The Cooper Union president and administration think the Students for a Free Cooper Union are just “eleven art students” that have locked themselves in a building. They insist that we don’t represent anyone but ourselves, but this is a global student debt struggle.
The Students for a Free Cooper Union need signed statements of solidarity from students, student organizers, and student groups! You can message them to us Facebook, or Twitter or send them to cooperunionSOS@gmail.com
The Peter Cooper Suite has received solidarity statements from the Cooper Union faculty, The Cooper Union School of Architecture Student Council, The Cooper Union School of Art Student Council, and The New School. Help us grow this list. Show Solidarity with Students for a Free Cooper Union and support Free Education!
Cooper Union Faculty
On this day, December 4, 2012, the undersigned faculty of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art unreservedly support its mission statement:
Cooper Union Architecture Student Council:
STATEMENT FROM THE ARCHITECTURE STUDENT COUNCIL
December 4, 2012
The Architecture Student Council is committed to the preservation of merit-based full-tuition scholarships, as outlined in the published Cooper Union mission:
“The College admits undergraduates solely on merit and awards full scholarships to all enrolled students. The institution provides close contact with a distinguished, creative faculty and fosters rigorous, humanistic learning that is enhanced by the process of design and augmented by the urban setting. Founded in 1859 by Peter Cooper, industrialist and philanthropist, The Cooper Union offers public programs for the civic, cultural and practicable enrichment of New York City.”
This mission is fundamental to our education, a rigorous dialogue between students, faculty, and our work. We continue to engage in this dialogue and in our work, confirming our commitment to the principles of this institution.
In response to the recently released Press Statement from The Cooper Union, the Architecture Student Council voices its support for any effort by any student, faculty, staff and administration that seeks to protect The Cooper Union’s Mission, including those of the 11 students occupying the Peter Cooper Suite
Outside Schools and Organization
The New School
New School Students Stand in Solidarity with Cooper Union Occupiers!:
We, students of the New School, stand in solidarity with Cooper Union students who are currently occupying the 4th and 8th floors of the Foundation Building to protest threatened tuition implementation. At the New School, we are by now very familiar with tuition increases to fund enormous new
development, a lack of financial transparency, and the barring of student participation in decision making.As the 60 5th Avenue building continues to rise we are sinking into more private and federal debt.
We support Cooper Union’s Save our School’s demands:
1. Cooper Union maintains its commitment to free education
2. Cooper Union immediately implements increased financial transparency
3. That President Bharucha step down.
Standing in front of the CU occupation, we are reminded that nothing will change unless we continue to fight together and show solidarity across schools and universities. We see this struggle in the context of the privatization of education and the crisis of capitalism.
President Bharucha told CU students today that CU has reached a limit for free education. How is it that an institution like Cooper Union, which survived for 159 years (through other crisis) suddenly faces an insurmountable crisis that challenges its core principles of education ‘as free as water and air’? In our struggles as student and workers, we resist the idea that shouldering their debt is the solution.
The way the administration chooses to deal with this crisis has been to push this burden onto students, workers, and faculty. How is it that while the students around the world (Canada, Mexico, Chile, Puerto Rico, Italy, Greece and many others) continue to fight for free, accessible education, we in the United States are expected to accept a fate of limited exclusive education and ever increasing debt?
We support Cooper Union students who have taken necessary measures to make their voices heard. When the administrators prevent access to information, when the board members decide the future of students behind closed doors, it becomes clear that we as students have no choice but to occupy behind barricaded doors. Students and workers should not depend on leaked documents about the financial future of their schools. It is absolutely necessary, in all schools, that we directly participate in the discussion of budgets
and projects through action.
SOLIDARITY WITH COOPER UNION// WE WILL NOT PAY FOR YOUR CRISIS//
ALL POWER TO THE OCCUPATIONS!
UCLA in Solidarity with Students for a Free Cooper Union:
The New School Disorientation
Dear Cooper Students,
We are members of the New School Disorientation Team, a group of students dedicated to fighting for transparency and accountability on our own campus while opposing tuition hikes and endless debt nationwide. We would like to extend our support and admiration for what you are attempting. This is a clear and profound demonstration of student power in New York City! As per the recently released letter of solidarity between our schools, we would like to know if we can be of assistance to you in any way. Furthermore, we would be interested in exploring the possibilities of future collaborations in our respective struggles.
