NEW YORK — As the stand-off between the Cooper Union student body and its administration over the school’s plans to begin charging tuition enters its fourth week, school trustees have announced they will retroactively charge tuition to all currently living alumni if the occupation of the president’s office doesn’t cease immediately.
“They’re making us all look bad, calling attention to the school like that,” said Trustee Chairman Mark Epstein. “Look, nothing in life is free, except tuition here for the past 150 years. They need to get over their little snit and get back to their free classes while they still can.”
Cooper Union, one of the last tuition-free colleges in America, became the epicenter of outrage and protest in recent weeks after its president and board of trustees announced that the cost of tuition will rise from $0 to $20,000 per year, the first such rise in 150 years. A series of protests and an occupation of the president’s office, garnished with a vote of no confidence, ensued.
Epstein first set his sites on the alumni in his quest to raise funds during a mediation forum hosted by Democracy Now! on May 15, where he blamed the alumni for the school’s financial woes: “We don’t have enough alumni support. I question their commitment to the school, other than verbal. Other colleges’ alumni buy them things, it’s not fair.“
The Cooper Union commencement ceremony is due to take place later today, with Mayor Michael Bloomberg slated to speak. It has not been confirmed whether the attendees will be charged a last-minute “commencement fee.”