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Man being evicted from UVic student residences after 18 years described as reclusive

Man living in university residence officially designated as disabled

A man still living in University of Victoria student residences 13 years after graduation stayed inside yesterday, avoiding members of the media hovering outside.

Alkis Gerd'son could be moving out in weeks, in the wake of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that UVic says means it can evict Gerd'son with one month's notice.

Few students who came out of Gerd'son's building yesterday knew of him. One who did said only that he is reclusive.

While Gerd'son wasn't available for interviews, documents connected to his complaint to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal offer some insight into the man and his circumstances.

Gerd'son filed the complaint Dec. 10, 2008, claiming UVic's desire to evict him amounts to discrimination stemming from mental disability. He claims to suffer from post-traumatic stress, obsessive-compulsive disorder and bouts of anxiety and depression.

In 2004, the province designated him as disabled, qualifying him for monthly support and accommodation allowance and other benefits.

UVic offers on-campus accommodation to students enrolled in a minimum of nine units of degree-track courses per calendar year. Once students finish classes, they're expected to vacate residence rooms.

Gerd'son moved into residence in 1991 and earned a bachelor's degree in 1997. He has not completed classes since, and UVic says he no longer qualifies for student residency.

"Since 1997, out of compassion and gratuitous consideration for the complainant, UVic has acceded to the requests of the complainant to remain in residence even though he is no longer eligible," said UVic in a statement to the tribunal.

Gerd'son also told the tribunal he hasn't lived on campus continuously, but has lived in other areas of Victoria and has left the city several times.

In February 2003, Gerd'son was told by UVic that he had to vacate his unit by April of that year, citing allegations by other students of unacceptable behavior, and the fact that he is not a UVic student and had lived in residence too long.

Gerd'son said the undisclosed allegations were based on his mental health.

UVic told Gerd'son his residency would be considered if he registered as a student for the fall term. Gerd'son resisted attempts through the summer to evict him and argued UVic's treatment of him was unfair.

In 2008, a flood occurred in Gerd'son's unit, which he and the university blamed on each other. Through the summer of 2008, the university pressured Gerd'son to contact B.C. Housing for off-campus accommodation.

"Mr. Gerd'son takes the position that his pace of study is a function of his disabilities, and that therefore, UVic is discriminating against him because of his disabilities," reads the tribunal document.

On Aug. 29, 2008, UVic served Gerd'son with an eviction notice based on his failure to maintain student status or pay rent.

His disability rent money was applied by UVic to "overholding" charges. Those charges, incurred when a tenant stays in a rental unit without the landlord's approval, totalled $41,400 in November.

In response to the eviction, Gerd'son wrote, "They have treated me this way because of my mental health that they are worsening to the point where I will not be able to function."

At one point, UVic told Gerd'son that if he agreed by Nov. 24, 2008, to vacate his room by April 30, 2009, he could remain until that date. If he did not agree, he would be evicted immediately.

Gerd'son asked for more time to consider the matter since he was also dealing with an ill parent. UVic refused but Gerd'son remained.