University of Wisconsin student Breon Newble created an online petition calling upon Chancellor Rebecca Blank and UW System President Tommy Thompson to reimburse student service fees for the fall semester.
The petition calls for the university to return some or all of the nearly $750 students paid for service fees and currently has 756 signatures. It questions UW’s justification behind keeping this money, specifically because of the university’s Sept. 9 switch to entirely online activities.
“Now, because of the inevitable and forewarned community spread of COVID-19 resulting from this reckless decision by highly-paid officials, many student services have been switched to an online format or halted completely,” the petition said. “UW-Madison should not by any means be entitled to the fees they’ve charged students.”
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UW’s segregated tuition fees, which amounts to $734.30, pays for 11 services. This includes $243.20 for the Wisconsin Union and $102.96 for the University Recreation and Wellbeing Master-Plan, according to the Bursar’s Office website.
Assistant Vice Chancellor of University Communications John Lucas said in an email to The Badger Herald that while many campus services are now online, the school still has some programs that are open or will resume later this fall.
“All of these entities have fixed costs like staff and facilities that still need to be covered for them to continue serving students now and in the future,” Lucas said. “Chancellor Blank does not plan to grant student segregated refunds at this time.”
This petition comes after freshmen in Witte and Sellery residence halls have had to acclimate to a two week quarantine.
Freshman Nicholas Byrnes said the fee is an added weight to an already problematic semester.
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“I do not think we should have to pay for something that we are not getting use out of, like the workout facilities,” Byrnes said. “This fee adds even more stress for students who already face restrictions like quarantine and isolation on campus.”
Byrnes said the $750 fee can have a big impact on students and could be put towards other expenses.
Freshman Maddie Haugen, who moved back home when classes went online, said though the university faced financial strains in bringing students back to campus during a pandemic, the fees should still be refunded.
“I understand why the university tried opening again,” Haugen said. “But the students aren’t being given the same experience as years past, so I do think they are owed some compensation.”