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CLASS DISMISSED: A ROUNDTABLE ON ART SCHOOL, USC, AND COOPER UNION by Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer, Helen Molesworth, Mike Essl, Jory Rabinovitz, Lee Relvas, Amanda Ross-Ho, Victoria Sobel, Frances Stark, A. L. Steiner, Charlie White - artforum.com / in print
[via: https://twitter.com/CaseyG/status/652215259235807232 ]

"IN AN ERA when creative economies are leading the hypermonetization of every aspect of life, from attention and identity to privacy and time, it’s not surprising that this country’s most progressive models of art education are under attack. In fact, the liberal arts and humanities are besieged across the board, increasingly expected to justify their funding, even their very existence, in universities and beyond. We are witnessing a massive cultural shift when we see the corporatization of higher education—with its top-down power structures, bloated bureaucracies, “synergistic” partnerships with the private sector, relegation of faculty to contingent adjunct labor, and reliance on students as revenue streams—spiking tuition costs and sending student debt ballooning.

All this has come dramatically to a head this past year on both coasts, at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York and the University of Southern California’s Roski School of Art and Design in Los Angeles. It is sadly predictable and all the more alarming that the ever-accelerating process of financialization should upend two of the most vital art schools in America, each of which has been based on the endangered premise of a tuition-free or fully funded education. While the specific circumstances and institutional histories make the nature of each crisis distinct, they both betray the wrenching cultural shifts produced by a head-on collision with the technocratic crusaders of contemporary capitalism.

Following its board of directors’ decision to abandon Cooper Union’s tuition-free mandate, which had stood for more than 150 years, the school’s president and five trustees resigned amid an ongoing inquiry into the institution’s finances by the New York State Attorney General. The grassroots Committee to Save Cooper Union has taken legal action to preserve the venerable institution’s founding mission of free education, and to call attention to the fiscal mismanagement and lack of accountability on the part of the school’s board of trustees. [Eds. note: As this issue was going to press, the Attorney General announced that a settlement had been reached and that Cooper Union would work to eventually reinstate free tuition.] At USC Roski, the drastic restructuring and reduction in funding for the school’s renowned graduate program by a new dean’s administration prompted high-profile, tenured faculty to resign in protest and the entire MFA class of 2016 to drop out en masse earlier this year, citing unacceptable changes to funding packages, curriculum, and faculty.

Debates over art education have a long history, of course. A groundbreaking and utopian model that remains relevant today is Black Mountain College, which nurtured cultural and pedagogical innovation at mid-century and which is the subject of a major exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, opening on October 10. Artforum invited the show’s curator, HELEN MOLESWORTH, to join eight distinguished participants—from Cooper, faculty MIKE ESSL and alumni JORY RABINOVITZ and VICTORIA SOBEL; and from USC Roski, current or former faculty members FRANCES STARK, CHARLIE WHITE, and A. L. STEINER; alumna AMANDA ROSS-HO; and LEE RELVAS, one of the seven class-of-2016 students who dropped out—to discuss the current situation at both institutions and the histories, challenges, and continued promise of art school."



"HELEN MOLESWORTH: We’ve convened today to talk about the current crises at USC and Cooper, both of which are symptoms of larger problems facing the entire concept of art education in this country. And for many schools today, Black Mountain College remains a key model for art education after World War II.

In the face of this crisis, Black Mountain is even more relevant to the current situation than one might think: It was a program born of extraordinary optimism, but it was also born of dissent, born of a firing of tenured faculty, born of a group of teachers and students deciding that they needed to own the means of production themselves and create an institution in which there were no trustees or board of regents, so they could collectively control the college. It had an extraordinary efflorescence and was a wellspring of the American avant-garde; the curriculum at BMC influenced many of the practices that define contemporary studio and liberal-arts programs—group critiques, collaboration, interdisciplinarity. It also failed beautifully and wonderfully and spectacularly at its end: It was short-lived, running only from 1933 to 1957.

Which leads me to the most basic and perhaps the most unanswerable question: Why now? Why are extremely successful, renowned arts-education departments on both coasts under attack in the way that they are at Cooper and USC? Are they—and Black Mountain—anomalies, experiments that could never last? Or are they victims of some of the nastiest tactics of our neoliberal new economy?"



"LEE RELVAS: I’m one of the seven MFA students who just dropped out from USC. We dropped out collectively to protest the school’s reneging on funding and curricular promises made to us, because that funding model and pedagogical model were clearly no longer considered valuable under the new dean’s leadership. But we also wanted to protest publicly the economics of higher education: namely, the normalization of massive student debt.