The New School Disorientation Team
Kritische Studenten Utrecht
We stand in solidarity with the students of Cooper Union who are currently protesting and actively resisting the introduction of tuition fees at their university. We believe free education should be the rule, not the exception – and should like to express our deepest concern with the board of directors regarding their policy plans. We strongly urge those involved in the decision making process to withdraw their support for the introduction of tuition fees and to stand with the students in order to safeguard education for future generations.
If human knowledge and skills are the product of the generations that came before us, any particular individual or institute should be able to claim ownership. Any form of knowledge is our collective property, and everyone has a rightful claim on it on basis of a shared humanity.
We must claim our right to be educated in our shared heritage and build upon it to improve our collective future.
Education is NOT a commodity.
Kritische Studenten Utrecht
(critical student collective based in The Netherlands)
Bradley Action Committee
On behalf of the Bradley Action Committee, we would like to share our solidarity with your cause. We share the common goal of free education for all students as we believe it’s a human right. It’s not right students like myself and others have to be in debt $100,000 just to get an education. We wish you good luck. We hope this is just the beginning and that students everywhere realize what’s at stake. Now more than ever, the students of the United States of America need to stand in solidarity and form a student union nationwide.
Bradley Action Committee
The Free University of New York
We, The Free University of NYC, openly support the Cooper Union student occupation. We believe that Cooper Union and all education should be free!
We recognize the occupation of the Peter Cooper Suite by The Students for a Free Cooper Union as a vital effort to defend access to a free education for future generations. Their occupation serves as an inspirational, positive, and productive example of resistance in the broader struggle for access to education in NYC and around the world.
We see clear connections between the struggles that students at Cooper Union face and those of students across New York City and students struggling everywhere. The lines between private and public education in this city have separated us for too long. We will not be divided by institutions, claims to prestige, or profit margins. Public schools are becoming clandestinely privatized, while private schools are increasingly run and financed by our collective student debt. Our grievances are connected and our struggle is necessarily collective.
We know that access to education is our path to empowerment, agency, and success. We continue to fight for the opportunities to affect change in our communities and we believe that accessible education for all New Yorkers is an important step to achieving a more equal and just society.
We stand with the students of Cooper Union as they pressure their administration to recognize and respect the mission of the Cooper Union and hold them accountable to honor the history of their institution and the founding vision of Peter Cooper.
We also see the occupation of university spaces as a legitimate recourse for students to express their discontent over the existing governance structures in their universities. For too long students have been purposefully excluded from decisions that affect their future and the future of their universities. Students and faculty should have more control over their institutions. Students should not be treated as passive consumers of educational commodities; faculty should not feel compelled to act as dutiful enforcers of policy they do not write. Both students and faculty should be recognized as powerful and active members of educational communities, which they build with their own voices. The Cooper Union Student Occupation is a powerful expression of this demand for respect and a demonstration of student power.
The Cooper Union Student Occupation is an inspiration for students and educators across the greater New York City region who are struggling on their respective campuses against austerity measures, against the privatization and corporatization of the University, and against the commodification of learning.
In fierce solidarity,
-The Free University of NYC
December 5th 2012
México D.F. December 7, 2012
To the Student in the Struggle of Cooper Union:
We are a collective of audiovisual producers formed during a student strike in defense of public education, free and quality in the highest seat of learning in Latin America: the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México
(UNAM). For nine months, we occupied the university facilities and avoided the imposition of authoritarian management decisions to charge tuition. We strive to maintain a public higher education for students without charges and of the highest quality for the Mexican people.
Public education is one of the rights that people pay with the tax of all of
todos (us), the taxpayers, logically resulting to be of no cost to the students, however, it is a financial problem for the neoliberal system, even though it represents a small percentage of the taxes, not comparable to the cost of salaries of government and bureaucracy, or equivalent to those proposed by international organizations.
We believe that education should be accessible to everyone, not just for
some who are privileged. We believe in an education that generates conscious
individuals and humanism and not in the model of university that produces
technical heads and based their “quality” on competition. We remain attentive to the struggle for public universities and social struggles against the capitalist system while, also, accompanying social movements in Mexico.
Universities that currently make a new generation of teachers have been
in the scope of deletion by the government of Mexico, recent events proves this, as it is the case of the Normal Schools in the states of Guerrero and Michoacan. A transdisciplinary education model, unique in Latin America, has tried to be removed and modified by its leadership, so students have taken the premises; as you, the students of the Universidad Autonoma de la Ciudad de México (UACM) held a strike for three months, from the inside, resistance remain in its educational model.
