Tea Time with Tagwa: VCU should partially refund mandatory fees

Illustration by Karly Andersen

Tagwa Shammet, Opinions Editor

Tea timers, do you know what goes into your cost of attendance at VCU? For all of us, it’s different. Some of us live on campus, have meal plans, our tuition depends on our credit load, fees vary by school and major. However, one thing for all students is the same: our flat rate fees.

These flat rate fees include: 

  1. Student Activity Fee – $45

  2. University Fee – $1,017.50

  3. Library Fee – $35

  4. Technology Fee – $41.50

  5. Health Fee – $112

While we are on campus, these fees make absolute sense. However, now that our semester is remote, we deserve a proportional reimbursement for these costs. I’m not using VCU technology nor do I have access to both the library and the health center from my home in Northern Virginia. Therefore, it makes no sense to charge me for such entities. 

I appreciated the willingness to refund students’ housing costs and meal plans. (Information about the refunds or credits will be available April 9.) But I, like a lot of other students, don’t have a meal plan and live off campus — so while it’s a good practice, I’m not getting any money back. 

Since we were on campus for two months, I don’t think a full refund is necessary. However, just like portions of room and board are being refunded, a similar partial refund is only fair.

I’m not asking for my tuition money back. The university has done its best to provide me my education online, therefore, I can’t expect a refund on that end. However, it makes no sense not to refund mandatory fees when we can’t reap the benefits we are paying for.

VCU students have taken to social media to voice their frustrations with the university. Similar to the pass/fail situation, VCU students have created a petition to demand their money back from the university. 

A tweet by Undergraduate Student Life Chair Raelyn Davis, said we just do not have access to these resources anymore, so keeping our money is ridiculous. 

Underneath this tweet, a student responded with: “typical VCU back at it again.” It’s no surprise that students are completely fed up with the university and its actions. 

https://twitter.com/ashlaaymclellan/status/1244675375155810309

This comes days after the incident at the Honors College, where contractors removed student belongings — to convert the facility into a hospital to house non-coronavirus patients in case of overflow from the pandemic — before Residential Life and Housing notified the residents. This entire situation has shown VCU’s true colors. Many of us were aware of what they are, but were disappointed nevertheless. 

VCU has shown time and time again through this virus that its administration lacks sensibility and doesn’t care for its students. When discussing this situation with my friends, many of them described VCU as “selfish and money hungry,” which I can’t disagree with. 

This is a university that preaches “diversity and inclusion,” yet neglects its less fortunate students. 

We are all going through an abnormal set of circumstances. Many people have found themselves unemployed. Bills are due today on the first of the month, and people don’t know how to make ends meet right now. The least VCU can do is run us our money. And that’s the tea.

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