MRU students win fight for tuition refund after jury duty interrupts classes
Jynelle Marshall, Courteny Croteau served on jury in 5-week murder trial
Two Mount Royal University students who served on a jury for a murder trial are getting their tuition refunded following inquiries made by CBC News after the school initially refused their request.
Jynelle Marshall and Courteny Croteau were randomly selected to serve on the jury for Kyle Ledesma's second-degree murder trial earlier this spring.
After the five-week trial, both women were forced to drop some of their courses after falling behind.
But the school backed out of the commitment it made to refund their tuition, they say.
"I had gone to the Mount Royal registrar the day after I was selected to be on the jury and asked what would happen if I needed to withdraw from a course, and was told I could do a WC — withdrawal with cause — and should be provided a refund," Croteau said.
It's not like we have $1,200 just to give to the school for fun.- Jynelle Marshall
"It's not like we have $1,200 just to give to the school for fun," said Marshall, who was upgrading at the school in an effort to get into a program at SAIT.
Croteau is in her first year at MRU in the bachelor of education program.
Both students had hoped to be able to complete their courses after the trial, but Croteau had to drop one course while Marshall was forced out of both her classes.
In both cases, the registrar denied their requests for refunds because they were made after the add-drop date, which occurred on March 20 — the day the jury came back with its verdict after being sequestered for two days.
Croteau, who was on the dean's list last semester, was heading for an A+ in the class she dropped.
She was so stressed by the situation, she says she considered dropping out of the program.
"The exemption wasn't clearly explained to me and I thought I was doing my civic duty," she said.
"I was told there was jail time and a large fine for trying to avoid it, and I thought I could manage it with school."
Several hours after CBC News called MRU for a statement on the students' complaints, the school backed down from its position and committed to refunding the tuition.
"There are a number of avenues that our students can follow towards resolution on these sorts of matters. However, in this unique situation, we have reached a unique resolution with our students," said Kathryn Shailer, MRU's provost and vice-president academic said in a written statement.
Veteran Calgary defence lawyer Alain Hepner says jury duty is a vital piece of the justice system.
"It's a significant responsibility, it's a solemn responsibility and it's not a lark, this is serious, you're dealing with people's lives," he said.