Dear President Bharucha

Ioana Pala October 31, 2011

Please do not turn The Cooper Union into an American college like any other. It is a wonderful place where young people can enjoy receiving an education without saddling themselves with enormous debt. Consider what is happening to members of my generation as they graduate from other institutions of higher learning:

Because the average person grabs 70 percent of their total pay bumps during their first ten years in the workforce, according to a paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, having stagnant or nonexistent ­wages during that period means you hit that springboard at a crawl. Economist Lisa Kahn explained to The Atlantic in 2010 that those who graduate into a recession are still earning an average of 10 percent less nearly two decades into their careers. In hard, paycheck-shrinking numbers, the salary lost over that stretch totals around $100,000. That works out to $490 or so less a month, money that could go, say, toward repaying student loans, which for the class of 2009 average $24,000. Those student loans (the responsible borrowing option!) have reportedly passed credit cards as the nation’s largest source of debt.

–Noreen Malone, “The Kids Are Actually Sort of Alright.” New York Magazine, Oct. 16, 2011.

Malone also writes that one in five young adults now lives below the poverty line, and that for the first time ever “a majority of Americans say that this generation will not be better off than its parents.” Why charge tuition, when it is turning more and more people away from learning?

I realize that the school needs to generate revenue in order to continue its existence. But why should future students of The Cooper Union and their families pay for the extremely poor judgment of the Board and of the former President? The challenge now is to completely reformat the school without changing what makes it unique and invaluable; its mission to provide an inspiring, tuition-free education to all those willing to apply and work hard for it.

Ioana Pala
The School of Art