With University of Minnesota students quarantining themselves per Gov. Tim Walz’s orders, the facilities and services they pay for have become, for lack of a better word, useless. Students can’t go to the Recreation and Wellness Center, eat at their respective dining halls or participate in clubs if these places are no longer open. Thankfully, President Gabel and the Board of Regents recognize that students aren’t getting their money’s worth and announced the Comprehensive Student Fee Refund Plan on April 2.
The refund will include housing and residential fees, parking fees, meal plans, recreation and wellness fees, student services fees, and transportation and safety fees from March 16 through the end of the semester. The University is expected to lose $27 million in revenue with just these refunds.
This loss may not seem like a lot, given the University’s revenues, but this doesn’t include study abroad refunds and the loss of revenue due to canceled sports and other events. Regardless, the University is going to lose a lot of money due to COVID-19.
Along with moving classes to online, pushing the pass/fail deadline further back and urging professors to be lenient on grading, the University is clearly trying to make our lives as students easier during our time away from campus.
President Gabel must be one of the unluckiest first-year presidents in Gopher history, having the most dramatic event on campus be a world-threatening pandemic rather than a vandalized panel on the Washington Avenue Bridge. Her consistent communication and willingness to help shows that she is the right person for the job.
But I’ve heard some people say that the University giving out refunds is “generous.” It isn’t generous — it’s expected.
Students who pay thousands to attend school here should have been outraged at the end of this if they didn’t see any refunds for the services they couldn’t use. It would be similar to ordering a hamburger at a restaurant, being told that the restaurant has run out of everything for a hamburger besides the patty, then getting charged for the full hamburger despite the absence of lettuce, tomatoes, bacon, onions, bun and condiments. The patty is our tuition and the other ingredients are everything else included.
For many students, the inability to go to the Rec, take the bus or have a parking spot pale in comparison to the college experiences lost as a result of the school shutting down. Freshmen, whose collegiate journey has just begun, have had their first year experience cut short. Seniors, whose collegiate journey is coming to an end, get a very boring and underwhelming send-off after years of hard work. Sadly, these experiences, or lack thereof, are nonrefundable.