All posts by The Cooper Pioneer

NSBE’s Charity Date Auction

Yara Elborolosy (CE ‘14)

This past Thursday, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE for short), held the charity date auction to raise money for Socialite, a project led by Cooper faculty member Toby Cumberbatch to bring more solar powered lights to Ghana. These lights are carried around as lanterns to light the path at night since many of the towns there do not have sufficient lighting.

The charity date auction was held in the rose auditorium at 9pm Thursday, January 31st, and it was packed with not only engineering students but also art studnets as well. What was being auctioned off was a date for Feb Ceb, Cooper’s annual spring party held in the great hall.
People who want to be auctioned fill out a survey about themselves. Everyone has a song playing in the background as they walk to the stage and has their introduction read out loud. Bidding for men starts at three dollars while for women it starts at five dollars. You can even be sold as a set or a couple if you are too scared or uncomfortable to go on by yourself.

Everyone in the audience has a paper plate with a number on it which is how they raise the bid. It’s a pretty interesting way of bidding, with the risk of being offensive, insulting, or disrespectful. The students who did attend seemed to have no qualms with how the auction was in a sense selling humans as if they were cattle.

At the end of the night, this went on for about two to two and a half hours, over $2000.00 was raised, which beat last years record of over $1500. It goes to a wonderful cause but whether or not it is morally okay to reenact the selling of humans is a personal moral issue that each of you can determine for yourself.

CUCC Printer - featured

New Printing Limits in the CUCC

Caroline Yu (EE ‘15)

The Cooper Union Computer Center serves as a place every Cooper student can use to print out what they need. Fortunately, after the decrease of operators working per hour in the computer center, the amount of printing problems has not increased. However, around each printer, students have noticed the piles of paper that were printed but not picked up. Not only is it wasteful, Computer Center Student Manager Alexander Erb, says that because many of the papers left were printed double-sided, the CUCC could only throw these documents away.

The CUCC has now instituted a printing page limit. The biggest issue was the amount of printed pages left at the CUCC last semester. It was noticed that “more students seemed to have found their books online in the past couple of years and end up printing multiple copies and only taking one of them.” Alexander Erb also believes that “one thing people don’t seem to realize is [that there] is a small fee for each page printed that Cooper takes care of. And now that people are printing out textbooks, they’re leaving Cooper to pay for their books.”

Although there are only signs at each printer, the new limit is enforced by the means of a new system where printing several copies of the same document or a document over twenty pages is not allowed. If this new limit system works, the CUCC will not have to consider other options where students would have to pay an extra fee for printing or have a printing page limit as other colleges do.

Alexander Erb has advice for Cooper students: “print double sided when you can, try to print in black and white whenever possible, don’t print textbooks all at once [it is] easier if you just printed portions you need every few weeks, and only print out sections needed for your class.” If you already have pressed the print button at a computer, don’t press it again unless you are positive the printer did not receive the printing request!

Photos by Jenna Lee (ME’15)

Feb Ceb

Yara Elborolosy (CE ‘14)

If you walked into the great hall last Friday night, you probably would have been shocked to find about fifteen tables lined up in the hallway, decorated with baby blue table cloth, plastic cups with bead necklaces, tissue paper, Styrofoam stars, and snowflakes with glitter glue. If you walked in early enough, you would have seen about twenty girls, from the basketball and volleyball team, setting up the hall for Feb Ceb. Feb Ceb, short for February Celebration, took place on Saturday night from 8pm to about midnight. It is essentially a spring party for Cooper and non-Cooper guests to have a good time with dinner and dancing. Music was provided by DJ and current Cooper student, George Holevas (ChE ’14). The reason the celebration is in February is to remember Peter Cooper’s birthday and his mission. This year the theme is winter wonderland, explaining the snowflakes that can be found everywhere while last year the dance was Valentine’s Day themed.

Tickets were sold at the door for fifteen dollars each but if you bought them beforehand, they were being sold two for twenty five. Dean Baker who helps plan this event, along with Natalia Zawisny (CE ’14), Ghazal Erfani (ChE ’14), Alice Yang (ChE ’13), and Stephanie Borches (CE ’14), stays at Feb Ceb for a good portion, if not all, of the night to assure everyone is enjoying themselves and that everything goes well. Usually about eighty to hundred people attend, filling up all of the tables being set up and the stage in the great hall, which is where the dancing occurs. It is a wonderful way to meet new people and just have fun before the workload from the semester starts to pile.

protest 2 - featured

A Free Institution

Tensae Andargachew (ME ‘15)

On June 17, 1858, Abraham Lincoln made the argument that “a house divided against itself cannot stand”, arguing with passion that all people must be free. Two years later, he would give a speech at Cooper Union, where he spoke with passion again, dedicated to the cause of a free man, at a school dedicated to a free education.

Fast forward 150 years: Cooper Union is a school in torpor, financially at first, putting in jeopardy the free school.A new president, President Jamshed Bharucha comes in to solve the crisis at hand, and exposes all the details to everyone. The Cooper community finds out that Cooper is running on massive deficits and has a good deal of debt, therefore something must be done to keep the institution solvent. Immediately, committees were put together, taxes were released, and talks between all sorts of people in the Cooper community were held.

