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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Local community members meet to address actions of student apartments surrounding mosque

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Emily Gauci
Emily Gauci / The Daily Wildcat

A community forum was held at the UA on Monday to address the unruly behavior of students living in the tower apartment buildings on the north side of campus.

The Campus Community Relations Committee hosted a Livable Communities Forum to address recent incidents involving the student apartments surrounding the Islamic Center of Tucson.

City councilor Steve Kozachik of ward 6 said unwelcome bottles, cans and other debris from some of the towers around the Main Gate area and the Islamic Center of Tucson served as catalysts for the meeting at the UA.

“Historically, we’ve had issues with respective student behavior [from] off-campus facilities that we also need to get our arms around,” Kozachik said.

Bilal El-Aloosy, vice president and maintenance coordinator of the Islamic Center of Tucson, said he wants to communicate openly with the university and the city of Tucson to find a solution to the unfolding situation.

“We have been in this situation for over 14 months,” El-Aloosy said. “We tried to make contact with management, we tried to work with them, but unfortunately, it didn’t happen until the media got involved.”

A resident in a local Tucson neighborhood said the unruly behavior of students living in the towers has affected other neighborhood members as well.

Tucson Police Department police Chief Roberto Villaseñor said the problem he has with the incidences of unwelcome debris is the potential for injury.

“When you start talking about wild parties and beer cans and littering the streets, that’s something we can clearly identify a responsible party with conditional red tag, we can arrest people and so forth,” Villaseñor said. “When you start talking about 10, 12, 14-story buildings and you have items that are being thrown from the rooftops … there’s not going to be any tolerance with that.”

Villaseñor added that there have not been any incidences of injury so far from the projectiles.

Tannya Gaxiola, assistant vice president for Community Relations for the UA, said the UA community is the Tucson community, and with that come about 40,000 students, most of whom — about 33,000 students —  live off campus.

“The overwhelming majority of [UA students] are really good neighbors,” Gaxiola said, “but there’s that tiny fraction that aren’t — who are going to cause problems — and for them, we really want to teach them to be good neighbors. We want to take these opportunities to help our students grow. We want them to learn how, not only to just be good neighbors, but to be really responsible engaged citizens.”

Chrissy Lieberman, associate dean of students, said the UA offers education to off-campus partners, but that additionally, they are always open to educating their students.

“The reality is that these properties aren’t our own properties, but we do take advantage of the time we have with our students during orientation and throughout their classes to do that outreach and education, especially around sex assault, consent, drugs and alcohol,” Lieberman said.

Charlie Paul, a community member and UA alumna, said she is grateful to know TPD is taking zero tolerance very seriously. She also said she would hope the university would do the same.

“If the university does not expel these students, they’re complicit [and] they’re condoning this heinous behavior,” Paul said. “I want the university to send a strong message that we will not accept this type of behavior from our students [in the] future. I don’t want this university to have this dirty stain.”

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Follow Brandi Walker on Twitter.

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