Economic Justice Concordia is demanding a tuition refund

“We want to be reimbursed for what we lost.”

Wondering why your tuition is so expensive? So is Economic Justice Concordia—and that’s why they’re demanding a refund. File Photo Emanuele Barbier

Economic Justice Concordia, a new student group, is demanding the university refund tuition from the summer and fall semesters.

“We believe this is owed for the low quality of education, which placed exorbitant pressure on students to work harder, in many cases teaching themselves, while suffering the effects of the global pandemic,” the group wrote in a press release.

The first step in their campaign is sending a letter to the university administration. “We’re asking them to support us. We don’t want to start by antagonizing the administration because they’re a key partner in getting this done. We know that it’s not solely the administration who sets the rate for tuition [...] we know it comes from the provincial government,” explained Ace Baldwin, a part of the EJC team.

“This isn’t just about the amount we’ve paid in tuition. This is about payment in exchange for services, and we haven’t had much if any access to the services that we continue to pay for,” Baldwin said. “In fact, our tuition has gone up in a year where campus has been essentially closed and international students all over the world don’t have access to books or basic materials.”

EJC also listed a lack of services due to campus being shut down, lack of access to TAs and support systems as reasons for a refund. They also stressed the difficulties faced by international students, who pay around $20,000 for classes to be scheduled at the odd hours of the night because of time differences.

“We believe this is the first step in getting justice for students who’ve been harmed by the handling of our education under the pandemic, as well as an important step toward free tuition,” EJC wrote.

“This isn’t just about the amount we’ve paid in tuition. This is about payment in exchange for services, and we haven’t had much if any access to the services that we continue to pay for.” — Ace Baldwin

“[With] the injustices that we’re seeing the student body face right now, many of us felt that this was not acceptable, especially given we’re paying increasingly more for tuition and fees, particularly international students,” Baldwin said. “We want to be reimbursed for what we lost.” 

On top of a tuition and administrative fees refund, they’re also demanding Concordia publish how students’ tuition money is being spent—since compulsory fees are currently private. 

Read more: Emotions run high at CSU town hall meeting, students exclaim “enough is enough”

They also want the pass/fail notation to no longer be limited to one grade per semester, on top of wanting students to be able to change their grades from past pandemic semesters from a letter grade to a pass/fail notation.

Bringing back course evaluations is also on their list of demands. The questions would be tailored to online course delivery. “You would think they would want to know more than ever, with all these new forms of learning and new forms of evaluation, how students are doing in these courses and what feedback they have for them,” they said. 

Discontinuing the use of Proctorio or any other proctoring service for exams is another one of their demands, and finding a new and less-invasive method of evaluation.

Finally, EJC wants the university to provide the same amount of health coverage for international students as Quebec students at no extra charge to the student. They want to make mental health services free and accessible, and increase the availability of mental health staff by hiring BIPOC, LGBTQ2S+, and trauma-specialized psychiatrists and psychologists.

“Despite paying additional fees for mental health support, it can still be weeks or months of waiting to see someone,” Baldwin added.

“We don’t just have to sit and take whatever is thrown at us. Collective action works,” they said.