The Boston University CGS Class of 2023 takes a stand against unfair tuition costs

The Boston University CGS Class of 2023 takes a stand against unfair tuition costs

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Dear President Brown,

The Boston University College of General Studies class of 2023 has proven incredibly resilient despite enormous disruptions caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. After accepting our admission decisions around this time last year, and eagerly waiting months to attend college in the spring, we had just 33 short days of classes. All of the experiences promised to us, including a 6-week summer term in London, have been taken. We must now wait many more months to return to campus and the remnants of our college experience.

On April 30th, 2020, we finally received a much-awaited update from Dean Mcknight. She, along with the rest of the CGS administrators, have done everything possible to make up for the lost London experience. It is also worth noting that the entire CGS faculty and staff have been extremely supportive.

We were informed through this communication on April 30th that our 6-week summer term, now to be held online via Zoom, would remain at the full, in-person cost of $27,360. We will be forced to pay the same price as we would have in London, barring only room and board charges, for what is a far, far less valuable experience. This is not the experience you advertised to us, and this is not what we agreed to pay for. Six weeks of online school is in no way commensurate with the London experience we were promised.

$27,360 will cover 14 credits from 3 courses through 6 weeks of online learning, amounting to roughly $1,954 per credit. In comparison, other online summer courses offered through BU cost only $720 per credit.

Where is the value add? How do you justify this 171% premium?

The price discrepancy would make sense if we were studying abroad in London, though we are not. Given the fundamental changes to our summer term, you cannot in good conscience maintain this outrageous price differential.

But here is how you defended it . . .

1) The April 30th communication claimed that if you did not charge the previously stated amount of $27,360 for our online summer term, that "we'd have to let faculty and staff go."

No one doubts that BU is struggling to cover its bottom line, but so is everyone else. The only difference being that BU has a $2.3 Billion dollar endowment, received nearly $15 Million dollars in federal relief (half of which allocated for financial aid) and has access to large credit facilities for support. It is unfair to place this burden on us. You claim that if we, as individual students who continue to struggle physically, mentally, and financially, don't pay this obscene premium, you can't pay faculty and staff? 

2) Even worse, the April 30th communication claimed that as "full-time students," we must pay this premium. The argument was that other individual summer courses offering credits would classify us as "part-time students," and "part-time students are not eligible for financial aid or Dean's List." The administration has labeled this as a "full semester" attended by "full-time students" to rationalize the cost structure.

After attending only 33 days of in-person classes on campus this spring, it is abundantly clear that we are anything but "full-time students." We are now spread all across the world, only connected to the university through Zoom. Labeling this 6-week online summer term as a "full semester" attended by "full-time students" to justify the absurd cost is not only deeply disingenuous but legally dubious.

This petition marks the first step in a long appeal for BU to reverse its cruel and unfair decision. No one in their right mind believes that the knowledge to be acquired through 6 weeks of online learning this summer is worth $27,360.

We are supposed to believe that as "full-time students," we must pay a 171% premium for university credits this summer?

6 weeks of Zoom classes are not a "full semester."

I can assure you that we will explore all options to circumvent and dispute this blatant injustice. This decision will only further displace a class that has already endured so much. We are all fleeing to pursue other options that could jeopardize our academic progression.

What message does this send to the world about Boston University? What does this signal to the incoming CGS class of 2024?

This is a defining moment for higher education. The institutions to emerge stronger on the other side of this will be those who chose to support their students, not extort them. It is no one's fault that COVID-19 has created such disruptions for our class. But President Brown, you will be the one to lead our recovery. Will this university emerge stronger?

Understand that there is value in doing right by students and that this class deserves better. I sincerely hope that you choose to be sympathetic and reasonable by rethinking your position.

The CGS class of 2023 eagerly awaits your communication and resolution.


Please reach out to this student-led campaign with questions, comments, concerns, or support