Leave student co-op alone

Published: Saturday, April 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 31, 2006 at 10:16 p.m.
Some of us couldn't have gotten through UF without the benefit of low-cost co-op living. Please don't shut it down.
In response to The Sun's stories about the University of Florida and the Cooperative Living Organization: Those who are attempting to destroy this venerable organization have cited some fire-code violations as their reason. But one has only to read on a little further to discover that this property is worth close to $1 million, and therein may lie the real problem.
Sun reporter Jack Stripling points out that many of the people who reside at the CLO while attending the University of Florida are there because of financial needs. This point strikes a resonant chord in my heart, as I attended the University of Florida (graduated 1957) and while there, resided at the CLO.
I could not have stayed in school without it, and even then it was hard. I recall the monthly cost got all the way up to $40, but that included 3 meals a day, as it does now. True, it was only toast and coffee for breakfast, but lunch and supper were good meals and we all thrived on it.
Now we have some high-and-mighty types who are telling us they want to shut it down and to hell with folks who can only get a degree if they live there. Of course, UF President Bernie Machen doesn't have any worries about where he will stay, and I'll bet the clowns he's got ramrodding this land-grab make enough money that they don't either.
The Sun reported that "UF's general council's office successfully petitioned an Alachua County Circuit Court judge to name the university as the CLO's trustee by court order." The CLO's attorney said they were not given "any notice" of the legal petition and that "we believe we have every right to be given notice to contest their petition. We've told them all along that we question their authority."
As to fire-code violations, I dare say a properly motivated fire inspector could find violations just about anywhere he wanted to look, especially "housekeeping violations." There's no way to know for sure, of course, but it seems to me like there would be a pretty good possibility that whoever told these people it would cost upwards of $750,000 to fix these "fire violations" may be hoping to get the job to do that.
Having at one time or another lived in every building CLO had at the time I was there, I do understand that compared to President Machen's home they come off badly - but then so would much of the city of Gainesville. However, as a place to live, eat, sleep, and study if you don't have much money, the CLO comes off splendidly. It sure did seem highly satisfactory to me during the time I was there.
Why can't President Machen and his administration content themselves with running off coaches and leave people who already have more than enough problems getting an education alone. The CLO has done more real good for more people than he will ever do, even if he lives to be an old, old man.
Thomas H. Collins lives in Bell and is a 1957 graduate of the University of Florida.

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