We are writing to you as a united collective because we believe you have the ability to help your students in a tangible, realistic, and meaningful way. While the devastation of the global COVID-19 pandemic is universal, students are in a particularly vulnerable position in the economy. We took a significant risk to invest in the promise that a SIPA education will pay off. We invested our time, talents, and resources at the number one international global policy school. Today, we ask that you, too, take bold and decisive action to aid your student body with your full strength.
While we appreciate the efforts to bolster the SIPA Emergency Fund and the commitment to refund minor fees, ($130 refund from SIPA and the $119 from Columbia University), this only represents 0.77% of total SIPA tuition and fees for the semester. SIPA students are entitled to much more given the University’s failure to deliver services that students paid for. It is not the University that bears the cost of degraded quality of learning but the students. We believe this can only be corrected through a fair partial refund policy of $7,292.84.
We, the undersigned, ask for the following:
1. An acknowledgment of receipt of this letter and direct, substantial response by Dean Janow directly to SIPA students to address our concerns.
2. A detailed plan of action for the use of the U.S. CARES Act stimulus money.
3. A full refund of tuition to students for instructional services not rendered on the dates of March 9-10 and March 23-25 when classes were canceled by the University and not rescheduled.
4. A partial refund of tuition and fees for degraded instructional and institutional services for the remainder of class sessions held remotely.
5. A repeal of the 4% tuition and fee rates for the Fall 2020 semester to reflect the current economic conditions and the value of remote instruction and a plan for tuition refunds should classes not resume to normal by the start of the Fall 2020 semester.
6. Use available resources from the Columbia University Endowment to fund the student financial aid response.
Details of the Fair Tuition Refund Policy may be found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1M28aZaojZdW5Q6Gi4sNUy7R716Ij0wqEUZSgVmb_S3w/edit?usp=sharing
We believe that universities – places of model behavior, innovation, and moral authority – have a responsibility to offer ethically and generously what they owe to their students. Again, we ask you to consider the policy options that are outlined above and to engage critically and constructively with students and to advocate on our behalf in order to appropriately serve students and fulfill the institutional mission of Columbia University.
Should you fail to adequately satisfy the demands of this petition, the undersigned SIPA students refuse to donate to future fundraising campaigns as alumni. Additionally, we may be forced to consider other forms of resolution including, but not limited to legal action against the University.
Thank you for your attention.
Signed: The SIPA Tuition Organizing Committee and co-signers