University Village residents receive notices that they could be evicted for being ’emotionally unfit’

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Andrew Kuo/File

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On April 8, Sophie FitzMaurice, a resident of University Village, was horrified to open her door and find a notice stating that students deemed as “emotionally unfit” may lose their housing.

Many other residents living in University Village also received this notice. According to this housing contract update, notices of which were taped on their doors, “The University shall have the right to terminate this rental agreement and require that the undersigned vacate the Premises and all University Housing facilities if the University determines that the undersigned is emotionally unfit to live in University Housing.”

University Village, which is located in Albany, is owned by the University of California, and it provides “a family-oriented living environment offering educational and recreational programs and services,” for students, according to its website.

The housing contract update also states that the vice chancellor of student affairs, or someone they choose to designate, would be in charge of determining a person’s emotional aptitude.

FitzMaurice, a graduate student studying history, said she was “livid” and expressed her frustration about the notice.

FitzMaurice stated that the purpose of this notice “is to assume the right to evict students due to mental illnesses, some of which may be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and to claim for the vice chancellor, who has no professional medical training or expertise in the matter, the right to determine ‘emotional fitness’ on the basis of unspecified criteria.”

As mentioned by FitzMaurice, the Americans with Disabilities Act was established in 1991 to eliminate discrimination based on disability. In this act, Congress explains that discrimination against individuals with disabilities could occur in housing policy, education and other public services.

Upon inquiry about the notice, campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff said in an email that “the clause is being removed entirely and will not be enforced.”

The city of Berkeley requires that landlords provide relocation assistance when they evict residents with disabilities, according to the Rent Stabilization Board’s Rent Stabilization and Eviction for Good Cause Ordinance. The ordinance defines disability as when an individual “has a physical or mental impairment than limits one or more of his or her major life activities.”

“Leaving this note pinned to the doors of graduate students– many of whom are currently struggling or have in the past struggled with the condition named, or similar ones,– alongside notification of yet another rent hike was callous and insensitive at best, malicious at worst,” FitzMaurice said in an email.

Contact Shelby Mayes at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @shelbymayesdc.