Story by Madeline Portilla/Contributing Writer
On March 17th, just days after MTSU announced the transition to remote learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MTSU senior Elijah Dangerfield created a Change.org petition calling for partial tuition reimbursement for the Spring 2020 semester. That petition now has almost 4,000 signatures.
The petition, entitled “(MTSU) Partial tuition reimbursement for online classes from COVID-19 side effects,” entails the frustrations of losing quality in-class time as well as the disparities online classes create for lower-income students.
The petition details state, “In addition to the decrease in our level of education, many students are faced with the burden of compromised access to important facilities paid for in their tuition, such as a library with computers and internet access, paid meals at dining halls, and the health clinic.”
The decision to hold spring semester remotely has sparked outrage within portions of the student body. The biggest complaint expressed on the petition’s page has been students saying they are paying tuition for in-person courses but required to complete these same courses online.
One commenter added, “Many students struggle with technology, due dates, and reaching out to instructors for help while taking online classes. The switch to online has affected my daily routine, taking a week out of lecture to prepare, and many students’ GPAs will be affected.”
While the university has responded to the GPA concerns by allowing students the option of accepting Pass or Fail credits for classes—and therefore not affecting a student’s GPA in any way— this does not address the bulk of students’ concerns.
Elijah Dangerfield, the creator of the petition, believes MTSU can take it a step further.
“Students pay for class fees and facilities and many other things that just aren’t able to be used anymore,” he said. “In the end, this simply means students are not getting what they paid for. MTSU has shown that they are willing to help students during these hard times. I believe this is just one more avenue in which MTSU can do that.”
Macy Blake, a sophomore in the graphic design program, expressed her thoughts on the topic.
“I feel like everyone is doing the best they can do, and it is something that needs to be done. But, my education has been affected because a majority of my classes are hands-on.”
While the entire situation is not ideal, MTSU has offered many resources to students, including partial housing and meal plan refunds. It is an adjustment made necessary due to the ever-evolving COVID-19 pandemic that will continue to have an effect on the overall functions of daily life.
There are currently no statements from the university addressing the growing petition, but rather official updates on better accommodating students in any virtual capacity.
For more information regarding educational resources offered by MTSU, visit the Walker Library’s official page for remote services and MTSU’s coronavirus response page here.
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