To make room for a central kitchen, UO has to tear down graduate housing

The University of Oregon sets out to accomodate students to the best of its ability, but sometimes when it helps one group of students, it adds a burden to another.

The UO plans on demolishing a dozen cottages located on the east side of campus so that it can build an $8.5 million central kitchen that will be more efficient and have more storage for food over the summer.

“Right now we’re in the center of campus,” said Tom Driscoll, the associate director of housing and director of food services. “It’s nice, except our trucks have trouble getting to the dorms because of all of the foot traffic along the way. We want to be close, but not in the heart of campus.”

But for the sake of location and space, the UO has to uproot students and families in order to start on the project.

“They gave us reliable and affordable housing,” David Ozog said, a graduate student in computer and information science, and a resident in one of the cottages. “I’m just really surprised and confused as to why they should replace such a good thing.”

University Housing is helping cottage residents by relocating them to the new Agate Apartments, but the move comes with a price.

“Fortunately, the new apartments are close, but they cost about $200 more in rent, and it’s less square footage,” Ozog said. “I still consider myself kind of lucky because I’m a single guy living with myself. Some of my neighbors have spouses and newborn kids.”

Justin Pack, his wife and his 2-year-old son are just the type of family Ozog is talking about. Pack is a graduate student at the UO and a GTF in the philosophy department.

“To some, these cottages might be a bit of an eyesore, but they enabled us to live close to campus with a single source of income,” Pack said. “There are 12 units here and they are the cheapest available family units the University owned. The decision to knock down these units must not have thought the existent of cheap family units very important.”

According to Driscoll, the new kitchen plans will be ready by December 2014, and even though Pack is disappointed by the situation, he and his wife were planning to move eventually if they decided to have a second child while he’s in school.

“I wish it was a priority for the University to keep such places around,” Pack said. “The low income houses could have just happened to be in the best or easiest location. But I suspect low income housing just isn’t very profitable or of a high priority.”

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