Demand for UC Berkeley Partial Fee Reimbursement
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UPDATE: As of March 26th, The University System of Maryland Board of Regents unanimously votes in favor of partial refunds of student fees in the wake of coronavirus safety measures. UC Berkeley, the #1 Public University in the nation, should enact similar refunds!
On March 10th, faced with the ongoing spread of COVID-19 in the Bay Area and across the United States and beyond, the students at the University of California, Berkeley, received an email from Chancellor Christ suspending all in-person lectures until after Spring Break.
On March 13th, Chancellor Christ sent a follow-up email notifying students that online course instruction would continue through the end of the Spring semester (May 15th, 2020), for the sake of "instructional resilience." Professors were only granted a two day approved cancellation window to prepare for online instruction ("Instructors who do not have remote learning processes in place by March 10 will be given a two-day period (March 10 and 11) during which they may cancel classes, to allow them time to establish such processes and to ready their course(s) for resumption online by Thursday, March 12.") Students were not provided any grace period to prepare themselves for the transition or to ensure the safety of their families, friends, and colleagues during the increasing danger of COVID-19.
On March 17th, the Division of Student Affairs sent a message to students stating that those living on-campus could estimate their refund if they decided to move out for the duration of the semester: "If you live in on-campus undergraduate housing and choose to end your contract, you can estimate your refund. You will receive one full installment refund along with a partial installment refund based on your cancellation date..."
While those living on-campus were offered a chance to recoup costs, for good reason, other students have not been offered similar opportunities. While we understand why the University has had to suspend in-class instruction due to COVID-19, we believe that the University should do more to offset the cost-burden associated with attending UC Berkeley since we are now online. For many students, Zoom does not meet the educational and instructional quality that we paid for in January and the University should adapt to this change. It is relevant to note that during the transition and suspension of in-personal classes, the University continued to fundraise and advertise for the BIG GIVE which took place on March 11 at 9 p.m. PST to Thursday, March 12 at 9 p.m. PST. The BIG GIVE garnered over $10,130,341. While the Chancellor claimed that the University has no control over the stipulations placed on funds received, there could have been more effort to solicit funds to directly support students during this crisis.
Below is an example of the TYPICAL (some departments are more costly) graduate student cost to attend IN-PERSON instruction at Berkeley. Those bolded below are fees that would no longer be applicable to students, especially considering social-distancing mandates and the Bay Area shelter-in place ordinance. While students are encouraged to reach out for support, many services have now been moved to telephonic avenues resulting in the cancellation of talks on-campus, networking events, work-study positions (loss of wages for many students) and reduced face-to-face time with professors and colleagues. Students are living in one of the most costly regions in the State--the BAY AREA. It is our university's duty to support students and prioritize our well-being---not protect their own pockets.
Many of the fees assessed by the University are related to on-campus student and facility fees (per semester) and thus should be REIMBURSED.
*Tuition (Some adjustment needed to account for the difference in online versus in-person courses and the decline in quality of education)
*Student Services Fee
*Berkeley Campus Fee
*Class Pass Fee - Transit
Nonresident Supplemental Tuition
*Professional Degree Supplemental Tuition (Some adjustment needed to account for the difference in online versus in-person courses and the decline in quality of education)
*Health Insurance Fee (Some adjustment needed for the lack of accessibility/changes hours/students that have moved home and will not be able to access services).
Continuing Student Total
*Document Management Fee
New Student Total
+ PARKING FEES (+ loss of BEAR Transit)
Spring Semester Carpool / SPCP
Student Spring / SP
+ Loan Fees Assessed by the University (Ranges in Cost)
On April 23rd, 2020, students received correspondence from the university stating that "Tuition and mandatory fees have been set regardless of the method of instruction and will not be refunded in the event instruction occurs remotely for any part of the Academic Year."
This response from the university is unacceptable. It is even more important for us to let the university know that we deserve financial compensation for the loss of education! (Not to mention the possibility that we will continue online during Fal 2020)!
Please sign and share this petition to demand that UC Berkeley consider reimbursing students for campus fees that are no longer relevant!
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