In the latest development in the ongoing saga of Cooper Union, the tuition-free college facing financial problems due to increasing operation costs and declining investment income, several students have now barricaded themselves in a school building to protest the school’s decision to charge tuition.

According to an article by Christopher Robbins at Gothamist:

Eleven students have locked themselves in the Peter Cooper Suite of the eighth floor of the Cooper Union building to protest the institution’s decision to charge graduate students tuition. “We’re hoping this will show the administration that they aren’t able to make these changes under the table, that these things will have to come to light,” Victoria Sobel, a 22-year-old senior and spokesperson for the protesters said in a phone interview. Sobel says that while the police haven’t attempted to breech the barricades, a school maintenance crew was “physically ramming the barricade for about thirty minutes. We had to tell them there were students behind the door so they’d stop.”

In April Cooper Union, which has provided free education to its students for 110 years, announced that it would begin charging graduate students to study at the institution. The school has not revealed the amount.

The school, founded in 1859 with a bequest from New York industrialist Peter Cooper, has been free for students since 1902. It will remain free for undergraduates.

High-quality education should be “free as air and water,” said Cooper when he helped create the institution.

Read the demands of the students involved in the protest here.

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer