For years the administration insisted that tuition was a last resort. It was believed that if tuition had to be implemented it would be temporary, with an emphasis on getting back to free. Instead, the board bait-and-switched the community, introducing a narrative that it is irresponsible to return Cooper to being free, and that being free was never intrinsic to the college’s mission.
On the same day that CSCU’s supreme court hearing took place, the first tuition payments for incoming students were due. There exists a general sentiment of confidence that the court case will repeal tution, but the law works on its own timeline and a decision has not been reached quickly enough to prevent the administration from collecting payments. Despite talk amongst parents and students about putting tuition money into escrow, paying in truckloads of pennies, or not paying at all, overwhelming pressure forced everyone to simply pay up. A $20,000 tuition hike was explained away by the school’s PR team as 50% discount on an imaginary $40,000 sticker price.
The administration continues to coerce the faculties, discourage the students, alienate the alumni, fire longtime employees, make non-consensual policy decisions, violate protocols for new hires, and restructure admissions. Simultaneously, the school has begun to pump money into recruiting and marketing, taking out an additional $55 million dollar “bridge loan,” and overhauling public relations to be more aspirational than ever in the darkest time in the history of this institution.
In April 2015, the first post-tuition tuition hike was casually announced. Dean of Engineering and Chief Academic Officer Teresa Dahlberg communicated to students by email that the Board had approved a “new tuition” whereby students taking more than 19.5 credits would be charged for each “overload” credit.
Immediate student backlash, especially in the Engineering school, forced the administration to concede that they won’t start charging for overload, at least until next year. Dahlberg and Mea scrambled to placate enrolled students, while displaying their willingness to throw incoming students under the bus.