School Historian: ‘You Can See Peter Cooper Rolling Over In His Grave’

cooperJoanna Marshall

Students ringed Cooper Union’s Foundation Building to “give it a hug” after an announcement that the school would end its practice of providing full scholarships to all undergraduates.

As a half dozen police officers kept watch, students, alumni and faculty gathered beneath a large banner — reading “FREE EDUCATION TO ALL” — strung between two trees in Cooper Triangle.

Despite the police entourage, the scene was rather subdued. “This is a very emotional day for us,” said Victoria Sobel, a senior in the School of Art. “We knew that this news was coming, but it’s hard to finally hear that the school has given up our legacy of free education. The students really just want to be together today.” Read more…

Faculty of Arts and Science: No Confidence in N.Y.U. President

Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

N.Y.U.’s Faculty of Arts and Science has issued a vote of no confidence in the university’s president, John Sexton.

The vote was met immediately with a statement from N.Y.U.’s board of trustees, reprinted below, indicating that it “strongly supports President Sexton, and believes in his strategic direction for the University.”

Mr. Sexton followed the board’s statement, which praised him as a “nationally recognized innovator,” with his own e-mail citing recent “expressions of support – from the Medical School, from the Nursing School, from the Dental School, from the Deans of all the schools, as well today’s email to the NYU community from the Trustees – and now this expression of dissatisfaction from FAS.”

Mr. Sexton’s letter, also reprinted below, acknowledged that “faculty must be at the center of the academic endeavor and involved in the decision-making. We have taken some important steps in that direction and, particularly with this vote in mind, that effort will continue.” Read more…

Sexton Hams It Up On ‘Colbert’ as N.Y.U. Defends Severance Deals

John Sexton went on “The Colbert Show” last night to plug his new book, “Baseball as a Road to God.” The appearance was all fun and games, with Colbert spoofing “The Bachelor” as he chose between the N.Y.U. president and another potential guest.

“Lost some respect for N.Y.U.,” wrote one Colbert Nation commenter.

“On the contrary, I have gained respect for N.Y.U.,” responded another.

Today, the university’s administration was all business, responding to a New York Times article detailing the “lavish” severance packages received by some faculty members upon leaving. While the statement declined to go into specifics regarding individual financial arrangements, it maintained that the compensation is necessary to attract and retain the faculty and administrators that keep N.Y.U. a competitive research institution.
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Cooper Union: Incoming Class Will Get Free Rides

861104_439933426087481_592943130_oFree Cooper Union


Cooper Union announced today that the admissions process for the incoming 2013 class would remain the same, with all undergraduate students granted full scholarships. The announcement came a day after students accused the school’s board of trustees of moving a crucial meeting about the school’s tuition policy to a “secret” off-campus location. Art, architecture and engineering students gathered on the stairs of the school’s New Academic Building for a silent demonstration of solidarity yesterday.

Last month the board voted to defer the admission of undergraduate early-decision applicants to the school of art, following the art faculty’s resistance to submit a proposal addressing the school’s financial woes.

The art faculty has since put forth a plan that includes recommendations for a pre-college program, undergraduate summer courses and Master’s level programs. While today’s announcement from the board indicates that the prospect of an incoming art school class is secure, students are still concerned about the process for making future financial decisions, and hope to achieve a change in the school’s governing structure.

“Our goal has never been disruption; it’s to be included, it’s to be present,” said Victoria Sobel, a senior in the school of art. The students are happy with the board’s decision, she said, but they also consider it a short-term solution that doesn’t address the deeper problems of student representation in decision making. Read more…

Broderick at Court Hearing: ‘N.Y.U Has Just Taken More and More’

IMAG0739Samantha Balaban

Opponents of N.Y.U.’s expansion in Greenwich Village, including actor Matthew Broderick, scored a small victory in a packed courtroom today.

As you’ll recall, 11 groups — including the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, the East Village Community Coalition, and N.Y.U. Faculty Against the Sexton Plan — are fighting the City Planning Commission’s and the City Council’s decision to approve N.Y.U.’s plan to build just under 1.9 million square feet across two blocks. Opponents argue, in a suit filed in September, that the city violated a law preventing the transferal of parkland without prior approval from the state legislature.

Today, Randy Mastro, counsel for the petitioners, argued that the city improperly transferred four parcels of land to N.Y.U. The parcels include Mercer Playground, Mercer-Houston Dog Run, LaGuardia Park and LaGuardia Corner Gardens.

