Coronavirus lawsuit: Students sue UC system over refunds amid COVID-19 campus closures

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Students from the University of California system have filed lawsuits demanding refunds for on-campus fees that are not available to use during the novel coronavirus related closures.

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Claire Brandmeyer is a junior psych-major at UC Davis and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

"A lot of people have been angry about not getting their money back and that's how this all started," she tells ABC7 News.

Brandmeyer feels UC system students are owed refunds of $1,100 in fees for things that are currently off-limits.

"For example paying for library fees, for the in-campus gym, paying for the pool, paying for all these things that we would normally get to use on campus," she says.

Shelter-in-place mandates closed UC and CSU campuses to about 700,000 students who are now taking classes online at the same tuition as before. The UC President has already said "no refunds" for the spring term while remote learning is offered. Claire's suit seeks to force their hand.

"(It) could really help someone pay for rent, put food on their table, maybe they have kids and it could help put their kids through school."

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The UC system has not yet responded to Claire's lawsuit. However, the California State University (CSU) system has responded to a similar lawsuit filed by another plaintiff.

In the statement, CSU spokesman Michael Uhlenkamp says, "the complaint misstates the facts. Although classes were converted to online instruction when Governor Newsom issued his stay-at-home order, every CSU campus continued to fulfill its mission of providing instruction and services to its students." The CSU also says it will vigorously defend against the suit.

It's likely that both schools will mount a vigorous defense, or face refunding millions of dollars in fees and possibly a portion of tuitions collected so far.

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