Petition asks CSU to refund tuition in face of COVID-19 campus shutdown

Ravyn Cullor

You gave them $12,000, COVID-19 struck and now they’re giving you online courses, delayed commencement and limited access to some resources your fees paid for. But some students are asking for a portion of that money back.

A recent change.org petition has called on the Colorado State University administration to provide a refund in tuition to students for services that are no longer available because of the COVID-19 pandemic and all subsequent actions the University has taken to combat it, including moving classes online and encouraging students to not come to campus. 

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In just over a week, the petition has gathered about 6,000 signatures, including students, friends and family of Rams. 

“I am really happy and impressed (with) how powerful we are as a community being Rams and that my small friend group and I are not the only ones who feel there should be some justice or some kind of refund,” said Alexia Roberts, a senior political science major and creator of the petition. “Because we are paying for online classes (with) physical tuition.”

https://twitter.com/geddes_ryanj/status/1242853489950089218

Roberts said that she was inspired to create the petition when a friend of hers posted on Facebook, commenting on how frustrated she was having to pay for resources that students no longer have access to. 

“The ground was just ripped from underneath everyone, and they deserve the money back,” said Emily Laitin, a graduate student studying cognitive psychology and the person who wrote the Facebook post. “Students are not getting what they paid for with an in-person university.”

Roberts and Laitin said the petition asks for a refund on resources students can’t access when not physically on campus, like the recreation center and buildings like the library and Lory Student Center, all of which are funded by student fees.

Colorado State University animal science freshman Dixie Posey (left), Jennifer Posey-Williams (right) and Ivan Williams (center) load a truck while moving Posey out of Academic Village March 25. Posey is concerned about doing work from her parents’ home in Harvey, North Dakota, because “Going back home, there’s different kinds of distractions.” (Matt Tackett | The Collegian)

Fifth-year mechanical engineering student Jack Cavallaro said he signed the petition when he saw it on Facebook for that very reason. 

Once the petition is signed by around 25% of CSU’s student population, around 10,000 people, according to an update on the petition, Roberts said she plans to bring the request to the administration.

Cavallaro said he hopes the administration takes the petition seriously because many students are struggling financially and will also be excluded from receiving stimulus checks from a recently passed federal aid package. This is because adults 24 and under who are claimed as dependents by their parents don’t qualify for the $1,200 check, according to CNBC.

“It just feels like we’re excluded out of any help, and a lot of us are struggling with student loans,” Cavallaro said. “Anything to go towards that would help.”

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While the petition had reached almost 60% of its signature goal by Monday night, the University announced around noon the same day they will not be refunding students any tuition. 

The ground was just ripped from underneath everyone, and they deserve the money back.Emily Laitin, graduate student studying cognitive psychology

According to an email sent to the CSU community from Provost and Executive Vice President Rick Miranda, since the University anticipates completing the semester of instruction for all students, “Tuition and fee refunds are currently not being offered.”

“Please know that it is not less expensive for the University to make this shift to remote learning to ensure we continue to serve you and our mission of access and academic excellence,” Miranda wrote. “On the contrary, the University has invested an enormous amount of time and energy to develop comprehensive resources to support transitioning our courses online. Any cost savings that we might have had as a result of not using our instructional buildings are more than offset by providing the infrastructure to go online, virtually overnight.”

According to the email, CSU’s refund and tuition adjustment policy will follow the University’s regular semester protocols. The protocol outlines refunding procedures for students who cancel or change registration or withdraw from courses.

Ravyn Cullor can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @RCullor99.