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OSU sued by students for charging in-person tuition levels during pandemic
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OSU sued by students for charging in-person tuition levels during pandemic

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OSU Stock: Waldo Hall

Waldo Hall on the Oregon State University campus on November 18, 2020.

Two Oregon State University students filed a class action lawsuit against OSU for continuing to charge tuition consistent with in-person education while conducting most classes exclusively online during the pandemic.

Danielle Pranger and Garrett Harris, represented by Seattle law firm Hagens Berman, accuse OSU of a breach of contract and “unjust enrichment.” The firm has brought similar suits against the University of Oregon and other universities across the U.S.

“So much of a college student’s educational experience involves hands-on, in-person access to campus events, facilities, instruction and collaboration,” Steve Berman, attorney at Hagens Berman said in a Monday press release. “We believe that when OSU closed its campus, transitioning to online-only classes, it barred tuition payers from the very things they paid for, and in our opinion, they deserve repayment.”

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Steve Clark, vice president of university relations and marketing, said Monday that the university disputes the allegations in the complaint.

“Oregon State University has remained open since winter term 2020 during the pandemic on its campuses in Corvallis and at OSU-Cascades in Bend,” Clark said. “OSU continues to provide students a high-quality education with courses in person, remotely and online.”

The main thrust of the argument in the lawsuit is that OSU charging tuition at the normal rate for online classes during the pandemic is a breach of contract. The complaint says students paid for “opportunities and services they did not receive, including on-campus education, facilities, services, and activities.”

“Oregon State University continued to charge for tuition, and/or fees as if nothing changed, continuing to reap the financial benefit of millions of dollars from students,” the complaint says. “OSU did so despite students’ complete inability to continue school as normal, occupy campus buildings and dormitories, or avail themselves of school programs and events.”

Clark disagreed with the characterization of a student experience void of services and programs student expect when they enroll at OSU.

“Professors engage with students in instruction and support in providing a high quality Oregon State University education,” Clark said. “Services include academic advising, residential, student health services, library, recreational, cultural resource programming and other form of student life.”

Clark cited the record enrollment at OSU as evidence of the university’s success.

K. Rambo can be contacted at 541-812-6091 or k.rambo@lee.net. Follow on Twitter via @k_rambo_.

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