Save Cooper Union: Free as Air and Water

Joe Riley October 30, 2011

Dear Student, Faculty, and Staff of the Cooper Union:

This message is to inform you of the urgency regarding the institution of tuition at Cooper. As you may know, the original date for the administrative decision in this matter was set for December 7, 2011 when President Bharucha was scheduled to present his plan for dealing with Cooper’s 26 million dollar financial deficit. As of Friday, October 28, this date has been moved ahead four weeks to November 8. This is a deliberate attempt to push the Cooper community out of the decision-making process by severely reducing the amount of time in which the community may react to this issue. Furthermore, this move also reduces the administration’s risk of being exposed to media attention concerning finances tuition at Cooper.

Up until this point, the administration has feigned transparent operation and communication with the Cooper community, the media, and the public. However, the President and the Board of Trustees have ignored the response and reaction of the Cooper Union community and will continue to do so, as the decision regarding tuition has already been made - as is indicated by the abrupt re-scheduling of the official decision date.

Now is the time for alternative solutions and modes of communication with the administration. Direct communication between the administration and the current students and faculty of the school is no longer sustainable. In this time of emergency and crisis we can no longer depend on the administration to listen and serve the current vision and mission of The Cooper Union.

We call for voices outside of the immediate community to join us in opposition to tuition and expansion at Cooper. We want the numerous friends, family, alumni, media, and the entire public sphere to know that the mission and identity of The Cooper Union is threatened by an opposing vision, which will eventually destroy the long-standing history, reputation, and value of the institution.

Help us prevent the dissolution of The Cooper Union by informing yourselves, everyone you know, and the media about this issue. In this effort, please share the following open letter and declaration with anyone. Help us to save The Cooper Union: Free As Air and Water.


The students of The Cooper Union are calling for immediate attention to the current crisis circulating about the financial stability, identity, social integrity, and ultimately the future of The Cooper Union.

Within the past 10 years this current crisis has been in constant discussion amongst the trustees board, the president, and financial advisers of The Cooper Union. However this year, upon the inauguration of The Cooper Union’s twelfth president, Jamshed Bharucha, there have been two new financial models brought to attention schoolwide, in order to address the $26 million yearly deficit.

Two of these financial models being:

1. the implementation of charging tuition among all students, which would result in school wide expansion through
a) having all students charged with tuition
b) every one student that can afford tuition, there will be three students given full


2. reducing/cutting the entirety of school expenses by 50% (faculty, staff, facilities, programs, etc.) which would result in a dissolution of the school

The decision of which of the two financial model plans is predicted to be made by the president and the board of trustees on NOVEMBER 8, 2011. The students of The Cooper Union want to make everyone fully aware that the current mission, vision, and identity of The Cooper Union is currently being threatened by an opposing vision which seeks to force it into an incompatible and inadequate model of what the board of trustees and the president perceive to be the ideal model in undergraduate education today.

The students of The Cooper Union are seeking your help to communicate to the board of trustees and the president of The Cooper Union that we adamantly want to preserve the current mission of the school which we value so highly. In our efforts to preserve this mission we have composed a declaration:

1) The Cooper Union community stands in staunch opposition to the tuition-based model.

2) The tuition based-model is a complete contradiction to the school’s current vision of providing educations that is “as free as air and water”.

3) To charge to tuition at The Cooper Union is to simultaneously destroy the essence of the institution.

4) The school’s essence is formed by the dedicated, passionate, and close-knit community, which cannot exist under a policy of expansion.

5) The survival of the community and the institution is dependent on its small scale through the intimate relationship amongst students, faculty, professionals, and with the city of New York

6) This intimate relationship allows for the multifaceted cultivation of discourse and ideas towards the advancement of science and art

7) Students that are granted The Cooper Union’s full merit scholarship are empowered with a unique singular educational experience which provides its students allows for their talents, ideas, voices, and passions to thrive free of economic and political constraints.

8) Our efforts are not in articulating full-tuition, merit-based scholarship as an entitled privilege but rather as a necessity of The Cooper Union to “foster rigorous humanistic learning”.

9) This declaration foremost is about preserving the mission, spirit, and passion of The Cooper Union which is created from the students being granted and honored with the most unique educational experience of a lifetime. The Cooper Union creates an invaluable social contract and responsibility between students and their education that is unparalleled by any other educational institution. We want to ultimately save and preserve the integrity of this relationship and its existence.

10) Without the continuance of the full-merit scholarship for all students at The Cooper Union, the school’s administration will fail to uphold their responsibility to honor and serve the past, present, and future members of the Cooper community.

With this declaration, the students of The Cooper Union urge you to stand with us in opposition to these financial models of expansion and tuition in order to show resistance to the board of trustees and the president, before the decision is made.

The current administration needs to begin to understand the vital necessity of preserving our current mission, in order to completely disregard the financial models which threaten the full-tuition, merit-based scholarship, which is the heart of The Cooper Union. If the administration can begin to understand and respect the values that the current mission holds, they will be forced to find alternative solutions.

Help us become the inspiration towards the alternative solution.

“For the object of life is to do good”- Peter Cooper

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