Prioritize H&D Treatment and Reduce Fall 2020 Tuition & Housing Costs at Rice University

Prioritize H&D Treatment and Reduce Fall 2020 Tuition & Housing Costs at Rice University

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Rapha Onyeka
Rapha Onyeka signed this petition

Rice University recently released a statement declaring that Fall 2020 tuition and housing rates would be maintained as it was planned prior to the Covid-19 pandemic (which was already a $2,000 increase from the previous school year), despite many classes being shifted to remote-form, the cut in the availability of various student services, and the fact that fall semester instruction will be shortened by a month.

Rice's justification for rigidity in costs is that instruction will remain largely the same. While this is debatable from either sides at the moment, what is undebatable is that Rice's cost of attendance of $69,557 does not solely encompass housing and instruction. The price tag includes the many other aspects of college life, such as full food service, or the pay-in that students provide to the Rice Program Council, that will not be present this upcoming semester. Therefore, the payment expectation should not remain as is.

Although the lack of tuition reduction can be partially explained by the fact that Rice must maintain funding in order to cover the costs associated with new crisis investment, there is an underlying argument that students' families are responsible for shouldering these costs. It is evident that the decisions surrounding financial feasibility were not made in the best interests of Rice students and their families. At the very least, there should be some sort of protective financial compensation to students that are on any financial aid, similar to that of Harvard's $10,000 stipend for the 2020-2021 school year.

Even more alarmingly, plans were also not made in the best interests of Housing & Dining (H&D) staff and service workers. Despite all of the specifications that cleaning practices will be ramped up, Rice has declared that there will be no hazard pay for these employees that will have to take on not only substantially more responsibilities, but also more dangerous responsibilities. Although it would be additionally accommodating for Rice to lower financial expectations for students, it is absolutely insisted that H&D staff receive a promise of job security and appropriate pay raises. The latter point should not be disputed. What is the point of having emergency funding if it cannot be utilized in a situation like this?

In a time where a significant and even unprecedented number of Americans are unemployed and lack job security, it is imperative that institutions that have the resources and capabilities to ease the burden on these families do so.

7/1/20 petition created

7/2/20 edited to add request to increase pay for H&D after Town Hall confirmed that H&D would not be financially protected

7/6/20 edited to reference Harvard's financial aid model upon Harvard's release of Fall 2020 action plan

7/7/20 edited to cite sources and reworded H&D request into a demand

7/8/20 A possibility was brought up that Expected Family Contribution will decrease as the price of Rice decreases….ie. decreases in price will cause a decrease in aid correspondingly. If this is indeed applicable to how Rice financial aid operates, I want to edit the petition description to reflect a different proposal. Rice should then instead take greater initiative for low-income families and families that have been significantly affected by the pandemic, by providing a stimulus package similar to that of the federal government or Harvard. (I do not wish to speak for everyone else, as it feels wrong to change the name of the petition after others had signed under a different purpose, so I have edited as an individual comment.)