PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University revised their housing contract to offer refunds after pushback from students and parents.
“You know we went there, we loved it, this is not how we want our school represented by policies like this, it doesn’t make you proud,” said Libby Ray.
Washington State University alumna Libby Ray was disappointed when WSU created an addendum housing contract for the upcoming school year. Her daughter Emma Ray is an incoming student, and the last-minute change had her concerned.
Sent out July 2nd, the contract stated WSU would not offer refunds if students were forced to vacate their residence halls at any time due to COVID-19. It required them to still pay for housing and dining for the entire academic year, roughly 11 to 13 thousand dollars for services they would not use.
“It makes you question if they were thinking about their students and putting their students first instead of their own financial need before the students,” said Cynthia Tan, Incoming WSU Student.
Incoming undergrad Cynthia Tan started a petition urging the school to revise the policy. More than 7,000 signed the petition including parents, students and alumni.
“People were understandably concerned, and we listened to what parents and their students had to say and we agreed, we needed to make a change to that policy,” said Phil Weiler, WSU’s Vice President for Marketing and Communication.
Less than a week after the addendum was sent out, WSU revised the policy to grant refunds. Which now reads in part “if a public health order requires the University to vacate residence halls due to COVID-19, the University will implement a refund or credit policy.” Weiler says University Housing lost $11 million in the spring due to COVID-19 and expects another $20 million loss in revenue in the fall.
“That really was the reason that there was real anxiety, this Iis a huge financial hit to the operation, it’s a self-supporting operation, they have requirements about how much they have in their reserve accounts, they may have to dip into those reserves,” said Weiler.
To comply with health and safety guidelines, WSU be housing two thousand fewer students for the 2020-21 academic year. Most students will be in single dorm rooms.
In response to the announcement, Tan updated the petition, adding “Without you guys, this wouldn’t have happened. Thank you so much for helping me fight for what’s right and voicing your concerns.”
To read the full revised policy, click here.
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