Since Monday, eleven students have been barricaded inside an eighth floor room at Cooper Union, a historically free college, to protest a decision that might impose tuition charges on undergraduate students for the first time in the institution’s 110-year history. And they haven’t been alone: on the ground, a much larger group has been demonstrating outside of the school since the beginning, and Students for a Free Cooper Union has received statements of solidarity from several faculty members and other academic institutions.
This morning, two protesters entered a closed board of trustees meeting, blocking the door and taking the opportunity to air their grievances about the future of the school. In the interest of transparency, the students published minutes for the meeting and livestreamed the entire ordeal.
And yesterday, President Jamshed Bharucha–who protesters have called to step down–released an official statement on the occupation, in which he pledges that he’ll attempt to resolve the conflict peacefully:
Our priority is the safety of our students and to insure that the actions of a few do not disrupt classes for all. Vice President Westcott is in contact with the group. We understand they have food, water and access to the bathroom located in the Peter Cooper Suite.As an institution of higher education and one that has stood for freedom of expression since our founding, our approach in the coming day(s) will continue to be one of discourse — engaging in a dialog with the students. We will continue to keep the Cooper Union community updated on this matter as information develops.
(Photo: Students for a Free Cooper Union)