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The student occupation of the eighth floor of the Cooper Union Foundation Building entered its second day this morning, as activists pressing for reaffirmation of the college’s tuition-free structure, governance reforms, and the resignation of the Cooper Union president remained barricaded in a space at the top of the college’s iconic signature structure.
As discussed here yesterday, the occupation was launched in conjunction with a day of action around the college’s decision to consider charging tuition for its undergrads for the first time in more than a century. (Cooper Union, founded as an institution committed to radical accessibility in 1859, is today one of only a handful of American colleges to provide full tuition scholarships to all admitted undergraduate students.)
The Cooper Union occupiers released a second statement this morning. In it, they reiterated their intention to remain in occupation “until our demands are met or we are otherwise removed.” The group also announced plans for a press conference outside the Foundation Building at 2:30 this afternoon. Additionally, a livestream of the occupation has been set up, and is broadcasting as of the time of this writing.
The New School Free Press has been covering the occupation since it began. Their liveblog now reports that a group of students who occupied a space on the fourth floor of the Foundation Building overnight in solidarity with the eighth floor demonstrators were removed by campus security this morning.
Noon Update | I mentioned this on Twitter yesterday, but it’s worth repeating here. All current Cooper Union undergraduates, and all new admits for Fall 2013, are guaranteed free tuition until graduation. The college has pledged not to charge any student currently enrolled or applying any tuition fees whatsoever.
That means that all the folks who are accusing the CU occupiers of acting in their own narrow self-interest are wrong. From a financial perspective, the occupiers have nothing to gain — and, given the possibility of legal charges or academic sanctions, quite a bit to lose — from their protest. They’re not doing this because they don’t want to pay tuition. They’re doing it because they believe in what Cooper Union stands for, and has stood for over the last century and a half. They’re doing it to preserve the character of the institution for those who come after them.
4:45 pm | Students are still occupying. Supporters outside recently rigged up a pulley system with an Up-style balloon bouquet to deliver a pizza up the building’s facade. The New School Free Press has the text of an afternoon statement from Cooper Union president Jamshed Bharucha in which he declares that the college’s priority is “the safety of our students and to insure that the actions of a few do not disrupt classes for all.” The statement goes on to say that the administration’s “approach in the coming day(s) will continue to be one of discourse —engaging in a dialog with the students.”
Doesn’t seem like a police raid is imminent.
As I mentioned this morning, today is a day of action at Cooper Union, one of New York City’s oldest and most esteemed colleges. Cooper Union has been tuition-free for 110 years, but this fall the administration started charging for Masters programs, and students fear undergrads are likely next.
Today’s announced activities included a teach-in, demonstrations, and an evening colloquium, but late this morning activists launched another tactic — barricading themselves inside the top floor of the college’s Foundation Building. As of this writing (2:40 pm Eastern Time), that’s where they are.
The occupiers released a statement at midday, in which they declared that their action was a “response to the lack of transparency and accountability that has plagued this institution for decades and now threatens the college’s mission of free education.” They issued three demands: That the college restore and preserve free tuition, that it initiate governance changes including student and faculty representation on the board of trustees, and that the college’s president, psychologist Jamshed Bharucha — who took office just seventeen months ago — resign.
Cooper Union activists are tweeting about the day’s events at @FreeCooperUnion, and #FreeCooperUnion has been adopted as the go-to hashtag for coverage. New School Free Press reporter Kali Hays, tweeting as @HaysKali, appears to be the only person regularly updating from inside the occupation.
Hays tweeted from inside the occupation for the first time shortly after noon, and reported half an hour later that maintenance workers were “attempting to drill/saw” through the door to the space the students had taken over. Hays later reported that the drilling had been called off, and that administrators had given assurances that they would not for the moment attempt to gain entry to the space. At about 2pm Hays tweeted that the occupiers would “not negotiate with administration,” quoting one occupier 40 minutes later as saying “We feel confident about our demands. We’ve put a lot of work into them.”
