Fordham University Student Body Refund Address on COVID-19

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Section I: Why Fordham Students Need a Refund


Given the current circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, many Fordham University students are experiencing financial, social, emotional, and academic hardships. Thus, the student body is in need of assistance from the administration. We believe that partial housing, board and tuition refunds should be granted to all Fordham University students. According to the U.S. Government COVID-19 Response Plan, this global crisis is “[a] pandemic [that] will last 18 months or longer.” Experts in the field agree, projecting the fact that our current unstable environment will not be remedied in the near future. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (N.I.A.I.D.) says, “[a] vaccine that you make and start testing in a year is not a vaccine that’s deployable.” The earliest it would be deployable, Fauci added, is “a year and a half, no matter how fast you go.” According to Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), the Coronavirus will rage on without a vaccine. While featured on the Joe Rogan podcast, Osterholm states, “stopping the Coronavirus without a vaccine is like trying to stop the wind.”


During this year and a half, students will be subjected to unprecedented and arduous circumstances. Without disposable income, there is a growing need for money in order to pay rent and afford basic essentials. Many students rely on work to meet their basic needs, but student employment opportunities during this time is going to be drastically more difficult to find. According to a CNN Business article by Chris Isidore, “[m]ore than half of American jobs are at risk because of coronavirus.” Furthermore, 78% of Americans work paycheck to paycheck and 73% of Americans have less than $10,000 saved in an emergency fund, according to Forbes and GOBankingRates surveys. Essentially, the majority of students who are independent as well as the households that claim dependent students are nowhere near equipped to survive an 18 month pandemic. Due to this, the student body agrees that providing students a refund for services they did not receive is not only the ethically and socially responsible course of action, but it is also vital for a plethora of students to survive.


Section II: Room/Board Refund


In direct relation to being forced out of residence halls, students are now required to pay out of pocket for food that would normally be covered by meal plans. For this reason, students are essentially paying double the monetary value for food consumption. Many students who are unable to return home for a variety of reasons and must quickly arrange for alternative housing options are also paying double the amount for housing. Not providing refunds is an unjust and impossible burden for the student body to endure even during economic prosperity, but an even crueler burden during a period of economic recession and unemployment. Many will simply not be able to afford these basic needs without being refunded for the previous payments to Fordham that were not ultimately provided to them. We believe that students should be completely refunded for unused housing and meal swipes/dcb.


Section III: Online Class Refund


Online classes are not a substitute for face-to-face sessions. Online learning cannot adequately replicate the relationship and human experience that develops in a face-to-face learning environment. When a professor is physically in front of you, you can read his or her body language, mannerisms, gestures, tone, volume and so on. These features allow one to interpret and later recall the information being presented, which leaves much to be desired in terms of online classes.


Furthermore, many courses and majors are not remotely viable for an online format such as dance and theater. A theater major, who asked to remain anonymous, states why: “We paid tuition money for hands-on, interactive, physical environments to learn our craft. This has been taken away from us. The way we learn is going to be significantly hindered by this now subpar learning environment. It just isn’t right. We can’t properly learn what we paid for from home the way we could in our studios, theaters, and rehearsal spaces.”


There is also an increase in personal responsibility, which can further hamstring students burned with obstacles from the pandemic. Many students specifically chose to attend a traditional college to avoid self directed learning and consequently are not geared for an online experience. Typically, students are allowed the choice of using notebooks or laptops for taking notes in each of their courses. One of the major advantages of utilizing a notebook is enhanced focus on material presented and a greater recall success rate. A major reason why students choose not to enroll in an online college program, is the fact that they are able to engrose themselves in the class they are taking, without the temptation of creating a new tab and surfing on a social media platform or streaming service in mere seconds. The vast majority of students intentionally avoid online classes so they can avoid unnecessary distractions and give their full attention to a real-life teacher. 


Students are also facing networking challenges. On campus, we are surrounded by individuals who are enthusiastic about our respective fields. One can introduce themselves to and chat with professors (even if you are not enrolled in their class) and faculty, fellow students, guest lecturers and so on. Every student has the opportunity to get involved in on-campus professional organizations that connect you with real-life professionals. Those face-to-face meetings, no matter how brief, can leave an impression and may eventually lead to a job offer. Though students can do their own research regarding professors in their interested fields and email them, there comes a price in the form of not having a face-to-face relationship. Additionally, trying to reach out to professors who may not be in the field, but have a relationship with someone who is in the desired field is an arduous and seemingly impossible task.


The activity fee that we pay which covers events, job fairs, clubs meetings etc. are no longer being administered, and that allotted sum should be given back to the students.


We understand that our professors are putting forth their best effort given the circumstances, but they have not been effectively trained to provide online classes. This is not the quality of education we are paying for. Students did not pay for subpar, overpriced, online classes, and they should not be expected to pay for services they did not receive. As a summary for purposes of reiteration: lack of face-to-face interaction with teachers; classes and majors that are not designed to function in an online format; increased personal hamstring; networking challenges; lack of events, job fairs, club meetings etc; teachers who have not been trained to teach online classes are each major reasons for why a refund is needed.


Section IV: Conclusion


With these premises in mind, the student body believes a viable three-step option is the following: A full refund on unused housing, a full refund for any dining dollars and/or meal swipes with the money that Aramark refunded to Fordham, a partial refund on tuition for the semester of Spring 2020 that will take into account the 8 weeks of in-school learning and school activities, and a complete refund of the 7 weeks in which the loss of said in-school learning and activities, which should be made without affecting the salaries of teachers. Furthermore, we request open forums regarding the Fall semester of 2020 tuition that will be available to the whole Fordham community, in the likely case that this pandemic will still be affecting the planet during these months. 


The next 18 months are going to be hard for all of us and we look forward to working alongside the Fordham administration. However, the need for a plan is one of urgency, and it’s Fordham University’s duty to care for their students,”. For isn’t it Cura Personalis which speaks to the individualized attention to the needs of the other and caring for the entire person in every way?


We expect the Fordham administration to lead by example and look forward to hearing a response from them.


Yours truly,

Members of the Fordham University Student Body