What can be done about paid-for fitness memberships we can’t currently use?

Date: May 2020


Hi Deans,

I have a question regarding Cornell Fitness Center (CFC) memberships. As graduate students, we need to purchase access to Cornell’s gyms on a yearly basis. I purchased a one-year wellness membership as well as a Lindseth Climbing wall add-on for myself and my partner for a total of $530 for the 2019–2020 academic year. This is a cost of ~$44/month. As it stands, the gyms have been completely closed for two months now, and it’s uncertain when facilities will re-open. As it stands, CFC is refusing to offer pro-rated refunds for the time closed, with the justification that they are still providing group fitness classes virtually. Frankly, this is not what I paid for, and this seems like a blatant case of failure to deliver promised goods or services. I know $44/month doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but a pro-rated refund could have gone a long way towards purchasing home fitness equipment for graduate students who used to depend on CFC for their mental and physical well-being and now no longer have access to the services they pre-purchased. What can be done to remedy this situation?


Climbing the Walls in the Pandemic


Dear Climbing the Walls in the Pandemic,

Thanks for your Ask a Dean question. Good for you for engaging in self-care and wellness through physical activity! I hope you are finding new ways to stay physically active under pandemic restrictions.

Regarding refunds for Cornell Fitness Center memberships and climbing wall add-ons, the approach described in the Daily Sun article that you reference has been changed. According to the leadership of Student and Campus Life which oversees fitness centers and athletics, the process is now underway to issue pro-rated refunds for Cornell Fitness Center memberships and climbing wall add-ons. The process is manual and time-intensive, and the team is working diligently. If you don’t receive your refund within the next few weeks, please let me know and I’ll connect you directly with the CFC team for follow up. They’ll appreciate your patience for now as they work on calculating and issuing the many refunds they are processing.

I hope these resources, when they reach you, will help support your health goals.

Warm regards,


Barbara A. Knuth
Dean of the Graduate School