Student sues Yale for lacking ‘on-campus life’ amid remote learning

A Yale University student has launched a federal class action lawsuit demanding that the famed Ivy League school reimburse some of his tuition payments because it shuttered its campus due to the coronavirus.

Arguing that he shouldn’t have to pay in full for an online education, Jonathan Michel, of Ohio, filed the case in New Haven federal court on July 29.

“Defendant is attempting to replace the irreplaceable – on-campus life at an elite university – with ‘virtual learning’ via online classes, and is attempting to pass off this substitute educational experience as the same as or just as good as fully participation in the university’s academic life,” the case states.

Similar suits have been filed against major universities across the country after they locked up their campuses due to the COVID-19 crisis, but kept tuition structures largely intact.

The suit notes that Yale has an endowment of $30 billion and charged students roughly $79,000 to attend the school last year – a sum that includes room and board.

Michel paid $27,270 in fees for the interrupted Spring 2020 semester, according to the filing.

“Remote learning options cannot replace the comprehensive educational experience promised by Defendant,” the case states. “Access to facilities, materials, and faculty, and the opportunity for on campus living, school events, collaborative learning, dialogue, feedback and critique are essential to the in-person educational experience.”

Jonathan Michel
Jonathan MichelFacebook

Michel argues that Yale breached its contract with students who were expecting the full suite of on campus activities and services.

The suit – which is expected to add plaintiffs – seeks reimbursement of fees corresponding to the time that remained in the school year before the closure.

A Yale spokesperson told The Hartford Courant that the suit is baseless and they they intend to fight it.

“Yale acted to protect the community by moving quickly and effectively to online classes, which allowed students to complete the semester safely,” Karen Peart told the paper. “Yale also provided students with prorated refunds for the room and board that they were unable to use.”


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