UCR4COLA organizes to demand that Chancellor Wilcox and the UC refund student fees

Martin Lopez /HIGHLANDER

On Wednesday, April 1, UCR4COLA, a UCR student movement that stands in solidarity with UCSC students demanding a cost of living adjustment (COLA), planned to email blast UCR Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox. Students demanded that Wilcox refund student fees after the campus closure and the move to remote instruction in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The email blast was promoted on the UCR4COLA Instagram account. The post questioned why all tuition and fees remain unchanged for spring quarter. In a campuswide email, Chancellor Wilcox wrote that students enrolled in off-campus instructional programs such as the Education Abroad Program or UCDC, for example, are assessed campus-based fees even if they are not physically present on the campus. He wrote that remote instruction is thus determined to be analogous to those off-campus arrangements. Separate from the tuition and fees, Wilcox wrote that UCR is reviewing course materials and services fees to determine if these can be waived for the spring quarter and that they plan to finalize those decisions next week so student billing can be appropriately adjusted. 

UCR4COLA asked that students email blast Chancellor Wilcox at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1. They asked students to go to bit.ly/BlastWilcox, copy and paste the text into an email and send the email to Wilcox. Part of the text stated, “We are aware that the university is not legally allowed to reallocate the money collected from these fees.You are being audited. We demand to know exactly how our money is being spent. We need to see an itemized list of the dollar amounts being charged for each campus-based service/facility, a detailed and current budget for each, and contact info for the individual people responsible for handling these funds.” 

In an email interview with The Highlander, UCR4COLA collectively stated that UCR4COLA, along with other schools nationwide are demanding that their administration refund money that is normally used to pay for campus resources. They wrote that because students cannot be on campus as set forth by county and state regulations, these campus resources are now non-existent. They wrote, “During a global pandemic, it is inhumane to continue to charge students fees for resources they cannot even access. These hundreds of dollars worth of fees could be better used for food, rent, medical expenses.” 

As the largest employer in California, the UC is responsible for the livelihoods of its employees, stated UCR4COLA. They feel as if UCR has not made clear what types of financial support they are providing student employees during this time. They stated that instead, UCR is still charging their students in campus fees for programs that have been canceled. “We are asking Wilcox to tell us where this money is going. We understand the bureaucratic limitations that exist within the institution. But as the chancellor of OUR university, we are demanding accountability from him,” stated UCR4COLA. 

They stated that they feel as if all UCR has currently done is not assess the $100 Late Payment Fee spring 2020 and have passed this off as a “heroic act.” UCR4COLA wrote that the university cannot use campus fee monies to pay for anything other than campus fees. They stated that to their understanding, different departments on campus are giving their student employees the “option or encouraging them to resign because UCR has no intentions to provide them financial aid of any sort.” 

UCR4COLA concluded stating that they just want answers. They wrote, “We are demanding fees be fully refunded. If for whatever reason full fees cannot be refunded then reduce them. We should not be paying $200 for a gym we cannot use. It will sway an administration that cares for the well being of the people who make up their university. Without students, UCR is just a bunch of buildings. We make the university. It is time administration recognizes that.” 

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