Letters to the Editor

Trailer Park Worth Fighting For

Every day many of us worry about what will happen to each one of the 100 students living in Irvine Meadows West, UCI’s trailer park. Some passersby might ask, what are 100 students in the scheme of things? But to me, they’re people I’ve come to know and admire and who have become my peers in an arduous uphill struggle, and I can’t stand the thought of each of them going through these devastating life choices due to UCI’s horrific eviction policies. Many of the students are low-income, so honestly I don’t know whether they will be able to all continue attending UCI or whether they will even have housing after July 31, 2004.
While many are offered unaffordable on-campus housing, many with pets, roommates or who are post-doctoral students, have been refused.
I think this very notion that young people are just disposable and displaceable is unconscionable, but it’s exactly what Vice Chancellor Manuel Gomez must have in mind.
When the administration’s best argument is, to paraphrase, ‘Well, we had a contract and everyone acknowledged they were being evicted en masse,’ then you know maybe it’s time to reevaluate your policy.
Of course, part of that agreement was that UCI would search for an alternative location for the park. We were enlightened in recent weeks that this search has yet to occur although administrators told CBS and other news stations that a study had been concluded in 1999. UCI has been telling students and community members that they’d found no space available, but according to recent documents and interviews, they never looked. It’s a troubling shift that apparently no administrator wants to talk about.
And I know that the majority of the 30,000 students at UCI are struggling in varying degrees to pay for rent and other costs of living. This advocacy effort has always tried to bring awareness of the attacks on all diverse working-class students to the forefront of community debate.
Federal housing affordability standards state that you should pay no more than 30 percent of your income per month on housing. If you’re a UCI student depending on financial aid, that’s about $300 a month.
So it’s not fair what most students are paying to live for not just off-campus housing in the priciest housing market in the nation, but on-campus in Palo Verde, Vista del Campo and many units in Verano Place.
The UC Regents Mission Statement promises socioeconomic diversity and equal access to education, but UCI is making it more and more impossible for low-income students to live here, as if the implicit assumption is you must be rich to come to school here, didn’t you get the memo?
Why must it be a race to the bottom with UCI? Our rental rates are getting higher and higher every year, with another 8 percent hike for 2004. Not to mention costs of fees, books, tuition, medical care and even food