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NYC Students Defend Free Higher Education
Posted on Dec 4, 2012
After the president of one of the last tuition-free universities in the United States announced that the school would begin charging tuition fees to graduate students, 11 students occupied a campus building to “demand that the school reaffirm its commitment to providing free education” and a revision of the school’s management style.
They also called for the resignation of Jamshed Bharucha, the university’s president.
Cooper Union in Manhattan has provided free education to all its students for more than a century. Its protesters can be counted among a recent trend of student activism against rising education prices around the world, including in California, London, Montreal and several cities in South America.
Rachel Appel, a senior in Cooper Union’s art school, said the occupiers were aware of their part in the global rumblings. “We feel that Cooper Union represents the issue of rising tuition costs nationwide, which are endemic,” she said. Appel helps organize Students for a Free Cooper Union and protesters who work with the outside world.
On Monday at noon, the 11 occupiers entered the Foundation Building’s Peter Cooper suite and sealed the entrance with wood and steel. They then dropped a banner from the front of the building that read “FREE EDUCATION FOR ALL.” Within minutes, university maintenance staff attempted to tear the barricade down. The students kept their bodies pressed against the doors amid the sounds of saws and drills. By the time the sounds stopped, no one was injured.
The occupiers have a website, a Twitter account and a livestream of the inside of the occupation. Participants said they were ready to stay for the long haul, as they have plenty of food and the Peter Cooper suite is equipped with a bathroom.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
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