Cooper Union Tuition Protest: Students Barricade Themselves In 8th Floor Of Foundation Building

Students Barricade Themselves To Protest Tuition

A group of Cooper Union students have barricaded themselves inside a college building in lower Manhattan for the past 24 hours to protest the school's decision to charge tuition for the first time in 110 years.

The New York City blog Gothamist reports 11 students on Monday occupied the Peter Cooper Suite, a room on the 8th floor at the top of the Cooper Union Foundation Building, where they dropped a banner reading, "Free Education To All." According to The New School Free Press, the occupation continued Tuesday morning, and a livestream from inside the Peter Cooper Suite was available.

Cooper Union's administration initially attempted to drill into the barricaded entrance to the room, according to the Free Press, but backed off after realizing such actions could injure students pressed up against the barricade.

The student occupiers released a list of demands (shown below), which include the resignation of Cooper Union President Jamshed Bharucha, a public affirmation of "the college’s commitment to free education" and more transparency from the Board of Trustees.

Since 1902, each of Cooper Union's 1,000 undergraduates have received a full scholarship to cover tuition, currently valued at $37,500 a year. Shortly after becoming the school's president in 2011, Bharucha said Cooper Union would likely have to start making students pay to attend.

On Monday, student activists released a memo they say was drafted by Nerken Acting Dean Alan N. Wolf that proposes reducing scholarships for the engineering school's tuition in order to reach revenue targets, the Free Press reports.

Students earlier held demonstrations in April over the decision to charge tuition, and at least two protesters were arrested at the time. No arrests related to Monday's protest were reported.

During the demonstration, the activists held Occupy Wall Street-style workshops and teach-ins, and staged a mock "funeral" for the "death of education." The bottom floor of the Foundation Building remained open, where several students could be seen studying.

Victoria Sobel, one of the Cooper Union occupiers, told The New York Times students had brought sleeping bags, blankets and ramen noodles and would stay "as long as necessary."

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