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February 23, 1990 - Image 17

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-02-23
Note:
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0

Piles of garbage at
University Towers
Tenants say this is just one of
the reasons they decided to
organize within the building to
voice their complaints to
Evergreen Management.

;
A
9
.. :.:.:

you signed it, but let's arrange a
schedule. If the tenant wants to
schedule the time for some
private reason, then we'll be
happy to."
AATU staff members note that
Campus Rentals' attitude toward
its tenants privacy is also reflected
in its advertising brochures posted
around campus:
"TO SEE AN APARTMENT OR HOUSE
- JUST GO TO THE UNIT AND ASK"
Please be considerate, avoid
early morning hours.
Do not be embarrassed -
the present tenant probably did
the same thing last year or the
year before. Besides the tenant
realizes that the sooner the unit is
rented, the sooner people will
stop knocking at the door.
E If you can't seem to find
anyone home, please contact CRL.
We will arrange for you to see the
unit."
Green says the Tenants Union
and SLs have received complaints
from tenants about privacy
violations by Campus Rentals. On
January 31, they sent a letter to
Campus
Rentals
claiming
that the
lease
clauses are
"uncon-
scionable
and violate.
both the
Michigan
Consumer
Protection
Act and the
Truth in
Renting
Act."
Copies of
the letter
were sent to
the U-M
Housing
Division,,
The Daily,
and the Ann
Arbor News
the Ann
Arbor
Apartment
Association.
According
to Jim
Morris, co-
owner of
s Gruber-
Morris
Management,
Keneth Smoierleeken the
Association
is an organization of property
managers which holds monthly
meetings to discuss matters of
interest to them, and provides
different programs and
educational seminars both for
property managers and for

residents. Members pay dues, and
are expected to conform to the
Association's code of ethics,
which, he says, "speaks to the
issue of fair dealing." Morris says
the Association's Board of
Directors was made aware of the
letter concerning Campus Rentals
last week and "plans to look into
the issue."
Asked whether Jack Stegman,
owner of Campus Rentals, is on
the Association's Board of
Directors, Morris at first could not
recall. After checking, he affirmed
that Stegman was indeed a
member of the Board, but that, of
course, "that would have no
influence on this case."
C AMP US RENTALS,
Modern
Management,
Amvest, Copi, and
the rest of the 20 or
so big local
management companies are
registered with the University
Housing Information Office. In
what it calls a service to students,
Housing Information lists
landlords' names and phone
numbers, and the properties they
have available to rent.
According to Leroy Williams,
Director of Housing Information,
landlords must use a standard
University lease or one approved
by the office in order to register
with the University. Williams says
that the Campus Rentals lease
"has been approved through this
office."
And Solano says he checks with
the University about every
advertising brochure Campus
Rentals distributes, including the
one described above. "They have
to approve everything we
advertise, otherwise they won't
post our listings. I left a note to
Marc Erichson (coordinator of
mediation services) showing him
two different ways to do it, and he
didn't get back to me. This
brochure didn't matter to the
University. The other companies
are doing the same thing and the
University isn't saying anything.
This has been the procedure for
many years."
According to Williams, in
addition to using a University-
approved lease, landlords
registered with University
Housing must agree to rent to
students, not to discriminate, and
to enter into a mediation process
with the Housing Office if a
dispute with a tenant arises.
"If they violate anything
they've agreed to, we will not re-
register them," he claims. He
could remember one such case
occurring "a couple of years ago."
But he would not give the name

of the de-registered company,
explaining that "it's not
important, because the landlord
resolved the conflict, and since
that time we've resumed the
registration."
Erichson says the housing office
has received the letter from the
AATU and sLs, and is aware of the
tenants complaints, but, "We
have no plarfs to de-register
Campus Rentals."
T HIS SORT OF
collaboration between
the University and
private landlords and
management
companies works in
the interest of both parties.
Solano points out that "the
University is receiving a lot of
benefits from all the business
we're doing here. The University
hasn't built any housing for
students for many years. The
private companies are the ones
producing housing for the
students."
The University, in fact, hasn't
built any new student housing
since the construction of Bursley
Hall in 1968. Residence halls are
typically filled to over capacity. As
of January, residence halls had an
occupancy rate of 101.3 percent.
The Housing Division
compensates for the overflow by
"converting" rooms built to be
singles or doubles into doubles or
triples. This year saw 500 such
"conversions."
Though Williams says he has
never denied housing to any
student, the existing University
facilities can only house 30
percent of the student population.
"We guarantee housing to
newly admitted freshmen," he
says, "and we don't deny housing
to students who wish to return."
What they do is deny applicants
specific building or room types.
So when students who want to
live in University housing find
their only choice is a converted
triple on North Campus, many of
them turn to the private market
for alternatives.
Asked whether the University
would be building any more
student housing, Williams said
there is "not a real need for it. If
we had additional spaces, we'd
have students for them," he
maintained, "but by not having it,
we're not denying students
housing. Plus, you look at the
private market, and there's an
abundance of rental properties,
and more being built. Most
students want to live in the
private market."
Jim Morris is quick to agree
with Williams' analysis. Although
the demand for housing has

