by the Save Maguire/UVS Team
UF is still trying to bulldoze our homes, but we are not giving up!
Since October, a new online petition has called for the permanent protection of the 348 affordable apartment units of UVS/Maguire Village Graduate and Family Housing at the University of Florida, as UF seeks to demolish them in 2023. (Go to www.change.org/SaveUFGradHousing.)
For a couple years, UF has falsely claimed that these homes have no value or are becoming worn out, but nothing could be further from the truth.
These desirable, peaceful, culturally diverse communities and the 27 acres of trees and serene nature are one of UF’s greatest assets. Protecting these family-friendly villages and incredible green spaces for future generations of Gators is in the best interest of the university and the graduate students who will utilize them for years to come.
Specifically, the petition asks that UF:
1. Immediately reverse the decision to close Maguire/UVS.
2. Open up all apartments there to new residents, investing as necessary to make all units fully safe and habitable.
3. Provide all non-disclosed documents related to the premature closure decision, and conduct a transparent third-party public appraisal to determine their long-term viability and the investment needed to maintain these treasured buildings.
4. Investigate campus housing policies and staff for misrepresentation of facts, which led to the hastily made closure decision, to ensure this never happens again.
According to residents, these are the best apartments in Florida and deserve saving, so it is shameful to think that UF would completely demolish both villages, removing almost 40 percent of all graduate housing without any public (and graduate student) input, but that is indeed the case—but there is still hope.
The UF Board of Trustees, and subcommittees that help make recommendations to them, can still reverse the decision by a simple vote (as they did with the McCarty Woods amendment to the Campus Master Plan in June 2021). This is our immediate request, because the longer they wait, the more stress it puts on students currently living there, and those hoping to move in.
Likewise, the City of Gainesville and Alachua County commissions have a say in the final approval of the updated Campus Development Agreement (CDA) with UF (which includes the revised maps that put Maguire/UVS on the chopping block), so we ask that these bodies DO NOT APPROVE IT without first requiring the removal of that section.
Even asking that UF make grad housing a “priority” is not enough, and actually detrimental, because it gives UF cover to continue with their plans to replace our homes with alternatives that are not wanted.
There is no harm if these commissions simply postpone their final vote until UF complies, because the existing CDA will simply remain in effect. UF has yet to produce a shred of evidence that these changes are absolutely necessary, and in some cases, has outright lied.
It is unclear when it started, but UF has kept many would-be residents from moving in for a couple years, despite the units being safe, clean, and recently renovated. Furthermore, UF Housing leadership has refused to respond to legitimate inquiries into their decision making, and never considered the opinions of graduate students when promoting the closure of these villages (slated for Spring 2023).
These administrators have repeatedly misrepresented facts regarding the quality and benefit of these units, and never fully produced any credible evidence for their closure at this time.
In this way, the people who should be looking out for the well-being of students and advocating against closing our campus housing options are instead fighting against the students who most need protecting.
These pompous administrators have chosen to shirk their responsibilities, causing harm to vulnerable students, and because of that, we demand an investigation into their actions and that those responsible be fired.
Furthermore, the two main reasons given for the destruction of these buildings are both flawed, namely: (1) that they are not economically feasible to maintain, and (2) that putting empty recreation fields in their place will somehow “improve the student experience.”
The second flawed point is easily rebuffed by noting that the UF body representing ALL students (undergrads and grad students, totaling more than 50,000 people) unanimously passed a resolution decrying the destruction of these villages in 2021. Indeed, students see more value in keeping these as homes than in adding a couple more soccer fields (in an area already full of other fields).
No detailed evidence has been provided to justify the first flawed point either, despite numerous inquiries.
As a place of rigorous academic standards, we are asking simply for the housing administration to “show their work.”
In the absence of proof, they have failed the University’s students, staff, faculty, and governing bodies, and should be held accountable. And even if it is shown that it will cost some amount of money to maintain these buildings, we ask that UF make that investment, as is being done with numerous other campus buildings, including new undergraduate dorms.
If UF wishes to attract and maintain top talent, they need to consider undergraduate and graduate students alike. Destroying almost half of grad housing while spending hundreds of millions on new undergrad housing is not a balanced approach.
We would be remiss if we did not also mention that the carbon footprint of the decision to destroy 44 apartment buildings and hundreds of trees would be immense, and could be reason in and of itself to save this ecologically important area.
These spacious villages with large patios and balconies provide a needed respite for graduate students, and we demand they be saved. In no instance should the entire natural area be cleared of all trees, nor should the value or history of these buildings be considered interchangeable with off-campus living.
These are not just buildings, but homes, and if they are lost, a big part of UF’s culture will be lost, as hundreds of families’ lives will be disrupted immediately, and thousands of hearts of former residents broken.
Please help save Maguire/UVS. There is no substitute.
To learn more about the organization behind the petition and this article, visit www.SaveUFGradHousing.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.