Neighborhood Chatter: Cooper Union Protests, Menin Seeks BP Seat

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Cooper Union Protests  (The Cost of Free Education)
Cooper Union is an institution that has prided itself on “free education to all” since its opening in 1902, and Cooper Union students, along with members of faculty, are taking great measures to maintain this. The school’s recent announcement of a plan to charge graduate tuition, and potentially undergraduate tuition, was met with great resistance.

On Monday, Dec. 3, 11 students locked themselves in the Peter Cooper Suite at the top of the school’s Foundation Building. They originally intended to remain there (fueled by food, water, a bathroom and laptops) until three major demands were met: Free education must remain, a stronger democratic decision-making process must be implemented, and the current president, Jamshed Bharucha, must resign.

The administration remained tight-lipped throughout the ordeal, issuing a single statement: “The 11 art students who have locked themselves in the Peter Cooper Suite do not reflect the views of a student population of approximately 1,000 architects, artists and engineers.”

On Monday, Dec. 10, the students ended the stand-off, citing the media attention and large turnout at a rally held on Saturday in Cooper Square, and telling reporters that they felt their stunt had made enough of a differene to possibly affect the school’s tuition decision. Cooper Union administration issued no statement.

Menin Seeks Borough President’s Seat
Julie Menin, former chair of Community Board 1 in Lower Manhattan, has officially announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Manhattan borough president, following months of buzz about her potential run. Menin said in a statement that she is “running for borough president because I believe my strong track record of leadership and solution-driven approach is what is needed in the challenging times our borough faces.”

She also cited a desire to guarantee the opportunity of great schools, parks and playgrounds to all families and give a stronger voice to the average New Yorker.

Her leadership and practical-solution approaches have lead her to many successes as a lawyer, owner of a small business and community leader. Her track record includes helping with downtown’s post-9/11 revival, attaining three new K-8 public schools in Lower Manhattan and working with the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to allocate over $200 million to job-creating infrastructure projects.

Menin, a mother of three, has already finished her fundraising for the 2013 race and has picked up endorsements from over 200 grassroots community leaders all over Manhattan, including from judges, CEOs, activists and former elected officials.

Although Menin has been the first to formally announce her campaign, other candidates in the sure-to-be competitive race are expected to include Council Members Gale Brewer (Upper West Side), Robert Jackson (Washington Heights) and Jessica Lappin (Upper East Side). As in many Manhattan races, the likely contenders are all Democrats and no Republican challenger is imminent, so the winner of the party primary can expect an easy ascendency to the position in November, forcing the real battle to play out earlier in the year.

Menin has announced that she will be spending her campaign time meeting with potential constituents around the borough to garner support.

Compiled by Jessica Mastronardi

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