UC Berkeley student files class-action complaint against UC Board of Regents for tuition reimbursement

Photo of Sproul Hall
Maya Valluru/File

Related Posts

Filed against the UC Board of Regents on Tuesday, a class-action complaint is demanding reimbursement of campus fees for students after the transition to virtual instruction.

The complaint alleges that UC Berkeley has committed a “breach of contract” and “unjust enrichment” by not refunding the portion of tuition and fees students have paid for the spring 2020 semester that go toward services that are no longer available because campus switched to virtual instruction in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The complaint states that tuition and mandatory fees also encompass charges for student and health services, as well as the campus and transit fees — all of which are no longer accessible as a result of the transition to distance learning. According to the complaint, the quality of education is lower when taught online than what it would be with in-person instruction.

“We have been contacted by students across the country who are facing this issue. It’s a matter of basic fairness. In this particular instance, we found what UC Berkeley is doing is particularly egregious,” alleged Roy Willey, one of the plaintiff’s attorneys.

The complaint adds that UC Berkeley will receive about $30 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act, which mandates that colleges must use at least half of the money received to give monetary aid to students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Willey said the class-action complaint, if approved by the courts, will turn into a class-action lawsuit that would represent all the students on campus.

The UC Office of the President declined to comment at this time.

“This case is about all the students at UC Berkeley,” said campus junior Noah Ritter, the complaint’s plaintiff. “It will come down to, are we receiving services that we paid for? In terms of the tuition, I think everyone would agree that weekly Zoom meetings are not worth a lifetime of student debt.”

Nina Narahari is the lead crime and courts reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ninanarahari_dc.