Fuller, Emma (Arch ‘06) November 2, 2011

The question of tuition seems to be driven by a somewhat obscured platform for the expansion of the school in the 21st century. I believe this agenda is the motivation for the tuition argument that is presented as unavoidable, IF THE SCHOOL IS TO EXPAND.  This qualification is not being clearly presented, because the implementation of tuition will make expansion a necessity, and forgo a clear and thorough consideration of what expansion would mean to the identity of the Cooper Union as a small select New York City school, with a carefully admitted student body that receives an immersive and completely unique experience.

If the school proceeds with the proposal to implement a tuition policy, whatever that may be, it would seem that the school would forgo its non-profit status and the advantages that accompany that, including tax abatements especially in the realm of real estate which the school benefits heavily from given its landholding status. This move then necessitates the expansion of the student body to accommodate more tuition paying students to cover the exposure from the alteration of the school’s tax status.
Losing the non-profit status for an undetermined amount of student revenue, doesn’t seem to be a fiscally responsible maneuver, but more of an engineered strategy to accomplish a not yet clearly defined agenda.

Ultimately it seems that expansion is the desired outcome.

A viable proposal is for the school to remain at its current count and propagate a heavy city, nationwide, and international fundraising campaign as an unique premier higher education institution, a vestige within American education to provide a free education to all without consideration of economic or social status, based solely on merit. This is a duty that the board of trustees should assume, the role that Peter Cooper ascribed to his original “five gentleman” who would help to guide and ensure the success of the institution. This strategy would maintain the school as-is, and if it should prove inadequate in scope to finance the school, perhaps reductions instead of tuition and expansion could be considered to maintain Cooper’s prestigious legacy.
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