Following East Carolina University’s decision to transition to alternative course delivery due to the COVID-19 outbreak, otherwise known as the coronavirus, students wonder if they will continue to get their money’s worth when it comes to parking passes and classes.
Regis Gilman, executive director of Academic Outreach and Distance Education, said about 6,800 students are taking online classes.
“Nearly 50 percent of the students at ECU are in at least one online course,” Gilman said.
She said online courses actually cost more to students when you consider the technology and software required. She said the tuition is favorable to individuals who cannot come to campus and student fees play a big part in tuition difference when it comes to online versus in-person courses.
However, when asked about any potential refunds of tuition and fees for those transfering online, Gilman said everything is very fluid and unanswered. She said everyone is pulling together to make sure they can serve the students efficiently and they are still making decisions that are in the best interest of the students.
“Usually in a system like we have in the state of North Carolina, much of that guidance will come from the system office,” Gilman said.
Josh Puckett, Parking and Transportation enforcement supervisor, said usually the last day to do any type of returns for student parking permits is Jan. 31. However, he said any type of refunds or credit back due to this situation remains a possibility they hope to look into, but at this moment nothing is definitive.
Parking and Transportation is unable to make this vital decision on their own, so the directives and decisions regarding refunds will have to come from the UNC System Office, according to Puckett.
“If I’m a student and I have two months left, I’d like to see a little bit of credit, but that will be made at the board of governors level,” Pucket said. “Everything we’re doing right now is normal business, unfortunately.”
Due to the unique circumstance the university and community is in currently, the university will gather data, discuss options, and make a decision at a later date, according to a statement provided by Puckett.
Puckett said the parking garage is open for normal business. However, he said the garage gates will be open for people to come in and out freely on the weekends and from 6 pm to 5 am during the week.
With a list provided by Puckett of how many students have purchased and obtained parking permits since July 1, there are currently 4,794 commuter permits and 1,062 resident permits. The prices range depending on which lot a student parking pass is purchased and the passes are valid from July to July of each academic year.
Puckett said they haven’t had any students contact them about refunds, but they are prepping for it when they do. If students are unable to return for the rest of the semester, he said they will probably see an influx of students reaching out to them about their parking passes and money spent.
During this time, the garage prices will remain the same and permit prices will remain valid, Puckett said. He said they are trying to move parking permits closer to campus, depending on how many students come back to Greenville, since they’ve been told that transit will not be running any routes for the rest of the semester.
“We’ve moved our bulk of our B1 permits, our faculty and staff into the A1 zones, to make room for when the students come back. We’re going to plan on moving, if they come back, any that have the C permits into our faculty and staff zones, and our D zone permits into the C zones,” Puckett said. “So we’re trying and planning to move everyone up if we can.”
Sophomore speech and hearing science major Alyssa Stanley has a B2 lot parking pass. She said she thinks money or some sort of credit should be given back to students since the passes are supposed to be used until July and now that classes are moved online, they are unable to use them.
However, Stanley said her biggest struggle with these changes will be obtaining the internet access she now needs for online courses.
“I think that it will be a struggle not just for me but thinking about other people who may be in different situations,” Stanley said.