We range in age from twenty-seven to forty-one years old. So we actually did know what we were getting into as far as the debt that we thought we were going to be taking on, as well as the lack of teaching opportunities, and if we were so lucky to get a teaching job, how little most of those teaching jobs paid.

But we still wanted two years of time and space to be artists and thinkers and to be in close conversation with each other. And outside these flawed institutions, there is little material and cultural support for that."



"HELEN MOLESWORTH: In New York, do you have a similar sense that the faculty and the students at Cooper were unable to articulate the value of free tuition to the board?

MIKE ESSL: I think we did articulate it but we weren’t heard, and it was all the more disturbing to me because of my own personal understanding of that value. My dad is a mechanic and my mom is a bookkeeper. They didn’t go to college and they didn’t save for college, and me going to college was just never on their radar. And Cooper Union gave me permission to go to art school. Without that freedom, without being able to tell my parents essentially to fuck off, I don’t know where I would be now. [Laughter.]

And what that does for, say, a lower-middle-class student, that permission, the way it lowers the risk of art school and allows you to even conceive of going, is something that the board of trustees did not care about at all.

We would hear about how the cost of teaching artists is too expensive and that when artists graduate they don’t donate, and there was really no consideration of the artist as a person in the world at all. And so for those people to be the board members of a school like Cooper Union, I would argue, is criminal. They just refused to hear any arguments.

JORY RABINOVITZ: There was no dialogue, no transparency. There was never any mention of charging tuition while I was at Cooper. I started when the demolition of the Abram S. Hewitt Memorial art building, and the construction of the new Thom Mayne–designed academic center, 41 Cooper Square, in its place, was just beginning. The three-year transition phase completely displaced the art school and literally split it in two, sending half of the classes and studios to a rented building in Long Island City. Since the art school donated the least and protested the most, it really felt like we were being singled out to receive this weird form of punishment or austerity measure. Many of the school’s questionable financial decisions that are currently under investigation happened at the very same time. So when I look at the new building, it’s hard not to see a big perforated smoke screen.

MIKE ESSL: They showed up at the table already having decided that our model was old-fashioned and could no longer be supported. Which is why we have been saying all along that it’s a cultural problem, not an economic one."



"A. L. STEINER: Eighty percent of USC’s faculty is now adjunct and contingent. This is part of an ideology of austerity being embraced at the school, even though its undergraduate program ranks sixteenth in tuition nationwide and the university is one of twenty schools nationwide responsible for one-fifth of the country’s graduate-school student debt. The dean’s thinking came down to a gamble—that the graduate faculty’s interactions, and the program’s funding and curricular promises, were unnecessary. There’s a bigger agenda in play, and it’s intertwined with the value and significance of an arts education in a technocratic regime, in a world where the nonprofit sector exists as a manifestation of the private sector."



"FRANCES STARK: But you have to consider that in context. I was on the search committee for the new dean in the spring of 2013, and the problem of financial sustainability was not explicitly on the table when we were interviewing candidates. The entire process seemed perfunctory: It became clear that the interim dean was the internal candidate they wanted, and who, it was later disclosed, was somehow attached to the $70 million gift from Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre to endow a new school of “Art, Technology and the Business of Innovation” at USC. Erica Muhl, who became dean, has zero background in contemporary fine art, design, or art history. She is not conversant with these fields at all. I asked her, “What is your vision for the school?” And she responded, “To be number one.” No joke. OK? She told the graduate students: “The future of art is Mark Zuckerberg… [more]
cooperunion  blackmountaincollege  usc  art  arteducation  education  highered  highereducation  helenmolesworth  mikeessl  joryrabinovitz  leerelvas  amandaross-ho  victoriasobel  francesstark  alsteiner  charliewhite  sarahlehrer-graiwer  via:caseygollan  activism  neoliberalism  capitalism  politics  conversation  proximity  ambiguity  joy  meritocracy  organizations  institutions  bmc  arts  humanities  schools  tcsnmy  progressive  technocracy  artseducation  culture  thinking  optimism  bauhaus  calarts  community  pedagogy  teaching  learning  howweteach  howwelearn 
october 2015 by robertogreco
The tragedy of Cooper Union | Fusion
"Annals of Incompetence: How one of America’s last free colleges screwed its students and betrayed its legacy"
cooperunion  2015  felixsalmon  mismanagement  freecooperunion  small  education  management  administration  growth  scale  highered  highereducation 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Free Cooper Union Disorientation Reader
"Why is institutional memory so short? To maintain systems of control. Disorientation is a rejection of the administration’s rewriting of history, the systemic underpinnings of financialized realism, and the way that our communities are strategically disempowered.

