Cooper Union Students End Occupation


Cooper Union students who have occupied president Jamshed Bharucha‘s office since early May have ended their sit-in after reaching an agreement with the administration of the New York college, according to an e-mail announcement from Students for a Free Cooper Union.

“While none of our demands have been met in full, this occupation has allowed for the beginnings of a process in which they may be actualized,” 2013 art school graduate Victoria Sobel told A.i.A. by phone today.

Students and recent graduates have occupied the president’s office for nine weeks in protest against a decision by the board of trustees to begin to charge tuition at the school, which has always offered full-tuition scholarships to accepted students. The board announced this decision May 23, citing the reason for the change as a longstanding financial crunch.

Students vacated the president’s office Friday, July 12, on the conditions that they be granted amnesty for violations of the school’s code of conduct; that a working group be formed to explore alternatives to charging tuition; that students be represented on the board of trustees; and that a “community commons” be designated as a student center.

“We hope that this working group, along with a recently revitalized alumni association and new trustees who will join the board in the fall, can effect change,” Sobel told A.i.A. “We hope for a meaningful collaboration among all members of the Cooper community. It’s important to us that the conversation become one about higher education and reimagining governance, and not only at Cooper Union.”

The 16-member working group, chaired by trustees Michael Borkowsky and Jeffrey Gural, will consist of trustees, administrators, students, full-time faculty and alumni. It will submit a report to the board by December, for consideration at the board meeting that month.

A representative of the school said that an official statement would be issued today.