The UC Board of Regents won two class-action lawsuits filed by students during spring 2020 on Nov. 12. The plaintiffs sued the board for not reimbursing students for benefits and services that their fees pay into, but are no longer accessible due to COVID-19.
The lawsuits, presented in Los Angeles and Oakland federal courts, represent more than 285,000 students who were enrolled in the spring 2020 academic term. UC students Claire Brandmeyer and Noah Ritter were the plaintiffs, representing the class action suits filed on April 27 and April 28, respectively.
“University of California has not offered refunds to students for the unused portion of their campus fees paid to cover the cost of certain on-campus services which are no longer available to students,” Brandmeyer alleged in the filed suit. “University of California is, in essence, profiting from this pandemic.”
Plaintiffs Ritter and Brandmeyer filed lawsuits against the board with the same intention of accusing the governing board of withholding fee refunds while a majority of services remain closed.
Depending on the UC, campus-based fees range from a total of $1,455 to $4,000 in addition to the student services fee of $1,128. During remote instruction, these fees go toward services like instruction, advising, and financial aid, according to a newsletter from Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer. There are currently around 1,000 students living on the UC Santa Cruz campus, totaling 8,000 less than an average year.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim barred the students’ complaints, since the 11th Amendment exempts the regents from having their lawsuits heard in federal court. According to her, “every person who is unhappy with the services” would be capable of suing the administration at the federal level if the cases weren’t dismissed.
The UC admissions website states there will be no refunds available, despite these legal complaints.