We must constantly be disorienting ourselves.

Disorientation is
a brick,
a ping-pong ball,
a barricade,
a vote of no confidence,
an infinite dream.

What follows is a very focused history of what’s happening at Cooper, and in no way adequately addresses all of the broader intersectional struggles that continue to shape and support our movement. We’d like to acknowledge all of the past and present groundwork, in hopes that we can achieve paradigm shifts together through our continued campaign building."
cooperunion  institutionalmemory  education  highered  highereducation  control  disorientation  paradigmshifts  empowerment  disempowerment  resistance  noconfidence  progress  optimism  struggle  caseygollan  2015 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Colleges Are Raising Costs Because They Can | Al Jazeera America
"Why does college cost so much? Commentators continue to look for clues. So far, two main schools of thought have emerged. According to the first, fees have increased to make up for declines in government appropriations for higher education. According to the second, bloated administrations are wasting the money on frivolous extras unrelated to the core instructional mission.

Though the two views aren’t mutually exclusive and both are supported by evidence, there remains an ideological divide between them. People who believe educating citizens is the government’s job, no matter the cost (generally those on the political left), tend to believe the first, while people who would rather shrink government (generally those on the right) are more inclined to the waste hypothesis. As a result, explaining college-cost increases becomes a kind of proxy fight in which neither side accepts the other’s good faith and both are usually proved right.

In an op-ed for The New York Times, law professor Paul F. Campos widened the gap. While its title, “The real reason college tuition costs so much,” oversells the case a bit, its main point is sound: Government funding for higher education has gone up a lot. Even if funding per student is down a little bit as more kids pursue degrees, calling it a massive defunding is disingenuous. However, because Campos didn’t focus much on the subsidy per student, it opened him to attack from his opponents. And attack they did, in Slate, Crooked Timber, Inside Higher Ed and elsewhere. Still, Campos is right that the defunding explanation is weak, even in light of increased enrollment.

In 20 of the past 31 years, both per student funding and tuition have increased at public two- and four-year institutions. Tuition increased in every year except 2000, even in years when there were sizable increases in state outlays. The three periods when state support fell all followed recessions, when state legislators were dealing with reduced tax revenue and a glut of new students who were frustrated out of job market and into the classroom. This results in a clear correlation between decreased funding per student and ever-escalating tuition in the early 1990s, early 2000s and since 2008 — but taken together, they account for only a third of those 31 years. That fails to explain the decades-long pattern of consistent tuition hikes. More important, the data give us no reason to believe that if government support had only increased, colleges wouldn’t have raised tuition anyway.

One problem with the college-cost debate is that most commentators look at only two sources of revenue: state appropriations and tuition. But as any administrator will tell you, these are the least interesting parts of a school’s budget. From a college president’s perspective, there’s only so much schools can do to influence the legislature, and the potential for tuition hikes is constrained by their competitors, if nothing else. Other sources, however, such as grants, gifts, discretionary appropriations and investment income, aren’t subject to the same limitations. Administrators who want to set themselves apart from their peers (and in this market, who can afford not to?) focus their energy where they can make the biggest and most noticeable difference."



"When it comes to chasing the big bucks, tuition and state appropriations aren’t created equal. Whereas state appropriations have a pile of strings attached, fees are universities’ to do with what they will. They’re free to use it to finance capital projects like the Cooper Union building or investments in labor automation or eye-catching amenities or grant-friendly research facilities or debt service or hedge fund fees or administrators’ salaries. Given a choice between a dollar from the state and a dollar from students, any smart college president would rather have the latter. Fee income allows, for example, the University of California system to go to Wall Street and get bonds for giant construction projects, pledging tuition hikes to cover the debt.

Declines in per student appropriations at the very least give administrators good cover to increase tuition, even if the two variables aren’t quite causally tied. And high salaries for administrators appear to be the consequence of changes to higher education’s incentive structures as much as a cause: The competition for ever more funds launches competition for ever larger fundraisers. At the end of the day, college tuition is going up for the simplest of reasons: Demand is inelastic, and it’s exceeding the supply. Despite the price increases, enrollment has kept rising. As long as the Treasury is willing to write larger and larger student loan checks and as long as high school grads see no other option besides college to advance their career prospects, tuition will keep going up. If we’re not willing to change our higher education system from the foundation, arguing over the proximate causes of the cost crisis won’t do anyone any good."