After listening to the talks, reading the reports and discussing options – one fact was revealed: tuition was on the table as a last resort. Time passed by, but the situation appeared to be growing more dire, which has led to tense relations between some in the community and a series of protests.

The latest in the series of protests began on Monday, December 3 – students, faculty, alumni and general members of the Cooper community attended in an effort to express their strong opposition to a tuition based plan, with red banners flowing and posters reading “Debtaster Zone” and “Free”.

In the communiqué distributed, there are three demands made by the protestors: a commitment from administrators, affirming that they are committed to a free education; reforms in the Board of Trustees proceedings – in particular, a call for more transparency; and lastly, the resignation of President Bharucha.

The first two points were elaborated on in the communiqué. However, an explanation as to why the protestors demanded Bharucha’s resignation can be found elsewhere: in a leaflet distributed at the protest, written by Casey Gollan, a senior art student enrolled here at Cooper.

It is suggested in this leaflet that the president came in with an agenda, which is in direct conflict with the mission of Peter Cooper – symbolized throughout the day on Monday with carts clashing into each other, into cardboard tombstones, symbolic of Peter Cooper.
This leaflet asserted that the agenda that the president supposedly holds has not been forfeited in any way, and further went to on to claim that the president uses boilerplate and the police to solve issues.

This view, in particular that the president has had an agenda in store is not unique to only Casey, but was shared by many at the protest, though not everyone. Mia Eaton, the wife of a tenured art professor, also shared that view, and believed that tuition is selling Cooper’s reputation, redefining its mission, and for this reason, it should be closed.

She explained to me how the students who barricaded themselves in the Peter Cooper Suite (or referred to by many in the media as the Clock Tower), were (and still are) risking everything – arrest and expulsion being the biggest two – for this cause.

While the protestors, whether in the suite or not, continue to protest things that might be voted on, the general plans for the future are vague – all that is really understood is that the solution must not include any tuition. Asher Mones, an art student who attended the protest, said that its really up to the administration, those committed to the mission of no tuition are who should decide. Some distributed copies of The Way Forward and bullet points as to what possibly could be done in an effort to solve it, but an official comprehensive solution was not endorsed.

Tuesday, President Bharucha addressed the protestors while ensnared by them, in the lobby of 41 Cooper Square. He repeated all the facts, told them what was going on in current talks with everyone, and then offered the protestors to join him in the Great Hall to discuss matters further. A little later, a group of students had come to praise Bharucha, affirming that they believed that he was committed to the school and its mission. This prompted a debate between the students protesting and the students praising Bharucha.

The Cooper community is in for some more talks, debates, forms and forums throughout this ongoing the crisis. Details, opinions and plans will eventually be made clear with the vehicle of free speech. The atmosphere at Cooper, which has been set up to debate ideas and not to debase individuals, to verify facts before vilifying opinions, promotes free speech, and more generally freedom. And it has done so ever since the days of Lincoln. With the freedom to express ideas and the ingenuity of the community and everyone somewhat ready to band together and embark on a road to solve Cooper’s crisis, the best way forward will probably be found.

Photos by Jenna Lee (ME’15)

Out on a limb where there should be a bridge - featured

Out on a limb where there should be a bridge

Joseph Colonel (EE ‘15)

“That’s a valid argument, that’s not what they care about. That’s not how they think.

“We can’t have a conversation like that. They get heated.”

“Look at them, how they can get away with doing that for three days.”

“It makes me mad, I have so much work to do. They’re not doing anything. #artists #assholes”

These are a few of the comments I’ve heard made by students in the New Academic Building regarding the people protesting inside the Peter Cooper Suite and the people supporting them in front of the Foundation Building. That these comments have been lifted out of context is irrelevant. To a passerby these statements seem inflammatory, divisive, and ignorant. It is surprising and upsetting to hear such words come out of the mouths of students attending one of the top undergraduate engineering colleges in the country. It is disturbing and disappointing to hear these words spoken by my colleagues and peers.

These types of statements spewed from “both sides of the issue” embody a more startling trend I have noticed since entering the Cooper Union last fall: engineering students disregarding the opinions and intellect of art students. Discourse and collaboration between the Art, Architecture, and Engineering schools cannot happen until students abandon this type of rhetoric and attempt to uphold mutual respect and understanding for their peers.

The time for sarcasm and jokes in legitimate discussion has long since passed. Whether or not it ever existed I leave up to you. We as students owe it to one another to uphold a policy of honesty and transparency in conversation, both face to face and online, should we expect any sort of exchange of ideas or collaboration to exist between students.

Shouting across the lobby of the New Academic Building at one another or putting up posters that mocking claim that we can summon the ghost of Peter Cooper who will shit out enough money to solve Cooper’s financial troubles should we wish hard enough do nothing but strengthen the bi-partisan trend overtaking the Art and Engineering schools.

