School of Art Response to Collective Student Letter

Dear School of Art Community,  

We are grateful for the call to boldly embrace an anti-racist framework as an institution. We agree wholeheartedly that this unique moment is an opportunity for Cooper to set an example for others, and the School of Art will undertake the following actions to begin to address the concerns raised in the June 8th collective student letter. If you have not read it already, we encourage you to do so.  

Immediately, we will convene a School of Art forum to discuss these issues. We ask that the ASC, BSU, and the Cooper Climate Coalition Group partner to work with us to launch this collaborative endeavor, and we invite and encourage all School of Art staff, adjuncts, and full-time professors to join the conversation. The first agenda will be to address all concerns in the letter that specifically address the School of Art. We would like to hold our first School of Art forum during the first week in July and we will be in touch with the above student groups to schedule a time.   

Here is where we begin the process of addressing many shared concerns: 

Revisions to Advisement and Academic Standards. 

The School of Art will review our Academic Standards and Advisement procedures to address historically embedded and structural inequities. This will include:   

  • Sensitivity and equity considerations for online teaching through the work of DAMHS (Equity online: disability, access, mental health, sensitivity for presentation/training/resources) will establish guidelines for performance and will also provide students in need with additional supports to ensure that they can fully participate in courses 
  • Implementation of a new student advisement plan that incorporates an in-depth faculty-student advisement period 
  • Improve Academic Standards protocols and support structures 

School of Art Governance and Non-Discrimination Policy 

  • We will develop an anti-discrimination statement that clearly states the anti-racist, anti-homophobic, anti-transphobic, anti-sexist position of the School of Art. We are committed to including this language in the School of Art governance.  

Community and Communal Spaces 

  • The office of Student Affairs has created a student mentor program with the goal of pairing every incoming student with a returning student. We urge any second, third, and fourth year students who are interested in mentoring Foundation students to reach out to us with any questions. You can volunteer to be a student mentor here.  
  • We wish to create semi-public virtual spaces for students and welcome working together to improve upon any aspect of this new effort.  
  • We are aware of the need for space and plan to continue to advocate for both physical and virtual spaces of social connection, experimentation and critical engagement. 

Faculty Handbook 

  • We will revise the current Adjunct Faculty Handbook as a “Faculty Handbook” and include the School of Art anti-discrimination statement as an addition to the current school-wide policy including a glossary of terms.  

School of Art Website and Student Portal  

We are committed to making our policies and procedures transparent and available on the School of Art website and/or within a student portal on the site. To that end we will post:   

  • Agendas and approved minutes for all School of Art standing committees   
  • Academic Standards regulations/procedures  
  • School of Art governance  
  • School of Art Faculty Handbook  
  • Title IX and Anti-discrimination policy  


  • The faculty will review the recommendations from the DAHMS committee (Equity online: disability, access, mental health, sensitivity for presentation/training/resources) and work with Dean Chamberlin and students to devise strategies to better address the well-being of our students.   

Teach-ins, Working Groups, and Open Forums 

  • We will engage with student groups like BSU, ASC, Cooper Climate Coalition, Cooper Pioneer, CUSAP to be partners in organizing and developing programming.    
  • We want to reinstate the student-run lecture series. Our office will secure funding for this and will provide administrative support. As with many things in the next year, we need to imagine how a series of digital platforms can intersect with the larger art world both locally, nationally and internationally broadening students’ scope and connection to BIPOC/queer artists.  

School Wide Scheduling    

  • We are working with the deans and the President’s office to prioritize school-wide scheduling to allow for more collaboration between the schools.  

We take this call to action seriously and look forward to the convening to expand on the points expressed here. 


Mike Essl, Dean 
Adriana Farmiga, Associate Dean 
Dennis Adams 
Doug Ashford 
Fia Backström 
Coco Fusco 
Leslie Hewitt 
Cristobal Lehyt 
Walid Raad 
Lucy Raven 
William Villalongo

  • 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.