Friday, June 13, 2014
National premiere of the film, The Ivory Tower

My alma mater, The Cooper Union School for the Advancement of Science and Art is featured in the timely documentary, The Ivory Tower by film maker,  Andrew Rossi.

andrew rossi documentary film maker on the katie show

The Ivory Tower was featured on the Katie show with Katie Couric

Andrew and Victoria Sobel were recently featured on the Katie show, speaking about the film and the upcoming legal pursuit Save Cooper Union vs The Cooper Union Board of Trustees.

cooper union tuition protest

Victoria Sobel, representing the Cooper Union anti-tuition argument on the Katie Show with Katie Couric

Victoria is an artist and activist, who has played a key role in representing anti-tuition arguments. Here is a video I shot of her debriefing after a protest in support of free tuition on the first of May, 2013. The Cooper Union was joined by a marching band and had solidarity from schools in Berlin and across the country.

Things you should know in no particular order:

Protests and opposition to charging tuition at Cooper have been spearheaded by students who would never have to pay tuition. They have battled on principle and for the sake of future generations, and not for any sense of personal entitlement.

Americans always balk at the idea of free education, seeing it as a “free ride.” European countries balk at America’s misuse of funds, watching us spend more on maintaining prisons and punishing our citizens than helping them improve themselves and the country through education.

The school’s President Barucha is afraid of the students. He is rarely seen on campus, had a personal “panic room” built into his office, and hires private security personnel with guns (using $$$ from the school’s funds) to follow him around everywhere.

President Barucha had a student fired from his job and barred from athletics because the student refused to shake his hand.

After all of the full time faculty members from the School of Art signed a vote of no confidence in President Barucha, the board responded by deferring all early decision applicants for ONLY the School of Art, effectively endangering the futures of thousands of applicants.

The three schools (art, architecture, and engineering) have all dealt with the tuition issue in their own ways. The architecture school came together and were able to devise a workable plan to exist separately of the other two schools and offer full tuition scholarship to architecture students. The board shot it down.

Cooper Students have been protesting, performing actions, and trying to get their side of the story out there ever since tuition was placed “on the table”

Here is a clip from a protest that occurred on April 26, 2012. The day that student debt topped the 1 trillion dollar mark, AKA “1T Day”

To give you some context, Jesse Kreuzer (pictured) climbed a statue of the school’s founder, Peter Cooper, and stayed atop it until the NYPD took him down. His goal was to bring attention to the tuition conflict at the Cooper Union, and he succeeded.

cooper union tuition

Cooper Union Student, Jesse Kreuzer, protests the proposition of charging tuition at the school. He is later arrested.

cooper union campus police

Police on the Cooper Union Campus.

cooper union student

Cooper Union Student watches as police take over campus

cooper union helicopter

A police boat and helicopter were on the scene. In order to get police there quick, authorities claimed that Jesse was going to commit suicide.

Cooper Union campus

Police block students from leaving or entering the Cooper Union Foundation building

Unfortunately one casualty occurred when a student named Sara Abruna (who wasn’t involved with the protest and was simply trying to get to class) was arrested.

Here are photos from another protest action, where red banners were draped from the windows, representing the lifeblood of not only Peter Cooper’s legacy of students and the community, but also the ideal that he set forth: education as a right and not a privilege.

cooper union protest

Here is a painting by Hope Gangloff (Art ’97) of the above student, Olivia Ahn representing the ideal for free education. She stands before a painting that is found inside the famous Great Hall, where Abraham Lincoln and President Barack Obama have spoken.

painting by cooper union student

Painting by Hope Gangloff, Cooper Union Art School ’97

the cooper union for the advancement of science and art

the table is on the table

When tuition was put on the table by the board of trustees, the students responded with a campaign slogan, “the table is on the table”

Peter Cooper

Peter Cooper, founder of the Cooper Union

Peter Cooper is rolling in his grave

Peter Cooper is rolling in his grave

Jake Lee, Cooper Union Architecture Student speaks to the press.

Jake Lee, Cooper Union Architecture Student speaks to the press.

jamshed barucha

nyu cooper union

THIS AIN’T NYU. Save Cooper Union

Education as a business

Education as a business, college tuition lines the pockets of administrators.

A young Mark Ressl (architecture, '14), before years before we started doing crazy collaborations together.

A young Mark Ressl (architecture, ’14), before years before we started doing crazy collaborations together.

Cooper Union school of art

Architecture student, Vincent Hui and others protesting tuition at the Cooper Union

Architecture student, Vincent Hui and others protesting tuition at the Cooper Union

Shake My Head.

Shake My Head.

The infamous big inflatable rat that represents corruption at institutions in NYC.

The infamous big inflatable rat that represents corruption at institutions in NYC.

Ivory Tower

The Ivory Tower features clips from this day’s protest against tuition and the corruption of higher education.

And here is a video of Cooper Union students opposing tuition.

I will add more in days to come. Feel free to email me with any corrections or suggestions. I’m greatly anticipating seeing Ivory Tower in theaters.