And so it’s announced, the establishment of a contingent fund to save Cooper Union.
If you’re new here: I went to Cooper Union many years ago and teach there now. It’s unique — there’s nowhere else like it — for many reasons. The one that has defined it for well over a century is that it is tuition free.There’s no other opportunity in the United States for someone to get a free undergraduate education, to pursue it with their whole heart, without having to weigh its value against deep financial sacrifices or steep future debt.
The school is now in significant danger of coming to a close. By some calculations, it has about two years to live. It is running a ferocious deficit, over half of which is just servicing the interest on debt that was incurred without any supervision of the Board of Trustees (who by the way: told the WSJ and everyone else that everything was fine.)
One suggestion to solve the crisis is to just start charging tuition.
And so this is about money we are pledging to keep Cooper Union alive without tuition. It’s not about keeping the Cooper Union buildings standing with the name on the door: it’s about keeping the idea alive. The idea is that there’s one place in the United States that is a meritocracy, a place in which talent and hard work can triumph, independent of any other considerations.
There are those who want to say that the only way to keep Cooper going is to just give up on the tuition-free model that’s endured over 100 years. I suggest it’s like keeping America alive without democracy. It’s not a feature. It’s the fucking idea.
I have pledged $10,000 to the fund, which will be released to the school if Cooper Union will take the premise of tuition off the table. I encourage you to go to the site and pledge whatever you can, even if it’s just a dollar.
Cooper Union ended up here not because the market tanked — the institution weathered over 22 recessions and the Great Depression. It ended up in existential jeopardy because no one watched the watchmen as they dug the hole we’re in, and because there was never a way to suggest or provide alternatives to what they were doing. This is the alternative, and it needs your support, however you can provide it.