Our struggles and resistances for free education of students happen in a constant basis and as it faces against a global model, a multitude of struggles have sprung up in different geographical areas. These resistors are always discredited in the educational level of the public universities, not so with the private college run by companies.
We welcome student protests throughout Mexico and the world.
We express our support for the Cooper Union students of New York for the struggle and resistance that remain within their university, aware that education is defended and demanded, not to be charged or delivered as a product. It results in a constant struggle. Nosotrxs (we) accompany this movement because we have also participated in a similar episode in Mexico.
To keep humanistic education in public universities is something that does
not make sense in the logic of capitalism. The resistors (us) should come
together and recognize it as our own struggles. Acknowledge a brotherhood
between the problems of education in Chile and you. We oppose the demise of
education. Knowledge retraces the history and recognizes the diversity and
generates conscious individuals and humanists. Individuals that generate change and are not governed by the market and skills.
We know it’s a difficult time full of many doubts and uncertainty, with this
we can only say to all participants: Recognize diversity and organize in an antihegemonic manner. Recongnize, within yourself, as individuals and as a
movement that asks something possible and fights for access to education in a
world that increasingly impedes recognition to others and promotes individualism. Generate links with other movements, and by all means spread your resistance
to provoke as many echoes in our world as possible, and understand that you are part of many movements that still resist due for provoking new links with new
individuals and new worlds.
We embrace the struggle and applaud the desire to want to change the
reality in which we are, we give our thanks to each unx (one) of you and we thank you for continuing to believe and be a resistance against the education in the cradle of the capitalist system.
Nosotrxs (We) are in solidarity.
University at Buffalo Coalition for Leading Ethically in Academic Research (UB CLEAR)
The General Assembly of Occupy Albany
The General Assembly of Albany, NY supports the students who are occupying The Cooper Union Foundation Building in protest of the proposed plan to begin charging tuition to the students of The Cooper Union and we support the student struggle to retain a free education at The Cooper Union.
Dear Cooper Union Administration:
I stand in solidarity with the students occupying Cooper Union and with the many students and faculty at Cooper Union who support them. I know faculty at Cooper Union personally and have been informed about the developments unfolding there over the past year. People are legitimately concerned about major changes without their permission to the culture of the institution. You need to treat protesters and all students with respect, and resolve the situation through more democratic governance that materially addresses their concerns.
Professor of Comparative Literature
University of California, Irvine 92697
The Students of a Free Cooper Union have my Solidarity. Thank you for persevering our Cooper Union.
To whom it may concern,
I stand in solidarity with Cooper Union students demanding free education and accountable governance of their university. They are far from alone. The commodification of education by un-representative administrative elites is opposed by a growing majority of university students, faculty, and staff in New York City and around the world.
Dear Occupied Cooper Union,
We were inspired to hear of your occupation and see the red fabric unfurled from your windows, so near our own. We have visited, hung around, and we will continue to do so and offer whatever we have that you might need. The past 48 hours have energized us, have challenged us to seek the places we could revivify our struggle on our campus, have helped us to remember fully and to refocus our attentions. But even as we are prompted to look back and recognize the many student struggles that feed your occupation, we equally recognize the absolute urgency of today. We hope this occupation will be infectious. We need it to be so. December 2012 is a tipping point for Cooper Union, but Cooper Union today must be a watershed for our student movement. We are grateful and excited.
In the president’s meeting today, some in the crowd shouted that to expect free tuition is incomprehensible. This position – that education without tuition is ludicrous – is often bolstered by comparing no- or low-fee institutions like yours to those like our own, whose undergraduate fees amounts to a sum more or less equal to the median yearly income of NYC households. Somehow, our situation, in which the entire yearly earnings of a family would be spent on one students’ tuition, in a city in which income and work are so thoroughly striated by gender, race, and legal status – this is somehow more plausible.
What logic makes something that was possible in June seem unthinkable in December? Cooper Union was free, just as CUNY was in 1970 (following an occupation by Black and Puerto Rican students demanding open admissions). Why not now? Administrators claim spikes in tuition are a natural offshoot of the crisis, as if it wasn’t the administrations’ plans that made the university vulnerable to the vicissitudes of capitalist crisis in the first place. Jamshed Bharucha rehearses an argument typical of adminstrators’ euphemistic austerity boosting: Cooper Union’s funding structure was “shortsighted.” Cooper Union is a relic in an age of student debt, that mechanism that perpetually defers the crisis by deflecting it onto working class futures. We do not let pass without notice the deep irony of calling free education shortsighted while the average trade of financial equity brokers lasts a matter of microseconds.
