Re-imburse UCSB students for COVID implications
Re-imburse UCSB students for COVID implications
Why this petition matters
The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) is one of the top research universities in California. According to Forbes, the school is ranked #13 amongst all public universities in the entire United States (Kreznar, 2021). The school is most notable for its research impact in the sciences. The University of California Admissions reported an admit rate of 29.7% for the freshman class in Fall 2019, making it one of the most selective universities in California. UCSB's estimated cost of attendance for undergraduate students living off-campus in the 2021-2022 school year was $34,749 for California residents and $64,503 for Non-California residents. This estimation accounts for tuition, campus-based fees, rent, etc. It is no secret that many people who pursue a college education in the U.S. are forced to take out loans, search for grants/scholarships, and work to provide for themselves on top of being a full-time student all in order to earn their degree.
The COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted the educational experience of UCSB students and faculty within the past 2 years. The 2019-2020 school year was cut short and the 2020-2021 school year was completely online. Students who had applied, committed, and attended the university within this time frame did so under the impression that they would be receiving the full experience of the university ON CAMPUS. However, the increasing severity of COVID-19 prohibited students from attending the university as originally promised.
Due to an ongoing housing crisis in the area, students are usually advised to secure off-campus housing up to 9 months in advance of the actual school year. I personally signed my lease that started in July 2022 all the way back in December of 2021. This being said, many students signed leases for the 2020-2021 school year long before the school year had begun. When the school announced that instruction would be completely remote, many students were legally bound to stay and pay for the pricey living expenses of the Santa Barbara area despite having no real need to stay there. The quality of the education that year was also greatly diminished, as the staff and faculty of the university were forced to adjust to online remote learning without necessary preparation. Despite the obvious and detrimental ramifications of COVID-19 on the educational experience of UCSB students, the university continued to charge their students full tuition and fees. With the added pressure of COVID-19, students struggled and continue to struggle financially and mentally.
On June 18, 2020, UCSB’s Chancellor Yang sent in a campus-wide memo that:
“The UC Regents and the Office of the President have determined 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. Mandatory university charges for tuition and student services help cover ongoing operations, which include the delivery of instruction and the cost of student services such as registration, financial aid, and academic advising.”
This was after the freshman class of 2020, including myself, had already committed to the university under the impression that they would be receiving the full UCSB experience. If delivery of instruction and several on-campus student services were remote or unavailable completely and therefore not running at their true capacity, then why were “mandatory fees” for tuition and student services not adjusted accordingly? This may be understood within the context of the memo Chancellor Yang had sent just before on June 17, 2020 which addressed the budget impacts of COVID-19. It mainly talked about dramatic drops in the entire UC budget and the university’s consequential cost reduction and mitigation strategies.
However, despite the conveyed struggles and setbacks that COVID-19 would have on the short-term and long-term financial health of the university, the UC Regents approved a substantial pay raise for all nine UC chancellors in just their very first meeting of 2022. This gave Chancellor Yang a 28.4% raise, who now makes roughly $579,750 per year. This sent a message to the student body of UCSB that those in power do not care about their students and only about themselves. Students were left scrambling over the last 2 years due to the financial and mental strain of attending college during a global pandemic and did not receive nearly enough additional financial help from the university due to “budget difficulties”. After 2 years of the pandemic, the limited budget continues to obstruct the institution from allocating supplemental funds to students who suffered great financial burdens at the hands of the university and COVID-19. However, the budget luckily had just enough to give Chancellor Yang a $128,388 increase in salary!
The University of California Board of Regents and those in power at the University of California, Santa Barbara, we ask that you properly re-imburse the students of UCSB who not only were forced to pay full in-person tuition and fees for online instruction but also were not provided proper resources and aid in the event of a global pandemic.
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