3:30 Update | The occupation is front-page news on the website of the arts magazine Art in America, and has made the City Room blog of the New York Times as well. The City Room story includes an interview with occupier Victoria Sobel, who says the students were inspired by past occupations at The New School and NYU, as well as this spring’s Quebec student uprising. Sobel says that the occupiers have food and bedding and are prepared to stay “as long as necessary.”
3:40 Update | Sobel confirms to the Gothamist website that the group’s demands are non-negotiable, saying that they will not leave until those demands are met.
4:40 Update | Heading out to dinner with my kids. Will update when I return if there’s news. In the interim I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I snuck a look at Twitter over fries, and RTed a thing or two.
Morning Update | They lasted the night with no disruptions. More in a new post shortly.
New York City’s Cooper Union is one of the nation’s great private universities. Founded in 1859, it was from the start an experiment in radical accessibility — open to women and people of color and students of any religion, free to the working class. And since 1902 it has accepted students on a need-blind basis, charging none of them a penny in tuition. Today the college is among the most selective in the country, and though more than two thirds of its students come from public high schools, the average graduate leaves Cooper Union with just $10,000 in debt.
But that may be about to change.
Last year the college announced that it was considering charging tuition for the first time since 1902, citing the economic downturn, poor investments, and a series of expensive capital projects. This year Cooper Union began charging tuition in its graduate programs, and though undergraduate enrollees for the fall of 2013 have been promised a tuition-free education, no similar pledge has been made for the following year.
Students have been mobilizing against the tuition plan since it was first proposed, and today marks their biggest day of action and outreach yet. Starting at noon, the activists of Free Cooper Union will be holding a day of free classes and demonstrations at the campus’s Peter Cooper Park, followed by a three-hour Summit on Debt and Education at the college’s Great Hall at six pm.
Afternoon Update | Students have barricaded themselves inside the top floor of the college’s Foundation Building, demanding a return of free tuition, governance reforms, and the resignation of the college president. Ongoing coverage here.
There’s been a lot of cheering today for the news that Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick plans to direct public colleges in the state to allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition, but a peek at the fine print shows that the policy shift isn’t anywhere near what it could be.
The policy covers undocumented Massachusetts residents eligible for temporary immunity from deportation under the Obama administration’s new DREAM-Act-like policy, but there’s a catch. Actually two.
First, in order to qualify for in-state tuition, you have to have made your way through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) hoops and been granted the reprieve from deportation it provides. That means that if you’ve got qualms about coming forward, or you’re having trouble proving eligibility, or are stuck in the bureaucracy for some other reason, you’re out of luck.
Second, and more importantly, the program only covers DACA-eligible students. So if you’re over thirty, you don’t qualify — even if you’ve lived in Massachusetts for twenty years. If you came to the US after your 18th birthday, or you’ve got the wrong kind of criminal record, or you don’t have (or can’t prove) the uninterrupted presence in the country that DACA requires, you’ll continue be treated as an out-of-state student for tuition purposes.
And it’s important to note that there’s no reason for Massachusetts to be limiting in-state tuition this way. A number of other states have taken the more reasonable approach of applying residency rules to all students equally, no matter what their immigration status. Just this month, in fact, Maryland took that step by statewide referendum.
If you’ve been in state long enough to obtain residency, you’ve been a state resident long enough to get in-state tuition. That’s a simple, straightforward principle, and it should be the one that pertains in Massachusetts.
It’s a shame Deval Patrick doesn’t see it that way.
When incoming Cal State system chancellor Timothy P. White takes office at the end of the year, he’ll be making about $40,000 less than his predecessor.
That’s because White, in a letter to the CSU trustees, requested a 10% pay cut as his contribution to balancing the system’s books.
White’s salary reduction doesn’t apply to other top administrators in the CSU system, of course, and amounts to just one fifty-thousandth of the system’s state appropriations for the coming year, so assessing whether it’s a worthy step in the right direction of a meaningless bit of PR work is left as an exercise for the reader.
Here’s another stat worth contemplating, though: The pay cut took White from a salary amounting to 105% of that of the President of the United States to one amounting to 95% of the president’s.
In fairness, though, POTUS does have a nicer airplane.