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UO students protest after university declines to renew leases

University of Oregon graduate students are pushing back after learning housing officials will not allow all students at the Graduate Village apartments to renew their leases.

Posted: May 24, 2021 11:28 AM
Updated: May 24, 2021 11:31 AM

EUGENE, Ore. -- University of Oregon graduate students are pushing back after learning housing officials will not allow all students at the Graduate Village apartments to renew their leases.

In an email to students on Friday, UO housing wrote:

"At the guidance of health authorities and the state, we set aside entire sections of our on-campus residential buildings for isolation (for positive cases) or quarantine (for contacts) should that become necessary for those students living in the residence halls. In order to make this adjustment, our overall capacity for residents in Graduate Village will be reduced. Unfortunately, we will not be able to renew your Graduate Village contract for the upcoming 2021–22 academic year."

In response, dozens of students held a protest Monday morning outside Johnson Hall. Some students held signs, carried suitcases and chanted phrases critical of University President Michael Schill.

“I was furious. I thought it was sick to send that out so late in the term. People have such limited options and we don’t know where we’re going to go. It seems like it was a conscious decision,” said William Sullivan, a first-year graduate student studying public administration.

RELATED: GRADUATE VILLAGE RESIDENTS AT UO HOUSING SAY THEY ARE GETTING FORCED OUT

The university told 72 residents of Graduate Village that one of the two buildings would not be available come fall. For students like Carmen Ebel, it leaves little time to find a place to go.

“Housing is expensive in Eugene,” Ebel said. “I've been looking for alternative options, and they are at least $100 per month more, which is a lot on a graduate student budget.”

In the email to students, UO said it will prioritize lease renewals for students who are closest to graduation. UO will also help find other university housing options for those who are not selected to renew their lease at Graduate Village. 

"We anticipate all but a handful of the current graduate and law students will be able to renew their contracts and continue to live in Graduate Village," said UO spokesperson Kay Jarvis. "The UO is committed to helping find other university housing options such as family housing and university apartments for any of the students who may need to move."

But for many students, it's not enough.

“We want this reversed. We want to be able to keep our units. If not, we need a guaranteed place to go if they’re going to kick us out at this last minute without any plans for us,” Ebel said.

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