CUNY Board of Trustees Approves Dormitory Refunds, Student Activity Fee Waiver And CR/NC Policy

The CUNY Board of Trustees approved on Monday motions to refund dormitory fees, waive 25% of student activity fees and implement a flexible grading policy. Refunds will be issued to students who recently vacated their dormitories at CUNY. 

Continuing students will receive partial dormitory credit for the months they would have lived in the dorms if not for the closure. This credit will apply towards future semesters at CUNY. Students graduating in May 2020 will receive a partial refund.

Refunds only apply to those students who “are in good standing at their institutions, have paid their bills in full for the spring 2020 semester, and have vacated the University dormitories,” according to the CUNY Board of Trustees

Several hundred CUNY student residents were told to vacate their rooms last week due to the state’s efforts to possibly turn the spaces into makeshift hospitals. It happened first at the College of Staten Island, where residents of the Dolphin Cove dormitory were told to move out with a three-day notice. City College, Queens, Baruch and Hunter quickly followed suit with similar notices. 

International students and those that are housing insecure have been moved to the Summit Apartments at Queens College. 

An email sent to Brookdale dormitory residents by Hunter Residence Life stated, “By direction of the Governor, there are plans for the residence hall to be repurposed as a medical facility by the New York State Department of Health in order to make additional hospital beds available in New York City.”

Hunter College’s Brookdale Campus
Photo by Jessie Daniels via Creative Commons, Flickr

About 1,200 beds were made available across the college dormitories, according to the board.

The board also voted on a motion to waive 25% of student activity fees for the Spring 2020 semester. According to the CUNY Board of Trustees, the motion is “in recognition that some services relating to such student activity fees could not be performed by the University due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez added an additional amendment to the motion that would ensure students continue to receive full payment from their local student government. It is a “way to support and protect our student government leaders and the folks that depend on those fees for their jobs,” the chancellor told the board.

Opposition came from Timothy G. Hunter, chairperson for the University Student Senate. The only student member of the board, Hunter asked the board to table the motion. It didn’t, opting instead to go with the motion as amended.

After speaking with USG members on individual campuses, Hunter voted against the fee waiver and said, “the student activity fees vary so much from campus to campus.” Hunter proposed that the waiver shouldn’t affect the individual undergraduate student governments because they provide important services. “There is no way for us to make that decision without consulting the local leadership on the campuses,” he said.  

For now, the board approved to waive a quarter of student activity fees and return it to students but as a response to Hunter’s concerns, the chancellor said he will research the impact of the waiver and the board will take further action if necessary.

The Board of Trustees also approved the flexible credit/no credit policy the chancellor announced on March 24. For twenty days after receiving their grades, students will have the option to accept a letter grade or convert it to credit/no credit. 

“We’re in the midst of one of the most challenging periods of our lives,” said the chancellor.

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