A Harvard student who claims to have been wronged by online classes has sued Harvard to get part of her spring tuition back.
The suit, by a graduate student from North Carolina, is basically the same as those filed by students at Boston University and Northeastern University, except that, unlike in those cases, where the students used their real names, the Harvard student identifies herself only as Student A in her lawsuit, filed yesterday in US District Court in Boston.
Plaintiff proceeds as Student A due to a reasonable fear of retaliation and harassment from Harvard and its supporters, for proceeding with this claim.
In her suit, the student is seeking recompense for the $11,422 she says she paid Harvard for tuition and student health fees for the part of the spring semester cut short by the school's decision to shut its campuses due to Covid-19. The two law firms that filed her suit, one here, one in California, are also seeking to make her the lead plaintiff in a class action involving all Harvard students, an action that could mean more than $5 million in payments should they be successful.
The online learning options being offered to Harvard students are subpar in practically every aspect and a shadow of what they once were, including the lack of facilities, materials, and access to faculty. Students have been deprived of the opportunity for collaborative learning and in-person dialogue, feedback, and critique.
The remote learning options are in no way the equivalent of the in-person education putative class members contracted and paid for. The remote education being provided is not even remotely worth the amount charged class members for Spring Semester 2020 tuition. The tuition and fees for in-person instruction at Harvard are higher than tuition and fees for its other online courses/programs because such costs cover not just the academic instruction, but encompass an entirely different experience which includes but is not limited to:
- Face to face interaction with professors, mentors, and peers;
- Access to facilities such as libraries, laboratories, computer labs, and study room;
- Student governance and student unions;
- Extra-curricular activities, groups, intramural sports, etc.;
- Student art, cultures, and other activities;
- Social development and independence;
- Hands on learning and experimentation;
- Networking and mentorship opportunities.
The suit continues:
Defendant’s performance under the contract is not excused due to COVID-19. Indeed, Defendant should have refunded the pro-rated portion of any monies paid for education services not provided. Even if performance was excused or impossible, Defendant would nevertheless be required to return the funds received for services it will not provide.
In addition to getting pro-rata reimbursement for tuition and fees, Student A is also seeking damages and attorney's fees.