Today Cooper’s Board of Trustees and President made a huge blunder, announcing — weeks after acceptance letters were ready to go out — that they are retracting early admission for the School of Art in response to a letter issued by School of Art Faculty opposing tuition-based programs:
The Faculty of the School of Art, while endorsing the excellence of the programs they developed over the Fall semester and presented orally to the Board on December 5 (these include pre-college, summer, certificate and master’s programs), has reversed its course and on January 25th issued a statement to me and Dean Bos, and later to the Board of Trustees, stating that they “can neither propose nor vote on a motion that moves these proposals forward,” stating that “any solution to The Cooper Union’s current financial crisis that depends, even in part on tuition compromises and irreversibly damages the ideals of art, education, freedom, and citizenship”. Pending the Board’s decisions in March about the future of the institution, and in the absence of a sustainable model for the School of Art, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees has directed the administration to notify students seeking early admission to the School of Art that their applications will be considered as part of the art school’s general application pool. We apologize to our early admission applicants to the School of Art for the delay in the decision process.
This produced many confused and disappointed applicants, who were either rejected or deferred today by email. My little sister, an applicant, reminded me that you can only apply early to one school. Cooper’s administration has essentially thrown out this chance for a whole bunch of smart, hard-working kids.
What’s more, Bharucha blamed faculty for reaching the conclusion that his charge is actually unsustainable! Faculty did, in fact, put in months of work writing plans for new revenue-generating academic programs, though they found the administration’s ask to be “subtly coercive”. After running the numbers they realized it wouldn’t work financially. But more importantly, it compromises the college’s core asset: it’s mission — it’s promise! — of Free Education To All. The worst part of today’s announcement is how the Board is shamelessly using kids who took a chance on Cooper as collateral against Faculty who complied with a poorly architected charge and had the guts to then stand up and oppose it.
That’s why I was proud, yesterday, to confront the President, Chairman of the Board, and other administrators with our demands as Students for a Free Cooper Union, and sing, “Happy Resignation Dear Jamshed” in hopes that he’ll TAKE THE HINT. (He walked out of the room.) And that was a full day before they made this ridiculous announcement. Check out the video above and re-read our demands below:
- The administration must publicly affirm the college’s commitment to free education. They will stop pursuing new tuition-based educational programs and eliminate other ways in which students are charged for education.
- The Board of Trustees must immediately implement structural changes with the goal of creating open flows of information and democratic decision-making structures.The administration’s gross mismanagement of the school cannot be reversed within the same systems which allowed the crisis to occur. To this end, we have outlined actions that the board must take:
- Record board meetings and make minutes publicly available.
- Appoint a student and faculty member from each school as voting members of the board.
- Implement a process by which board members may be removed through a vote from the Cooper Union community, comprised of students, faculty, alumni, and administrators.
- President Bharucha steps down.