As said by Kurt Vonnegut, “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful who we pretend to be.”

Healing this apparent divide between the Art and Engineering schools begins with the recognition that anyone you talk to or talk about is a human.

Like you, these people were conceived in some manner, and have spent the entirety of their lives on or near the surface of the Earth, where they have grown up and accumulated life experiences that have shaped them into the people they are today. Referring to the people in the Peter Cooper Suite and those supporting them outside the Foundation Building as “the artists” is not only fallacious but also dehumanizing. As one person told me, “We shouldn’t let our interests define us. I’m a Cooper Union student before I am a Cooper Union Art Student.”

On the topic of Cooper’s Future, that same person went on to say, “It would be unfair to expect everyone to think the same.” In a time where the future of our institution is uncertain, it is ludicrous to believe that everyone will come to the same conclusion as to how to protect it. Respect these opinions, for that is all they are: opinions.

Engineers, artists, and architects are all creators based around certain guiding principles. Engineers typically design with practicality and efficiency in mind. Some artists may create in the name of aesthetics or provocation. Some architects design in the name of progress. It must be recognized by everyone that each of these disciplines has its merits and its place. By no means should any be belittled; these differences should be celebrated and explored by each party individually. Some may see how a wider scope during the creative process can produce beautiful results.

I applaud the action taken by Unify Cooper Union, a group created by Rob Brumer (ChE ‘14) and dedicated specifically to generating interschool dialogue and collaboration. The group hosted an event named “Common Ground,” held on December 6th. The event was created by Brumer and hosted by Caleb Wang (EE ‘13). The Facebook page for the event states:

“As artists, architects and engineers, we all love our school. When things get heated it is hard to remember [what] we all have that in common. This event is about trying to understand each others’ perspectives by getting to know one another and why we are passionate about what we do.

“We will do this by splitting up into small groups of 5 or 6, ideally with at least one person from each school in each group. After a brief introduction from representatives from all three schools, the groups will go through the studios, classrooms, and labs to collaborate about the engineering, art, and architecture projects that we are all working on.”

The event received nothing but enthusiasm and praise from those that attended. Talks of student-run courses and lectures to be held for students from all three schools have been met with the same response. I hope that this movement pans out, and that it is not simply a moment of clarity to be lost among the commotion of daily Cooper life.

Everyone has the well being of the Cooper Union at the bottom of their hearts and the forefronts of their minds, of that I am certain. Hopefully a revised rhetoric will allow more fruitful dialogue to exist between all members of the Cooper community.

Photos by Jenna Lee (ME’15)

Cooper Union Origami’s David Yurman Windows

Caroline Yu (EE ‘15)

If you walk by the David Yurman designer jewelry store in Manhattan (as well as three other locations nation-wide), you’ll see a 33’ origami torus made of 105 sheets of hand-cut paper. These creations are covered with approximately 35 red origami berries. The “berries” have LED’s wired into them so that they light up at random intervals, making the model twinkle.

These displays were created by The Cooper Union Origami Club.

The fact that all four displays were designed and constructed in less than a week makes them even more incredible. Origami Club president, Uyen Nguyen (ME ‘14) says that “the timing was our greatest challenge…the group effort was amazing, and I was personally touched by the incredible amount of effort my club members put into this. I honestly believe that, of our group’s current regular members, had we been down by even one person, we would not have finished the job. I am amazed and thrilled by the dedication my members have to this club.”

The idea of having origami as a window display was proposed by Richard Barrett, who works for David Yurman. He was unsure of what to do for a window display but when he went to Parents’ Day at Cooper because his son is an architecture student, he saw President Bharucha talking about the Origami Club. The Origami Club had made the President a torus and Richard Barrett thought that origami would be a good idea to use in their holiday window display. Richard Barrett then contacted student services, who then contacted the Origami Club.

Approximately 300 man-hours were spent making the torus. The club pulled consecutive all-nighters to finish the torus. Uyen describes it as a “club meeting that lasted more than 72 hours.” Harrison Cullen (EE ‘15), believes that “[he] couldn’t find a better group of people to fold paper with…while horribly sleep deprived.”

All compensation that The Cooper Union Origami Club received for their work will be donated back to Cooper. If these displays inspire you to fold something amazing, join the now-esteemed Origami Club!

Little Shop of Horrors

Matthew Lee (ME ‘15)

The Cooper Dramatic Society put on a terrific show last Sunday with their rendition of Little Shop of Horrors. The show was an amazing success, bringing a large portion of Cooper’s student body out to see it. The most intriguing aspects of the performance were the impressive Audrey II plant puppets that were used throughout the musical.

The well coordinated duo of Alejandro Acosta (EE ’15) manning the puppet with Kal Megati (ChE ’15) on vocal duties worked together to give the puppet incredible realistic movement and a fantastic singing voice. Other standouts include Joseph Colonel’s (EE ’15) hilarious act as sadistic dentist Orin Scrivello, as well as several other small roles that required a quick backstage costume swap.