Protect the Homes and Habitat of Historic Maguire/UVS Villages: Stop the Demolition!
University Village South (a.k.a. UVS) and Maguire Village are sought-after, livable communities featuring 44 two-story brick buildings interlaced between ample amenities and natural beauty on the southwest part of UF’s campus in Gainesville, FL. Since they were built in the 1970s, these villages have produced some of the most successful and award-winning graduate students UF has ever had. Many current and former students thank the affordability, proximity, and peace of mind these villages give for their personal and career success. It is shameful to think that UF would completely demolish both villages, removing almost 40% of all graduate housing without any public (and graduate student) input, but that is indeed the case — but there is still hope.
The UF Board of Trustees, and subcommittees which help make recommendations to them, can still reverse the decision by a simple vote (as they did with the McCarty Woods amendment to the Campus Master Plan in June 2021). This is our immediate request, because the longer they wait, the more stress it puts on students currently living there, and those hoping to move in.
It is unclear when it started, but UF has kept many would-be residents from moving in for a couple years, despite the units being safe, clean, and recently renovated. Furthermore, UF Housing leadership has refused to respond to legitimate inquiries into their decision making, and never considered the opinions of graduate students when promoting the closure of these villages (slated for Spring 2023). These administrators have repeatedly misrepresented facts regarding the quality and benefit of these units, and never fully produced any credible evidence for their closure at this time. In this way, the people most responsible for looking out for the well-being of students who should be advocating against closing our campus housing options are instead fighting against the students who most need protecting. These administrators have chosen to shirk their responsibilities, possibly out of hubris and possibly out of greed, but in any case have caused harm to vulnerable students, and because of that, we demand an investigation into their actions, and that appropriate disciplinary actions be taken.
Furthermore, the two main reasons given for the destruction of these buildings are both flawed, namely: 1) that they are not economically feasible to maintain, and 2) that putting empty recreation fields in their place will somehow “improve the student experience.”
The second flawed point is easily rebuffed by noting that the UF body representing ALL students (undergrads and grads, totaling more than 50,000 people) unanimously passed a resolution decrying the destruction of these villages in 2021. Indeed, students see more value in keeping these as homes than in adding a couple more soccer fields (in an area already full of other fields).
No detailed evidence has been provided to justify the first flawed point either, despite numerous inquiries. As a place of rigorous academic standards, we are asking simply for the housing administration to “show their work.” In the absence of proof, they have failed the University’s students, staff, faculty, and governing bodies, and should be held accountable. And even if it is shown that it will cost some amount of money to maintain these buildings, we ask that UF make that investment, as is being done with numerous other campus buildings, including new undergraduate dorms.
If UF wishes to attract and maintain top talent, they need to consider undergraduate and graduate students alike. Destroying almost half of grad housing while spending hundreds of millions on new undergrad housing is not a balanced approach.
Additionally, since 2020, UF Housing has secretly used dozens of the artificially vacant apartments as Covid quarantine spaces, without notifying neighboring residents and families. There has been no transparency with this process; however, in light of the pandemic, it has become even more obvious that ample spacing of dorms is indeed preferred to a “condensed” approach, and Maguire/UVS may prove to be necessary should UF need such locations over the next few years. This is yet another reason why the analysis of their removal, which took place before the pandemic, needs to be revisited, and the decision to destroy them immediately undone.
Lastly, it should be mentioned that Maguire Village and UVS are home to roughly 70% international students, many of which would not have been able to attend the University without on-campus housing. Many do not have driver’s licenses, let alone cars, and many have their spouse, children, or elderly adults living with them.
These spacious villages with large patios and balconies provide a needed respite for graduate students, and we demand they be saved. In no instance should the entire natural area be cleared of all trees, nor should the value or history of these buildings be considered interchangeable with off-campus living. These are not just buildings, but homes, and if they are lost, a big part of UF’s culture will be lost, as hundreds of families’ lives will be disrupted immediately, and thousands of hearts of former residents broken.
UF — please reverse your decision to close them immediately, let new grad students move in, and reinvest in your graduate students’ future.
The above link will take you to Change.org so you can sign the petition and help the cause!
We call upon friends of the Gator Nation to support the immediate reopening of the 348 affordable apartment units at UVS/Maguire Village Graduate & Family Housing at the University of Florida, as well as reversal of the administration’s plans to demolish them in 2023. These desirable, peaceful, culturally-diverse communities and the 27 acres of trees and serene nature found there are one of UF’s greatest assets. Protecting these family-friendly villages and incredible green spaces for future generations of Gators is in the best interest of the University and the graduate students who will utilize them for years to come.
In summary, we are asking that UF:
1. Immediately reverse the decision to close Maguire/UVS,
2. Open up all apartments there to new residents, investing as necessary to make all units fully safe and habitable,
3. Provide all non-disclosed documents related to the premature closure decision, and conduct a transparent third-party public appraisal to determine their long-term viability and the investment needed to maintain these treasured buildings, and
4. Investigate campus housing policies and possible misrepresentation of facts, which led to the hastily-made closure decision, to ensure this never happens again.
These are the best apartments in Gainesville, and deserve saving!
Visit our website SaveUFGradHousing.com to learn more. Thank you.
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