Fourth View sent FOIA requests seeking information surrounding finances and guidance connected to COVID-19 from approximately the time campuses began acting.
Florida A&M University responded to our request, which yielded 26 pages of emails, 10 of which were relevant to our inquiry. Here are some highlights:
- On March 23, someone (most likely a law student based on context, but name was redacted) emailed Interim Dean of the Law School Nicola Boothe-Perry about students receiving “emails from main campus about fees that are owed and the potential of being referred toa collection agency. This needs to be suspended immediately. This pandemic is going to get worse before it gets better. Students on tight budgets should not have to choose between getting needed supplies over an extended period and paying fees,” among other things. Boothe-Perry, a couple days later, emails this story to William Hudson, Jr., VP of Student Affairs, saying among other things, “The Dean’s listserv indicates that students across the country have made similar requests. The response has been uniform regarding tuition. There may be credits/refunds for housing at some non-commuter schools; but not for tuition. The University will make a final determination but I suspect it will be in keeping with all other universities/law schools.” Its unclear what “listserv” she’s referring to or to which Dean, but it may be there’s a master list of school’s FAMU is maintain that’s monitoring if any school has given tuition refunds (none have so far). Hudson, Jr., attaching Provost and VP of Academic Affairs Maurice Edington and CFO Alan Robertson to the email, says, “I know we are working on a strategy for housing and meal plan refunds however, I am not sure of any tuition refunds due to students being able to attend classes remotely. Have any of the other Law School Deans received any such requests?” Boothe-Perry says yes and again references the listserv portion of her previous email. Hudson, Jr. reiterates, “Ok that is good information for the Provost and VP. I think we need to be consistent with the other Law Schools.” Robertson agrees: “We are planning to issue refunds for housing and dining, but not tuition.”
The FPRL request sought communications, including emails, of President Larry Robinson, Provost and VP for Academic Affairs Maurice Edington, and CFO Alan Robertson, that contained the phrase “tuition reimbursement” or “tuition refund” during the months of March, April, and May of this year.