It was revealed that both Western Carolina University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro would not give refunds to students due to a new addendum in their housing contracts, The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal reported.
The addendum does not specifically mention the coronavirus lockdowns.
If there are “closures, restrictions, and/or adjustments to the housing services schedule, the University shall not have the obligation to issue a partial refund or credit for such interruptions or adjustments.”
UNC-Greensboro said the addendum came from the UNC central administration, not from the Greensboro campus.
UNC-Greensboro’s COVID-19 FAQ page gives a vague response to questions about the policy.
“Some have interpreted this guidance as a definitive decision not to issue refunds under any circumstances, but that is not accurate,” the FAQ page said.
“If the UNC System institutions are able to offer financial relief to students—in the form of refunds or other measures—we would certainly like to do so.”
Yet, the university concludes that UNC-Greensboro cannot issue “any definitive decisions or commitments now on future refunds.”
Both North Carolina State University and UNC-Chapel Hill said they will prorate housing costs by issuing refunds to students for the time that they cannot live on campus.
The dilemma schools face comes as the virus closures become an increasingly polarized point of political contention.
Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper, despite marching without a mask during recent Black Lives Matter protests and encouraging mass gatherings, has recently imposed arbitrary closures, which included cancellation of the state Republican convention.
The national convention, which was set to take place in Charlotte, was relocated to Jacksonville, Fla., after Cooper refused to offer assurances that he would not try to sabotage it with extreme social-distancing fiats.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration on Tuesday backed off a threat to force international students to return home if schools held online-only classes.
The policy appeared to be aimed at encouraging the schools to reopen by tying it to their own profits.
However, several prominent universities—including Harvard, Johns Hopkins and the Massachusetts Institute for Technology—filed suit complaining that the “arbitrary” change would ruin their existing plans.
That means it is more likely that schools which attempt to reopen with safety measures in place are the ones more likely to incur lost expenditures, being subject to the capricious whims of state executives like Cooper.
Laura Comino, a UNC-Greensboro student, started a petition on Change.org that asks the school for a “comprehensive plan,” “an apology and explanation,” and “a system-wide guarantee of refunds.”
39,000 people have signed the petition.
UNC-Greensboro issued partial refunds to students who were forced to leave campus during the spring shutdown.
UNC schools refunded $77 million to students.
Headline USA’s Ben Sellers contributed to this report.