0
increased in the last few years, he
argues, there has been an
"incredible number of housing
units built" by the private sector
to meet that demand, causing
rents to go down.
The University Housing
Division survey on rental and
vacancy rates for registered units
within walking distance to
campus concurs with Morris.
While the report acknowledges
that "some of the property
owners/managers remain less than
completely customer-oriented," it
claims that "the market is
significantly changed from the
'landlord's market'.... that existed
until only a couple of years ago."
The report apparently draws this
conclusion from the fact that
"there were no double digit
increases [in rent rates]; all
increases were 5% or less."
While it is true that rent
increases on the average are lower
and vacancy rates higher than in
last few years, it's not clear this
should be hailed as a watershed in
landlord-tenant relations.
Asked whether campus
landlords are suffering from the
change in the market, Nicholas
Roumel says, "suffering is a
relative term - they're making
money hand over fist."
Jonathan Rose, a landlord-
tenant lawyer and former director
of Student Legal Services, points
to the immense profits landlords
make simply by owning property.
"What happens is that the
tenant buys the building for the
landlord," he says. "The landlord
takes the rent and pays off his
mortgage with the tenants'
money, and then he owns the
building. And there are tax breaks
and other forms of profit as well."
Private landlords and the
University Administration claim
that the trend toward lower rent
increases and a higher vacancy
rate in the private market also
makes more University-sponsored
student housing unnecessary.
But Rose interprets the lack of
more University-built student
housing differently. "University
officials have more loyalty to their
socioeconomic peers than they do
to their own students. If they'd
constructed 10-20,000 housing
units in the '60s and controlled
the rents, students today would
have affordable housing."
According to Victor Solano of
Campus Rentals, at a meeting of
the Apartment Association in
November, University Director of
Housing Robert Hughes assured
the group of private landlords that
the University had no plans to
build more housing for at least the
next five years. Solano said
Hughes "showed us all the

figure out the logical
intermediary. And then after a
space of some ten, fifteen years,
various historical documents
would come to light that would
indeed be exactly what I had
guessed at. So in our lives there
are always alternatives, but life
picks out of a million possible
variants just one. And because
one gets picked out, you try to
figure out why precisely this
variable. This requires a great
skill and knowledge. This is the
first part that occurs before you
can begin the actual writing. And
then some three, four, five
months later I am writing the
play.
W: Is there, in writing a play
where the characters have
existed, a tremendous pressure
and responsibility to be true to
them which, I assume, doesn't
exist when you are writing about
fictional characters?
S: How shall I tell you? Yes, these
people existed. They had
personalities. They were just
people like us. So when, for
example, an artist paints your
portrait, on the one hand he is
trying to recreate something that
would be accurate to an image of
you, and on the other hand there
is something of himself that gets
included in that painting. And
this is exactly the same process.
Both aspects are interesting. It's
interesting, too, as it were, to
create the historical figure anew,
although it comes from a hundred
thousand million possible actual.

variants. And a part
of it definitely
comes from the
writer. That's why
Flaubert once said,
"Emma, that's
me."You know, in
Madame Bovary.
Madame Bovary,
that's me. So it's
all part of the
creative process.
W: Who are the
international
playwrights that
you admire?
S: I have a very
wide taste, perhaps
you can say
idiosyncratic.
Everything that's
good, that's what I
like. I start reading
it, and if it moves
me, if it enriches
me, and when
there's something
I don't understand
in theatre or in art
that troubles me.
So many times I try to force
myself to appreciate heavy metal.
And I'm sorry, I just can't feel any
sympathy for it, I just don't
resonate with it. And my daughter
goes absolutely mad over it.
W: So who is 'good' then?
S: Well of course, that's the
whole question of art, isn't it? I'll
name three of your playwrights:
Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee
Williams, and Arthur Miller.
Edward Albee is also very
interesting, Neil Simon, Max
Frisch and Heinrich Duremutt,
Bertolt Brecht, George Bernard
Shaw. I could go on for a long
time.
W: What kind of jokes does
Gorbachev tell?
S: He likes to tell anecdotes
about himself, he has a great
sense of humer, and he likes to
make jokes about himself, to
laugh at himself.
W: Can you compare the arts,
before and after Gorbachev?
S: I could say it in one word.
Maybe a few words. Before
Gorbachev, the arts of a
totalitarian regime, for which they
had dreamed up the idiotic term
of "socialist realism," a means to
praise the leadership in forms that
they can understand. That was
the arts before Gorbachev. After
Gorbachev, there is free
development, all sorts of varied
developments and directions,
different artists, and the only
limitation is your own talent.

There isn't censorship anymore
for practical purposes, you can do
anything you want, and you can
no longer blame the censorship if
you can't create a good work.
W: What is it like, to have your
work censored?
S: Well you write this interview,
give it to this gentleman here, he
is in charge of the press at the
university, and he will say this
paragraph is not needed, that
section, no way. And instead of
this, change that around and say
that Shatrov said such and so, and
then feel how you would like to
publish that under your name.
Why doesn't the person give in?
Because he's a human being.
W: Now that you have written
about the same subject quite a
few times, do you feel like you
accomplished what you set out to
do?
S: Well, recently there was a book
that came out in Moscow, in
which were published the letters
about this play of mine, this last
one. For every seven writers that
would write with great admiration

of my play, with great gratitude,
for each seven positive there
would be one that would be
absolutely dreadful. They would
suggest that I should be
incarcerated, and called me all
sorts of nasty names. When you
read such a letter, I get a great
pleasure from that.
W: What do you see yourself
writing about in the future?
S: I want to return once more to a
more in depth look at what
happened in, what I consider to
have been a counter revolution in
the late twenties in Soviet Russia.
The time between the death of
Lenin, from '22 to '29. But this
time I don't want to write it as a
play. I want to write a novel in
dialogue form. So it'll be almost a
dramatic form, and yet it will have
the scope of a novel.
W: If you can imagine yourself as
an American, what do you think
you would write about?
S: It's difficult, I just cannot
imagine myself as an American.
In the most difficult years, when
they did not allow my work to be

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