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cooper union

Cheering in support of Cooper Union's mission statement

3d ago
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March 6th: Today it was discovered by students that Cooper Union's Board of Trustees moved their quarterly meeting — perhaps the most important meeting in the history of the college — to an undisclosed off-campus location without any announcement to the community. The full Board was set to meet today and announce their conclusions primarily on the issue of implementing various forms of tuition-based programs at this historically free institution. Over the past year-and-a-half there has been growing scrutiny of and opposition towards expansionist tuition-based programs by students, faculty, staff, alumni and the broader community. It has been over three months since the last board meeting on December 5, 2012 and no "board report" has been publicly issued, despite being adopted as a means for "transparency" by the Office of the President. Over 450 community members have signed a petition for student representation on Cooper's board, and precedent has been set by over 600 other colleges which have student trustees (including many other private institutions). At the the March 1st Trustee Forum, these propositions were evaded and publicly shot down on multiple occasions. This afternoon, students from all three schools filled the grand staircase of the New Academic Building for a silent rally to affirm Cooper Union's mission statement as a unified body, echo the faculty's petition that "an injury to one is an injury to all", and gather signatures for student representation on the Board. We were here. Where was the Board? A timeline of recent events leading up to today: February 13th: The Executive Committee of Board of Trustees (whose membership remains undisclosed) announced that they would be deferring all early-decision applicants to the School of Art, citing "the absence of a sustainable model for the School of Art". This both misconstrues the Art Faculty's letter and jeopardizes earlier administrative claims that, "undergraduate students who begin college in September 2013 will not pay tuition during their four years at Cooper Union". February 20th: Current Cooper students and faculty stood together with "deferred" early-decision applicants at a rally and press conference (video) against the unprecedented top-down decision by the BOT Executive Committee to withhold the acceptance letters of students already selected by the School of Art faculty for admission. March 1st: Several Trustees sat on a panel at a "Community Forum" in the Great Hall organized by the Cooper Union Alumni Association (video). It was suggested by Board Chairman Mark Epstein that the Art Faculty was coming around and expected to be submitting proposals in the near future. This sounded in stark contrast to a constructive series of meetings organized by the faculty of the whole to "reimagine Cooper Union within its means". The Board spent the days leading up to the Trustee Forum and full Board meeting privately threatening the Art Faculty that there would be no incoming class for 2013 and that the closure of the School of Art would be initiated if the expansionist, tuition-based plans that the Faculty had been opposing were not submitted. March 5th: In the interest of not allowing the School of Art to be closed, the faculty voted to submit their plans which they had previously stated were the result of a "subtly coercive" administrative charge. These plans include a pre-college program, an undergraduate summer program, and a Masters In Arts (M.A.) program. A memo from Jamshed Bharucha expresses that the administration is "pleased" to see the this "distinctive vision" moving forward, failing to disclose the ways in which the Board and administration have coerced the faculty both into designing and submitting these plans. Contact: cusos.org | cooperunionsos@gmail.com Follow: facebook.com/FreeCooperUnion | twitter.com/FreeCooperUnion