As College Insurrection reported in May, the students of Cooper Union who have never been charged tuition began using Occupy tactics when the school announced it needed to charge tuition in order to survive. As it turns out, the Occupation continues.
Joel Rose of National Public Radio reports.
Cooper Union Students Fight For Freedom From Tuition
When students at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York took over the president’s office one month ago to protest the school’s decision to charge tuition, they painted the lobby black.
They also took a painting of the school’s founder, and hung a piece of red fabric from the frame, as if Peter Cooper himself had joined in the protest.
This small, highly selective college for artists, engineers and architects had been one of the last remaining tuition-free schools in the country. But in April, Cooper’s board decided to begin charging tuition for most undergraduates, beginning with students who enter in 2014. On May 8, a rotating cast of students took up residence in the president’s office.
Protester and graduate student Mike D’Ambrose says the tuition plan will destroy what’s unique about Cooper: It offers an elite education at a price anyone can afford.
“I think it’s kind of a one-way street,” D’Ambrose says. “As soon as money is really in the equation, things will start to tweak. And soon enough — maybe not in two years, but in 20 years — it’ll just be like any other profit-based college or business, as every other college has become.”
Opened in 1859, Cooper Union’s founder, Peter Cooper, was an industrialist who wanted to give young people what he had lacked: access to a quality education that was “open and free to all,” in his words.
For the past 100 years, the school has offered full-tuition scholarships to all undergrad students, currently valued at about $38,000 a year. But this spring, Cooper’s board voted to begin charging tuition on a sliding scale, up to $19,000 a year.
The administration declined interview requests for this story, but shortly after the occupation began in May, Cooper President Jamshed Bharucha did address the student protesters.
Cooper Union Students Fight For Freedom From Tuition (National Public Radio)