BALTIMORE — College students across the country had their semester cut short and have had to switch to online learning.
At the Maryland Institute College of Art a browser can’t replicate a dark room or a kiln.
Ben Klawans chose to pay the $24,000 a semester at MICA because he could use the equipment there.
“I come from a lower middle class family I’m raised by a single mom,” said Klawans. “I wasn’t going to be able to come back for this semester because of money issues and I was able to get an external scholarship.”
A good chunk of that money going towards an education he didn’t sign up for.
“It’s an unprecedented situation but a lot of people feel like they are kind of being jipped out of their money. We’re just all kind of bummed that we aren’t going to learn the things we were going to learn and have access to thing we were going to have access to.”
The student body organized and created a petition with thousands of signatures.
They did the math on their own and found they had 101 days of promised studio access and 55 without access which they say is around 54 percent of the semester and $13,000.
In a statement from the school MICA administrators said they are offering prorated housing and Meal plans but tuition refunds are not being considered at this point.
Applying similar math the student group found they lost between $2,000 and $2,700 for housing and were told they are getting a $500 refund immediately .
“I would like to see maybe half of the tuition if not close to that being given back if not close to that given that half of our semester is being compromised,” said Klawans.
Sam Sherman is a senior at MICA who also worked on campus.
“I was working on a really large scale piece of art made out of steel mostly, Sherman said via FaceTime from his home in New Jersey. “I haven’t been able to work on it at all.”
In a month he and his fellow seniors were supposed to kickstart their careers at artwalk.
If tuition isn’t reimbursed he hopes the walk can be pushed back.
“The art walk is really important for getting exposure to galleries and potential buyers. You know just kind of having one of your first solo shows as an artist.”
Here is the full statement from MICA
During this unprecedented world health pandemic, Maryland Institute College of Art is focused on the health and wellbeing of its students, faculty and staff. The college recognizes the stress that comes with a disruption to students' semesters, and is doing all it can to support the MICA community through this challenging time.
To that end, MICA has expedited prorated refunds for housing and meal plans. Students have already been sent an initial $500 refund to help provide immediate relief, with the remaining prorated balance to be sent out in the near future.
Students who received need-based financial aid in the 2019-2020 academic year have also been provided with $150 to defray costs related to College operational changes. Student employment and pay is preserved as much as possible. Other students — both domestic and international — who face financial hardship are being considered on a case-by-case basis for additional financial support from other sources including MICA’s Angel Fund.
Regarding tuition, the College is committed to providing a continuous educational experience that will allow all students to complete this semester and, for graduating students, to complete their degrees. All of MICA's faculty and educational support staff are working hard to pivot their courses into remote and alternate means of instruction, which begin Monday, March 30.
MICA recognizes this situation is not ideal, but we believe that students will be rewardingly engaged. As a College, we intend to keep on teaching and ensure a quality education for our students to keep on learning. Accordingly, tuition refunds are not being contemplated