PROVO, UT (KUTV) — A student suing Brigham Young University claims he didn't get the education he paid for after in-person classes were canceled in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Chase Hiatt, an undergraduate student, claims in the federal lawsuit that the online classes were "subpar" compared to in-person classes.
"In short, plaintiffs and the members of the class have paid for tuition for a first-rate education and an on-campus, in person educational experience, with all the appurtenant benefits offered by a first-rate university, and were provided a materially deficient and insufficient alternative, which alternative constitutes a breach of the contracts entered into by plaintiffs and the class with the university," the lawsuit states.
Claims in the lawsuit include breach of contract and unjust enrichment, based on that BYU priced its tuition and mandatory fees on the in-person educational services, experiences and opportunities.
Hiatt and his attorney Michael Watton are demanding a pro-rated refund for tuition and fees for the classes he took online.
BYU declined to comment about the litigation because they have not been served the lawsuit, according to Todd Hollingshead, a spokesperson for the university.
On March 12, the university announced that all in-person classes would move to an online platform the next day, to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
The lawsuit states most services for which the mandatory fees were assessed were terminated or canceled, including university health, wellness facilities, program or services, fitness facilities, student events, sports and in-person commencement.
The complaint argues that access to these facilities, such as libraries, laboratories, computer labs and study rooms, are integral to a college education. "Access to activities offered by campus life fosters intellectual and academic development and independence, and networking for future careers," the lawsuit states.
"BYU has not provided reimbursement or refund information regarding tuition or the mandatory fees," according to the lawsuit. Instead, previously recorded lectures were posted online for students to view on their own time or attend virtual Zoom meetings.
The complaint states, "There was a lack of classroom interaction among teachers and students and among students that is instrumental in educational development and instruction."
Hiatt and Watton allege BYU didn't "require memorization or the development of strong study skills given the absence of any possibility of being called on in class and the ability to consult books and other materials when taking exams."
The lawsuit also claims students got "educational leniency" when classes moved online.
"Further, the ability to receive a pass/no pass grade rather than a letter grade provides educational leniency that the students would not otherwise have with the in-person letter grading education that was paid for and expected."