ECU student sues UNC system over switch to online classes

Posted April 28, 2020 11:06 a.m. EDT
Updated April 29, 2020 1:15 p.m. EDT

ECU photo by Daniel Thomas

— A student at East Carolina University filed a class-action lawsuit against the University of North Carolina system, claiming that the closing of campuses and transition to online instruction in response to the coronavirus outbreak deprived students of in-person instruction, face-to-face time with professors and campus facilities, which they pay for.

In the suit, Deena Dieckhaus grants that "while closing campus and transition to online classes was the right thing ..." the UNC system should give students refunds for their loss of access to instructors and on-campus resources.

In spring tuition, students pay for events, career and student centers, safety services and technology, the suit said. Students are not using these services in the spring semester when students are doing their classwork at home.

Dieckhaus' suit also argues that part of tuition goes to "in person, hands on curriculum," which is not achieved with online instruction.

The suit says that online classes within the UNC system are of lower "level and quality of instruction that can be provided in person."

Read the Lawsuit: ECU student sues UNC system

By moving to online tuition, the suit says the university is breaching its contract with students, and "constructively evicting students from campus, and closing the most campus buildings and facilities."

The lawsuit is demanding a jury trial.

The suit is filed against the UNC System, but the money will not cost the taxpayers anything directly.

Similar lawsuits have been filed by students at UNC campuses in Wilmington, Asheville and Charlotte.

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