IU Student Government presidential candidate Rachel Aranyi and vice presidential candidate Ruhan Syed launched a petition Thursday calling for the IU Board of Trustees to give all students a 25% tuition and mandatory fee refund.
Aranyi, a sophomore, said the petition is part of the Inspire campaign’s COVID-19 response platform and is also part of their platform’s push for more affordable and accessible education.
Provost Lauren Robel announced Friday IU is not planning to refund any part of tuition or mandatory fees. IUSG speaker of congress and Inspire campaign manager Andrew Ireland said this announcement was not unexpected.
Many students will not be receiving the federal stimulus because they were claimed as dependents, Ireland said.
“There is a disconnect between where the university is at and students' realities,” Ireland said.
Aranyi said she thinks a partial refund of tuition and fees is a reasonable request given students do not have access to in-person classes and resources such as printing, the Student Recreational Sports Center and other resources for the remainder of the semester.
The petition had more than 7,700 signatures as of Monday evening. Aranyi said the goal is to collect 10,000 signatures.
Aranyi said if elected, her administration plans to use its power to send the petition to the Board of Trustees. She said she also wants to meet with them face-to-face to bring them a student’s perspective. If her campaign is not elected, she said it still plans to work on this issue.
The decision on whether to refund part of students’ tuition and mandatory fees will likely be a joint decision between the Board of Trustees and IU administration, Aranyi said.
“They don’t know how much students feel like they deserve this sort of refund,” she said.
Ireland said accessibility to education is central to the campaign’s platform. He said it wants to ensure financial barriers aren’t negatively affecting students’ educational goals during the COVID-19 crisis or in the future. He said the petition is meant to raise awareness about this issue and give students a unified platform for their voices to be heard.
He said there are a few emergency financial resources available to students in immediate need. The Beverly Warren Emergency Fund for Students grants students up to $500 for immediate expenses such as getting home or medical expenses, he said. There are also emergency loans available and students can apply for emergency funding related to the coronavirus pandemic on the Division of Student Affairs website. He said these resources aren’t enough.
Another concern is for students’ ability to continue their education, Ireland said. He said some students who are taking a large financial hit now due to the coronavirus pandemic may not be able to come back in the fall.
“We do want to ensure that ultimately putting the students first is what the university is about,” Ireland said. “Students are really what makes the university what it is.”