A student of the University of Missouri system (the UM system) has filed a lawsuit against the UM system on the grounds of insufficient refunds during the coronavirus pandemic. The student filed the lawsuit in Boone County, Missouri and is suing on behalf of all students. The students main argument states that moving to online classes did not provide students with the same quality of education as in class instruction and thus all students are owed a refund for their tuition cost.
The plaintiff’s attorney, Richard Cornfield, agrees with the school's decision to close due to the pandemic, but he argues that students did not receive the same value from their education. He also pointed out that students no longer have access to student facilities, student organizations, or in-person activities and resources. The lawyer said that students did not pay for a purely online education, they paid for the in person experience of college. The lawsuit is not asking for a specific amount of money. This number will likely be chosen by a jury and by attorney’s.
Representatives of the school system are fighting the claim. They disagree with the plaintiff and have pointed out the many refunds which they have already provided. These include room and board refunds, meal balance refunds, and a refund of a portion of the recreation center fees.
This lawsuit is not the only one filed against colleges since COVID-19 forced schools to discontinue in person instruction.The University of Colorado, Purdue University, Columbia University, and Cornell University have all faced similar lawsuits. The universities are outraged and all claim that they have provided students with the same quality of education online as students received in the classroom. Michigan State said students are still able to take their classes taught by the same faculty, access tutoring resources, consult academic advising, visit office hours, and access the library resources electronically.
The arguments for each side in every single one of these cases has been the same. Students feel they were cheated because they did not receive what they signed up and paid for and are therefore arguing about their quality of education, unavailable resources, and the inability to socially interact, which is a big part of social development in college. The universities do not think they are in the wrong because they are still providing education online with the majority of resources available and thus they do not believe they should refund a portion of the tuition.
On another note, the state of Missouri saw a significant jump in COVID-19 cases recently. The state’s total rose by 108 cases last Thursday alone. The state also reported 30 more deaths, which brings the total amount of deaths in Missouri to 661.