Personal Safety Amid Bigotry and Violence

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

Last week, in the immediate aftermath of a divisive election, I wrote to you to acknowledge both the challenges and the opportunities inherent in our democracy and to underscore the importance of making The Cooper Union a model for the kind of rigorous, passionate and informed civic discourse that will make our community and our country stronger.

I later had the opportunity to speak with a number of you during the event at The Great Hall organized by the Joint Student Council. I heard firsthand the ways in which some of you are processing the outcome of the election and how you are thinking about what it may mean for friends, loved ones and the larger society.

Since then, I know that many of you have participated in peaceful protest activity in the city; others have found more private ways to take action. I am proud that you have seized this moment to express your support for members of the larger community who may fear deportation, a rollback of their civil rights, or the potential for racially motivated violence.

While off our campus, some of you have witnessed hate speech, harassment, and violence on other college campuses, in public spaces and in social media. This kind of behavior is abhorrent and inexcusable. While democracy is complex, there is no legitimate place in it for violence or other hate crimes. We must remain vigilant and support each other in our efforts to bring violators to justice and ensure safety at The Cooper Union, in New York City and across our country.

Both of our academic buildings and our student residence hall have security in the lobby around the clock, in addition to guards who rove the buildings on a regular schedule. Students, faculty and staff should report safety and security concerns to the security staff in these buildings.

In the event of any incident of harassment, bigotry or discrimination on our campus, students should report what has transpired to the dean of students or to their academic deans; faculty to their deans, and staff to their supervisors. Any member of the community who encounters violence on campus should immediately seek a safe place. Once safe, you should report the incident to campus security, your dean or your supervisor. Any on-campus incidents reported to Cooper will be investigated pursuant to our current policy which can be found here. Any incident reported to Cooper that may also be considered a hate crime will be reported to NYPD for investigation. A member of the faculty or staff can support students through this process.

Any incident involving a member of the Cooper community that occurs off-campus should be reported to the appropriate dean or supervisor. While we have limited reach off-campus, we can provide support and resources to our students, including counseling and assistance with making reports to NYPD or other local law enforcement agencies. Should any students find themselves under arrest, the NYC Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild has a hotline: 212-679-6018. 

Bigotry and violence are intolerable. We must not stand by if we witness threats to the welfare of others. It is essential that we remain watchful and that we take active care of all members of our community. Please join me in this commitment to our core values of justice, equity and inclusion. Our diversity is our strength.

With warmth and hope for peace,


  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.