Monday, December 3, 2012

[Updated] Day of Action: Cooper Union students lock themselves inside foundation building

[Via Facebook]

This letter explains the students' demands...

[Via @ChangeThruArt]

And via the EVG inbox...

One year ago, our current administration put tuition on the table for the first time in over 110 years. Students, alumni, and community members came together to organize, protest, and offer creative, viable, sustainable, solutions that avoided the implementation of tuition at our school.

One year later, undergraduate tuition is still on the table and the voting date is fast approaching. In response we are making a call to action! At 12 pm on Dec 3, 2012 join us at Cooper Union to let our administration know education is a right! We believe and are committed to the idea of free and sustainable education, not just for our institution but for all institutions!

12pm-6 pm: Join us outside the foundation building for a day of outdoors classes. Occupy Peter Cooper Park! ... We'll be picketing, handing out literature about student movements (including our own), making art, and making noise!

6-10 pm: Free and Open to the Public! Join us in Cooper's historic Great Hall for a public Community Summit on the state of higher education in NYC! Presentation on the current debt/tuition crisis, international student movements, and sustainable solutions. After presentations, speakers will sit on a panel for open question/answer segment.

Updated 3:54 p.m.:

The New York Times has more on the story here. Per Victoria Sobel, one of the students taking part in the lock-in, which started at noon in the Clocktower:

Soon afterward, she said, maintenance workers arrived and tried to force their way into the room.

“They were drilling and ramming the door,” she said. “It was very scary.”

The students pushed back, Ms. Sobel said, and yelled to the workers that their bodies were against the doors. After about 20 minutes, she said, the entry attempts ended.

Ms. Sobel said that the students had brought with them sleeping bags, blankets and food, including oatmeal and ramen noodles, and were planning to stay “as long as necessary” to get their message across to the administration.

Cooper Union officials said they were still formulating a response to the occupation of the Clocktower.


Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be great if we could all go to college...for free? I'll be paying off debt for the next 10 years.

Anonymous said...

@anon 1:25

Are you familiar with the concept of cultural hegemony? You're being played for a fool if you're training your sights on your cohort rather than the baby boomers who run non-profits as for-profit enterprises and hollow out our meritocracy from the inside.

john penley said...

Cuba has free education why not here ? The higher education racket is BIG BUSINESS in America. America has no problem sending billions to Israel or funding the new Trillion dollar strike fighter program and on and on so move that money especially the money to Israel and new war toys into FREE EDUCATION.

Ken from Ken's Kitchen said...

Too bad all the NYU kids living in my dorm, I mean apartment building, don't lock themselves into the main bldg on campus for a few weeks. For whatever reason, I don't care.

esquared™ said...

Good for them. Hope more students, esp. CUNY and SUNY students, would join them and make this a citywide, if not statewide, strike, much like what happened in Montréal/Québec.

BT said...

So instead of saying thank you for all the free education they've been given, they lock themselves in a room a "demand" more free stuff?

It's NEVER free. If you want me to stand up and teach a class, you have to pay me. What they are demanding is that somebody ELSE pay for their education.

It's not really a strike now, is it? They aren't working. How can it be a strike?

Demand, demand, demand. Gimme, gimme, gimme. waaah waaah waaah.


@BT Exactly! They think the world is an extension of their parents basement.

Anonymous said...

It's kind of weird that folks are acting like free tuition at Cooper Union is a bizarre, preposterous demand, when it's actually the status quo at the college, and has been for 110 years.

Anonymous said...

Man, if I had gone to school for free, I would be GRATEFUL.

Rachel said...

These students are so grateful they are willing to risk the wrath of the NYPD to fight for future generations to have the same right you ignorant fucks.

The administration has already guaranteed that for all students currently enrolled they will never have to pay tuition. The administration thought they could pay off these kids and they would say -well as long as we don't have to pay then what do we care? Well as it turns out they care and are willing to put themselves at risk to show it.

What bitter asshole thinks well I didn't have the opportunity to go to Cooper and not have to pay for undergrad so why should they?

And no I didn't go to Cooper.

Anonymous said...

What they should be protesting is the fact that Cooper didn;t leave enough to the endowment initially to pay for all of the exhorbitant professorial salaries and administrative expansions. There's their education right there. And it was free.

john penley said...

Glad to see that not everyone in the "East Village" has turned into right wing dumb ass selfish programmed Aholes. Obviously the anti comments are coming from uneducated fools who do not know or care about the history of Cooper Union. I say all education should be FREE and a really good thing about real education is that it teaches people to question authority and the status quo. Obviously some of the people making comments here wasted their money on "higher education".

esquared™ said...

Students in Montréal/Québec weren't "working" either and it was called a strike, but it's just semantics, and look what they accomplished.

CUNY used to be tuition-free.

Not all Cooper Union students are privileged or a trust-funder. The school accepts students based on merit. No different than that student who gets full scholarship at X school.

Tuition-free Cooper Union is more of maintaining its culture. If tuition were to be implemented, then it'll be commercial just like the other colleges.

Cooper Union and the Cost of Higher Education.

Anonymous said...

Cultural hegemony! Ha! Kids these days crack me up.

Anonymous said...

The prices to go to university in this country are out of control I'm not against paying something for my education, but, $75,000.00 for 5 semesters! It's only $75,000 because I did the first two semester at community college.

