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Editorial: University should cater to those they've cheated

By The Wildcat Opinions Board
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
July 19, 2000
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Anyone who knows anything about Christopher City knows it needs to be shut down.

Officials at the University of Arizona have struggled with problems at the pit they call Christopher City for years. Tucson media organizations report the news on the housing community, but the news is that there is no news - just the university victimizing its own residents, just as it had the month before, and the month before that.

People have come forward with several health problems, all allegedly linked to a toxic mold in some Christopher City apartments. One woman coughed up blood and had been in a coma. Another suffered intestinal, stomach and balance problems, and one man said he's suffered health problems since he moved into the complex more than two years ago.

That same man claimed to have pointed out the presence of stachybotrys chartarum - a toxic mold - a year ago.

In addition to the immediate health hazards, the complex's air conditioning chillers were ready to give out and the roofs needed repair, according to Residence Life director Jim Van Arsdel.

Christopher City was, and still is, a miserable place to live. But, unfortunately for some, it is their only place to live - for now.

Some residents can't afford to move, even with the money the UA gave them to compensate, and some simply need more time to find adequate housing.

The University of Arizona has already shelled out $1 million to help residents escape the bad living conditions, but the complex, despite its many, many faults is shockingly still livable. UA Risk Management Director Steve Holland said an extra two months would not cause any more physical harm to residents than what they were already exposed to.

These are two months that some residents desperately need to establish documentation required for leasing an apartment. A few more weeks - coupled with increased funds for residents with special needs - could mean the difference between a brilliant researcher dropping his or her graduate studies for a job bagging groceries and a grad student being able to support a family in a stable home.

The Christopher City complex was appraised for $1.5 million. Why can't the university spend even that much to atone the years of neglect and recent disruption they have dealt the residents of the housing community? Fixing the mold problem alone would have cost the UA $2.5 million. It seems like a bargain for the university to compensate for these families.

It is hard to say that $500,000 more would make any differences. But if there were fairness in this case, the university would be at the beck and call of each and every Christopher City resident.

The university's loss is pure justice for the tribulations their tenants have withstood. Officials weren't paying attention for years, or if they were, they have committed an unscrupulous crime by allowing residents to live under hazardous conditions.

Now it is time to reconcile their immoral decisions by giving residents whatever they need to make a smooth transition into a new home.

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