This is the second-and-a-half edition of Disorientation published by Free Cooper Union.

Disorientation is a counter-orientation intended to introduce YOU to the real story of Cooper’s dense internal politics, as well as larger community issues.

Why is institutional memory so short? To maintain systems of control. Disorientation is a rejection of the administration’s rewriting of history, the systemic underpinnings of financialized realism, and the way that our communities are strategically disempowered.

We must constantly be disorienting ourselves.

Disorientation is
a brick,
a ping-pong ball,
a barricade,
a vote of no confidence,
an infinite dream.

What follows is a very focused history of what’s happening at Cooper, and in no way adequately addresses all of the broader intersectional struggles that continue to shape and support our movement. We’d like to acknowledge all of the past and present groundwork, in hopes that we can achieve paradigm shifts together through our continued campaign building.

Free Cooper Union Disorientation Reader

On April 9th, 2015, the news broke that Cooper’s Board of Trustees had voted to not renew President Jamshed Bharucha’s contract. In effect, he was fired.

Bharucha paved the way for the corporatization of Cooper Union. Not only has he been incapable of leading the school since day one, but his agenda has thwarted any attempt to uphold the mission of free education to all.

His firing is a milestone, but the problems are not solved. Facing the pressures of relentless community activism, a Supreme Court lawsuit, and a New York State investigation, the Board and Administration attempted to save face by throwing each other under every bus rolling down Third Avenue. It backfired on them.

Now is the time to imagine new futures for Cooper Union: A school with no president. A president whose job is to eliminate the idea of a president. A community empowered to govern itself.

Rejecting the Board’s growth model and ideology will require more than just getting rid of key players. It will mean developing a model for a debt-free college, to shine bright like a diamond in the middle of a national student debt crisis.

In 2012, a year into Bharucha’s term, eleven students locked themselves into a room, demanding the President step down. Here we are three years later. Direct action gets the goods, even if it takes a while.

So hang in there. Familiarize yourself with the situation by reading this book, and anything else you can get your hands on. Channel your energy and ideas into developing, demanding, and fulfilling a Free Cooper Union. And don’t stop there. We want everything. So can you.


Brief introductions to the things you need to know: recent developments, active groups, and ongoing issues.


Reference documents that translate confusing jargon; highlight important events, key people, and groups; and provide links to media coverage, ideas for action, and further reading.


These selected essays dig into why Cooper matters, what’s going wrong with education everywhere, and how we might fix it.

PDF Downloads

The content on this website reflects the latest edition of our Disorientation Reader, but all versions are available for download in PDF form below.

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A note on abridgement.
Much of the content in this reader has been hacked and slashed edited for brevity. Where we have abridged content, we will provide links to unabridged versions.

Correct us if we’re wrong.
We’ve been compiling information for three years, but we’re still learning. We did our best to fact-check before printing, but we’ll do our best to amend inaccuracies.

There are no stupid questions.
Write an email to cooperunionsos@gmail.com and Free Cooper students or alumni will get back to you.

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April 2015

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