Students need their money back

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As our education continues online, so do our bills for things such as rent, loans, phone bills, light, Wi-Fi and food. After many were being forced to move back to their family homes or other shelters, Southern Miss students need their money back from Eagle Dining and Housing and Residence life. 

This article should not have to be written considering other schools in the U.S. have already made effective changes to benefit their student body. 

When I spoke to past Southern Miss student Amanda Irizarry, who is now transferring to the Georgia Southern University, she shared that all 26 institutions within its university system worked to issue partial refunds to students, especially those with on-campus residence halls and meal plans. 

At Georgia Southern University, 44% of remaining plans will be refunded to students who paid for room/board. A full refund for spring graduate applications was returned. A $25 refund was given to students who purchased a spring parking pass, along with refunded portions from recreation, activity, and transit fees. 

A post from “Watch the Yard” shared on their Instagram shows a student from Xavier University of Louisiana sharing how their administration is refunding all of their students their room and board, providing free access to an online behavioral health program and making their Fall 2020 semester a grace period to keep current school scholarships. Even large schools like Texas A&M University can get a prorated refund for parking passes on their campus.

If large, public universities and small, private universities can give their students a refund, then why can’t Southern Miss do the same for us?

Many students call for a more transparent way to handle refunds from the university. The Housing and Residence Life protocol for moving students out was shady and selfish, to put it in simple terms. The fact they had an acknowledgement and release form saying the housing contract lease agreement was still in effect, but if anyone moved out before the last day in May, they would not receive any refund or credit for their housing and meal plan, is sickening. Forcing everyone out of their residence halls and leaving students empty handed to fend for themselves holds many issues in the general student body. 

To anyone who signed that acknowledgement and release form, I send my condolences to them over losing their money over an over-glorified storage center. 

There are a lot of requests and expectations that the newly elected leaders of SGA can work with school administration on to support the student body in this pandemic and economic situation. 

Many students’ concerns are over parking passes, as they cost $95 for the spring and $113 annually. After the university discouraged vehicular and pedestrian traffic on university property, students should get some form of a refund. 

The transfer of course fees to online-only course fees should also be implemented, as no one can go on-campus to learn with the state-wide lockdown enforced by Governor Tate Reeves.  They should also be refunded $120 for now inaccessible the post office, capital improvement and student activity fees. Also, if anyone received a wellness education fee of $25 their freshman year like I did, please let me know what that was for. 

For anyone thinking that this money being given back to students will be used on useless things like electronics, tickets and clothes: we are in the middle of a global pandemic. This money will be used for survival because not every college student will get aid from the CARES Act. Not every student can be claimed as a dependent. Not every student has filed taxes.

Hearing about how some Southern Miss students have to return home to places where corona cases are more prevalent than in Forrest County truly breaks my heart. If nothing else, help and support is the one thing everyone needs right now. 

The entire Southern Miss student body is going through hard times right now.Our administrators and SGA officers should work together to help us Southern Miss students succeed and keep moving to the top.