A proposed class action claims Occidental College students are owed tuition and fee refunds for part of the Spring 2020 semester that was transitioned online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After closing down its Los Angeles campus in mid-March, Occidental failed to provide the in-person educational experience for which students contracted and paid, according to the 14-page case out of New Jersey. Nevertheless, the private school has refused to issue refunds for Spring 2020 tuition and fees, the case says, arguing that even if the school had no choice in shuttering due to the pandemic, it has still “improperly retained funds for services it is not providing.”
In a March 12 email from President Jonathan Veitch, Occidental announced that the rest of the semester following spring break would be held remotely in order to “minimize the number of students living on campus,” the case states. As a result of the campus closure and transition to online learning, students have not received the educational services, access to facilities, and opportunities for which they paid thousands in tuition and fees, the lawsuit alleges.
Further, although students and their families contracted for and expected an in-person educational experience, the learning options offered by Occidental amid the COVID-19 crisis were “subpar in practically every aspect” given students were deprived of “the opportunity for collaborative learning and in-person dialogue, feedback, and critique,” the suit argues.
“The remote learning options are in no way the equivalent of the in-person education for which Plaintiff and the putative class members contracted and paid,” the complaint reads.
According to the suit, the cost of in-person tuition and fees was meant to cover not only academic instruction but “an entirely different experience” that included face-to-face interaction with faculty and peers; access to libraries, computer labs, study rooms and laboratories; student governance and unions; extracurricular activities and sports; social development and independence; and networking and mentorship opportunities.
The lawsuit looks to recover pro-rated refunds for the costs of these experiences and services that Occidental allegedly failed to provide.
The case comes on the heels of dozens of lawsuits filed against universities and colleges nationwide who have apparently refused to issue refunds for Spring 2020 tuition and fees despite transitioning to online learning in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
ClassAction.org’s coverage of COVID-19 litigation can be found here and over on our Newswire.