Cooper Union Responds to Student Occupation Over Plans to Charge Tuition

Since Monday a dozen Cooper Union students protesting university administrators’ plans to start charging tuition for the first time in the college’s 110-year history have occupied part of the its historic Cooper Union Foundation Building in Astor Place, to whose façade they’ve festooned a banner that reads “FREE EDUCATION TO ALL.” Now the university has issued an official response, reprinted below in full.

The official Cooper Union press statement explains that:

Our priority is for the safety of our students, and to assure that the actions of a few do not disrupt classes for all. The eleven art students who have locked themselves in the Peter Cooper Suite do not reflect the views of a student population of approximately 1,000 architects, artists and engineers. President Jamshed Bharucha has held informal meetings with various groups of students on campus throughout the morning. Vice President of Finance T.C. Westcott is in contact with the students’ designated spokesperson, and we understand that they have access to food, water and sanitary facilities.
It should be clear that:

The effort to develop and implement a financially sustainable plan is critical to the institution’s survival.

We remain fully engaged in an open process to achieve a sustainable future while maintaining the highest standards of access and academic excellence.

We are committed to transparency. President Jamshed Bharucha and Vice President T.C. Westcott have held more than 80 informational meetings and sessions with the Cooper Union community- students, faculty, alumni and staff. The institution’s website,, provides detailed information on the planning process, its deadlines and its progress.

The Deans and the faculty of the degree granting schools will be presenting their proposed plans for their individual schools. The proposals will be reviewed by the Board of Trustees with a decision slated for early 2013.

Full tuition scholarships at The Cooper Union are currently valued at $38,550.

This is not the first round of protests in response to Cooper Union’s plans to start charging tuition. Back in April a protest march from the school to Union Square and back resulted in the arrest of one former and one current student.

— Benjamin Sutton

(Photo via Bruce High Quality/Facebook.)