By Jason Gonzales, Chalkbeat Colorado
Taking up a call made by college students around the country, students at the University of Denver are asking for a tuition reduction that reflects what they’ve lost since the campus closed last month to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The closure set off a cascade of issues for students, from the loss of internet access and campus jobs to increased stress and emotional upheaval. Low-income students and those with disabilities have been most affected.
Knowing DU students face uncertain futures and feeling as if changes due to the shutdowns are severely diminishing their support network and academic experience, 11 students filed a petition to ask the school to adjust tuition.
The Change.org petition is meant to promote changes that will help put students at ease about their future and to reimburse them for a limited online educational experience for which they are paying full price. As of Friday evening, the week-old petition had garnered over 1,300 signatures.
“There are ripple effects: Like can I concentrate during this global pandemic when I’m taking online classes?” said Emma Stadele, a DU graduate student involved in the petition effort. “And I ask, is that the best way for me to learn? I know for me, I had to use a wireless hotspot because my Wi-Fi went down the other day and that then created another financial struggle.”
The university in March issued refunds to students for room and board and for student activity fees. But tuition, which averages $50,000 a year for undergrads, remains unchanged.
“I know our school is working on trying to find and get us access to certain emergency funds and things like that — this is not to say that the university’s not doing anything — but we just felt like we need to continue to advocate,” Stadele said.