Syracuse University has been hit with a proposed class action over its alleged decision to not refund tuition and fees despite being unable to provide students with in-person academic instruction, access to facilities and other services while shut down during the COVID-19 crisis.
According to the 14-page lawsuit, Syracuse has improperly retained tuition and fees in that students have been deprived of the access to facilities, faculty, course materials and the opportunity for a collaborative learning environment for which they paid. The plaintiff argues the remote learning options offered by Syracuse are “in no way the equivalent of the in-person education” students contracted and paid for upon enrollment at the Upstate New York school.
“Even if Defendant did not have a choice in cancelling in-person classes, it nevertheless has improperly retained funds for services it is not providing,” the case reads.
The plaintiff, an undergraduate pursuing a degree in information management and technology, claims his program relies extensively on in-person instruction, peer collaboration and access to Syracuse’s computer facilities left inaccessible after in-person classes were suspended on March 13. The plaintiff claims he has not been refunded any part of the more than $25,000 in tuition and fees he paid for the Spring 2020 semester.
Stressed in the complaint is that the plaintiff and those similarly situated did not choose to attend an online university, but instead relied on Syracuse’s marketing of its on-campus experience in deciding to enroll at the institution. In addition to academics and facilities access, the tuition and fees paid by students were to cover face-to-face interaction with peers and mentors, participation in student governance and unions, social development and independence, and networking and mentorship opportunities, the lawsuit says.
The complaint looks to represent all individuals who paid tuition and/or fees for the Spring 2020 semester at Syracuse for in-person educational services the school failed to provide and who have not received a refund.