U of R students suing for refunds over remote classes in spring semester

Charles Molineaux
Created: September 14, 2020 06:30 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The University of Rochester’s switch from in-person classes to remote learning may have kept classes going, but they weren’t what students signed up for and didn’t give them their money’s worth, according to a new class-action lawsuit.

“It’s really a case about not getting what you paid for,” explained attorney James Francis who represents one student in the lawsuit but says he’s doing this for thousands more.

On Thursday, Francis filed a lawsuit against the university on behalf of music student Daniel Carstairs over Carstairs's springtime classes suddenly going from in-person to online for the pandemic, but still costing the same. He’s demanding a refund.

“No one is challenging that University of Rochester’s decision to go online and shut the campus down for the health of its students. It’s simply…. Why is there no discount? Why is the discount not significant, why isn’t there an effort, an attempt even to discount the students?” Francis said.

Francis pointed out that U of R already had remote classes, priced at only 30% of what in-person learning costs and said that kind of discount or something similar should have happened for other classes that went online.

“The reality is, across the country, there are a lot of schools and colleges that have provided discounts,” he said. “Georgetown and Princeton came out ahead of the curve on this and offered 10% discount as did a lot of other schools.”

A statement from the university says “The University was just recently made aware of this proposed class-action lawsuit. We will review it carefully and prepare a vigorous defense against these claims.”

It goes on to say “The University’s transition to online classes in spring 2020 was legal and appropriate and involved a tremendous effort from our faculty, staff, and students to successfully complete the academic year.”

The lawsuit only names Carstairs as a plaintiff but Francis is asking for class-action status which would make for some big numbers.

“There are over 11,000 students,” he said. “And the tuition alone is a little over $57,000 a year. So, even with a modest discount, if you took 10 or 20%, we are talking serious refunds here.”

The University pointed out that it did offer students prorated refunds for unused room and board expenses after the campus closed down.

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