[via “the university as a machine that turns student loans into real estate”
http://nathanjurgenson.com/post/115941651935/college-tuition-is-going-up-for-the-simplest-of ]
universities  colleges  tuition  2015  highered  highereducation  economics  markets  malcolmharris  cooperunion  loans  studentloans  policy  government  paulcampos  funding 
april 2015 by robertogreco
The Miseducation of America - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"While I was watching Ivory Tower, a documentary about the state of college in America that appears in select theaters this month (the movie also airs on CNN this fall), it occurred to me that of the many problems with higher education these days, not the least concerns the way we talk about it. "Efficiency," "art-history majors," "kids who graduate with $100,000 in debt," "the college bubble," the whole rhetoric of crisis and collapse: The public discourse is dominated by sound bites, one-liners, hearsay, horror stories, and a very great deal of misinformation.

Higher ed is not unique in this respect, of course, but it is particularly bad. College, as the movie points out, was always treated as a black box: 18-year-olds were inserted at one end, 22-year-olds came out the other, and as long as the system appeared to be working, no one bothered to inquire what happened in between. Americans, as a result, have very little understanding of what college is about—how it works, what it’s for, what larger social benefits it offers—and those employed in higher education have had very little practice in explaining it to them. The debate has been left to the politicians, the pundits, and increasingly, the hustlers and ideologues. Few who talk about college in public understand it, and few who understand it talk about it.

Ivory Tower, for the most part, is an honorable exception."



"Ivory Tower shows us why it’s so important that we get this right: that we think with facts, with respect to college costs and what they get you, not emotions. When we cherry pick the scariest stories and numbers, we do two things: We open the door to hucksters selling easy answers, and we forget what college is really for. Apocalypticism leads to messianism. Close behind the anxious parents whom we see on college tours at Wesleyan and NYU—variously blithe or glum adolescents in tow—come, like vultures to a kill, a pair of now-familiar figures: Peter Thiel and Sebastian Thrun."



"The truth is, there are powerful forces at work in our society that are actively hostile to the college ideal. That distrust critical thinking and deny the proposition that democracy necessitates an educated citizenry. That have no use for larger social purposes. That decline to recognize the worth of that which can’t be bought or sold. Above all, that reject the view that higher education is a basic human right.

The film recounts the history and recent fate of that idea: its origin among the philanthropists of the industrial age, figures like Peter Cooper, founder of his eponymous Union; its progressive unfolding through the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862, the GI Bill of 1944, the postwar expansion of the University of California, and the Higher Education Act of 1965, which created the federal student-loan and grant programs; and its deliberate destruction under Ronald Reagan and his ideological heirs.

Free, high-quality higher education (just like free, high-quality school, which we continue to at least pretend to endorse): that is what we used to believe in; that’s what many other countries still believe in; that is what we must believe in once again. The filmmakers undoubtedly knew what they were doing when they chose to show us the moment, during that seminar at Deep Springs, when the students are debating Hegel’s proposition that, as their professor puts it, "you need to have a common identity as citizens, because it creates the bonds of affection." Or in Delbanco’s words, "What kind of society do we want to be?" Cooper Union’s commencement speaker, that tumultuous spring of 2013, turns out to have been none other than Michael Bloomberg. "The debate you’re having really isn’t about whether education is free," we see him tell the students. "It’s really about who can and who is willing to pay for it."

On this the billionaire and I agree. In terms of the "can" (and it’s hard to believe the word could even pass his lips), the answer is clear. Not just the plutocrats, not just the upper class, but the upper middle class, as well. Everybody knows by now that the share of national income that accrues to the famous one percent has risen to about 23 percent, higher than at almost any time since 1928. But the share that accrues to the top 10 percent as a whole, which stayed around 33 percent from the 1950s through the 1970s, has risen to its highest level ever (or at least, since record-keeping started), more than 50 percent. In a $17-trillion economy, the difference represents a premium of nearly $3-trillion a year, about five times the federal deficit and more than enough for this and many other public purposes.

