So wow! That was a crazy march on Wednesday! We took the streets! But before the march to Foley Square, there was a student convergence in Union Square, and I said some things about Cooper Union. This is what I meant to say (I ended up skipping a bit at the end because it is hard to communicate long sentences in four-word waves):
“I’m from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. If you’ve heard of my school it’s probably because every accepted student receives a full-tuition scholarship.
We just learned that that might change.
Our financial situation is terminally bad and without drastic change Cooper will close within three years.
Most of us are horrified that tuition is being considered, even as a last resort. But not just for fiscal reasons. This is also a philosophical issue.
The scholarship does more than remove a huge amount of potential debt. It creates a unique environment of equality and ethics. The relationships between students and teachers are radically different from the normal American college, where diffusion of knowledge is bound to the exchange of money.
But what’s really special, beyond the quality of the community, is that receiving a full-tuition scholarship with their acceptance letter tells every student, “YOU ARE MORE VALUABLE THAN YOUR FAMILY’S MATERIAL ASSETS.
YOUR POTENTIAL TO MAKE A CREATIVE AND ENLIGHTENED CONTRIBUTION TO SOCIETY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR ABILITY TO PAY TUITION.”
During this struggle remember Cooper Union as a model of what an educational institution could be. An institution can treat people as ends in themselves, rather than as means to generate capital.
Even if Cooper changes, let its ideal live on: EDUCATION SHOULD BE AS FREE AS AIR AND WATER.”
Hope I did right by y’all.