Transcription of the Cooper Union press conference on the anti-tuition demonstration.

(Alternating between 2 students)
0:25
“The Cooper Administration has made a verbal statement to me. They said it’s a formal statement asking the occupying students to leave the room. The occupying students are not agreeing to leave the room at this moment.”

“The second question is: Why must President Bharucha step down?”
“Ever since his inauguration as president of Cooper Union, President Bharucha has stated that he is incapable of defending Cooper Union’s mission and history of providing free education to all. President Bharucha’s administration has continuously ignored the Cooper Communities call for him to defend and maintain the free education at Cooper Union. President Bharucha has opted for an expansionist, tuition-based model.

President Bharucha has deferred responsibility by coercing faculty into generating tuition-based programs and threatening the closures of schools if they failed to do so. President Bharucha has ignored community calls for accountability and has refused to institute structures for community recourse against Board of Trustees and Administrative actions.”

(Speakers switch)

“Free Cooper Union! Tuition is the end of Cooper and there are sustainable ways of avoiding it. Any broad program that is being planned first and foremost out of a revenue-generating program and not as an educational one. The Administration has placed emphasis on profitability rather than quality education. With our current facilities or faculty the Cooper Union has no means or space to serve such program. The implementation of such program is a clear sign that Cooper Union is moving away from providing free education to its students. A free undergraduate program will be fast pushed-out and dismantled by the precedence of revenue-generating graduate program.

(Speakers switch)

“(Q) Why do you feel entitled to free education?”
“(A) This is not about entitlement it’s about protecting future generations. The students…of Free Cooper Union are deeply concerned with preserving the integrity of the school’s mission for future generations. We believe free education is a right, and not a privilege. Also, every current student at the school has been guaranteed their own scholarship. We’re not fighting for ourselves, we’re fighting for people who have not yet come to Cooper and we want them to have the same experience that we had.”

(Speakers switch)
“So can we really have a free school during a financial crisis?”
“Our answer is ‘We need this now more than ever. Students cannot afford the rising cost of education that is required to make a livable wage. This is an endless cycle of debt, burden, and lack of equal opportunity.”

(Speakers switch)
“In terms of transparency Jamshed (the President of Cooper Union), his claim to fame so to speak is that his door is always open. He’s always asking people to come in and to talk with him. However, as just as an example it took 12 students occupying a room upstairs for a faculty member to leak a document to us. Basically says that the faculty, the undergrad faculty, are considering graduate tuition as well as undergrad tuition. So we struggle with the fact that all of this information has come to light solely from a leaked document not from our expectations of transparency and candor.”

(Speaker switch)
“In terms of support from the faculty: We have received incredible support and solidarity from our faculty. We will continue to work with them closely throughout the struggle.”

(Speakers switch)
“We’ve also had incredible solidarity from other students and student movements; Strike debt, All in the red, free university, Occupy student debt at the Cooper Union day of action yesterday. In addition, 25 freshman occupied the fourth floor lobby of this building in solidarity with the occupiers upstairs. They stayed there all night and apparently they were threatened with arrest.”

(Speakers switch)
“So, all of that being said, universal accessibility to free education is required for a functioning democracy. Save our city’s last free school which offers full tuition scholarships to all admitted students based solely on merit.”

(Faculty now)
“The faculty just had a meeting where there were some representatives from all of the three schools and the faculty of humanities. Here is the statement:

On this day December 4, 2012 the undersigned faculty of the Cooper Union for the Advancement Science and Art unreservedly support its mission statement; and this is the mission statement as written in the catalog:

Through outstanding academic programs in architecture, art, and engineering and the faculty of social sciences The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art has talented students to make enlightened contributions to society. The college admits undergraduates solely on merits and awards full scholarships to all enrolled students. The institution provides close contact with a distinguished creative faculty which forces rigorous humanistic learning that is enhanced by the process of design and augmented by the urban setting. Founded in 1859 by Peter Cooper, industrialist and philanthropist, The Cooper Union offers public programs for specific cultural and practical enrichment for the people of the City of New York.”

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