Wharton MBA Community: Petition for Dialogue on Tuition Relief and/or Other Assistance

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**Note: Please do not sign or share this petition unless you are a current member of the Wharton MBA Classes of 2020 or 2021** 

Members of the Wharton MBA Classes of 2020 and 2021:

This is a platform to gather signatures in support of sharing a petition (found below) with the Wharton MBA program deans to begin a dialogue regarding conditions under which Wharton MBA students might receive an appropriate amount of relief of tuition payments or other forms of assistance to compensate for the period during which the school’s operations have been and will be affected by the COVID-19 health crisis during the 2019-2020 academic year.

Some important things to note regarding this proposed petition:

  1. We would not want to begin this dialogue until the current health crisis has stabilized. Health, as always, comes first.
  2. We agree that this is not a set of demands. Rather, it is a request to start a dialogue. 
  3. We recognize that students at some other MBA programs have already launched similar efforts, with mixed early results. As members of the Wharton MBA community, we believe that allowing the situation to play out before jumping to conclusions is the most prudent approach and most likely to receive a receptive response. 
  4. Participation by signature is, of course, entirely voluntary. The petition does not suggest that it is on behalf of the entire Wharton MBA community.

Thank you for participating. This petition is the first step in attempting to secure support for all those in the Wharton MBA community who feel and will continue to feel the impact of these unprecedented circumstances on their Wharton experience for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year.

**Note: Please do not sign or share this petition unless you are a current member of the Wharton MBA Classes of 2020 or 2021**

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Dear Dean Garrett, Future Dean James, Deputy Dean Gibbons, and Vice Dean Kaufold,

This letter is submitted on behalf of [XXX] undersigned members of The Wharton School MBA student body.

First and foremost, we applaud the early decision of President Gutmann to extend the University’s spring break period and to migrate all classes to a virtual setting for the remainder of the school year. Public health is of course the paramount concern at a time like this, so we are glad that the University took a leadership role in adhering to recommended social distancing practices as we, the country, and the world endure this unprecedented situation.

Please know how much we appreciate the timely efforts of Wharton and its faculty and staff to accommodate the transition to fully online coursework, which undoubtedly involved much unheralded effort. The first two weeks of online class sessions have made it clear that faculty have been professional, well prepared, and are making the best of a less than ideal setting – and for that we thank them. We also appreciate the decision to allow MBA students to reclassify Q4 courses to a Pass/Fail grading standard, which was accommodative to students adapting to major changes and challenges in their academic lives as well as in their daily personal lives.

With regard to any further accommodations from the School, we thought it was prudent to give the situation some time to play out rather than jump to conclusions regarding virtual coursework before the shortened quarter had begun and developed.

Nevertheless, we undersigned members of the Wharton MBA student body remain in prevalent agreement that virtual coursework, however well executed, does not provide the same educational value as the normal in-person classes that we expected when we enrolled. Much of the value of the Wharton educational experience comes from interacting with our outstanding faculty in person, engaging in lively discussions with our fellow classmates and learning from each other’s experiences, and hearing from and meeting renowned guest speakers. Virtual classroom technology has been impressive, yet it is still just unable to fully replicate that environment.

Further, more holistic elements of the Wharton experience, such as traveling to and learning in foreign places, participating in a wide range of extracurricular activities, and attending social events, have been essentially cancelled for the remainder of our time here. Access to highly valued wider University benefits such as facilities, seminars and events, and of course graduation for the Class of 2020, has been curtailed.

It is also necessary to note that we MBA students have assumed tremendous financial and personal burdens to be here and receive that Wharton experience. For most of us, that means large amounts of student debt, and for others it means the spending of savings from our early careers. For some, these burdens have been further exacerbated by the wide ramifications of this health crisis. For international students, the disruption has triggered logistical and financial challenges impossible to imagine for their domestic classmates. For student-founders, the cancellation and virtualization of pitch competitions has meaningfully diminished their ability to showcase their efforts. For classmates still seeking internships or post-graduation employment, opportunities have now been severely limited by the interruption of recruiting events and processes.

In short, by no fault of Wharton or of the University, and despite the best efforts of Wharton faculty and staff, for the remainder of the year all of us in one way or another will be unable to realize the full value of the Wharton experience that we expected and in which we invested heavily. For WG’20s concluding their time here, this is especially difficult.

With that reality in mind, we would like to open a dialogue regarding conditions under which Wharton MBA students would receive an appropriate amount of relief of tuition payments or other forms of assistance to recompense for the period during which the school’s operations are affected. We understand that any actions by Wharton would need to be done in coordination with the University, and we are willing to participate and assist in that conversation.

We are also in discussion with the Wharton Graduate Association about relief from membership dues to Wharton’s many clubs, the events for which have been cancelled, or otherwise ensuring that the funds are invested in the Wharton and University community in a manner that garners widespread support.

Again, we collectively believe that the University and Wharton have done admirably under difficult circumstances. Yet we also believe that this is a conversation that should be had. We hope that this can be an open and congenial discourse, recognizing that our lifetime relationship with The Wharton School will continue long after we have left campus. We want to make sure that we leave knowing that we left nothing behind. We applaud the University and Wharton administration for taking the lead to manage this crisis, and we hope that they can take the lead on this important matter as well.

We are open to discussing proposals, virtually of course, at the safest and most convenient time possible. Until then, please stay safe and stay healthy.

Respectfully signed, the following [XXX] members of The Wharton School MBA Classes of 2020 and 2021: