To the Community: March 5, 2018
Nearly 160 years ago, The Cooper Union’s founder Peter Cooper created the Great Hall, here in our Foundation Building, as a place for the rigorous debate and social justice he knew were central to a democratic society. That legacy continues at Cooper today as it is part of our mission to sustain civic discourse that inspires us to address the critical issues of our time. Gun violence is such an issue – which is why I am proud of the recent letter Dean of Admissions Mitchell Lipton sent to prospective students reaffirming that a student’s application to Cooper would not be jeopardized should a student’s want to peacefully take a stand on this issue.
I am also pleased that there will be another opportunity together as a community to discuss the Free Education Committee’s Recommended Plan to Return to Full-Tuition Scholarships. I hope you will join us on Wednesday, March 7 from 5 – 6:30 p.m. in the 7th floor gallery lobby (Foundation Building).
Another issue of critical importance we have seen over the past several months revolves around an outpouring of personal stories by people from all walks of life, detailing their experiences with discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct. These stories and accounts are important ones, and I’d like to focus on the issues they raise in the context of The Cooper Union.
First and foremost, there is no place for discrimination or harassment of any kind at The Cooper Union. As a community and as individuals, we must stand together for the idea that we are all entitled to pursue our goals and ambitions, our work and our studies, free from discrimination and harassment. We must find ways to understand our differences and to support and celebrate them.
Secondly, if at any time, you feel you have experienced harassment, discrimination or sexual misconduct or you have any concerns about these issues, you can make a report via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would prefer an in-person consultation, students should contact Grace Kendall, Director of Student Diversity and Inclusion and Title IX Coordinator; faculty and staff should contact Natalie Brooks, Interim Head of Human Resources and Operations.
Your concerns may be regarding something that is happening now or has happened previously. It doesn’t matter; it is never too late to make your concerns known. We take issues of harassment, discrimination, and sexual misconduct very seriously. We have a team of compassionate staff members who will work with you to evaluate the situation and determine the necessary next steps and actions. I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to make your concerns known so that we can investigate and take action. This process exists to support you, your peers, and colleagues.
If you think a concern has been reported before, but has not been resolved, please take a moment to share that information now. People often don’t report something because they believe someone else has already done so when, in fact, no one has. We would prefer that members of the community err on the side of over-reporting so we can be sure that no concerns go unexplored.
Beyond this process, we work to continually evolve the legacy of inclusion and equity that is intrinsic to The Cooper Union. Establishing the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force is one example. The Task Force was established to explore gender diversity issues identified by the Faculty-Student Senate and also to examine diversity and inclusion more broadly across academics, student life, and operations, and to take meaningful steps to improve on these fronts.
In concert with and in addition to the work of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, there are other actions and initiatives underway to address these issues on our campus. Some highlights include:
- An upcoming community-wide survey to assess the campus climate and lived experience of the community. Our findings will be invaluable to creating programs, policies, and procedures that ensure a safe and productive learning environment for all.
- Developing targeted events focused on supporting our community and in particular, the challenges of gender identity and related dynamics in the classroom and in the workplace.
- New campus signage to ensure that all members of the community know how to report concerns they might have regarding harassment, discrimination, or sexual misconduct.
Ensuring that Cooper is a safe place for all to learn and work is a shared responsibility. As a community, we need to collectively address issues when we encounter them and live up to the expectations of all those who call Cooper home. Together, we can ensure that our home is a place where all are welcome and where everyone is afforded the opportunity to learn, grow, and lead.
March 5, 2018