According to a letter submitted to the court by Mr. Mastro (reproduced below), the city is withholding evidence that it has long treated the property as parkland, even if the land was never officially mapped as such and never formally transferred to the Parks Department.

The plaintiffs in the case want the city to produce documents regarding the matter before a hearing in April that will determine the merits of the lawsuit. The judge granted them permission to argue for discovery in mid-March.

According to Mr. Mastro, Henry Stern, a former parks commissioner, has submitted an affidavit stating that “all four of these Superblocks sites have been dedicated as public parks, either expressly or impliedly,” and that they would have been mapped as such in the 1990s if not for “N.Y.U.’s obstructionist tactics and steadfast opposition.” Read more…

Parents Do ‘Happy Dance’ as Students Return to P.S. 60 Building

photo(79) Out with the old, in with the new.

As expected, students at East Side Community High School returned to their building on East 12th Street today for the first time since structural issues forced them to evacuate in September.

“I think I could speak for all the staff and parents that we are overjoyed and thrilled to be back,” said Maria Green, whose son is in the ninth grade. Ms. Green added that the students are also excited to get back to their usual routine. “They are grateful to Norman Thomas, but they are happy to be leaving because there’s no place like home,” she said.

Construction to secure a wall that had become detached from the building was slated to last until February, but work was completed sooner than expected and in time for the students’ second semester. Over the long weekend East Side staff and parent volunteers moved materials out of temporary classrooms at Norman Thomas High School and P.S. 1, and readied their original rooms for the students’ return. Read more…

Home at Last, Home at Last! Students Return to P.S. 60 Building After MLK Day

photo(71)Daniel Maurer A moving van outside of the P.S. 60 building today.

Nearly four months after evacuating their building due to structural issues, students and staff at East Side Community High School and Girls Prep Middle School are set to return Wednesday morning.

Today’s classes will be the last in East Side’s makeshift classrooms at Norman Thomas High School and P.S. 1. Middle and high school students will enjoy a long weekend while teachers move back into the building on East 12th Street.

East Side parents have been signing up through the school’s website to help clean classrooms, move boxes and unpack materials. “We got too many responses,” said Mark Federman, principal at East Side. “We had to tell them we’re full. Our parents have just been great.”

Students haven’t returned to the space since a wall was found to have separated from the structure in late September. Construction started soon after the evacuation, and according to a Department of Education statement, all interior work is now complete, a month ahead of schedule. Read more…

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Cooper Union Occupiers Have Left the Building

UntitledSasha von Oldershausen A student occupier embraces his friend after emerging from eighth floor.

After a week of sleeping on yoga mats, eating food cooked on hot plates and accepting pizza deliveries via floating balloons, the Cooper Union occupiers have left the eighth floor of the Foundation Building and are going global with their initiatives.

“The problems at Cooper Union strike a nerve with millions of others struggling with student debt, administrative bloat, and expansionist agendas,” said student organizer and occupier Kristi Cavataro during a press conference held outside the school’s Foundation Building.

The eleven occupiers who barricaded themselves into the Peter Cooper Suite saw daylight again as they congregated with community members, supporters and faculty to discuss their unmet demands and the bigger picture.
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Students Disrupt Cooper Union Board Meeting With Sobs, Songs (Plus: More Balloons!)

photo(43)Daniel Maurer

Students barged into a meeting at Cooper Union’s new academic meeting this morning, sobbing dramatically in front of president Jamshed Bharucha as the school of art’s board members discussed controversial new programs.

Saar Shemesh, a student in the school of art, was among an estimated 65 students who chanted in the basement hallway outside of the meeting. Three of her colleagues, she said, managed to gain entry before maintenance workers were instructed to block the door.

Ryan Cullen, a sophomore, was one of the three who entered the board meeting. “At some point we just walked past everyone and walked through. After a few students got in they made a wall,” he said, referring to the security detail.
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Talk About Pie in the Sky: Cooper Lock-Ins Get Floating Pizza Delivery [Updated]

The lock-in is being livestreamed here.
IMG_5797Alexa Mae Asperin At today’s press conference.

If you were wondering how the students who seized the eighth floor of Cooper Union’s Foundation Building were going to get hot meals, here’s your answer: this afternoon, supporters delivered pizza to them by stringing it up with dozens of balloons.

