AATU needs funding to assist ‘U’ with housing

To the Daily:

I want to applaud the current Michigan Student Assembly’s recent efforts to improve housing conditions for students in Ann Arbor. But there are a few sides of this issue that have been overlooked by the Daily’s recent coverage of the housing efforts put forth by MSA. Most important is the current strength of the Ann Arbor Tenants Union, which has managed to serve every single student who has requested service since October.

Last summer, we were evicted from our office in the Michigan Union by the Office Space Allocation Committee. At about the same time, administration decided not to present to the University Board of Regents the results of the ballot proposal in March in which students elected to add $1 per semester to their student fee to go to the AATU for tenant services.

Despite these setbacks, the AATU has only become stronger. We have a new office in Trotter House (a fantastic facility) and service students via e-mail, phone and face-to-face counseling.

In the recent Daily article Housing taskforce created by MSA (01/24/03), the MSA executives suggest that the AATU has struggled in the past due to its obligation to non-students and inconsistent membership. That is not true.

Most of our struggles have come from inconsistent funding from MSA and other conflicts with the University (like being evicted from our office in the Union).

While I hope that Student Legal Services and the MSA taskforce will make great strides for tenant services, students should know that the AATU will be there, just like we have for almost 40 years, to provide services. The answer to the problem of student counseling is simple: Just give the AATU the money that students elected to give. Why re-invent the wheel? With a proper budget, the AATU can much more efficiently and effectively reduce the perils of renting in Ann Arbor than any taskforce MSA can create.

Christopher Sheehan

Law student

AATU Board President

University should extend MLK holiday to staff

To the Daily:

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is celebrated in full force at the University, with an incredible mix of inspirational and reflective events. I am really impressed by the campus-wide recognition of our great leader. However, one aspect about the way that we celebrate this day at the University bothers me. While students and faculty have the choice to spend the day celebrating as they wish, the University does not recognize this day as a holiday for staff.

With so many events underway that day, and the campus so alive, I can understand the University’s desire to keep offices open. However, when we celebrate a man who gave his life for equality, there is something wrong about declaring a holiday for some and a regular workday for others. University staff should have the same opportunity that I did to attend the University’s MLK Day events on MLK Day or to celebrate the holiday with their families.

Amy Morgan-Foster

Rackham

Daily editorial misrepresented RHA; student input was key in residence hall smoking ban

To the Daily:

While the Daily’s editorial, Smoked out (01/22/03), does raise some concerns that were already addressed in our Residence Halls Association meetings, we would like to draw attention to some inaccuracies that were raised.

This controversial decision was reached after two years of deliberation and five different resolutions. A lot of thought was put behind this issue, as well as a lot of student input. Last year, our assembly consisted of over 30 residents from the 17 residence halls on campus. Representatives brought input from their respective hall and multicultural councils regarding the smoking issue before it was even voted on. Contrary to what the Daily believes, we considered student input to be our highest concern.

RHA did address alternatives to going smoke free. One solution sought to segregate smokers onto one floor in one residence hall, while another idea called for the gradual depletion of smoking rooms. Both of these alternatives were included in resolutions that did not pass. All things said and done, the well-informed assembly voted for what their residents wanted.

The Daily did mention that smoking is a fire hazard, and offered a solution: sprinklers. South Quadrangle is, in fact, getting sprinklers this summer. Even with sprinklers, smoking is still a threat to the integrity of any building.

Sprinklers are installed in the hopes that they will never need to be used, as they cause a great deal of damage themselves, not only to University property, but the private property of the students that live in those rooms. The University would like to prevent fires, not concentrate on putting them out.

The Daily also said that the University has “overstepped its bounds and infringed on the rights of its students.” We would like to remind the Daily that the University does not require any student to live in the residence halls – not even first-year students. They may practice their right to smoke in another place of residence. As far as “standing outside in the bitter cold of Michigan winter for even the little time it takes to smoke a cigarette can be unbearable,” we wonder if the Daily is considering the fact that students, smokers and non-smokers alike, must bear that awful Michigan winter to walk to class every day.

RHA was formed to lobby for the interests of student residents. Our collective decision to support going smoke-free was not a “colorful spin campaign” nor was it party politics. Should a resident feel that his or her voice is not being represented, we invite that resident to come speak during our constituents’ time, where we take comments very seriously.

Tim Winslow

RHA President

Amy Keller

RHA Executive Vice President

Kressbach’s cartoon ‘slander against American people’

To the Daily:

Karl Kressbach’s cartoon Untied Nation, (01/24/03) was a travesty. Is this his picture of the American population? That it is too fat, contented and lazy to do anything? That there is no hope in getting the American people to stand up and oppose the imperialist policy of the American government?

Sadly, this is a conception – as wrong as it is pessimistic – that is shared by many University students. It demonstrates an ignorance of the real economic and social conditions faced by the majority of the American population which are not as all as Kressbach would have us believe.

The majority of the American population is facing increasing economic hardship, unemployment and political repression. Only by connecting opposition to war to opposition to these increasingly desperate social conditions is there any possibility of building a successful movement against war. Kressbach’s elitist attitude is entirely wrong, and moreover it is not at all progressive. It is a slander against the American people.

Joseph Tanniru

LSA senior

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