The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting closures of schools and drastic changes to the way education in this country is approached cannot be denied. Many students are suffering financially because of it and are starting to push back against the colleges and campuses who they feel are cheating them out of their tuition money. Recently, a University of Washington graduate student filed a class-action lawsuit, accusing the school of a breach of contract because of how it handled the COVID-19 closures and what it refused to do for students, and how it continued to charge students normal tuition rates for an educational experience that are sub-par.
The lawsuit alleges that even though the campus voted fairy early on to send students home and began transitioning to online instruction, the University of Washington continued to charge students as they would normally. There was no discount or reimbursements offered for tuition, and/or fees associated with normal academics and amenities associated with being a student. The board continues to get the financial benefit of millions of dollars from students who were still paying normal tuition and campus fees without promised amenities and services; the lawsuit argues that these actions would be seen as cases of attempted fraud.
Thousands of students enrolled and paid for an on-campus experience yet they got something far less impactful and beneficial. There were no in class services, tutors, amenities, events, and options that the students argue they paid and were still paying the school for in an unjust oversight. The primary focus of the lawsuit is on how the university and board of directors failed to do due diligence and to operate in good faith by doing things that they should have been doing as soon as the campus began shutting down due to the pandemic.
The cases are being heard and while evidence is still being gathered and both sides are arguing their cases, many eyes are glued to these proceedings as it could set a precedent for how colleges and universities across the country may have to respond to criticism of their handling of the pandemic.