Cooper Union Occupation, Day Two
Student Protesters are Already Assured of Free Education, They Are Protesing for Those Who Will Follow Them
By Angus Johnston
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.
Cooper Union students seized the clock tower atop the school’s headquarters Monday and hung a banner urging the administration to keep the school tuition-free for undergraduates. Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times
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.
Students for a Free Cooper Union - the lock-in crew! pic.twitter.com/0rxXLpFA
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.
After announcemen of tuition for new 2013 studens, banners fly outside Cooper Union's Great Hall. "Keep Capitalism Out of the Classroom," "Education is a Human Right" and Education Free as Air and Water." The protest later moved to Union Square. (Photo by Whitney Kimball)
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.
StudentActivism.net is the work of Angus Johnston, a historian and advocate of American student organizing.