Breitbart.com Takes on Cooper Union Protests, Complains About Dumbing Down of America

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A refreshing take on the Cooper Union occupation today from Breitbart.com: The students, alumni, and other folks protesting the school's decision to charge tuition are "multiculurists [sic] with a political agenda" and "dream of a Spolied Brat [sic] Socialist Utopia."

As in:

If the past gives any clues about the most effective way to end the protest, its [sic] to pull the plug on the party. Unless the administration plans to capitulate to the protestors [sic] childlike understanding of economics, they [sic] need to do what they'd do to any group of squatters who wandered in off the Manahattan [sic] streets and Kick. [sic] Them. Out.

Preach! There's only one way to fight against the "the obvious dumbing down of American academia by the tenured Left," and that's one grammatical battle at a time.

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16 comments
omeddego
omeddego

@stranahan If you are going to take a hit at the validity of Cooper student protesters then you need to do your research first. Update yourself on Cooper's financial issues since you are misrepresenting the truth... 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_K9wkQAick

The Cooper Union has never been run by a "business man" until the 21st century. It is usually run by someone who is able to communicate among all three talents of our student body; art, architecture and engineering. Cooper was insured for a stead road to cover costs of its students, teachers and facilities for decades. Until the administration of of 2000-2011 got greedy and jeopardized Cooper by rewriting its financial contracts. The present management still remains corrupt today, which was exposed to the public through the village voice post of May 23rd 2013: 

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2013/05/cooper_union_secret_transcript.php

The current administration hasn't shown sufficient effort in a strategic recovery as they have been PAYED to do. This is a concerning topic that goes past Cooper, it is concerning for a progressive function of many great institutions throughout America. Education in the present day feels like a trap where certain people get rich and are able to play with others saved money...

The Cooper community has been humble towards its (not simply "free") but full-tuinion scholarship that it grants to every enrolled student. Yet we've become devastated that our tradition has been manipulated and our precious hours of amazing education is being sacrificed to this upsetting battle. There will be books on this institute and your article will be forgotten. 

lifeoriley
lifeoriley

@Voigt Very well said.  I find that these days conservatives tend to rage with a great deal of emotion against anything or anyone that does not fit their mold, lumping it all into a sort of leftist (or in this case multiculturalist) boogey-man.  But confront them with the facts, and they are unwilling to examine their own views critically.  It becomes difficult to have a conversation with them given their emotionally based intransigency.  Or, for those who blast others first before learning to spell, intransijensiey.

tragerlaura
tragerlaura

As someone who has received an excellent, entirely free public education in a capitalist country (Germany), I am always amazed by the argument that free education for all is a) unfeasible and b) unhealthy for a capitalist nation's economy/financial standing and its citizenry. While I personally do oppose capitalism as an unsustainable socio-political and economic system, I am still waiting to hear a convincing argument from writers and followers of breitbart.com and their likes why something that is a reality in other capitalist countries is absolutely impossible and needs to be opposed in the most disrespectful manner in the USA.

stranahan
stranahan

I own those typos. I've started using Ulysses III to write and it doesn't underline spelling errors. And I'm legally blind. My bad.

Nice to see the facts aren't in dispute, however. 

sydney.brownstone
sydney.brownstone

@stranahan 

Ah. But I'm still trying to understand where the "facts" lie in "dumbing down of American academia by…the dismantling of useful curriculum by multiculuralists [sic] with a political agenda." Are you saying that offering free tuition to talented and deserving kids regardless of race and socioeconomic background results in loss of academic integrity? Simply because some of those kids wouldn't have been able to afford college otherwise? (Their bad.) Sorry, don't follow.

stranahan
stranahan

Fair question.

First, understand that (just like you) I'm not writing for a general audience; I'm writing for people who get what I mean there. Were I writing a New York Times Letter To The Editor or a piece for the Voice, I'd expand it. 

So, I'll expand.

I don't have a problem with free tuition, if the school can afford it. My research indicates Cooper Union can't afford and all the protests in the world don't change that. Further, the protests tie in the wider aim of 'free education for everyone' explicitly - the banner on the Facebook page and the Air. Water. Education. background on their Twitter. That whole movement is, in my opinion, pie-in-the-sky socialism and on a mass scale, a very bed idea.

The part you're quoting is me saying that academia has a leftist tilt, which means they can't really argue against the idea as effectively as someone who rejects the premise entirely, like conservatives.

I use multiculturalism as an example of the dominant educational trend for the last 25 years or so. I think it's clearly failed; note Florida's recent move to lower the standards for minority students. The multicultural issue doesn't tie directly into the Cooper Union battle. It's an example for me of the underlying ideology that's leading to a longer standoff.