According to Joe Riley, a junior in the art school who is one of the twelve currently barricaded inside, the Two Boots pizza (fancier than his usual fare) was sent up by the Bruce High Quality Foundation, an artist group made up of Cooper Union alums. “The pizza delivery today was really just a show of a support,” he said. “We didn’t really need it. We came in here with plenty of food.”

Nevertheless, the students were happy to snag it. “They just made the catch,” said Tyler Paige, another occupier.

The delivery, photos of which appeared on Twitter, came shortly after a press conference in which senior art students Rachel Appel and Audrey Snyder, speaking on behalf of the occupiers outside of the building, said tuition would be “the end” of the art school.
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Four Floors Below Cooper Union Occupiers, a Solidarity Sleepover

Cooper Freshmen (2)Courtesy of Lina McGinn

While eleven Cooper Union students, along with another from the New School, occupied the eighth floor of the art school’s Foundation Building last night, a group of first-year students banded together and camped out on the fourth floor to protest the possibility of undergraduate tuition.

“In a mass, we thought we could basically sleep there overnight without locking ourselves in but still resist requests for us to leave,” said Lina McGinn, who organized the group.

Around midnight, about 20 students armed with sleeping bags entered the studio space four floors below their colleagues. Because the studio closes at 2 a.m., they were asked by security to vacate the premises but refused.

“They went back downstairs and basically just sat outside the door the rest of the night,” Ms. McGinn said of the security guards. “They didn’t call the cops.”
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Cooper Union Occupiers Cheered By Fellow Students, Contacted By Administration

photo(42)Dana Varinsky Students occupying the school’s Peter Cooper Suite Skype into a community summit downstairs in the Great Hall.

A dozen Cooper Union students currently occupying the school’s Foundation Building were met with an enthusiastic round of applause when they joined a community summit via Skype this evening.

During their brief appearance, they urged their peers, who had gathered for a series of presentations about higher education and student debt, to continue protesting tonight and throughout the day tomorrow.

The occupiers also informed summit attendees about a document, reprinted below, that came into their possession, which outlines four possible plans for implementing undergraduate tuition.
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At George Jackson Academy, a Karate Sensei in the Classroom

IMG_0001Dan Varinsky

As a bullying-related suicide in Staten Island swept the headlines today, students at George Jackson Academy got a lesson in how to keep their community bully-free.

In a presentation about self-defense and inner strength that included lessons in deep breathing and non-violent assertiveness, John Mirrione, a karate sensei who runs Harmony by Karate on the Upper West Side, announced the creation of the Harmony Power Foundation, a non-profit that will fund similar anti-bullying presentations around the country.

Students of the school on St. Marks Place seemed to agree that bullying isn’t a big issue for them. “Some people might need occasional reminders, but I haven’t taken part in or seen any bullying in this school,” said Kai Parris. Still, the sixth grader appreciated the anti-bullying videos Mr. Mirrione showed. “You only need to use one word to hurt somebody’s feelings,” he said. Read more…

Officers Injured During Fight at Health and Human Services School

IMG_1130Suzanne Rozdeba

A pair of school safety officers were injured today after trying to break up a fight at the High School for Health Professions and Human Services.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said the two officers tried to diffuse an altercation between two female students. One of the officers sprained an ankle and the other went to the hospital with a shoulder injury and chest pain.

The incident occurred sometime before 1 p.m. today. The high school, located next to Stuyvesant Town at 345 East 15th Street, prepares students for future careers in health care.

Tyra Banks Talks ‘Binders Full of Women’ at LES Girls Club Fundraiser

TyraBanks1Jonathan Krohn Tyra Banks

Last night at Capitale, Tyra Banks presided over a “Flawsome Ball” benefiting the TZone, her leadership development center in the forthcoming new location of the Lower Eastside Girls Club.

Asked if she would give Mitt Romney binders full of TZone women should he be elected, the supermodel laughed. “I almost Tweeted about the new season of ‘Top Model’ being full of binders of men and women,” she said. The election was also on the mind of Rosario Dawson, who said she was helping the Obama campaign sign up minority voters. Read more…

Students Shut Out of P.S. 60 Till Early Next Year

east sideDana Varinsky

After almost a month of using makeshift classrooms in buildings around the city, East Side Community High School and Girls Prep Middle School received more bad news this week: construction on their evacuated East 12th Street building is now slated to last into February.