As we roam through the rubble of financialization’s impact on higher education, it is clear that pressuring administrations to find new investors for endowments is not a solution. Should, then, we press for a reclamation of the welfare state, and recenter public education in the production and stabilization of a fully-employed working class? Let us be clear: there is no going back. Industrialists like Peter Cooper founded free schools in capitalist societies, and we live this contradiction coming to a head. So, we turn away from administrators, from capitalist benefactors, from the talking heads and the haters. We turn to your occupation, recognizing it as the only kind of place in which we can think through and construct the education, and society, we want.
As parents of a Cooper Union senior art student participating in the lock-in we strongly support keeping Cooper free and addressing the disaster that awaits this nation and the world with regard to student debt. Debt is a burden that breaks the backs of those who possess a creative spirit, of risk takers and of those who want to participate in the world as humanitarians, fixers and givers.
With our mighty support,
Elise Blumberg Graham
Dear Cooper Administration and Board of Trustees,
I am writing to offer my full support for the Cooper Union students
who are occupying part of their building to protest against tuition
increases. They are connected to a vast network of activists from
Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Sandy, Strike Debt, Arts and Labor, Free
University, All in the Red – a student activist collective, Labor
leaders and scholars and activists throughout New York and abroad.
I have worked with some of the students and fully support their
decision to make the unfair and gratuitous tuition increases at Cooper
Union known to the media and the rest of the world. Their story is
connected with the striking students from Montreal, Students for a
Free CUNY, New School student activists and everyone who cares about
free education and debt.
As a founding member of Strike Debt, I am pleased to see issues around
debt and education in the news and exciting people again. I encourage
the administrators of Cooper Union to act fairly toward the students
and listen to their demands. I spoke last Friday at a symposium at the
Murphy Institute of CUNY about Strike Debt and organizing around
debtors of all kinds. There is lots of interest in this subject. It
would be a mistake to act carelessly.Tuition at Cooper should remain
free for all students. I believe that the board and administrators can
find wealthy donors and other ways to pay off their expensive new
building. Leave tuition free.
Artist, writer, activist
Strike Debt and Arts and Labor
Just wanted to say that I wholeheartedly support what you all are doing.
I am writing to express my solidarity with the students and faculty of the three schools of Cooper Union who stand with the founder Peter Cooper to sustain the vision, tradition and core value of FREE TUITION for ALL UNDERGRADUATES.
Anything less is NOT COOPER UNION.
Caitlin MacQueen, ART, class of 2008
To the students supporting free education at Cooper Union -
You are an inspiration. For too long every facet of our society, and our future, has been mortgaged in order to finance basic needs. Your actions are part of a global movement that says “Enough!” No to austerity, no to supporting the projects of the rich on the backs of the poor, no to treating every single aspect of our lives as a commodity. The whole world is looking to you and standing with you in your occupation. You are not merely “eleven art students.” You are a cry for sanity from the heart of the planet, we are more than mere vehicles for debt financing.
You are not a loan, and you are not alone.
Thank you for standing up for us all.
-Aaron Bornstein, NYU
As a student of the school of art, I fully support the 11 student protesters and stand with the majority of of alumni, faculty, staff and students who are in solidarity with the larger protest to preserve Cooper Union´s full tuition scholarship and the academic excelence it makes possible.
Emmanuela Soria Ruiz, School of Art 2014.
As a current student at Cooper Union’s School of Art, I can attest to the fact that the students locked in the Peter Cooper Suite are not acting alone. They are joined by masses of students, faculty, alumni, and even unaffiliated supporters, many of whom convene on Cooper’s doorstep each day. The student body, in particular, has been incredibly vocal: all of us support a tuition-less model, and almost all of us support the organized protests which are occurring even as I write this. We speak and act as a multifaceted, complex, and highly individual group, but we are all linked by a rejection of tuition at Cooper and an affirmation of the original goal of this institution: outstanding higher education for all, not just those who can afford it. Education is a right, not a good to be purchased or sold. The students locked in the Peter Cooper Suite understand this and have been willing to risk their own full-tuition scholarships to ensure the continuation of Peter Cooper’s vision. I, and many of my fellow students, are willing to risk the same. We stand as one, opposed to sale of education at the Cooper Union and everywhere else.
