Tag Archives: 12-9-2013

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A Summary of Student Actions

Joseph T. Colonel (EE ‘15)

Student actions have been taking place on and off campus during this incredibly pivotal moment in the history of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. The summary below is intended to serve as a record of those actions as well as a catalyst for conversation.

December 3, 2013

At around 2:15 PM, small paper pamphlets were dropped from the ninth floor of the New Academic Building and floated down the empty space framed by the triangular staircases that connect the floors of the NAB (hereafter referred to as “the void”). Four distinct pamphlets landed on every floor of the NAB: a copy of an email by Dean Baker announcing the creation of the Ping-Pong club, a copy of an email by Dean Baker announcing that the Ping Pong club had purchased “5 brand new championship international tables,” a statement detailing the concept behind the drop, and a list of grievances. Afterward 2,100 ping-pong balls marked with hand-drawn dollar signs were dropped down the Grand Staircase. A few minutes after the drop, students and faculty removed the balls from the Grand Staircase.

December 4, 2013

A march to Jamshed Bharucha’s residence was organized. Students carried signs reading “Don’t make school work / Make the school work” and “Jamshed Bharucha, how many Trustees does it take to screw the Cooper Union?” Police were seen entering the residence during the demonstration.

December 5, 2013

A march to Jamshed Bharucha’s residence was organized. Upon arrival, students sang a rendition of the Christmas carol “Silent Night” entitled “Silent Prez” as well as a rendition of “Twelve Days of Christmas” entitled “Twelve Days of Reinvention.” The lyric sheets for these carols can be found at pioneer.cooper.edu ◊

Photo Credit: Free Coooper Union

What is Your Legacy?

What’s Your Legacy?

Stop what you’re doing. Take a good look around. Look out the window and look out into the hallway. Have you spoken to anybody outside of your school today? If you’re an engineer, have you talked to an artist today? Artists, have you spoken to an engineer today? Architects, have you left your studio today?

The school has been crumbling at our feet. It’s been slower in the past, albeit, but things seem to be deteriorating at an accelerating speed. I feel as though relations between the schools are more estranged than ever. In times of strife, it’s easy to withdraw into our comfort zones. It’s easy to decide to focus on your work, to say fuck the school I’m going to just do me and get the hell out. It can’t possibly fail, it’s been standing for 155 years, why not 155 more? This passivity will be the death of the Cooper Union.

This passivity will be the death of the Cooper Union.

What do you want to look back on in five years? Will you be ready to look back? How about 10 years? 20? 30? How about 50 years? Let’s look back.

What are you most worried about right now? Is it your calculus final? Completing a model? Finishing your sculpture? Is it that HSS essay that’s due the day before break? These present obstacles seem the most pressing. They’re easy to look at, to face, to conquer. You can count on the power of a single individual and you have the skill set necessary to complete the task. That’s what you go to school for. To gain the necessary skill-sets in order to be successful and innovative in the field of your choosing.

But how do you fix a school? Do you know how to do that? How would you even start? Sign your name on a petition, make a meme, say “I know it’s bad and I don’t like it but it’ll work itself out.”

What will this school be like once we have a paying class? We will no longer be the Free School. There’s the New School down the street, but somehow the Free School has a better ring. Now we will be the “School that was Once Free”. The melodrama of our situation will resound in the nomenclature.

Can a school divided stand?

So come next year, assuming that indeed, we are charging tuition, Cooper will be caught in a divide. It will be both the Free School, and The School that was Once Free. Two schools. Can a school divided stand?

But you go to the Free School, so it’s all cool. Those kids who go to the School that was Once Free won’t be here till next year and that’s practically a lifetime away.

Your inactivity is perpetuating the cultural shift which will eventually destroy the Free School. You are a frog sitting in warm water, not noticing that it’s getting hotter. You’re sleepy, drifting away, but you’re slowly, degree by degree, boiling away.

Jump out.

So what do you see yourself leaving behind? You’ll eventually leave this school. You personally won’t have payed a dime towards tuition and you’ll be patting yourself on the back for having escaped the binds of throttling student debt. But what will be left? A school that is but a shell of its former self. The seniors will graduate, the current juniors, the current sophomores, and last, the current freshmen. And who will be left? The Free School will have been abolished, its ideals forgotten, its legacy diminished, its future dismal.

Will you be the class that enabled destruction?

And how is your class going to be seen? Will you be the class that sat quietly, twiddling their thumbs, letting the Board destroy 155 years of tradition? Or will you be the class that stood up, and said “This is a Free School and it will stay Free!” Will you be the class that enabled destruction? Or will you be the class that took action, unified, and changed the paradigm of student empowerment?

Think about what you’re leaving behind. Think about your legacy.

Faculty-Student Senate Open Meeting

Joseph T. Colonel (EE ‘15)

The Faculty-Student Senate held an open meeting in the Great Hall on December 3, 2013 during club hours to discuss the proposed changes to the Student Code of Conduct. The Cooper Union Faculty-Student Senate, as ratified on April 12. 2011, “ is a representative body whose purpose is to advise the President and the Board of Trustees and update the faculty and students on issues pertaining to mission, use of resources and academic issues.” (http://cooper.edu/academics/faculty-student-senate/charter) The meeting was called to hold an open forum where the senate could gauge Cooper community response to the proposed revisions to the student code of conduct in order to make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees by the December 4, 2013 deadline.

