Campus officials notified UCI students of the university’s decision to charge students full tuition for the spring quarter in an email on Monday, March 30.
“While certain aspects of campus operations are curtailed during this transition, many of the costs associated with campus-based fees continue, and new costs have been incurred during this time,” the statement said. “The debt owed for student buildings and facilities and our need to maintain campus infrastructure continue despite the current crisis. The campus is now incurring additional costs, such as laptop rentals and other emergency distance learning related needs.”
These fees cover some services that are essential to students who have remained on campus, including the FRESH Basic Needs Hub and Student Health Center services. However, according to film and media student Jennifer Bell, many of the other services still being paid for have become obsolete in the face of remote learning and state-wide shelters in place.
“We paid for certain services, and while it is entirely out of their control that those services cannot be provided, there is no justification for the UC Irvine administration keeping this $21 million in full,” Bell said in an email to the New University.
According to Bell, students recognize that they are still receiving full credit for their academic units, hence they are not asking for a reduction in base tuition. But, it remains unclear to her why the cost for spring quarter is still so high.
Bell then provides a price break down for a number of services that will not be in use during spring quarter, but will still be compensated for by student tuition. Some of the services Bell mentions include the use of the Anteater Express, Athletics Facility, Bren Events Center, Campus Spirit, Club Sports, Student Center and the Anteater Recreation Center. These services add up to a total of $706.86 per student and over $21 million being paid overall by the entire student population.
“[UCI administration] have not issued any plans to refund any of these pre-paid fees to students, even though our billing account explicitly states where our money was intended to go and what we agreed to pay for,” Bell said.
This major financial debacle seems to have highlighted students feeling invisible to the administration.
“I am writing to members of the press, because I feel as if my voice as a student is not being heard by UCI administration,” Bell said.
The New University reached out to members of the UCI administration, including Chancellor Gillman; Willie Banks, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs; Michael Dennin, Dean of the Division of Undergraduate Education and Vice Provost of Teaching and Learning; and Gillian R. Hayes, vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate Division; and Campus Billing Services for comment but received no response.
When asked for a statement on her thoughts about how administration should respond to the student feelings, Bell said, “While I understand that expecting a 100% refund for all of our canceled services is somewhat unreasonable, it’s not unreasonable for UCI administrators to consider at least partially refunding students after greatly reducing our services. With toilet paper rolls and paper towels topping $40-$50 on Amazon, and with many students losing their on-campus or off-campus employment or paid work opportunities, the very least UCI administrators could do to help students would be to strongly consider issuing partial refunds for any reduced services that we paid them in advance for.”
Dhanika Pineda is a Staff Writer. She can be reached at email@example.com