is hesitant to continue funding AATU because the organization has not managed its money appropriately.

He said the group has maintained the same level of services, aiding 45 students per year, in the past term despite the drop in funds from $50,000 to $20,000.

Bernstein added that additional funding for AATU has little purpose because the same services can be received for free at Student Legal Services.

“Last year it cost $103 for AATU to talk to a student,” he said. “This year it’s $65. Student Legal Services can provide the same thing better and for free.”

Roumel said although SLS provides exemplary services for students, AATU can advise students with smaller problems much more quickly.

“It’s like telling someone with minor cuts and bruises to go to the hospital,” he said.

5 percent.

MSA President Sarah Boot said her organization has already paid AATU $15,000 of its funding for Fall 2002 and will offer the remaining money if AATU continues to press for it, but completion of payment would sever the ties between the organizations. Boot said she has made no plans to renew MSA’s contract with AATU unless the group presents a specific plan for how they will spend the money.

“If they want (the money) that badly, they can have it” by the Friday deadline, she said. “The problem is that expires their contract with us.”

Bernstein said MSA is hesitant to continue funding AATU because the organization has not managed its money appropriately.

He said the group has maintained the same level of services, aiding 45 students per year in the past term, despite the drop in funds from $50,000 to $20,000.

Bernstein added that additional funding for AATU has little purpose because the same services can be received for free at Student Legal Services.

“Last year it cost $103 for AATU to talk to a student,” he said. “This year it’s $65. Student Legal Services can provide the same thing better and for free.”

Roumel said although SLS provides exemplary services for students, AATU can advise students with smaller problems much more quickly.

“It’s like telling someone with minor cuts and bruises to go to the hospital,” he said..

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