By Gabriela Godlewski (CE ’19)
The student voices have been heard: many students of all three schools at The Cooper Union are disappointed in the new Cooper Union Merchandise Store.
The impromptu merchandise store that ran out of fomer Dean Stephen Baker’s office retired when he did in June 2017. For an entire semester, The Cooper Union did not sell their merchandise, which consisted primarily of t-shirts and sweaters of various designs, pennant flags, scarves, and stickers. The Cooper Union Merchandise Store opened in December 2017, offering a variety of items ranging from t-shirts, sweaters, sweatpants, ties, doggie jackets, mugs, and even a leather varsity jacket. The images and phrases currently featured on the shirt are designed by the Cooper Union Center for Design. As of now, the store exists only online with the hopes of a more permanent, physical presence in the works.
When the Cooper Union pop-up store showed off its products to the student body, many students stopped to look at the products. In general, the store opened to mixed reviews from the students. For one, they said, while they liked the variety of the objects on sale, they were disappointed that the store was only displaying the products and that if they wanted something, they had to buy it online.
At the pop-up store, students expressed disappointment in the prices of the merchandise. Before the pop-up store, T-shirts were available for $10 and sweatshirts were available for $25. Now, t-shirts are being sold for $25 and the embroidered sweater option is currently going for the very affordable price of $95. Some students made clear their disdain at the designs, with one student remarking that the Throwback Collection featured “the ugliest typography they have ever seen” and another student stating that the Green Camp shirt was “disrespectful to Green Camp.”
Perhaps the biggest snub was felt by students from the art school; they expressed that they had many designs they could have offered but were never asked.
In general, the students feel as though the merchandise store does not properly represent what The Cooper Union is all about. Not asking students at the art school for help in contributing designs to the initial line up leaves a pretty big untapped resource and passes up opportunities to allow Cooper students to contribute to their school. While the students are aware that the profits from the store are going to support our own scholarships, many question if this is the best way to raise money for Cooper. Raising money through merchandise is a smart move, but the merchandise store is more comparable to an institution more like New York University than Cooper Union.
While the store is new and experiencing growing pains like many new things, the good news is The Cooper Union has a store and lots of time to make it better.