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Editorial: Sacrifice parking to soothe the Christopher City blues

Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 1, 1999
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Non-traditional and graduate students already struggling with a family or a demanding graduate program often face the additional dilemma of housing. Options are extremely limited here at the University of Arizona, especially when money is tight. To be precise, there is exactly one school-sponsored housing option open to these graduate and nontraditional students, Christopher City. This option features perks such as moldy carpeting, roaches and serious maintenance problems.

Regarding the conditions at Christopher City, Residence Life Director James Van Arsdale has stated, "We cannot afford to support an aggressive clean-up program in inexpensive apartments."

In other words, tough luck for current residents of Christopher City.

Happily though, plans are moving forward to decommission the existing Christopher City location and construct a large apartment-style facility for 150 families. Two locations are being considered for the building, and both have serious problems. The first is a parking lot on North Park Ave. that is already owned by the Tucson Unified School District. The other is the parking lot just north of Coronado, which is one of the largest Zone 1 surface lots.

Assuming that negotiations with TUSD fall through, the university faces a tough decision. At a school where parking is already stretched impossibly thin, can we afford to lose a large number of parking spots to house students with families?

The answer is yes.

Our university has made a commitment to these families and graduate students with the construction of the Christopher City facility and must remain faithful. The inconvenience of searching for a parking spot seems trivial compared to a family struggling for an education in a virtual slum.

The very different types of students - graduate students and students with families - who live in Christopher City does complicate the issue. Graduate students require a quiet, safe haven to pursue their advanced studies and families need a safe place to raise a family, including noisy children.

A better solution, assuming that large amounts of money are going to be used in the construction of the 150-unit facility, would be to assess the numbers of each subpopulation and perhaps build two different facilities. For the grad students, an on-campus dorm would make sense and for students with families, an apartment complex would be more appropriate. It seems plausible that a two-tiered solution can be reached, either by segregating the proposed complex or renovating an on-campus dorm for the graduate students.

Either way, better living accommodations need to be made, and the university must endeavor to complete this project with uncharacteristic speed. To magnanimously offer inexpensive housing to special groups, and then condemn them to a virtual slum is not only unfair, it is inhumane.

So whether we lose some parking spots or not, let's hope that the university can follow through on its good intentions.