I don't anticipate you'll agree but does that at least make sense?

portmanteau
portmanteau

@stranahan 

Perhaps the school's banner of "Education should be as free as air and water" (a direct quote from Peter Cooper himself) could be interpreted as having socialist undertones, but you have to agree that the rigorous application process at CU is far from socialism. It is a true meritocracy. Those kids have to earn their educations through intelligence, dedication and a ton of hard work. The art home test, for instance, takes nearly a month to complete... and you turn it in with the knowledge that only a slim fraction of applicants get accepted (so the work may have been all for naught). 

If tuition is imposed, then scholarships would be given not on the basis of merit, but on income. The rich kids would have to pay, but the poor kids would still get a free ride, even though they all worked equally hard. This would turn the application process into a process of handing out "social welfare", like you so abhor. 

Isn't one of the last true meritocracies in the education system worth preserving? 

thewindmiller
thewindmiller

@stranahan From Peter Cooper's first commencement address in 1860:

"
The income of the corporation derived from the rents of the stores and offices and of the Hall, has been sufficient to maintain a free reading room filled with magazines and newspapers, a picture gallery, the school of design for women, classes of instruction in chemistry, mechanical philosophy, mathematics, music, architectural, mechanical and free-hand drawing, free of expense to all applicants."

"Admission to all the above courses of instruction will be granted without charge or payment of any kind to all persons, male or female, of good moral character, above the age of sixteen years, who shall comply with the regulations of the trustees."

voigt
voigt

@stranahan

'This narrative, appearing last year, has its mirror in the "Carnegie made Cooper free" farrago that generated his favorite 1902 start date. That means presumably that Cooper was only "sustainable" for about 68 years out of 154 until the arrival of his clear-headed, "transparent", and media savvy administration which has been dedicated to changing in mission. Well Cooper Union established a "free" education policy way before the start of the 20th century (the primary Night School of Art and Science was always without tuition) and many able trustees and donors kept Cooper afloat after 1970.'--Peter Buckley, Cooper Union Historian (save cooper union fb group)

stranahan
stranahan

Cooper Union charged tuition to those who could afford it during the period Thomas Edison attended, did they not?

Voigt
Voigt

@stranahanI'd suggest you learn the history of Cooper Union and of the current crisis before insulating its students on a national forum. You have attacked students who are trying to preserve the full scholarship policy, even if it means compromising their own degrees or reducing the offered courses and services. You have made no attempt to provide context. You strike ignorantly at an embattled institution at a time when its students, faculty, and administration are trying to find ways preserve the institutionthat produced such useless liberal Canadian studies majors as Thomas Edison, Bob Kane, and Daniel Libeskind. Your actions are without honor. 

stranahan
stranahan

Forever in debt to your priceless advice. 

You and I have very different views of modern conservatism or modern leftism. I'd suggest Thomas Sowell's book "The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy."

voigt
voigt

@stranahan The most significant educational trend is the lack of participation in the sciences by American college students, something Cooper Union made small but significant contributions against. You're right, multiculturalism has nothing to do with the Cooper Union battle, and it is as irrelevant as your baseless attacks upon a group of undergraduate students risking their own diplomas to shed light upon the poor financial decisions made by the previous administration. Since you have chosen to ignore the actual facts of the situation and paint it in the broad strokes of a "conservative" antigovernment agenda, let me respond in kind: What I see throughout the conservative media is bitterness and hatred for anything and everyone that does not fit into the tiny box that defines "real Americans." If I may be so bold, you and your kind have utterly lost your grip upon the rudder of fiscal conservative principles, and instead bide your time targeting soundbites to the most inhuman instincts of your constituency: fear, hatred, and loathing.

stranahan
stranahan

The criticism is primarily about the methods, not the goal. If Cooper Union can make it work, fine. 

There's sort of a broader cultural conservative argument about the often ruinous effects of giving people free stuff but I wasn't really making that argument. People tend to appreciate stuff they pay for but most college students are completely disconnected from that, via parents or grants or loans.

I reached out to the students, didn't hear back.

I appreciate the conversation, too, and I feel crappy about the typos. Embarrassing.

sydney.brownstone
sydney.brownstone

@stranahan The underlying ideology of the Cooper Union occupation (as I understand it) is also based on the notion of meritocracy—that charging tuition would actually spoil opportunities for the best and brightest to attend the school regardless of financial need. Capitalism is supposed to be a meritocracy, too. Your argument conflates equal opportunity with lower standards, what's happening at one historically free institution with socialism "on a mass scale," and a desire to keep that meritocratic culture preserved with a dystopian extreme. You are right about me not agreeing—but I appreciate you engaging in the debate. And perhaps if you spoke to any of the students you wrote about, you'd find some common ground with their values…though maybe not with their methods.

unreceivedogma
unreceivedogma

@stranahan "ruinous effects of giving people free stuff"

People who are accepted into Cooper EARNED admission due to the very hard work they put into their academic achievement.

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