In petitions, USD students call on university to cut tuition, pause infrastructure projects

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SAN DIEGO – University of San Diego students are calling on university leaders to cut tuition and temporarily pause ongoing infrastructure projects amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a petition launched this week, students are saying they should pay less for online learning, an increasingly common refrain as universities nationwide resume classes mostly virtually in the coming weeks and months.

According to the university, full-time undergraduate students will pay some $52,000 a year in tuition to attend USD this year, despite not being able to attend class on campus in the interim due to COVID-19 restrictions. Classes are scheduled to begin entirely online next week.

But like many students, USD junior Kara Case is worried she won’t be able to afford tuition this year.

“I was already stressed because of COVID-19,” Case said, “and now I’m scared because I might not be able to continue my education.”

Case and another student have begun circulating petitions online garnering a total of more than 3,100 signatures. In one petition with nearly 600 signatures, students have asked the university to lower tuition, restore full scholarships and “pause all infrastructure projects” to offset any potential university revenue losses.

“By raising tuition, we’re getting a reduced learning experience but paying more,” she said. “The price should reflect the learning experience we’re receiving which is online, which is a reduced learning experience.”

But USD President James T. Harris III says the university still has endured a financial toll due to the pandemic, projecting the impact on the current academic year to exceed $40 million.

“In addition, our endowment has decreased in value by more than $50 million dollars since the beginning of the current economic downturn and we have no plans to pass these additional expenses onto our students,” Harris said.

USD also plans to have robust COVID-19 testing, daily temperature checking and cleaning protocols when students are able to return.

“That’s definitely going to be a cost factor that we have to weigh in,” Case said.

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