December 5, 2012
December 5, 2012
Dear Occupied Cooper Union,
We were inspired to hear of your occupation and see the red fabric unfurled from your windows, so near our own. We have visited, hung around, and we will continue to do so and offer whatever we have that you might need. The past 48 hours have energized us, have challenged us to seek the places we could revivify our struggle on our campus, have helped us to remember fully and to refocus our attentions. But even as we are prompted to look back and recognize the many student struggles that feed your occupation, we equally recognize the absolute urgency of today. We hope this occupation will be infectious. We need it to be so. December 2012 is a tipping point for Cooper Union, but Cooper Union today must be a watershed for our student movement. We are grateful and excited.
In the president’s meeting today, some in the crowd shouted that to expect free tuition is incomprehensible. This position – that education without tuition is ludicrous – is often bolstered by comparing no- or low-fee institutions like yours to those like our own, whose undergraduate fees amounts to a sum more or less equal to the median yearly income of NYC households. Somehow, our situation, in which the entire yearly earnings of a family would be spent on one students’ tuition, in a city in which income and work are so thoroughly striated by gender, race, and legal status – this is somehow more plausible.
What logic makes something that was possible in June seem unthinkable in December? Cooper Union was free, just as CUNY was in 1970 (following an occupation by Black and Puerto Rican students demanding open admissions). Why not now? Administrators claim spikes in tuition are a natural offshoot of the crisis, as if it wasn’t the administrations’ plans that made the university vulnerable to the vicissitudes of capitalist crisis in the first place. Jamshed Bharucha rehearses an argument typical of adminstrators’ euphemistic austerity boosting: Cooper Union’s funding structure was “shortsighted.” Cooper Union is a relic in an age of student debt, that mechanism that perpetually defers the crisis by deflecting it onto working class futures. We do not let pass without notice the deep irony of calling free education shortsighted while the average trade of financial equity brokers lasts a matter of microseconds.
As we roam through the rubble of financialization’s impact on higher education, it is clear that pressuring administrations to find new investors for endowments is not a solution. Should, then, we press for a reclamation of the welfare state, and recenter public education in the production and stabilization of a fully-employed working class? Let us be clear: there is no going back. Industrialists like Peter Cooper founded free schools in capitalist societies, and we live this contradiction coming to a head. So, we turn away from administrators, from capitalist benefactors, from the talking heads and the haters. We turn to your occupation, recognizing it as the only kind of place in which we can think through and construct the education, and society, we want.
Some feminist faculty and students at NYU
December 4, 2012
We, students of the New School, stand in solidarity with Cooper Union students who are currently occupying the 4th and 8th floors of the Foundation Building to protest threatened tuition implementation. At the New School, we are by now very familiar with tuition increases to fund enormous new development, a lack of financial transparency, and the barring of student participation in decision making. As the 60 5th Avenue building continues to rise we are sinking into more private and federal debt.
We support Cooper Union’s Save our School’s demands:
1. Cooper Union maintains its commitment to free education
2. Cooper Union immediately implements increased financial transparency
3. That President Bharucha step down.
Standing in front of the CU occupation, we are reminded that nothing will change unless we continue to fight together and show solidarity across schools and universities. We see this struggle in the context of the privatization of education and the crisis of capitalism.
President Bharucha told CU students today that CU has reached a limit for free education. How is it that an institution like Cooper Union, which survived for 159 years (through other crisis) suddenly faces an insurmountable crisis that challenges its core principles of education ‘as free as water and air’? In our struggles as student and workers, we resist the idea that shouldering their debt is the solution.
The way the administration chooses to deal with this crisis has been to push this burden onto students, workers, and faculty. How is it that while the students around the world (Canada, Mexico, Chile, Puerto Rico, Italy, Greece and many others) continue to fight for free, accessible education, we in the United States are expected to accept a fate of limited exclusive education and ever increasing debt?
We support Cooper Union students who have taken necessary measures to make their voices heard. When the administrators prevent access to information, when the board members decide the future of students behind closed doors, it becomes clear that we as students have no choice but to occupy behind barricaded doors.. Students and workers should not depend on leaked documents about the financial future of their schools. It is absolutely necessary, in all schools, that we directly participate in the discussion of budgets and projects through action.
SOLIDARITY WITH COOPER UNION// WE WILL NOT PAY FOR YOUR CRISIS//
ALL POWER TO THE OCCUPATIONS!