The lawsuit alleges that the University of Arizona (UA), Arizona State University (ASU), and Northern Arizona University (NAU) have refused to provide a refund of housing, dining, and other costs to students who move out of the campuses due to the ongoing pandemic.
After Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey declared a public health emergency, the Board of Regents announced that the three universities would move classes online and encouraged students to move out of their campus residences.
Adam Levitt, an attorney representing the students, said in a press release that the lawsuit was filed on behalf of all students who made full payments for this spring semester but did not get the services they paid for.
For the 2019-2020 academic year, according to Levitt, undergraduate room and board fees alone at the UA were $13,350. They were $13,510 at ASU’s Tempe campus, and $10,780 at NAU’s Flagstaff campus. At this time, the UA is offering a credit to students toward the next year’s housing and meal plans, while ASU and NAU have said they are not planning to provide any refunds.
“U of A has refused to return to students the full pro-rated, unused portion of their room and board payments for the semester, and a small housing credit for the next academic year is useless for any student who did not intend to live on-campus during the 2020-2021 academic year,” Levitt said. “These students’ lives have been turned upside down in the wake of the global pandemic, and all they and their families are asking is to not be required to pay for services that they are not presently receiving.”
“The purpose and goal of our lawsuit is to ultimately require the Arizona Board of Regents to return those funds to the rightful owners of those funds, the students and their parents,” Levitt said, reported The Arizona Republic.
Michael Crow, president of the ASU, previously said during an interview that students asking for refunds was inappropriate amid the public health emergency.
“The funny thing is that somebody declares a national emergency and they’re talking about bringing out martial law in California. And then people ask us, are we going to give them a refund? Are you kidding me? I mean, that’s what you want to talk to us about is a refund?” said Crow. “So, like I said, we’re offering full, full service. We’ll sort all of this out at some point, but we’re not going to sort it out now. That’s like 48th on a list of 48 things.”