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Cooper Union Students Protest Tuition Change

by Suada Kolovic

After more than 110 years of tuition-free education, Cooper Union will no longer grant each admitted student a full-tuition scholarship. The response? Eleven students have barricaded themselves inside the college for the past 24 hours to protest the school’s decision.

According to the New York blog Gothamist, 11 Cooper Union students and one student journalist from The New School have barricaded themselves inside Cooper Union’s Foundation Building. They unfurled a red banner from the eighth floor which read “Free Education To All” and released a list of demands that included the resignation of Cooper Union president Jamshed Bharucha, a public affirmation of “the college’s commitment to free education” and more transparency for the Board of Trustees. The school released a statement that while a decision has yet to be made on whether or not they would charge tuition, it was being considered in light of a waning endowment and rising costs. We should note that no matter what the trustees vote, all current students are grandfathered in so they won’t be retroactively charged tuition or be asked to pay for the rest of their time at Cooper.

Since 1902, each of Cooper Union’s 1,000 undergraduates have received a full scholarship, valued at approximately $150,000 as of 2012. As a result, it is one of the most selective colleges in the United States, with an acceptance rate generally below 10 percent, with both the art and architecture school’s acceptance rates often below 5 percent. What do you think of the efforts made by these 11 students? Do you agree with their sit-in form of protest?


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