What Cooper Needs More Of…

Random observation/comment #337: 150 years is a good run. I don’t think even water stayed free for that long. I just hoped there was at least one university left in this world that didn’t think like a corporation. Well… the other ones probably went bankrupt long ago…

Trending updates:

  • Cooper is no longer free.
  • RIP Cooper Union
  • I am no longer donating as an alumni
  • They should have never built the NAB. I miss the smell of lead pencils in the engineering building.
  • Well… Shit

see lemons transit

I bled sweat and tears at Cooper for 5 years and it built the foundations of my education, curiosity, and passion towards learning. The professors challenged us, stretched us, and pushed us to achieve what I imagine can only be done after a third all-nighter in a row. And for all of this, I whole heartedly thank Cooper for its high standards and brilliant peers.

I know you were waiting for a ‘but’, however I think there has been too much negativity and we should focus on the upcoming hurdles Cooper will face:

  1. Alumni anger. As you can imagine, most alumni’s first reaction will be “I won’t be donating to Cooper anymore.”  This feeling of anger will, hopefully, subside, and people will still appreciate the level of education they received from Cooper (regardless of cost).  I would suggest that the alumni association provides donation possibilities to the specific groups within Cooper. If I could donate specifically to Volleyball or JLab materials or maybe even sponsor a senior project I’ve read a proposal for, I’d gladly do that over paying into some amorphous hole that shows no results.  If current students sent out an email of thank you for the donation that has given them an opportunity to complete a project, I would gladly do this continuously.  This aligns with the concept of kickstarter where we follow the improvement of the specific departments we’re providing money to so it’s transparent where all the money goes.
  2. Professors’ outrage. This is probably the most dangerous. I truly believe that Cooper Union is held together by those key 4 or 5 professors in each department.  For EE’s, Fontaine, Cumberbatch, and Sable were my pillars of knowledge and if any one of them left, my education would have been drastically different (in a bad way).  I probably would have gotten more sleep, but I wouldn’t have felt the challenge and trust they had given me.  To soothe the professors’ anger, you must understand that all Cooper professors just want to do one thing: help their students succeed.  The little things help make this possible and most of the little things do not involve bureaucracy.  Please stop getting in their way.
  3. Student body discontent.  Current students will start to worry. Whether they are leaving this year or have 4 years left, it becomes even more stressful for them.  Not all students are the most productive in the world, but they clearly do not need other distractions or discouragements to give them excuses.  Personally, it would be nice to see closer student and alumni events to get people engaged with the possible career paths after Cooper.  I’ve always become more hopeful when I know my goals.
  4. Prospective student quality and reduced application rates. I’m not 100% sure if Cooper will get fewer applicants because it’s true that the full tuition aspect was surely not the only edge.  This would be an ample time for alumni to unite and speak forth their appreciation of the Cooper education.  Yes, we left college with little debt, but the outcome of our successes were truly from work ethic and passions.
  5. Overall distrust of board and politics. Whenever a group is unhappy with their leaders, there’s always some ridiculous drama around rolling heads and electing new representatives. This will probably not be an exception. The key here will be transparency with funding and making sure that the tuitions received and calculations made for the next 3 years will improve our situation.  In fact, if Cooper is indeed collecting tuition, the typical response to “hey, why can’t we get funding for this equipment?” can no longer be “mweh, I guess we didn’t pay for one.”  If the new students are paying, then let them see what they’re paying for.

What does Cooper need more of now (besides money to wipe out the debt and make it free again)? Cooper needs a stronger community of alumni, student body, and professors to still stay true to what Cooper really is – a family. We’ve all suffered through the same Fontaine problem sets (or equivalent) and we’ve all dug deep to overcome obstacles of all shapes and sizes. I cannot emphasize how much Cooper has taught me to persevere when I thought all hope was gone, and I hope we can do the same here.

Two weeks ago, a master’s student, Edwin Deleon, held an alumni Yankees game outing. I had a wonderful time connecting with the current students and other alumni at this event. I bring this instance up because he said something very inspiring to me when I asked him why he organized these events. “Even if it’s a loss financially putting together this event, it’s a gain for the morale of the Cooper community. We need it now more than ever.”

~See Lemons Proudly a Cooper Union ’08 EE