The problem of costs, to be sure, is not a one-way street. Higher education must indeed increase efficiency, but how? Institutions have been willing to spend on everything in recent years except the thing that matters most: instruction. Dorms, deans, sports, but not professors. Piglike presidential salaries, paid for by hiring adjuncts. Now, with MOOCs and other forms of online instruction, the talk is more of the same. My friends, they are coming for you. The professoriate no longer has the luxury of thinking that all this is someone else’s problem. If you want to save your skins, let alone ensure the future of the enterprise, you need to wake up and organize against the people who are organizing against you. The fact is that by focusing exclusively on monetary issues, the current conversation prevents us not only from remembering the higher objectives of an undergraduate education, but also from recognizing just how bad a job our institutions have been doing at fulfilling them. Colleges and universities have a lot to answer for; if they want to regain the support of the larger society, they need to prove that they are worthy of it.

Ivory Tower ends, in the manner of such films today, by referring us to a website. Under the rubric "Take Action," the site encourages us to sign a petition that calls on Congress to pass legislation, of the kind proposed by Elizabeth Warren (and just blocked by Senate Republicans), allowing individuals to refinance their student loans. That would certainly be a good thing, but we need to set our sights a great deal higher. If service workers can demand a $15 minimum wage, more than double the federal level, then those who care about higher education can insist on the elimination of tuition and fees at state institutions and their replacement by public funding furnished by taxes on the upper 10 percent. As with the minimum wage, the campaign can be conducted state by state, and it can and should involve a large coalition of interested groups: students, parents, and instructors, to start with. Total enrollment at American colleges and universities now stands at 20 million, on top of another million-plus on the faculty. That’s a formidable voting bloc, should it learn to exercise its power. Since the Occupy movement in 2011, it’s clear that the fight to reverse the tide of growing inequality has been joined. It’s time we joined it."
2014  williamderesiewicz  highered  highereducation  education  policy  politics  finance  money  studentloands  ivorytower  reform  faculty  solidarity  ows  occupywallstreet  inequality  purpose  canon  funding  publicfunding  mooc  moocs  unions  labor  deepspringscollege  colleges  universities  liberalarts  society  learning  criticalthinking  uncollege  dalestephens  peterthiel  sebastianthrun  peterschiff  efficiency  cooperunion  communitycolleges  debt  studentdebt  employment 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Free is not for Nothing. — Medium
"If you’ve never experienced it, “free” just seems like a lower number on a slider that has “half-price” in the middle. But free is not a number.

If you paid for your education, you’re likely to understand education in transactional terms. In straightforward economic terms, it means that if you charge some money, you can have some stuff. With more money comes more stuff, higher quality stuff.

But “free” is something different than “less.” And free is not less than cheap. It’s something else entirely.

Instead of education, try thinking about love. There are people who pay for love. Some pay a lot, some pay a little. But let’s be honest: everyone knows that the moment you start paying anything, it’s not just love plus money. It’s something else entirely, and the problems in paying aren’t solved by paying less than others."



"What our experiences often have in common is this: for many of us, Cooper wasn’t even the cheapest way to go to school. And it certainly didn’t offer the best facilities, campus, labs, studios, athletics, or dorm life. It was always about immense sacrifices.

So the question is: why did we go? We went not because of the financial value of free — that is, zero tuition — but rather, because of the academic value of free.

Free for everyone meant that the students who were there were beholden to nothing (nothing!) except their passion, talent, hard work, and brilliance. This unique, very particular sensibility — that, more than any other thing they could build, hire or install — this was the experience of the institution."



"Because “free” affects far more than than a fiscal bottom line. It affects the intentions, behavior, ambition, and performance of everyone in the system. In other words, it determines the academic quality."



"Remaining free is what will allow Cooper Union’s shortcomings to remain what they were for us: a source of pride, of worthy sacrifice, a reason to fight, and strive, and someday, to give back.

Academic quality is a framing, a mindset, for the best students and for the best faculty, all of whom have choices about where to settle down. They won’t come to Cooper because it’s cheaper. They went there because it was free. We were seeking an exceptional environment. Genuinely exceptional. Cooper Union was exceptional.

It came to the edge through mismanagement and misconduct. And now, I fear, misunderstanding. Most anyone who experienced it knows that the tuition-free education was the source of academic excellence, not the threat to it."



"Attending a free school of sacrifices taught me something about what free meant. Building a half-price school of sacrifices is to succumb to the culture of Cubic Zirconium and Corinthian Leather. It’s fool’s gold. Ghetto scrip. It’s not for real, and it’s not for good."

