A Message from Laura Sparks, President of The Cooper Union and Ron Vogel, President of The Cooper Union Alumni Association
October 31, 2023
We reach out today to reinforce our commitment to, first and foremost, ensuring that Cooper Union is a safe place dedicated to the pursuit of learning for our community of students, faculty, and staff.
To begin, many alumni have asked whether Cooper Union has denounced the October 7 terrorist attacks by Hamas on innocent Israeli civilians. We have emphatically denounced the terrorist attacks. That statement, issued on October 11, can be found here. Cooper will not tolerate hate. We condemn antisemitism and any and all forms of discrimination.
We know many of you have seen the reports and correspondence regarding events during a protest at Cooper on October 25. Cooper Union recognizes the importance of peaceful protest and freedom of expression, and that threats to the safety of our students must be investigated and addressed. No student should fear for their safety on Cooper Union’s campus. Cooper’s administrative and security team are in the process of a comprehensive review of Wednesday’s events and resulting complaints. We are also addressing reports of antisemitism in the days prior to the protest. All Cooper Union students are subject to a Code of Conduct that defines expectations, rights, and responsibilities. We take the Code of Conduct very seriously. Once the review process is complete, any disciplinary actions consistent with Cooper policies and the Code of Conduct will be initiated as required. All student and personnel records, including disciplinary actions and proceedings, are confidential.
Many alumni have asked about the events that transpired on campus last week, what security protections are in place at Cooper given what we are seeing at campuses around the country, and what is being done in the aftermath of last week’s protests. In order to update the community as soon as possible, and counter any erroneous and conflicting information circulating, Cooper issued a statement on the night of the protest, which can be read here. As an update, on Thursday morning, at a NYPD briefing on the Wednesday protest, NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell reported that police were present throughout the protest and that “there was no direct threat, there was no damage and there was no danger to any students in the school. The students were not barricaded; a school administrator thought it was prudent to close the doors.”
In addition to the investigation addressed above, Cooper Union has increased security on campus in collaboration with external security partners and the NYPD.
Targeting members of a particular religion, race, or ethnicity has no place at Cooper Union. There can be no antisemitism. There can be no Islamophobia. This must be a place where a multitude of perspectives and opinions can coexist; where people from a cross-section of cultures, ethnicities, religions, identities, and experiences can feel at home and safe to pursue their work and studies without fear of discrimination, harassment, or intimidation of any kind; and where dissent and debate can be productive and respectful. When one or more of these things is compromised or breached, we must move with urgency yet ensure that the review process is thorough and impartial.
We will be releasing more information this week about a plan for next steps on campus and will share that with our alumni, as well.
If, after reading, you have additional questions, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we may create a Frequently Asked Questions list to provide you with answers. We know how much this institution means to you. We want you to know that we always value your views and ongoing engagement, especially in these difficult times.
We must proactively work to remain united in our commitment to ensuring that Cooper Union remains a safe place for learning, predicated on respect for every member of our community.
President, The Cooper Union
President, The Cooper Union Alumni Association