University Terrace Apartments residents were informed Thursday that UM System President Elson Floyd’s request to extend the relocation deadline from December 2006 to June 2007 was accepted by UM Health Care CEO Jim Ross.
The decision was made after campus administrators heard the appeals of Terrace residents at a Tuesday night meeting. In a letter sent to tenants, Cathy Scroggs, MU vice chancellor of student affairs, said the extension was granted to prevent children living in the complex from having to change schools in the middle of the academic year.
“The president was very sensitive to the timing of the move and the negative effect it would have had on us,” Terrace resident Annamaria Csizmadia said. “The hospital was also very accommodating.”
After learning April 21 that Terrace residents would have to find alternative housing by December, many of them felt scared and ambushed, Csizmadia said. Many residents don’t have the time to find alternative housing or the money saved up to pay the moving costs, she said.
The apartments, which are to be demolished in preparation for University Hospital’s expansion, are home to 246 people. Plans for expansion include tearing down the existing hospital parking garage to construct a surgical tower and patient care facility. This means a replacement parking garage would need to be built where University Terrace Apartments are located.
Because of the extension, Frankie Minor, director of Residential Life, also informed the advisory board that there will be enough vacancies in the other three on-campus apartment complexes — University Place, University Heights and Manor House — to accommodate all displaced residents. As of now, Residential Life is not allowing new applications for any of the complexes in order to provide as many vacancies as possible. There may even be enough room to offer new contracts, Minor said.
Although she described the time extension as a victory, Csizmadia said it is only the first step. The university needs to preserve the international and family communities at MU, she said.
International students hear of these apartment complexes before they even come to the United States, resident Peter Chege said. “The type of community that is created is very important for them because they don’t have families here,” he said. “It creates a supportive environment where they can learn and interact.”
Even though resident Yujiang Fang said the time extension is helpful, he doesn’t think it addresses the long-term issues at stake.
“Although we could say that the time extension is progress, it is not our aim,” he said. “Our aim is to save Terrace for (incoming) students. It is unfair to them.”