By Bridget Gum
Nicoletta Feldman, a senior education major, recently started a petition on Change.org to lower the tuition at Rider University due to the coronavirus. According to the petition, students’ “educational and social experiences will be of significantly reduced quality” because of the pandemic, with the school only committing to freezing a spike in tuition. The petition is currently at over 2,300 signatures, with a goal of surpassing 2,500.
As expected in her senior year, Feldman is beginning to transition into the workforce by doing fieldwork at a high school in her fall semester and student teaching in the spring. Remote learning has diminished those opportunities and she is extremely disappointed she will not be able to have the same experiences as other students.
“I believe that my professors, the faculty, and administrators are working their hardest and doing what they can, but I still believe that the university should be willing to make the same sacrifices for their students as their students have made for them and making sure the price tag matches the product, which I believe it currently does not,” said Feldman.
“I struggle with staring at a screen for hours on end, which is very detrimental to your eye health, and I find that sitting still for a long portion of time is challenging because of my ADHD,” said Feldman, who also struggles with missing the social component of college.
Feldman recognizes that these are uncharted waters and people don’t know what to do, so this is the best and safest option. However, she said that “Rider’s previous financial issues have made it more difficult for them to create more wiggle room for tuition adaptations.”
Based on the comments on the petition, many people have taken this position because “Princeton University and Rowan University, area schools, have decreased their tuition by 10% in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the struggles that it has brought upon our communities.” according to the petition website.
The petition comments show that many students are also having issues taking pride in attending or graduating Rider when they feel that their thoughts, opinions, and concerns aren’t being addressed. Feldman said she “is frustrated with the fact that she has gotten no response from the Rider administration, even though she both started the petition and worked on an article for The Rider News in the spring semester. If the university at least acknowledged the issue, I would feel better, more heard, and respected.”
However, there is another side to the tuition debate. Associate Vice President for University Marketing and Communications Kristine Brown said Rider “reduced the fall semester tuition and fee costs by 3.3%, between additional tuition grants and reduction of fees” in May “to minimize the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.” Unfortunately, because of fixed costs, “investments and the additional technical support we’ve put in place for remote instruction, the cost of instruction for Rider went up, not down,” stated Brown.
“Unlike in the spring when all institutions had to pivot to primarily online instruction seemingly overnight, Rider has been preparing for months to develop high-quality remote courses, as well as engaging student experiences regardless of the mode of operation we will operate in this fall,” said Brown.
Brown attributes the continuity of the tuition to the fact that Rider has many “fixed costs associated with remote instruction, such as the faculty who teach, counselors who advise, and the academic support expenses, to name a few.” These costs are covered by tuition, which is the main reason why tuition is not being reduced any further.
Copy editor, Nicoletta Feldman, was not involved in the editing process for this article.