Letter to the Editor: In response to the discussions about online instruction and discounted tuition

Yes, we’re all in this together, though what we know this really means is that, as a student body and paying customer, we aren’t looked at as a coalition with the autonomy to have a seat at the decision-making table.

Letter+to+the+Editor%3A+In+response+to+the+discussions+about+online+instruction+and+discounted+tuition

Letter to the Editor

In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic is unlike any other situation — from inducing mandated lockdowns and mask ordinances to novel social distancing guidelines and hand sanitizer at every turn. To be sure, these are conditions unlike any other in living memory for a lot of us. 

But online learning is hardly anything new. It’s certainly become more ubiquitous. What was once familiar primarily to college students is now, and has been for months, a daily routine for many K-12 students—  but online learning is hardly foreign territory for college students. And, normally, tuition does not fluctuate with mode of instruction. 

I agree that remote learning does not offer the same value as in-person classes. I am hard pressed to think of any student who wouldn’t say the same. Addressing this, though, is two-fold: 1) contending with the precedent of flat-rate tuition regardless of mode of instruction, and 2) being clear — and logical — about what a proposed tuition discount/ refund would entail, if that’s the goal. 

“If we cannot safely be on campus, we should not have to pay full tuition,” is a statement which likely has little to no opposition. But merely saying what we want without a proposed solution is frivolous negotiation and little more than making demands without any idea of how they can realistically be met. 

It’s clear that the University has a rapacious appetite for our tuition dollars. “Join us this fall and stay the course in completing your degree.” And, when the CLA signatories ominously proclaim that “We are all in this together,” it’s clear that students are at the mercy of whatever decisions are made for them — for better or for worse. 

The best remedy, it seems, is to be clear about what the student agenda is — not only what’s on it, but how it can be fulfilled. Yes, we’re all in this together, though what we know this really means is that, as a student body and paying customer, we aren’t looked at as a coalition with the autonomy to have a seat at the decision-making table. 

“Remote learning does not offer the same value as in-person classes.” Agreed. “What do you think would be an appropriate discount/refund?” Who knows?  

Anecdotes are a good start, but if we are asking for a seat at the decision-making table, they cannot be the end-goal if we wish to see change.

This letter to the editor has been lightly edited for style and clarity; it was written in response to two previously submitted letters to the editor. 

This letter was submitted by Joshua Jordan, a recent graduate of the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication.