A Boston College junior is hoping to become the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking partial tuition reimbursement for the way her school shut classrooms in March and moved students to online classes.
In a suit filed this week in US District Court in Boston, Anilda Rodrigues acknowledges that BC had little choice but to shut its classrooms, but says it's unfair that students are being made to bear the full brunt of that decision:
While the effects of the COVID-19 crisis are shared by all individuals and institutions across the country, BC has failed to apportion the burden in an equitable manner or consistent with its obligations as an educational institution.
Her suit alleges that while previously on-campus students had to pay $1,968 per credit, undergraduates taking online classes by choice only had to pay $534.
For each credit hour in the Spring 2020 semester, students like Plaintiff received less than half of the promised academic hours of “classroom or direct faculty instruction.”
Though BC could no longer provide the remaining hours of “contact time” instruction per credit hour, BC demanded that students pay the full tuition price.
Students like Plaintiff also received dramatically less than the promised hours of additional “hours of out of class student work” per credit hour.
Similarly, students like Plaintiff paid fees for services and access to facilities and equipment over the full semester. Though BC provided these services and facility/equipment access for only part of the semester, and could not provide them for the full semester, BC demanded that students pay fees for the entire semester.
The suit alleges that the school and Rodrigues had a contract:
Plaintiff and Class members entered into a contract with BC whereby, in exchange for the payment of tuition, fees and other related costs, BC would provide an agreed-upon number of classes through in-person instruction and access to physical resources and school facilities such as libraries, laboratories, and classrooms.
Since the shift to online, students at several other Boston-area schools have filed similar suits, including at Northeastern, BU, Suffolk, Brandeis and Harvard.
In its response to one of the suits, BU says it should be thrown out because Massachusetts bars suits over "educational malpractice" - and because it says it didn't have any sort of contract with students.