In a letter to parents, Kathleen Grimm, Deputy Chancellor of the Department of Education, said that repair of the building’s east side, where on Sept. 24 a wall was found to have separated from the structure, would involve the basement-to-roof construction of a new masonry-and-steel wall. “This work will take several months to complete,” said Ms. Grimm. The new plan is to move the schools back into the building during their February break, after which the building’s brick facade will continue to be rebuilt off-hours. Read more…

‘Purple Monster’ Crashes N.Y.U. Alumni Day

Video: Melanie Hicken

A little over a week after musicians sang out against the “Purple People Eater” at a benefit show, a “Purple Monster” will take to the streets during a march (complete with marching band!) against N.Y.U.’s expansion plan. The organizer of the protest – All in the Red, a group advocating debt-free education for all – has released a series of posters that play up the whole Godzilla thing.

If you want to see the guy in a Barney costume Purple Monster for yourself, the march will start at 1 p.m. Saturday (the school’s Alumni Day), at Washington Square Park’s Garibaldi Plaza. In the meantime, watch our video to hear Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (which has endorsed the march along with Save WSV Sasaki Garden Committee and other groups) discuss his concerns about N.Y.U. 2031’s effect on green space in Greenwich Village, and in particular the already memorialized Sasaki Garden.

Lettuce Now Turn Our Attention to Robert Simon’s Rooftop Garden

IMG_8240Dana Varinsky Ruhith Ahmed waters the plants.
IMG_8198Dana Varinsky Scott Stinger and Daniel Squadron add new plants.

At the official opening of Robert E. Simon Complex’s rooftop garden today, fifth-grader Julia Cannizzo pointed to two small lettuce plants and introduced them as Bob and Bruce Lee. “It’s really exciting to see the baby plants grow because they look so optimistic,” she said.

Borough President Scott Stringer, State Senator Daniel Squadron and Councilwoman Rosie Mendez – who all contributed funds to the four-year, million-dollar project – led today’s ribbon cutting, joining students and teachers of the Earth School, P.S. 64, and Tompkins Square Park School, which share the East Fifth Street building.

Ms. Mendez told The Local that the garden was a natural continuation of the neighborhood’s history. “Before community gardens were popular, this community, with all the devastation here, went into these lots and they cleared the debris and the rubble and made community gardens. So this feels like an extension of that vision.”’ Read more…

Slideshow: Today’s Work On Evacuated P.S. 60 Building

Photos: Daniel Maurer

East 12th Street was closed this morning so that a crane could hoist contractors who performed work on the building’s northeast corner. Until now, workers have been disassembling bricks, one by one, from the middle of the building’s eastern wall. Today, they drilled a series of holes down the building’s northeast corner and hammered in metal spikes; a bungie-esque cord is currently wrapped around the corner of the building that’s closest to 12th Street and Avenue A. A worker on the ground said they were checking to see whether the building’s wall was still bulging.

Watch The Local’s slideshow to see this morning’s activity and the current state of the wall. We’ll have more on the relocation of Girls Prep and East Side next week.

Also: Flyers being handed out near the church parking lot, which was the site of the Mary Help of Christians flea market but is now being used by construction vehicles, indicate that the flea market will be at Immaculate Conception Church every Saturday, starting next week.

School Progress Reports: Who’s Up, Who’s Down, Who’s Holding Steady

The city released its annual school Progress Reports today and SchoolBook has conveniently mapped out the results, with green dots indicating improvement and red dots indicating a lower grade. A quick glance at letter grades for East Village and Lower East Side schools revealed that 16 of them held steady, 5 of them dropped a letter grade from last year, and 10 of them showed improvement, with P.S. 34 Franklin D. Roosevelt and P.S. 137 John L. Bernstein being the only ones that improved beyond just one letter grade (from C to A and from F to C, respectively).

According to SchoolBook, the progress reports are based on “student progress (60 percent), student performance (25 percent) and school environment (15 percent). Environment includes student attendance, as well as feedback from parents, students, and teachers about their schools.” The site also explains that “75 percent of a school’s score comes from comparing it to a ‘peer group’ of about 40 other schools with similar demographics. The remaining 25 percent is based on a comparison with all schools citywide serving the same grades.” Here, now, are this year’s results.

BETTER (from best 2012 grades to worst)
600 East 6th Street
2010-11 Grade: B
2011-12 Grade: A

730 East 12th Street
2010-11 Grade: C
2011-12 Grade: A Read more…