By Vivian Roach | Staff Writer
A Baylor student filed a class action lawsuit against the university claiming it failed to properly compensate students for changes made in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Allison King, a Baylor student from McAllen, filed a class action lawsuit against the school for breach of contract on the grounds that students did not agree to pay tuition for online classes at the beginning of the spring 2020 semester. King is also suing for unjust enrichment by Baylor for keeping student’s tuition payments.
“Students choosing an on-campus learning environment pay for the opportunity to have in-person classes featuring direct interaction with faculty and on-campus amenities and activities, including the dining hall, library, fitness center, pool, sporting events, and other extracurricular activities,” the lawsuit said.
Baylor announced on March 11 that the campus would be closed for an extended spring break in preparation for the following two-week period of online classes due to COVID-19. On March 16, it was further announced that the remainder of the semester was to be online and that campus remained closed.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Baylor released a statement that said, “Baylor University stands by the decisions that were made during the spring semester as part of an unprecedented time for our country and all of higher education. In a time where businesses and other organizations shut their doors from coast to coast, Baylor stepped up on behalf of our students through many unique, creative and sacrificial ways to fulfill our mission and provide educational services during a pandemic not experienced in more than 100 years.”
The school offered its on campus resources remotely to students from outlets including: the University Libraries, Health Services, Baylor Counseling Services, Paul L. Foster Success Center and the Chaplain’s Office. All athletic events were cancelled.
Prorated credits for housing, meal plans and parking permits were made by Baylor, and the school continued to pay students through the semester for federal work-study. Tuition and lab fees were not refunded, since students still received full academic credit for their completed spring 2020 classes.
Roy Willey, a class action attorney with the Anastopoulo Law Firm representing the plaintiffs, said universities and colleges “are not any more entitled to keep money for services they are not delivering than the mom and pop bakery on Main Street.”
Students and their families expect to have access to the facilities and education that they paid for with tuition and fees, and Willey said that it is unfair that students cannot access these.
“Now universities are not delivering those services that students and their families have paid for and it’s not fair for the universities with multi-million dollar endowments to keep all of the money that students and their families have paid. It is not fair to pass the full burden onto students and their families,” Willey said.
King is asking Baylor to return prorated amounts of tuition, fees and meal plan payments to students enrolled in the past semester.
Students across the country from universities such as: Boston University, University of Miami, University of Colorado Boulder, Columbia University and Cornell University have also been suing on similar grounds.