On March 31, 2020, Millikin president Patrick White announced that Millikin will offer housing refunds to students who are no longer living on campus due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This announcement has been met with mixed reactions from students.
“The Cabinet, the leadership team of Millikin University, and I have been in conversation with the Board of Trustees regarding refunds,” White said in an email to students. “I am pleased to announce that some form of refund will be provided to all students who are no longer present on campus and a reduction in costs for some meal plans for those who are on campus as well.”
White’s email comes 2 weeks after Millikin announced the switch to online classes for the rest of the semester amid the COVID-19 outbreak. While the campus remains open and students can still live in their on-campus residences, many have opted to move out. This has prompted questions about refunds for housing and meal plans.
For a lot of students, Millikin’s announcement was good news.
“I am really happy they’re at least issuing partial refunds,” Gwen Klinkey said. Like most freshmen, Klinkey lives in the dorms. “If we weren’t given refunds we would be paying twice the amount of our personal cost of living and that’s something many parents and students can’t afford.”
After Millikin announced that classes would move online, Klinkey chose to move out of her on-campus residence. She explains that she made the decision with her health in mind.
“To make us choose between our health and money is not right,” Klinkey said. “As someone who lives in the dorms it was really important that I move back home. Not only do we share hallways with many people, but we share communal living spaces and a kitchen where we would now have to prepare the majority of our food given the new dining procedures.”
For many students, however, the proposed housing refunds will have little effect.
“Although I’m pleased that those living in university housing and those with meal plans are getting reimbursed, it really serves more to pacify first-year students–and their parents–rather than older students,” Johannah Comish said.
Comish, who is involved with Greek Life, said that possible reimbursement for sorority housing doesn’t go through Millikin. Additionally, students who live in the Woods are still bound by their leases, and students who live off-campus will have to work with their landlords if they decide to return home amid the outbreak.
With this in mind, some students are calling for Millikin to do more.
“Although refunding room and board is the bare minimum…the University should really consider partial reimbursement of tuition or activity fees,” Comish said. “Obviously no student events and activities are going to be held, and the online classroom experience is not the Performance Learning experience that students initially paid for. Partial reimbursements of these services would benefit all students, not just those using room and board services.”
According to White’s email, more information about the refunds will be provided in the coming days. Additionally, other announcements, including information about commencement, will be available next week.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has produced a number of wrenching changes in all our lives,” White said in his email. “I am so proud of the excellent work that so many students, faculty, and staff are doing to keep the teaching and learning at the heart of the Millikin experience alive and vibrant…Thank you for your commitment to Millikin and to your pursuit of a quality Performance Learning education during this unprecedented time.”
Visit millikin.edu/COVID19 for more information regarding the refunds and Millikin’s response to COVID-19.