Students draft petition demanding WKU offer cash refunds

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Michael J. Collins

A petition on Change.org demanding WKU offer a cash refund option to students has received over 300 signatures.

The university plans to offer credit for next semester to students who were removed from housing due to COVID-19. The petition asserts that a cash refund option allows for students in need to find residence during a time that they’ve already paid for housing.

Ryan St. Clair, co-author of the petition, said the idea for the petition began when universities nationwide began closing campuses in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“There was a lot of worry that some kids would be left behind,” St. Clair said. “We didn’t know exactly what was going on, but it became quickly clear that we and people we knew needed money now for food and housing.”

St. Clair said the slow drip of information from university administration has not been sufficient in keeping students up to date, leading to fears about paying for the essentials.

“It’d be nice to have a centralized location with all the updates regarding COVID-19,” St. Clair said. “A lot of students could benefit from being able to see information about the disease and financial aid in the same place.”

Sabre Semrau, author of the petition and chair of the Young Democratic Socialists of America, said the cash refund was the most urgent out of a number of issues that students face in the wake of COVID-19.

“Students were counting on WKU to provide housing and food this semester, so they need the money back now to access those resources from an alternate means,” Semrau said.

Semrau has been involved with a number of initiatives to protect low-income members of the community since the outbreak of COVID-19.

“We’ve been working on a renters rights campaign, and we’ve set up an eviction hotline and we’re trying to focus on providing mutual aid for renters,” Semrau said. “We’re just looking out for members of the community in need of help, whether on a donation basis or volunteer basis.”

The petition and its list of demands can be viewed on Change.org.

News reporter Michael J. Collins can be reached at [email protected] Follow Michael on Twitter at @NotMichaelJColl.

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Ryan St. Clair was the author of the petition and Sabre Semrau was the co-author instead of vice versa. The story also misspelled Semrau’s last name as “Samrau.” The Herald regrets the error.