Free Cooper Union Releases Previously Classified Board Documents

by Corinna Kirsch on November 19, 2013 · 2 comments Newswire

Cooper Union Foundation Building

Free Cooper Union is going all Wikileaks on Cooper Union’s board. For the next seven days, the anti-tuition student group plans to release previously classified board information, posting that information on their blog and Facebook page. So far, the documents already leaked run the gamut from luxury spending mishaps to advocating for the termination of the fine arts department. Not a pretty picture.

For a closer look at just what Free Cooper Union has pulled out of the board’s cauldron of whoopsies, on the first day of leaks, the group leaked “The Dream Scenario” (cue the heavenly music), a Powerpoint-style slide presentation by the Trustee Reinvention Committee released in February 2013.

Dream Scenario

The current dream, the committee states, is wrong. In order to get back to Cooper Union founder Peter Cooper’s original charter they plan to:

  • “Phase out the current fine arts program.”
  • Replace that program with a School of Design “for instruction in art or trade that would furnish ‘suitable employment.’”
  • “Invest in architecture to make it (the jewel) to make it the best in the world.”
  • “Project-based learning overseas”
  • Build on Peter Cooper’s vision, not the “contemporary narrative.”
  • Start charging students tuition.

That’s just day one. Though these documents might not be able to steer free-tuition back in place—for the first time in over a hundred years, the board began charging for tuition this fall semester—they do make the college seem like a tornado of bureaucratic mismanagement.

Next on the group’s plans: a public reading of leaked board documents at e-flux this Sunday, November 24th from 6 – 9 PM.


Alex Tomlinson November 19, 2013 at 6:10 pm

This is just awful.

joshuacaleb November 19, 2013 at 8:15 pm

The Cooper Union was an unprecedented hundred-and-fifty-plus year gash in the relationship of class to higher education that apparently and unfortunately is beginning to heal. Even further and more deeply than the life of its founder (which did the same) It proposed social parity and held that challenge out beyond the field of higher education. As long as we take up that challenge, his memory and ideals are being honored.

Let’s not still name the scar tissue after Peter Cooper, though; much better to let the material appearance of what he made end than call something spiritually different by the same name. Don’t let his name buy any further into the disgusting amounts of debt our educational culture creates for those who cannot pay. Let anything that survives be known by the names of the trustees, the board and the presidents who allowed this to happen as it was their fault, not by Cooper’s. His name shouldn’t be called on to answer for this state the world at large is in, but we must together attempt to improve it.

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