Good luck Cooper Union students!

Anonymous said...

John Penley--Perhaps we're not all as "educated" as you, but my dual graduate degrees have told me that just because someone is booksmart, like your garden variety Cooper Union kid, in no way means they are world smart. These kids should be ranting against an administration run amok and overpaid professors and mismanagement of the endowment. If that's what they're protesting against, so be it. And anyone having compared Cooper union to CUNY needs a tutorial on college admissions.

BT said...

There is no such thing as free education. None. At best/cheapest you can go to the library and read some books. But somebody had to pay for the books and the library.

If you want to go to an institution of learning, it costs money. SOMEBODY has to pay the salaries. Even if the money comes from an endowment, that money still belongs to somebody else. It is somebody else's money. If the "government" pays for it (see pell grants) then you are getting the money from somebody else, who is forced by threat of jail to give the money to the government.

You have no right to somebody else's money. There is no such thing as free education.

I know someone who personally funds college for about 40 students a year. Full ride. If any of his students pulled such a ridiculous stunt (oh... for "future generations!!! We are HEROS!!!") he'd pull the plug on the whole thing immediately.

Ungrateful people... absolutely incredible. And quite indicative... as many of the comments here illustrate.

blue glass said...

cooper union was established as a free school for city kids who could not afford a good education. it is their mandate.
it was only after blowing too much of their endowment, and watching NYU rake in the funds from their high tuition and dorms - that cooper union said "me too".
now there are far more applicants, from all over, than available slots, and if you cant afford to pay there are now many to take your place on line.

Anonymous said...

The only thing it indicates, BT, is that you do not understand the 110 year old legacy of Free Education at Cooper Union. You want to know who are ungrateful? The greedy administrators who mismanaged the endowment of Cooper Union and now want to backtrack on the promise of tuition-free education to those who have shown merit- that was the mission statement of the school and its Founder- educate yourself, look it up. This school is for those who have been accepted due to merit.

Education should not break a person and put them in debt for life- instead of hating on these kids who earned admission and/or scholarships, we should be angry at the hijacking of education in the interest of profit and corporatization.
All trolls please report back to the the bridge from whence you came.

BT said...

It's not your money. It's not your endowment. The endowment was entrusted to somebody/someone's... and likely took a HUGE hit due to the housing market collapse (free houses for everyone! Even if they can't pay for them!) 4 or 5 years ago.

So sure, costs are up and the endowment is down. So what's the way out? You can't lose money indefinitely. They have decided they might charge some money.

But it is THEIR decision. It's not a students to make. A student can decide to go there or not, but NOBODY can rightfully demand that somebody else should pay for their education.

You can get a superb education by going to the library and reading. It won't cost you anything.

And if you truly want to be a HERO, work your butt off, make a ton of money, and create your own endowment and pay for school for as many kids as you want. THEN you get to decide how the money is or is not spent.

I know several people who HAVE done things like I mention. NONE of them made any money by locking themselves in a room/floor. They actually did things that were beneficial. (Which is how you actually PAY for things that are not free)

The moment in your life when quit depending on other people to pay for your stuff is the moment you will actually start to prosper.

Anonymous said...

A tough spot for some posters. Their desire to appear progressive conflicting with their hatred of anyone under 25 in the neighborhood.

Good times.

Anonymous said...


Why did the endowment take a huge hit? If they sold in 2009 (which would be casebook mismanagement) I can see the endowment being hurt, but otherwise, why is the endowment down?

If that is the "reason", sounds like lots of excuses, not enough bootstrapping from the BOT.

Anonymous said...

BT (9:01 again),

Your bootstrap schtick doesn't make a lot of sense in the current case because, as someone already pointed out, the current students do have their free education guaranteed. They are potentially sacrificing for future students, not themselves.

So your 3rd, 6th and 7th paragraphs are inappropriate for this situation. Revise accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Are any of the trustees vehemently opposed to charging tuition? It looks like from the charter that any trustee can petition in court for the removal of any other trustee.

The students only need to peel off one trustee who would be willing to serve as a stand-in to sue for removal of the entire board. As a legal matter, it would be very difficult to actually get any of the trustees removed. But during the course of the lawsuit - so long as it doesn't get dismissed at a very early stage - the plaintiff would be entitled to discovery of a whole host of documents, potentially forcing open the institution's financial books, meeting minutes etc...which could be used to powerful effect.

Anyone associated with the protesting students feel free to contact me - I'm a lawyer and would be willing to look into whether there's a legal angle.

Marty Wombacher said...

I like what Amusing the Zillion tweeted a couple of hours ago:

"Peter Cooper founded Cooper Union with the belief that education should be “as free as water and air." Just sayin' #freecooperunion"

Anonymous said...

It was never set up as a free education... It was set up for a free education that cant afford one... Bet every one on level 8 has a trust fund and those still covered by the scheme are at home hitting the books...

Uncle Waltie said...

Anonymous said...


Do people on this board realize how rare trust funds really are? It has become just a cliche ad hominem attack used by lazy posters to try to denigrate those they disagree with. Pretty pathetic.

And believe it or not, underprivileged people have a long history of civil disobedience in this country. I know! Shocking! Poor people as activists! Eek!