[Felix Salmon after the vote: "The Shame of Cooper Union" http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2014/01/11/the-shame-of-cooper-union/ ]
kevinslavin  cooperunion  free  love  money  education  academics  struggle  effort  meaning  sacrifice  lean  2014  highered  highereducation  tuition  transactions  payment 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Reinventing Administration - Notes + Links / Casey A. Gollan
"For months-and-months I’ve been sitting on a slowly-changing monster of an essay draft titled Reinventing Administration, borne out of my experiences in the last couple of years working with and fighting against the people in charge of Cooper Union. Inspired by Heather Marsh’s awesome serialized blog posts on collaboration, today I’m going to start noodling-in-public on different thoughts until this topic is out of my system and my drafts folder. While Cooper is the subject of these writings, it’s kind of interchangeable: an object through which I hope to address the challenge of reforming institutions who seem to have…gotten away from themselves. The problems here are not unique, and the questions we (the community of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and neighbors) have had to ask form a kind of rubric against which to check out-of-whack leadership at schools everywhere.

Here are some topics that come to mind, which I’ll link up like a table of contents if they come into existence, and add to as I go:

• How did Cooper Union get into a death spiral?
• Is all money dirty? Or, how can anybody sleep at night knowing that an egalitarian institution is funded by businessmen who’re widening inequalities elsewhere?
• Legacy, as in cobwebs.
• Preservation vs. building a new city.
• Transparency, accountability, and other cans of worms.
• Asynchronous collaboration walks into a meeting an falls over laughing.
• Community theater (as in appeasement and “fake consensus” not showtunes. Okay, well, maybe showtunes.)
• Bottlenecks. (Hierarchies vs. networks)
• Who are administrators? Where did they come from? And could we do this without them?
• Who does a bland Public Relations department serve?
• A look at work by others on “Open Government” and “Open Society”
• Git and Github as a metaphor and possibly a working toolkit for Open Government
• Where to stop the technological steamroller
• Pushing the right leverage point — growth — in the wrong direction. Or, growing down and replicating as an alternative to fattening up.
• Does everything inevitably get away from you in the worst possible way, Peter Cooper? Or can you design a non-stifling system that supports its original intention.
• Do we need classroom teaching? An imagined debate between John Taylor Gatto, who learned everything he needed to know smoking cigarettes by the river, and Margaret Edson, whose experiences with schooling are heartwarming rather than traumatic.
• Can classroom teaching be saved? (Picking IRL education up where Clay Shirky left off…and kicked it while it’s down.)"
caseygollan  cooperunion  2013  administration  education  highered  teaching  learning  schools  schooling  deschooling  unschooling  clayshirky  hierarchy  hierarchies  leadership  management  bottlenecks  communitytheater  collaboration  asynchronous  legacy  egalitarianism  inequality  technology  git  github  opengovernment  transparency  johntaylorgatto  petercooper  systems  systemsthinking  opensociety  adminstrativebloat  questions  anarchism  governance  heathermarsh 
april 2013 by robertogreco
Organizing as If Social Relations Matter « Outside the Circle
"What is noteworthy and compelling about the Cooper Union resistance beyond the already-extraordinary sense of a common good embedded in all its slogans it how, when you take freed-up art students and give them a cause they are personally and collectively passionate about, well: watch out! They will unleash their imaginations, in the same way that a plethora of upward spiraling imaginative interventions marked the Quebec spring and summer. Sure, there are the usual sloppily painted signs, sometimes with misspellings, that characterize any US demonstration. And there are protest moments after protest moments, as in today’s rally, designed to be a spectacle of sorts. Yet there also seem to be twists in the cultural production for this rebellious campaign to keep education free, such as transparent banners asking for transparency from administrators even as they reveal how transparent the student, alumni, allied teachers, and community supporters are being in this contestation. Or an oversize Cooper Union student ID for one of the now-deferred prospective early admissions, with a cutout indicating their potential absence come fall 2013 (happily filled in, for a photo-op moment, by a probable current Cooper Union student).

Such creativity, from what I’ve seen, extends to kitschy and silly cultural production for online and social media — not tired memes, but rather faked, funny photos or a humorously false Cooper Union Web site — to wearable artifacts like buttons and “Stay Free or Die Tryin’” patches — to crafty gadgets– such as during their late-fall occupation, to “fly” pizza up the outside of the building to the occupiers via pulleys, ropes, and balloons — to well-written newspaper, communiques, and press releases, to today’s moving testimonials from deferred early admissions students, read by some of those prospects themselves or read for some of the ones from places around the United States. There’s a way in which the spectacle and end-run maneuvers that the administration keeps trying to make just get out-spectacled and out-run by their dynamism of the art students conjuring up new visual, new visions, new strategies — again only underscoring the “value” of free and freeing education.

