SEATTLE — A graduate student at the University of Washington filed a lawsuit demanding tuition reimbursement after the school shifted most of its classes online for the remainder of the year.
Alexander Barry wrote in the complaint filed Wednesday in King County Superior Court that he paid the university for “opportunities and services that he did not receive, including on-campus education, facilities, services, and activities.”
University spokesperson Victor Balta said in a statement Wednesday that the school’s transition online has resulted in an increase in its investment in new technology and salaries for faculty and staff.
“We understand and share the frustration and disappointment that students and their families are experiencing as we navigate the unprecedented limitations presented by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Balta said in a statement sent to The Seattle Times.
The school has not refunded any tuition despite canceling on-campus instruction, activities and events, the complaint says.
“While we understand the unforeseen limitations the pandemic has placed on institutions of higher learning, we believe UW’s community and its students deserve better,” said Steve Berman, Barry’s lawyer, in a statement. “It is our hope that through this litigation, UW can come to recognize its responsibility to tuition-payers and the ways in which it has failed to deliver what it promised them.”
As of Wednesday, there have been 80,812 confirmed cases and 2,020 deaths from the coronavirus since the pandemic began, according to the state Department of Health.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.