Online petition calls for USC to reimburse partial tuition

A petition is circulating calling USC to reimburse partial tuition following the transition of in-class lectures to an online format. The petition, created Thursday night, claims that refunds are merited because the University has not acted appropriately in response to the potential spread of coronavirus on campus. More than 3,100 people have signed the petition.

Since the release of this petition, the University has not addressed reimbursements for tuition. However, Provost Charles Zukoski announced Friday that students who refrain from returning to student housing through mid-April when remote instruction ends will be able to receive partial refunds or credits for housing and dining, though no specific reimbursement plan has been outlined.  

All undergraduate classes and most graduate classes have transitioned online and will be conducted digitally until April 14. This period of remote instruction has been extended by two weeks since it was first announced and may be extended further as the situation develops. 

While recognizing the University’s position in making these decisions, the petition contends that participating in classes remotely and through digital platforms, such as Zoom, marks a decrease in the quality of education assured by USC’s more than $57,000 tuition. 

“While we recognize and sympathize with the difficult position that the Coronavirus has put University of Southern California in, this transition to online classes represents a notable reduction in educational and instructional quality, which we fear will negatively affect our educational and professional outcomes moving forward,” the petition read.

The petition also asserted the cancellation of talks, networking events and reduction of personal time with professors would have an impact on professional career prospects. All University-related events, including Springfest, campus tours and athletic games have been canceled through at least mid-April. 

“The cost of online classes is much cheaper than [in-person] classes, and the opportunity to talk to the professor face to face, the [campus talks] and the activities that the school holds [does] not exist [anymore],” said petition creator Bianca Sun, a graduate student studying law. “That’s a part that we should be reimbursed.” 

The cancellation of USC programs has also caused apprehension among graduating students as they finish school amid a volatile financial market. The Dow Jones industrial average fell to its lowest point in about 30 years Thursday, after the New York Federal Reserve intervened with a $1.5 trillion injection. The 10% drop marked the worst day since the 1987 stock market crash.

“This is a particularly worrying prospect for those of us graduating in 2020, as we will likely find ourselves graduating into a recession,” the petition read.

The University is still planning on going through with commencement in May; however, in a memo to the USC community, Zukoski said that is subject to change depending on developments.