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September 08, 1994 - Image 28

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The Michigan Daily, 1994-09-08

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Page 8B

THE MICHIGAN DAILY NEW STUDENTEDITION PERSPECTIVES THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 1994

9

Ann Arbor Tenants Union
A2 Tenants
Union: 'Don't let
anyone fool you'

Speak Out
Speakers and protestors regularly gather on the Diag to address the injustices
pervading the world.
You and 40,000 others are reading this
(impressive, isn't it?)
HUMANE SOCIETYOAF HURON VALLEY

By PATTRICE MAURER v
The Ann Arbor Tenants UnionH
(AATU) has three warnings and ane
invitation for you. Don't let landlordsp
fool you.-t
Within months of your arrival one
campus, landlords will start pressur-n
ing you to sign a lease for the nextd
year. If you're like most students, the
first lease you sign will also be the t
first contract you sign. If you're like t
most students, you are not particu-n
larly familiar with
your rights as a ten-
ant or with the Ann
Arbor housing mar- It is in the
ket. And, if you're administra
like most students,
you are not yet used best intere
to negotiating with provide as
adults as equals and
are likely to see a possible f
landlord as an au-
thority figure rather a price as
than as a person try-
ing to make money by selling you A
something. Landlords know all of this t
and will use these and other consider-h
ations to try to get you to make agree-o
ments that are not in your best interests.
The most common ways that land-u
lords mislead students include secu-l
rity deposit fraud and illegal lease b
clauses (including punitive late fees,f
fictitious "discounts," and the ever-
popular cleaning deposit). Failure to
perform necessary repairs, invasions
of privacy and inadequate heat/weath-t
erization are other common problemst
suffered by student tenants.R
The good news is that you cana
protect yourself. Since 1968, AATUF
has been working to improve housing
conditions in Ann Arbor and increase
tenants' rights. The result is a set ofp
strong housing codes and pro-tenant
laws that are there to protect you.'
AATU provides tenant services that
are free to you as a student.
Don't Let the 'U' Fool You
For as long as you live in a dormp
or other University housing, the Uni-
versity is your landlord. Despite the
University's repeated protestations,h
the attorney general has held thatv
the University must follow all statee
health and safety codes - includ-
ing the housing code. That means
that most of the rights and remedies
available to other tenants are also0
available to you.p
Of course, University administra-
tors would prefer for you not to knowi
that. In fact, they would prefer for yout
not to think of them as "landlords" at
all. Administrators prefer to portrayf
themselves as substitute parents who,
out of the kindness of their hearts, doe
what's best for you.
In fact, while many individual ad-
ministrators are themselves nice r
people, the administrative system is
not set up to serve the needs of stu-
dents. Students are simply consumers0
of services (housing, education, etc.)p
that the University provides - for ap
price. It is in the administration's besta
interest to provide as little as possible
for as high a price as possible. Howu
else are they going to afford salariesb
like Vice President for Student Af-i
fairs Maureen A. Hartford's annual
take of $134,400?h
It is also in the University's best
interest to maintain good relations

i
E
i

with the local business community.
Here, again, students lose out. For
example, the University's Off-Cam-
pus Housing Office, which pretends
o be a service for students, in fact.
exists primarily to help landlords make
more money by renting to docile stu-
dent tenants.
AATU has campaigned to force 9
he University to be more responsible
to the students it does house and to be
more accountable for its effect on the
local housing
market. Not sur-
prisingly. the
University has
ation's often struck
back against the
est to AATU, at one
S little as point going so
far as to threaten
or as high academic sane-.
- Lions against
possible. students in-
volved in
AATU actions. Lately, administra-,
ors have abandoned such heavy-
handed forms of repression in favor,
of more subtle and secretive suppres-
sion. For example, Hartford recently *
used her considerable influence to
lobby the Michigan Student Assem-
bly (the student government) to stop;
funding the AATU.
Don't Let MSA Fool You
One would think that a student
government would resist such at-
tempts at control by the administra-.5
tion. But, members of the dominant
Michigan Party seem to have eagerly.
accepted these suggestions from
Hartford's office. The reward? Schol-
arships for MSA officers.
But, perhaps we shouldn't be sur-
prised by this, Over the years, the as-.
sembly has become less representative
of the whole of the student body as.
fewer students vote in MSA elections.
This would not matter much except
that MSA does have one significant
piece of power - the authority to dis-
tribute student fee money.
Even though fewer students vote in
MSA elections than use AATU ser-
vices, the current MSA officers plan to
end the decade-long practice of fund-
ing AATU services to students.
They plan to do this even though'.
the students who approved the amount
of the current student fee clearly ex-
pectedthat part ofitwouldgotoAATU.
And how will they spend the money
instead? We can look at their past ac-
tions for a clue.
Last summer, they bought new
furniture for their own offices. Then''
they bought expensive new comput- -
ers for MSA use. This summer
they're putting new carpet into their
offices. Maybe an executive dining
room is next. -r.
An Invitation ,
We invite you to stop by our office'
on the fourth floor in the Union and
pick up a tenants' rights information
packet. AATU services are free to you
as a student ... for now.
Also, get involved in AATU. Vol-
unteers and workstudy students are a
big part of everything the AATU does,''
including tenant counseling, newslet-
ter writing, radio show production and
legislative research.
-Maurer is head of AA TU

s
0
0
CHERR IILI,
IIDI XiOR()

COME HANG OUT WITH
THE ANIMALS...
WALK THE DOGS
-VOLUNTEER FOR TH E
S SHELTER
-ADOPT AN ANIMAL
-ON CAMPUS ORIENTATION
x FOR VOLUNTEERS

i

I-

HUMANE
662-5585 SOCIETY
3100 CHERRY HILL ROA HURON
ANN ARBOR, MI 48105 VALLEY*

(.R' ' NRI

2#wohv..
14rOt

Work-Study and

I

_. ':; y

Academic Credit,
Volunteer Positions available
Call 764-2547 for details.

mmmmmmw

ii

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40
"

I

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i
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i.. , t

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN MEDICAL. CENTER
VOLUNTERS E
3
.5' -h

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