PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Students of Concordia University walked out after news of the school’s closure came unexpectedly on Monday morning.
The walkout began around 10 a.m. on the Concordia campus with a small number of students. Carrying signs with things such as “CU in court” and “Justice for CU” written on them, that number of students grew to around six to seven dozen within the an hour. Those attending the walkout are looking for answers — calling for more transparency from the board about the abrupt closure.
Students told KOIN 6 it is a difficult time and hard news to swallow. Knowing how much higher education costs these days combined with the idea of transferring when deadlines are passed has understandably worried some of the student body.
Citing “years of mounting financial challenges, and a challenging and changing educational landscape,” Concordia University will cease operations after the Spring 2020 semester. The Board of Regents approved the closure Friday night and posted it to their website. Students were alerted by a text message Monday morning before a campus-wide meeting was held at 10 a.m. Since then, over 50 students have joined a class-action lawsuit against the college.
“We woke up to a text message at 6 a.m.—a mass message from our school saying, ‘Mandatory meeting at 10 a.m. and all classes are canceled,’” said junior Sami Howard.
The decision was due to declining enrollment and financial losses, school leaders said. Tuition alone at the private Lutheran university is more than $30,000 per year.
Students said they want the university to reveal their financial records and prove where the money has gone and why the decision was made.
“We’re asking for transparency and the finanacial records and more of their meeting transcripts, because they’re trying to hide all of that,” said sophomore Kayla Humphrey. “You don’t close a school overnight — that is not a decision you make in a week.
“This is something that’s been a long time coming, but they lied to everyone.”
In a statement to KOIN 6, Concordia’s Student Affairs Office said they are working hard to support the students and understand their frustrations.
“We understand students are distraught and we remain committed to doing everything we can to support them during this time,” the statement said. “Our goal is to work with each student to develop the best possible outcome for their transition. We are communicating daily with our students via email, holding multiple, in-person question and answer sessions with University leadership and we begin transfer fairs next Tuesday. We highly encourage all students to participate in these various resources.”
The walkout was followed by a sit in at “The President’s House,” where students shared their calls to action.
Various other local universities have stepped forward and offered discounted fees, tuition and automatic scholarships to Concordia students in the wake of the closure.
Linfield College announced Thursday that all application fees will be waived for Concordia students. The school will also provide a minimum $16,500 scholarship to any student who committed to enroll in Concordia’s 2020-2021 school year if they enroll full-time at the Linfield McMinnville campus. More information is available here.
Corban University, Concordia’s academic partner, announced on Tuesday they would welcome any students looking to complete their degrees through their traditional undergraduate, online and graduate programs. The school’s full statement is available here.
KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story.