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Student Protests at Cooper Union Continue into Fourth Day

by Janelle Grace on December 6, 2012

The new logo for Free Cooper Union (via @FreeCooperUnion)

Yesterday, over sixty students in solidarity with the eleven clock tower occupiers demonstrated outside at the school’s board of trustees meeting, where plans for charging tuition were discussed. According to The Local, three students managed to enter the boardroom before the doors were blocked by security.  The students initially made a show of crying in front of president Jamshed Bharucha in order to disrupt the meeting, as well as replacing Bharucha’s portrait on the wall of presidents with Peter Cooper’s. Eventually, one student left, and the other two stayed behind to record the meeting’s proceedings via Ustream and written meeting minutes.

The recording available shows a segment of the meeting in which faculty members of the Albert Nerken School of Engineering within Cooper detail potential graduate programs to pursue and what they mean for the college. Associate Dean George Delagrammatikas spoke:

“No one at Cooper, no one at the school of engineering, wants to collect tuition from our undergraduates. Philosophically, we don’t want it, and [Dean Alan Wolf] states that we — the two of us — are endorsing that the graduate tuition degree model is forced to be adopted and undergraduate tuition should only be considered as a fallback, which is in line with the Revenue Task Force has in mind.”

(photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

Assistant professor Eric Lima went on to detail the challenges Cooper faces as an institution and the graduate program committee’s recommendations for the school.

A number of students, faculty, and alumni from Cooper Union as well as other colleges across the US have shown their support for the protests via rallies and vigils outside of the Foundation Building, care packages of pizza and coffee delivered by balloons, and signed letters of support. According to Henry Chapman, a Cooper alumnus and an organizer for the Friends of Cooper Union free tuition advocacy group, there are “4,000 people who have signed petitions in support of the full tuition scholarship.”

In a phone interview today, Casey Gollan said that students outside the lock-in are planning a second Day of Action for tomorrow. Additionally, the students inside the barricade are planning a citywide march for Saturday. Details on both actions remain limited at the time of publication.

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