Feb 132007

Dear Editor –

A story in the New York Times about unsafe off-campus living conditions at many universities made me reminisce on my days at CSU so I searched CSU’s website for “off-campus housing.” I came across the “Final Report of the Alcohol Task Force” on the CSU president’s webpage, which has the recommendation:

“Strengthen the partnership between Colorado State University and the City of Fort Collins in addressing off-campus housing issues related to student behavior.”

I thought of all of the problems that I had with slum lords while at CSU and the complete lack of support the administration gives students in fighting many of the rampant housing code violations and various other illegal actions by landlords in Fort Collins and wondered why that had not been raised as an issue of equal standing. The administration readily portrays students as a bunch of drunken louts and misfits and supports any politician or reporter’s claims to that effect publicly but has failed to take issue with illegal acts against students. (Like the CU/CSU football game in Denver where the Denver police stopped the “riot” by macing the band and the parent’s section…) I’ve argued with landlords to get them to fix broken door locks. My brother and many of my friends lived in places which should have been condemned – where it rained inside or one got electrocuted when plugging in appliances, or water leaks onto light fixtures that were left unfinished. I even got a surprise last year when checking my credit report and found that an undelivered, unpaid bill in my brother’s name was reported to a collection agency under my name by the City of Fort Collins (without telling me, which is illegal) who reported it to the credit agencies.

The administration does not publicly decry the abusive rental housing environment in Fort Collins or pressure the City of Fort Collins to investigate claims of code violations or illegal acts by landlords or certain notoriously villainous property management companies. I will grant that many CSU students drink too much and drink recklessly, not a problem unique to CSU. Most of these students, however, are not breaking any laws by doing it, a point which should not be lost on the administration. It is perfectly legal to drink oneself into a stupor. And after all, it’s a more reliable way to stay warm in the winter than the insulation in some rental housing around town.

Christine Nattrass

2003 graduate

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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