Chair of the Senate Mike Essl opened the meeting by reading a joint statement stating the reason for calling the meeting, informing the audience of the absence of Jamshed Bharucha and Theresa Dahlberg who were both “out of town […] and therefore unable to attend,” and outlining notable changes to the Code of Conduct. These changes included a clause widening the jurisdiction of the code to include off-campus behavior and a clause suggesting that “conduct not found in this Code may still be deemed unacceptable and may be basis for disciplinary charges.”

Once the floor was opened for discussion, faculty and students unanimously voiced their dissent towards the ambiguity in the language of the code, the process by which the suggested changes were drafted, and the powers the Board of Trustees invested in the Administration regarding breeches of the code. Raw notes taken by Sean Cusack can be found at http://on.fb.me/1hDVe5J .

Architecture students presented a resolution signed by 139 architecture students (out of 141 total) saying “[t]he proposal to alter The Student Code of Conduct is an explicit devaluing of The Student Body, and continues the oppressive and suppressive modes that the current administration has enacted against students. The undersigned students reject the proposed amendments to the Student Code of Conduct, and will consider any changes made without a majority vote of the Joint Student Council void.” Afterward a unanimously passed resolution by the Architecture Student Council was presented, rejecting the suggested changes to the Code of Conduct.

Art students presented a petition signed by 139 art students saying “we feel that only those amendments to the Code of Conduct which are initiated and voted on by the students are legitimate. We refuse to accept the changes as they are proposed and, with them, the intent of the Board of Trustees to circumvent the authority of the student body to impose and enforce their own standards for student conduct. […] Until the students are in control of the Code of Conduct once again, and may initiate, draft, and vote on amendments as they see fit, changes to the Code of Conduct are considered illegitimate.” Afterward a unanimously passed resolution by the Art Student Council was presented, stating “[i]n effect the proposed Code of Conduct takes away integral functions of shared and student governance within the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. We the students in the School of Art believe in and are committed to fostering the ideals of a self-determining governing process which encourages ‘good morals and good order throughout [our[ connection with this institution.’”

An engineering student (full disclosure: it was me) presented a petition signed by 123 engineering students; the petition was almost identical to the petition presented by the art students. At the time of the printing of this article, there are currently 149 signatures on the engineering petition. No statement was put forth by the Engineering Student Council.

The Senate adopted the following resolution: “The Senate rejects the proposed draft of the “Code of Conduct” received on November 18. 2013 as unacceptable in both process and content. We ask the Board of Trustees to postpone the vote scheduled for December 11, 2013 and to honor the current procedure whereby revisions to the Code of Conduct are approved by the Joint Student Council.”

A Voice Lost in the Commotion

Saimon Sharif (ChE ’15)

With the flurry of campus-notice emails and torrents of Facebook discussion threads regarding the incidents happening about campus this past week, I feel it necessary to present some words Peter Cooper wrote in a letter to the Board of Trustees on April 29, 1859. It is my sincerest hope that we, as students, take these words to heart and consider their relevance given our current circumstances.

Desiring, as I do, that the students of this institution may become pre-eminent examples in the practice of all the virtues, I have determined to give them an opportunity to distinguish themselves for their good judgment by annually recommending to the Trustees for adoption, such rules and regulations as they, on mature reflection, shall believe to be necessary and proper, to preserve good morals and good order throughout their connection with this institution.

It is my desire, and I hereby ordain, that a strict conformity to rules deliberately formed by a vote of the majority of the students, and approved by the Trustees, shall forever be an indispensable requisite for continuing to enjoy the benefits of this institution. I now most earnestly entreat each and every one of the students of this institution, through all coming time, to whom I have entrusted this great responsibility of framing laws for the regulation of their conduct in their connection with the institution, and by which any of the members may lose its privileges, to remember how frail we are, and how liable to err when we come to sit in judgment on the faults of others, and how much the circumstances of our birth, our education, and the society and country where we have been born and brought up, have had to do in forming us and making us what we are. The power of these circumstances, when rightly understood, will be found to have formed the great lines of difference that mark the characters of the people of different countries and neighborhoods. And they constitute a good reason for the exercise of all our charity. […] We should always remember that pride and selfishness have ever been the great enemies of mankind. [Humans], in all ages, have manifested a disposition to cover up their own faults, and to spread out and magnify the faults of others.

I trust that the students of this institution will do something to bear back the mighty torrent of evils now pressing on the world. I trust that here they will learn to overcome the evils of life with kindness and affection. I trust that here they will find that all true greatness consists in using all the powers they possess to do unto others as they would that others should do unto them; and in this way to become really great by becoming the servant of all.

These great blessings that have fallen to our lot as a people, are entrusted to our care for ourselves and for our posterity, and for the encouragement of suffering humanity throughout the world.

Sports Update

Yara Elborolosy (CE ‘14)

As the fall semester comes to a close, the Men and Women’s Basketball teams have had a couple of intense matches to end the semester. The men’s team played Rhode Island State of Design out in Rhode Island, which was a very close game. Their next game was against the New School and they played hard, making the game a great one. This past weekend, they played against Lincoln College, a small school up in New England with a very strong team.

The women’s team played Vaughn College, a local school for Aviation, and Hampshire College, a private liberal arts school in Massachusetts. Both of these games were very close, causing heart rates to go up as the game progresses. This past weekend, they played against Briarcliff, a school out in Long Island with a Division 2 team. They played their hearts out and even though they lost, they learned a lot from it. That’s it for this semester; good luck with finals! ◊