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Hi there, and welcome to the second Students for a Free Cooper Union newsletter. Every now and then we plan to send an update about what we’ve been doing, where we’re headed, and how you can get involved.
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The Cooper Union Community: Working for Free Education


 

On Thursday, July 11, a group of students, faculty, staff, and alumni, met with Cooper Union trustees Jeff Gural and Mike Borkowsky to join together in an effort to keep Cooper Union free.  At the meeting we reached an agreement to form a 16-member working group, to be chaired by Jeff Gural and Mike Borkowsky, that will "leave no stone unturned" as it seeks to return Cooper Union to being free to all.
 

In addition, we've secured a community commons, a space where students, faculty, and alumni alike may continue to work together on the Free Cooper Union campaign. For the time being, that space has been designated as Room 504 in the Foundation building. We plan to move into a permanent space before the start of the fall semester. We’re currently working on getting this space set up with desks, decorations, and all manner of supplies in the coming days. We hope to see you all in the new community commons space soon. It's open to faculty, students, and alumni during Cooper's building hours. Please get in touch if you have any furniture or office supplies to donate!

Phew. So after 65 days of occupying, and in reaching an agreement that will afford the community a real say in the future of free education at Cooper Union, we've moved on out of the President's office and on to our next steps.

A big thank you goes out to everyone who helped with the move-out and clean-up of the President’s office. We had a lot of supplies and free education accoutrements to get out of there, and couldn’t have done it without the aid of our fellow students, as well as alumni Sean Cusack, who helped wash an amazing amount of dishes, and Kelly Ochiuzzo Zack, who made the office bookshelf look better than it was when we first occupied. We’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Alin Cosmanescu and all the alumni who donated to the Crowd-tilt campaign he organized — those donations kept us well supplied and fed for the entire 2 months of occupation!

 
Above: The clean-up crew 
What's been happening:

The agreement outlines a process to explore alternatives that would allow for the restoration of The Cooper Union’s full tuition scholarship policy for undergraduate students:

  • A working group will be established promptly, chaired by Trustees Michael Borkowsky and Jeffrey Gural, to undertake a good faith effort to seek an alternative to tuition that will sustain the institution’s long-term financial viability and strengthen its academic excellence

  • The working group will have access to all of the information needed to analyze and model operational and financial alternatives.

  • The working group will consist of Board, faculty, alumni, student and administration representatives. It will submit its report to the administration and Board of Trustees by December 1, 2013 for consideration at the December 2013 Board meeting.

  • The Board also confirmed that, in accordance with the motion approved at its June 2013 meeting, procedures for the election of a student representative to the Board will be established at its September 2013 meeting. The first such representative would be seated at the December 2013 meeting.

  • An interim center/meeting room space has been designated for use by all members of the Cooper community, with a permanent space to be established in the fall.

  • All individuals who violated Cooper Union policies in the course of the occupation will be granted amnesty. The students, in turn, commit to comply with The Cooper Union Code of Conduct in the future.

Here's what we told the press about all of this on Monday, July 15:

  • The Cooper Union’s Board of Trustees and Administration, the students who have been occupying the President’s office, and a wider group of students, faculty and alumni, have agreed to embark on a unified effort to explore how to restore the institution’s historical full tuition scholarship policy for its undergraduate students.
  • Trustees Jeff Gural and Michael Borkowsky, who facilitated the discussions between occupiers and the board, commented, “The occupation of the school president’s office has ended and a positive and intense collaborative effort to ensure The Cooper Union’s future has begun.”
  • Victoria Sobel, a student that has been living in President Bharucha’s office sicne it was occupied on May 9, was cautiously optimistic. “We, and the rest of Cooper’s community believe that when our efforts and experience are added to the board’s, that we will find a way back together to Peter Cooper’s vision of education that is as “free as air and water.”

What we want to make happen:

  • We're on the move and settling in to room 504 in the Foundation building, which will serve as a community commons and Free Cooper campaign headquarters until we get a permanent location in the Fall.
  • Incorporation: We will be moving forward with incorporating a fiscally-sponsored entity and adjoining bank account that will enable us to kick off our own parallel fundraising campaign for a tuition-free school.  The signing will mark the official formation of Free Cooper Union — a collaborative effort comprised of the Students for the Free Cooper Union, Faculty for a Free Cooper Union, and Alumni for a Free Cooper Union that will revive and uphold the mission of our beloved school.  More information to come.
  • We are compiling a contact list that will facilitate communication within our community. If you’re getting this email, you’re already in our database. However, we’re still trying to track down schools, graduation years, zip codes, and phone numbers for many alumni and supporters. Just reply to this email with your information and we'll add it to our database
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Action Items

1. Alumni Info: Are you a Cooper alum? Please reply to this email with your school, graduation year, and — if you'd like — your phone number and address. Having this information on hand is super helpful to our community outreach and organizing.

2. Strengthen Connections: The big idea in the coming weeks will be to continue compiling this Community Contacts List. You can help us by forwarding this email to others who might want to be involved and encouraging them to join the Free Cooper Union Campaign.

3. Office Stuff: We are putting out a call for supplies to help us continue our work in our new space. Get in touch with us at cooperunionsos@gmail.com if you can help out with any of this!


I. Office Supplies

  • Toner

  • Letter size Paper

  • Tabloid Paper

  • Binders

  • Pens & Pencils

  • Notebooks

  • Filefolders

  • Macbook Chargers

  • Hard drives

  • Mailing Envelopes

  • Stamps
     

II.Office Furniture

  • Chairs

  • Desks/Tables

  • Shelving materials

4. Funding: Donate to our Crowdtilt. We'll continue to use these funds for purchasing supplies for students actions, banner making, and free education rabble rousing.

Keep Up, Share Your Thoughts

For conversations amongst the Free Cooper community: join the Save Cooper Union Facebook group or the Cooper Talk listserv (an open, public, two-way email list)

Contact the occupying students directly by responding to this email, or sending a new message to: cooperunionsos@gmail.com

Or visit! It’d be great to talk in person. We’ll be here.

Coming Weeks

  • Parallel Fundraising Campaign
  • Plan Dis-orientation week for incoming Cooper students
  • Limited edition silkscreened T-Shirts for sale
After 65 days of occupation, we're moving on to new heights!


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