Moving Forward! privilege, responsibility, continuity

Che Perez December 9, 2011

Imagine that you’re sailing on the ocean from one island to another. Somewhere along the way, you realize that you’re not sure where you’re coming from or where you’re going. Your eyes meet the horizon and it surrounds you. That sight is terrifying… but it is also beautiful. The only things you have are your ship, yourself and some vague idea of what land is. It is best to refrain from anger and to keep the sails full and the boat moving and most important to hold on tight to that idea; the idea of the real existence of land.

I feel extremely privileged to be a student of Cooper Union. I am a student of an institution which currently gives all its students a full tuition scholarship. Peter Cooper infused this building with the idea that an education, equal to the best, should be made accessible to all. Cooper Union cannot provide this quality of education to all seven billion people of the world or even two thousand people for that matter. However, Cooper Union has long proven its profound ability to provide a phenomenal education to just over nine hundred spirited students every year. Every student, then, upon acceptance into this school, is bestowed the responsibility to represent seven and a half million people whose circumstance did not allow them to enter through these doors. To me that is an incredible privilege that comes with an immense responsibility.

The education that we receive is one that fosters leaders who think critically, clearly and creatively. It is our responsibility to disseminate the fruits of the highest quality of education one can receive; to be leaders in every respect.

Education is a seed planted and expected to grow and flourish so that its fruits can be reaped. And more seeds can be planted. It is an investment in the existence of a future world that is better than the present.

Since every student graduates with the mind of a leader, every good leader should know that their time is short and continuity is necessary for success. How can WE ensure that there is a steady stream of unique, creative minds with a Cooper Union education gushing into the world every year forever?

The current problem with continuity must be solved in order to reaffirm the legacy of Peter Cooper and fortify the pure idea that is the fruit of that legacy. Current Cooper Union Students have begun to build that bridge that will materialize this necessary continuity. We have embarked on a campaign to accomplish a 100% donation rate from students at Cooper. Student donors to this fund have signed their name under a pledge that seeks to forever eradicate any vulnerability of the core of Cooper Union, to the forces that seek to dismantle it. The promise is our investment towards a better future for us and for this school. We must begin to fulfill that promise now. It is borne out of the privilege earned in coming here and the inherited responsibility of leadership towards a better future.

I will now recite the pledge and the conditions under which it is valid:

Because I have inherited the responsibility to continue a tradition of ensuring that Cooper Union provides a priceless education of equal or greater quality to the others that will succeed me, I promise that I will give to Cooper Union what I am able to now, and I will continue to give annually for as long as I live, once the Cooper Union remains true to its core. I promise to be involved in maintaining and building on the resilience and solidity of that core.

I promise this under the condition that Cooper Union accepts students solely based on merit and awards every student a full tuition scholarship for their entire matriculating period.

Let us come together in this continued effort to eradicate any possibility of a recurrence of this threat of contamination of the Pure Education that we all enjoy now.

(thanks to Elizabeth O’Donnell for corrections)
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