by Save UF Grad Housing
It perhaps was overshadowed by all of the other crises UF is facing, but at December’s UF Board of Trustees meeting, several graduate representatives spoke out against the awful plan to destroy Maguire/UVS graduate-family housing. Despite this, UF officials are still ignoring the ultimate request—not to “replace” our wonderful apartments with others off campus, but to reinvest in what we have and maintain Maguire/UVS for years to come!
On the local governing front, to all of those concerned citizens out there who wrote, called, or showed up to recent Gainesville City and Alachua County Commission meetings and expressed opposition to UF’s terrible Campus Development Agreement proposal, we thank you. Unfortunately, despite all the comments against the harmful plan, which calls for complete destruction of an international community of vulnerable graduate students and the 27 acres of trees and historic brick buildings known as Maguire Village and UVS, the councils still voted (after some postponing and bad advice from staffers) to ultimately approve UF’s plan. This was a huge disappointment, especially because UF officials continued to lie and provide only vague, empty promises to get approval, but our fight for economic justice and human rights is far from over.
This spring semester, we are looking to expand our push to get UF to change its plan by mounting external pressure and making this a national issue. To do so, we need volunteers who are artists, journalists, social media experts, or community organizers to help us create eye-catching work that will bring more attention to our plight. We also need experts in fundraising and petitioning. If you think you can help, please contact SaveUFGradHousing@gmail.com to join our efforts.
Not to mince words or overexaggerate, we truly feel that these homes, these places of significant history and love and peace, qualify as one of the greatest accomplishments that humankind has ever produced. Where else on Earth are so many people of varied religious, economic, and ethnic backgrounds able to live together peacefully in the name of advancing knowledge for our species (i.e., grad school)? Where else can these students, many who are half a world away from their families, have the peace of mind, security, and beautiful bosky setting to work and study? Even if there are other such places, why would we choose to destroy this one?
The only “reason” UF has been able to give so far is that the buildings need work and that UF is unwilling to pay. Well, UF has yet to produce any such evidence, and residents can tell you that they are fine enough as they are. Furthermore, there are 44 different apartment buildings, so it is impossible that they all simultaneously need to come down due to falsified maintenance issues. To do so would be a disaster economically for UF and the future residents who could have used that affordable, on-campus space, and we demand that UF invest as needed to keep them functional.
At the moment, UF is also continuing with the unjust policy of preventing new residents from moving in, despite the final closure date being slated for the end of Spring 2023, more than a year away. Today, more than 70 percent of the apartments are artificially empty, with no transparency as to why, and we believe keeping that cruel policy in place is a criminal offense. We believe nearly all of the leadership at UF’s Department of Housing have got to go, for this and other repeated mistreatment of students.
As was said at the local governmental meetings, there is not, and never can be, a substitute for Maguire/UVS. They are the best apartments in Gainesville for grad students by far, and although they are also considered “affordable,” that does not mean they are slums. They have much left to give to future generations, and we need that message of preservation to get through. UF, its graduate students, and the local population cannot “afford” to take a 348-unit loss to its “affordable” housing inventory. Please Save Maguire Village and University Village South, and visit SaveUFGradHousing.com to learn more and to sign our petition.