Perhaps most important, though, I was reminded today of what good organizing looks like. Or to be more precise, I was reminded of what organizing — versus activism — is all about. There’s aspirations, imagination, and also substance backing up these students’ resistance, and the substance is all about both winning and doing so by forging increasingly widening and deeper circles of social relations, and social relations that appear, from my outsider vantage point, to be far more comradely and nonhierarchical than many among social struggles. That’s not to say that this cold afternoon’s rally was large; it wasn’t, attracting maybe a couple hundred folks at most. But as now-deferred prospective student after student got up to read their varied, often-eloquent remarks, or have them read by a current Cooper Union student or an alumni, for upward of an hour, it became clearer and clearer how much work went into finding, educating, involving, and gaining the support and participation of these frequently far-afield potential students. In fact, one of the statements mentioned how current Cooper Union students, faculty, and alumni had reached out to the current higher schooler applying for early admission to explain the deferral (an administration tactic and, as several prospects noted, a “betrayal”) and draw them into this cause — a cause, as several of the prospective students mentioned, wasn’t about them necessarily getting into Cooper Union but about extending the idea that education should be free and available, sustaining people’s self and social exploration in a life of the mind and arts, and thus bettering our world.

Organizing, good organizing, is to my mind the slow, steady, one-on-one building of relations and interconnections that are at odds with how people are treated under capitalism. Instead of instrumentalizing people for what they can give us or do for us, we look to each other as having worth unto ourselves, and for how we can cement relations of sociability, collaboration, and solidarity — as some of the speakers observed today. Expedient activism falls apart under its own flimsy weight; there’s little there to sustain it, especially when the going inevitably gets rough or disappointing. Here, patient and what appears to be joyful organizing might just have a fighting chance of leaving something in its wake: a win for free education perhaps, or if not, a yardstick of how we can reignite our imaginations and rekindle qualitative social relations."
cooperunion  organizing  activism  freeeducation  education  protest  creativity  2013  resistance  caseygollan  cindymilstein  commongood  egalitarianism  culture  culturalproduction  slow  hierarchy  flatness  slowness  relationships  interconnectivity  interconnectedness  interdependence  capitalism  anarchism  socialrelations  socialjustice  mentorship  leadership  nonhierarchical  horizontality  horizontalidad  interconnected 
february 2013 by robertogreco
FREE COOPER UNION! A COMMUNITY SUMMIT part 6: COMMUNICATION AND TRANSPARENCY - YouTube
[Transcript is here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1MrB31AqKM2u0Y0NXAcLx2RHRV1d3aPDMJ-1wwadN6ZY/edit ]

"The question, then, is: what makes Cooper Union sustainable?

It means using a resource that’s producing more than it’s consumed.

And the mistake that’s been made, systemically, is believing that the resource at the bottom of all this, the resource that must be sustained, is money.

It’s not money. Money is a derivative. The resource it’s derived from, the resource it maps to, the resource it measures, is trust.

We have all suffered from thinking that it’s the other way around. We have trusted things because they make money. That’s how Enron happens. That’s how Madoff happens. … Collaterized Debt Obligations…"

" challenge you to find the real and sustainable resources -- transparency, communication, trust, and integrity -- resources that can be renewed endlessly. I'll break my back to build on those and I know that's true of everyone here."
resources  highereducation  highered  education  integrity  organizations  accountability  administration  money  sustainability  leadership  tcsnmy  transparency  trust  cooperunion  2011  kevinslavin 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Why Cooper Union can’t be trusted | Felix Salmon
"I can’t help but think this building exists for the same reason as the war in Iraq or Netflix streaming. Somebody with clout got enamoured with the idea, and pointing out its flaws became career-limiting. Like most boondoggles, the idea was grand, inspiring, and financially unrealistic.

It’s just a guess, but that’s a pattern I’ve seen over and over."

[From a comment pointed out by Casey (http://reading.am/CaseyG/comments/6495 ) who adds… ]

"Reminds me of Dan Hill: "Even a Pritzker prize-winning architect such as Richard Rogers cannot, for example, challenge the basic premises of the Barangaroo urban development in Sydney. The combination of masterplan, financial model, political context, local history and local cultures created a tight frame within which the architectural design work must occur. Many of the architects and other designers within the project team knew that the way the question was being framed was fundamentally flawed, but from their relatively lowly position…"
danhill  blingpursuits  onetrackminds  organizations  institutions  trust  buildings  tcsnmy  beenthere  transparency  caseygollan  cooperunion  cooper  2012  felixsalmon 
november 2012 by robertogreco
You Can't Fuck the System If You've Never Met One by Casey A. Gollan
"Part of the reason systems are hard to see is because they're an abstraction. They don't really exist until you articulate them.

