ANIMAL headed to Cooper Union today to speak with some of the students currently protesting there, including a member of the group barricaded inside a room on the eighth floor of the school’s Foundation Building. The art-focused college has been completely free to students for its entire 110-year history, but with the recent enactment of tuition for graduate students and a plan on the table to begin charging undergrads as well, protesters are demonstrating in response to what they’re calling the “lack of transparency and accountability that has plagued this school for decades.”
In a phone interview this afternoon, student organizer Victoria Sobel assured ANIMAL that the group inside the school’s Peter Cooper suite will not leave until they are forcibly removed or the administration meets their demands, which include the stepping down of president Jamshed Bharucha.
“As a group, we’ve definitely prepared. We’ve talked about what our different strategies and roles would be [if police or school security attempt to force us out],” Sobel said. “I think at least mentally, we all have a plan for what that would look like. And we also know how that would reflect on the administration, because if they do call the police, the situation would be that the administration has sold their students down the river.”
In order to make it into the suite, students employed a multifaceted plan, using the demonstrations on the ground in front of the school as a distraction, then making their way up to the eight floor gradually.
As for food and supplies, Sobel said the protesters have a “cornucopia,” and are prepared to wait things out as long as necessary. She’s also aware of the reality of her situation. “We understand that arrest is a possibility, but we’re really hoping that they meet our demands,” she said. “That would be the best case scenario, but we understand the likelihood of that as well.”
(Photo: New School Free Press/Twitter)