With uncertainty surrounding everything from economic stability to whether schools will reopen in a few weeks to the containment of the COVID-19 virus in general, Montclair State University administration has decided to charge full price for tuition and housing despite holding a large portion of its classes in an online format.
Now it is time for the administration to listen to its student body and reevaluate that decision.
Students and their parents alike have expressed great disdain for the tuition decision on social media. One student’s mother posted in the “Montclair State University Parent/Family Networking” Facebook group how uncomfortable she feels paying for housing when there are already no in-person classes after Thanksgiving break and really no guarantee students will be dorming at all.
“I don’t know about others but I have difficulty spending almost $8,000 not knowing if my daughter will even spend one night in the dorm,” she wrote.
Despite this unsettling and completely unpredictable financial risk, housing payers are being required to fill out and submit a Financial Obligation form on Nest. If they do not, the website, which is essential to any student’s progress toward their degree, cannot be accessed.
Furthermore, a continuation of the stimulus money provided by the federal government to aid those out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic may not occur as senators are struggling to reach an agreement.
Students paying their way through college and those paying for their children’s degrees may have their funds cut short through no fault of their own. They will either have to recede into further financial debt or have their plans of attaining their hard earned degree postponed or even canceled.
Now, those paying for housing have been forced to agree to pay money they may or may not have. If the reopening of society continues to be delayed, who knows when those out of work will return to their jobs? If the stimulus bill is cut and does not continue as it has been, how will those obliged payments be made?
It is understood the COVID-19 pandemic has intensely burdened Montclair State financially. President Cole voluntarily taking a 20% pay cut to help aid that burden is definitely admirable, but the administration needs to listen to its students and their cries for help.
Clearly students and parents alike are unhappy with the decision to charge full price for housing that may be shut down halfway through the semester and classes of diminished quality, but those feelings of dissatisfaction do not matter unless they are recognized by the administration. A change must be made by those who have the power to make it.
The reversal is certainly doable, as Stony Brook University decided to repeal its no refund policy in case the return to school does not go as smoothly as they hope. It is possible for those paying large sums of money to feel at ease with their doing so, but these payment obligation forms and lack of expense relief by Montclair State’s administration are not making it any less difficult.
The fundamental purpose of leadership is to recognize the voice of the people you lead and then act accordingly in lockstep with that voice.
Students’ degrees being in jeopardy is not necessarily something that can be fixed down the road. The window for young people to use their degrees to break out into the professional world is quite narrow and an increase in financial burden will only make it tighter.