Humboldt State's empty labs in Van Matre Hall and the reflection of the community forest behind them on April 7. | Photo by Walker B. True

Tuition Refund Petition Reflects Student Experience

With labs, classrooms and most facilities on campus closed, what is being done with student tuition?
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With labs, classrooms and most facilities on campus closed, what is being done with student tuition?

After Humboldt State University canceled in-person classes three weeks ago, students created a change.org petition calling for a reimbursement of tuition. With 2,000 students and supporters rallying behind it, perhaps HSU will bring their concerns into the conversation. Regardless of the administration’s acknowledgement, or lack thereof, HSU students are and will be experiencing a drop in the quality of their education.

As a journalism major, our classes haven’t been heavily impacted, but our access to the university spaces we all pay for is not as integral as for majors like art, dance, theatre and lab sciences.

Bryan Gambrel, a kinesiology major at HSU, said the switch to online labs has affected his motivation to learn the material. With an inability to use the lab spaces, the only way to show comprehension of the reading material is through quizzes.

“My difficult class has become now something that’s based off of reading rather than three hours of experimenting in a lab,” Gambrel said. “I’m not even sure how they can credit it for your GE.”

Lindsey Miller, an HSU freshman, signed the petition. She is a part of the environmental resources department and is taking a chemistry lab course this semester. With the switch to online classes, lessons consist of videos of the professor completing the experiment. She felt like this semester’s labs were a little more challenging than her first semester.

“Without having that hands-on experience in the lab, I don’t know when people are gonna learn it again.”

Raili Makela

“I was only kinda picking up on it before spring break,” Miller said.

Raili Makela is a fourth year marine biology major at HSU. This semester she had signed up for two labs and two lectures that have now been transitioned into online courses. Makela noticed the switch to online labs has made understanding the concepts more difficult.

“It’s because of that hands-on learning that I really start to understand the other material,” Makela said.

While she has learned a lot from her earlier labs and can work from that knowledge, she is worried about how those getting their first lab experience will be impacted.

“Without having that hands-on experience in the lab, I don’t know when people are gonna learn it again,” Makela said.

The situation we are in is reasonable. There isn’t another option that would keep our students, staff and faculty as safe as the current measures we have in place, but it is our money that’s no longer being spent to keep the doors open. Our tuition is not a goodwill donation. It is an exchange for the resources provided by the institution, and if those resources are not being provided, then we are getting shortchanged on our education.

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