At the end of 2012, the Undergraduate Assembly and Graduate and Professional Student Assembly expanded their legal services program to include housing issues.
UA-GAPSA Legal Services allows students in need to meet with an attorney who comes once a month to address their legal concerns.
In the past year and a half, the UA recorded that 40 undergraduate and graduate students met with the attorney for legal advice. While many already benefit from this service, numerous graduate school constituents requested that the program be expanded to include landlord-tenant disputes.
In response to this feedback, the UA and GAPSA have expanded the service to include landlord-tenant disputes, primarily for students living off campus.
“Historically, students will use the service to seek free advice in solving problems as varied as financial aid legal issues, … legalities involved in incorporating new corporations, start ups, or patents, tax questions and credit cards,” said College sophomore Joshua Chilcote, who serves as Legal Services Coordinator on the UA.
James Wiley, GAPSA chair, said that this new service will particularly benefit international students who sometimes aren’t aware of the resources available to improve their living conditions.
However, despite the desire of both the UA and GAPSA to assist students with their legal difficulties, the leaders of both groups recognize the expansion of the service will only succeed on a limited basis.
“We don’t want to invite everyone who has a grievance with their landlord to come get legal help,” Wiley said.
UA President and College junior Dan Bernick added, however, that the details of UA-GAPSA Legal Services, along with other UA initiatives, are publicized on the UA website for students to take advantage of.
“We encourage all students to take advantage of the services we provide on their behalf,” Bernick said. “We periodically publicize legal services when we publicize our other initiatives.”
Additionally, both Wiley and Bernick clearly stated that this expansion, in addition to their other initiatives, serves solely to benefit the student body.
First year law student Nathan Schwartzberg was pleased to hear about the expansion of the program.
“Especially around college campuses, landlords are notorious for acting unscrupulously and taking advantage of uninformed students,” he said. “This new service will provide much-needed legal aid, and will make students aware of their rights when engaging in the landlord-tenant relationship.”