Ethan Shippee (A’15)
Education is a right! CUNY used to be free, Cooper’s always been free! Let’s keep up this struggle for free accessible education for all!
CUNY Grad Center
To the students supporting free education at Cooper Union, in New York City, in the United States, and around the world,
A people’s movement is coming together to support education, healthcare, housing and well being outside the debt cycle. The commodification of higher education has jeopardized people’s ability to contribute to our international and local communities without shackling the following decades of our future wages to student debt. You are part of an international movement resisting and refusing immoral debt and austerity. From Spain, to Chile, New York and Montreal, our struggles are connected. Our numbers are far greater than 11 bodies. We are an army of defaulters striking debt around the globe Forcing change out of a broken and predatory system. We are an international community unified in our cries of “No!” to a predatory system of debt reliance while raising up a million cries of “Yes!” for alternative structures, directly democratic processes, open educational, medical and housing systems framed in social justice and the interconnectedness of our struggles.
Free Cooper Union – the many are with you today in the Board of Trustees meeting room. We are with you on the 8th floor of Cooper Union. We are united in our struggles. Our struggles are one, and so must be our resistance.
Keep Cooper Union as Free as Air and Water!
The Graduate School of Arts and Science
Strike Debt and the Occupy Student Debt Campaign
To the Board of Trustees,
As an alumna of the school of art and former staff member, I want to
express my support of the 10-point plan.
To the Cooper Union Board of Trustees:
When I went to Cooper Union, my choices for a college were clear: Anything that was free. There was no money for tuition, and I lived at home during my four years at Cooper Union. This was a similar situation to many of my classmates. Over the ensuing fifty odd years as an artist, I have gone through good years and lean, but what has enabled me to continue to paint, and exhibit, and sell my work, has been a personal policy of keeping my overhead low, and knowing what was/is most important to me.
I strongly oppose tuition of any kind at Cooper, as once it begins, it will probably not go away. Instead, tighten your belts and do what need to be done to maintain Peter Cooper’s vision.
Ellen Koment A ’65
Here’s my message of support: “Cutting costs and raising funds is the fundamental way to fight a deficit. The 10-point plan looks sound. Tuition for graduate studies is never going to work. Everyone I know who went to graduate school in engineering was PAID for it, in Research and Teaching Assistantships. Cooper’s graduate program is not what the school is known for. It doesn’t have the size and resources to compete with the programs of larger schools who are paying students to be there. No one is going to pay out of pocket for a graduate degree from Cooper Union.”
Ron Laufer (EE ’97)
This is my signed statement of solidarity.
I am currently a high school senior student who has applied to CU early decision and is waiting for the home test and other materials to be considered for next year (which would be class of 2017). It’s quite terrifying to think of the amazing opportunity of a free education to completely disappear. I strongly appreciate the students who are protesting for their future and the future of students, like me, to come. As a prospective student hoping for an arts college I can afford, I completely support a free education and the (not alone) eleven students protesting.
- Delaney Clark
I support you for the following three reasons, from the comments section of a NYT blog post on this matter.
“1. It is the primary responsibility of the board of any nonprofit is to secure its finances, through personal contributions and fundraising. Why hasn’t the CU board stepped up in this crisis? Where are their contributions? Why aren’t they out there scouring the city for new sources of funding? And if they haven’t got the money themselves and can’t be bothered to find it, then why don’t they step aside?
2. The most important role of a university president is fundraising. This may be sad but it’s certainly true. Why did the board hire a president who has no interest in fundraising and thinks his role is to bring new ideas to a school that, precisely because of its free-tuition status, has always been wildly successful in attracting top-notch students and turning out extraordinarily impressive graduates.
3. The current crisis is not a result of the financial downturn, but the arrogant decision to construct an unnecessary, vanity building under egregious financial terms. The stupidity of this transaction makes it impossible not to ask if there wasn’t some hidden payoff for someone involved, somewhere along the line. Why hasn’t this been investigated?”
We need the board to go into fundraising overdrive mode, and I want their fundraising actions to be communicated. We should be cheering on an enthusiastic board making every effort to hustle. Not until I’ve seen someone go on public access T.V. and make the case publicly for donations to Cooper will I be satisfied that the administration has done everything in their power to raise money. There should be a telethon every month, or at least a visceral effort to raise funds and it seems the administration is sitting on their hands.
-Brandon Todder, current Arch student