Petition calls for UC Berkeley partial fee reimbursement

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More than 2,300 people have signed a petition demanding a partial fee reimbursement from campus to compensate for the changes and difficulties caused by the COVID-19, or the coronavirus, pandemic, as of press time.

The petition, “Demand for UC Berkeley Partial Fee Reimbursement,” was first initiated March 17. The petition asks that campus consider reimbursing students for charges related to on-campus student and facility fees that are no longer relevant in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While we understand why the University has had to suspend in-class instruction due to COVID-19, we believe that the University should do more to offset the cost-burden associated with attending UC Berkeley since we are now online,” the petition reads.

Fees included in the partial reimbursement request include both regular tuition and professional degree supplemental tuition to account for a decline in education quality, as well as the Health Insurance Fee to account for the lack of accessibility to campus health services. The petition also asks that other fees, including the Student Services Fee, Campus Fee and Class Pass Transit Fee, be reimbursed as well.

Students have signed the petition, which has almost reached its goal of 2,500 signatures as of press time, in hopes of being compensated for reduced education quality and to support students who are facing financial crises.

“They are asking for release because they need the money that they spend for the quality of education they are no longer receiving to be returned back to them to help ease the burden they are now experiencing,” said campus senior Christopher Heredia.

Different components of each fee should be considered separately, according to Adam Orford, president of the Graduate Assembly. He added that he does not support a tuition reimbursement.

Orford said he agrees that students should be refunded any fees that provided services students can no longer access but suggested that such action could also negatively affect the campus’s long-term resilience. 

“Miscellaneous charges such as facility access fees, deposits, course materials and services fees and administrative service charges and penalties are being reviewed by the campuses and each will determine whether any charges are appropriate,” said UC Office of the President spokesperson Sarah McBride in an email.

Because mandatory campus-based fees are used to fund services such as dining, housing and security that are still functioning for students who remain on-campus, no compulsory-based fee requirements are expected to be changed, according to McBride.

Officials will consider the issue of campus services-based fees at the end of the semester, according to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore.

“As always, the University appreciates student feedback and input,” McBride said in the email. “Through all of this unexpected change, the University’s overarching priorities are to safeguard student health and enable students to continue making academic progress.”

Contact Joy Ma at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @dcjoyma.