A class action lawsuit has been filed against UNC Charlotte and the entire UNC System for damages related to the coronavirus-mandated switch to online learning.
The lawsuit alleges that by closing campus and switching to remote learning, students were deprived of in-person instruction, access to campus facilities, student activities and other benefits and services for which they had already paid for through fees and tuition.
The lead plaintiff is Brady Allen, a finance major graduating this spring.
“We can only get the full value for what we already paid if we’re there present on campus actively pursuing an education. Because we don’t have access to those things, we don’t have the opportunity to,” said Allen.
Allen added that two of his classes never even met virtually. Instead, he was told to learn from PowerPoints and the textbook.
The lawsuit points out that UNC Charlotte will receive funding under the CARES Act, which Niner Central estimates at $12 million. These funds will be distributed to students in mid-May who have the highest need as demonstrated by Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms. The University warns that student requests will exceed funding and not everyone eligible for grant money will receive it.
“It doesn’t matter whether the University can afford it,” said Allen. “We have paid and a service that we have not fully gotten our value of what we’ve paid for.”
While the lawsuit doesn’t request a specific amount, Allen’s attorney Roy T. Willey says that each student is probably entitled to refunds in the low thousands of dollars.
Willey, who practices with Anastopoulo Law Firm LLC, has filed similar lawsuits against the University of Miami, Drexel University and Boston University, among others.
Online classes are typically cheaper, as is reflected in UNC Charlotte’s discounted distance rate for summer courses, which will only be offered remotely.
“To any professor or UNC Charlotte community member: I don’t have ill feelings towards the University; I’m proud to be part of it,” assured Allen.