At Cooper Union, it was outrage over a new tuition policy. At City College, it was anger over the closing of a community center. At both Manhattan colleges, student protest shut down buildings, garnered headlines and largely defined campus life over the past year. Now those two very different institutions are considering policies that could restrict how, when and where students can express dissent, while raising the penalties for those who disobey.
Representatives of Cooper Union’s student government were surprised when, a few weeks ago, administrators showed them a draft of a new code of conduct. In addition to addressing matters like fire safety and drug use, the document would forbid “deliberate or knowing disruption of the free flow of pedestrian traffic on Cooper Union premises” and “behavior that disturbs the peace, academic study or sleep of others on or off campus.” A section on bullying and intimidation mentions communication, in any medium, that “disrupts or interferes with the orderly operation of the Cooper Union.”