And any two things don't make a system, even where there are strong correlations. Towns with more trees have lower divorce rates, for example, but you'd be hard-pressed to go anywhere with that.

However, if you can manage to divine the secret connections and interdependencies between things, it's like putting on glasses for the first time. Your headache goes away and you can focus on how you want to change things.

I learned that in systems analysis — if you'd like to change the world — there is a sweet spot between low and high level thinking. In this space you are not dumbfoundedly adjusting variables…nor are you contemplating the void.

In the same way that systems don't exist until you point them out…"

"This is probably a built up series of misunderstandings. I look forward to revising these ideas."

[Now here: http://caseyagollan.com/systems/
http://caseyagollan.com/systems/read/ ]
color  cooperunion  awareness  systemsawareness  binary  processing  alexandergalloway  nilsaallbarricelli  willwright  pets  superpokepets  superpoke  juliandibbell  dna  simulations  trust  hyper-educated  consulting  genetics  power  richarddawkins  generalizations  capitalism  systemsdesign  relationships  ownership  privacy  identity  cities  socialgovernment  government  thesims  sims  google  politics  facebooks  donatellameadows  sherryturkle  emotions  human  patterns  patternrecognition  systemsthinking  systems  2012  caseygollan  donellameadows 
march 2012 by robertogreco
Casey A. Gollan: Notes + Links: Week 4 [Casey Gollan sets the new standard in week notes. This is the ultimate record of a week's learning.]
"I’m sick & tired of things so vast I can’t understand them. Genetics. Capitalism. International relations…

Everything in my experience confirms that I am here. I stretch almost compulsively, feeling out my body’s physicality…

Somehow I have landed in a nunnery. Dedicated to the advancement of science & art. There should just be a fucking school, where people go to learn multiplication in the reproductive sense.

We are the scum of earth. The thought leaders. There is some debauchery, but in comparison this is a place of rigor. Home of chaste workers.

What’s disturbing is that the educated go out & control world. I met a consultant who has broken trust down to a science, which she sells to corporations. Trust, she says, is good for business. & what about business? What’s that good for? I asked her. She smiled smart-but-dead-like & said, you have to believe that growing the economy is good for the world. Consulting is a desired job—maybe the quintessential job—of the educated class."
adhd  add  self-help  digitalportfolios  blogging  handwrittennotes  deschooling  education  art  walking  nyc  cooperunion  evidenceoflearning  howwelearn  thisislearning  unschooling  adventure  notetaking  notes  2012  caseygollan  weeknotes 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Cooper Union May Charge Tuition to Undergraduates - NYTimes.com
"Facing serious financial trouble in a weak economy, Cooper Union, the New York City college founded in 1859 to provide free education for the working class, may begin charging undergraduate tuition for the first time in more than a century, its president said Monday…

In its first decades, Cooper Union collected tuition from students who had the means to pay. But since 1902, following major gifts from Andrew Carnegie and Cooper’s descendants, it has been free for all undergraduates. (Students enrolled in nondegree night programs do pay tuition and undergraduates pay for room and board.)

A result has been a student body that, for an elite college, is unusually diverse, ethnically and economically. Fewer than half of Cooper Union’s students are white, and almost two-thirds attended public high schools."

[See also: http://slavin.tumblr.com/post/12216224043/when-i-a-student-at-cooper-union-i-thought-i-was ]
cooperunion  education  highered  2011  tuition  highereducation  mismanagement 
november 2011 by robertogreco
Dear Cooper Union community, We regret to inform... - Fresser.
"Damn. I make no secret of the fact that I didn’t like Cooper Union much when I went there. But I loved Bob Breer. He taught me how to see some things I’d never really looked at, and was the kind of professor who taught from the margins, from the edges, and respected the work that came from those same places.

Among everything else, Bob was — like my dad — a product of the period immediately following WW2, when America (and in Bob’s case, Paris) provided opportunities for veterans who would otherwise never have had them. Which is just a reminder of the value of such things, because that was value that was passed on to at least two generations of his students. He was generous with his ideas and his time, and I have thought of him often. RIP, Bob Breer."
kevinslavin  teaching  bobbreer  margins  edges  opportunity  cooperunion  2011  film  animation  legends  generosity  whatmatters  relationships  tcsnmy  cv 
august 2011 by robertogreco

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