By Madeline Helser and Kathryn Leahey
Last Saturday marked the final day of school here at Antioch for four first year students, Brock Kalbfleisch, Alan Fiser, Cary James, and Daniel “Stubby” Carroll, who were all expelled for a violation of our college’s drug and alcohol policy.
A week later, Jimmy Williams, the Dean of Students, called one of the four expelled students down to his office where Williams confronted him about the supposed incident. After making it clear to the student that he absolutely knew what had occurred, Williams strongly recommended to the student that he write and sign a statement confessing to the act, informing him that he were to do so, his punishment would be less severe. Thinking his penalty would be mild; he wrote and signed a statement, an act repeated by the three remaining students. Two days later, the four were notified that they were being expelled from Antioch College for a violation of Antioch’s drug and alcohol policy. Had the students been apprehended in transit by local police, they would most likely have incurred a fine up to $150, in accordance with Ohio state law.
This incident, if nothing else, has unified a formerly stratified academic community. Not long after news of the expulsions spread via the omnipotent Antioch rumor mill, faculty, veteran Antioch students, and first years alike were outraged and ready to take action against an act of the administration perceived as far too harsh by some. An emergency community meeting held last week facilitated the discussion of possible solutions that would allow these students to remain at Antioch and receive a less harsh but more meaningful punishment. After much brainstorming and debate, a petition letter was drafted and addressed to the President in order to show the entire community’s concern for these, our fellow community members. After the letter was drafted and over 100 signatures were collected, another idea was brought to the table. A collection of money was taken up to be presented to the president to facilitate the repair of the damages caused by the term’s previous acts of vandalism. Although no one knows who committed these atrocities except the perpetrators themselves, it was decided that taking the initiative to help mend these former bad acts would strengthen the ailing ties between the students and the administration, bringing us together as a whole. A total of approximately $70 was collected that night, and all those wishing to contribute to this “good will fund�? may bring donations to the CG office where the money is so graciously being stored.
Since the breaking of this devastating news, it has been nearly impossible for one to walk across the Caf or down one’s hall without hearing a conversation concerning the student body’s debate over and outrage towards the administration’s actions. The students are, however, to be commended, according to Professor Ivan Dihoff, for the maturity and passion that has been displayed over the course of these events. An informal poll of student opinion reveals that the majority believes maintaining and building ties with the administration is necessary, although the expulsions are creating “a larger rift between students and the administration.�? A request to “remain respectful and diplomatic at all times�? was voiced by one student, reminding all of Antioch that the “administration is not the enemy.�? Most are not quick to pass judgment on any party involved, especially Jimmy Williams, who has maintained his nearly universally beloved status on campus despite distaste for the punishment he relayed to the students. However, several students scathingly drew attention to the fact that Steve Lawry was not here when the decision was made and feel as though these students have been chosen at random to be made an example of to the community. Others reference the history of disciplinary action at Antioch, citing their memories of other students doing similar things and incurring little-to-no punishment as reason enough why the four first years should not be forced out. Nearly all surveyed believe the students’ punishment was too harsh, especially for first-time offenders, and that there are “alternative and far more efficient mediums of discipline to remedy the situation,�? such as community service, counseling, fines, drug testing, a public apology, et cetera. Some called for a new, student-written drug policy and a first-year orientation to said policy, although others believe that “morals and common sense should prevail even without a readily assessable policy.�? Still others have mentioned that the apparently unilateral decision violates their sensibilities as to how they believe a progressive school like Antioch ought to handle student discipline, a sentiment often followed by the catchphrases “Where is our Antioch?�? or “I want my Antioch back!�?
Such sentiments have, in at least one case, prompted a student to leave school without being forced. Aiden McGuire, a classmate of those expelled, cites a conversation with Cary James about the state of the school as her reason for beginning to think about withdrawing. Aiden too will be gone within a few days. She believes that “the school is in a state of transition and maybe doesn’t know exactly what it’s doing.�? She says that her classes are all great, and she has loved everyone she’s met, but she finds the campus disorganized and unlike the “original Antioch�? on which she was sold which she believed was “one-of-a-kind�? and feels as though the administration is trying to take away some of the freedoms she expected here.
When asked about the effect of the expulsions on the administration and school as a whole, Richard Jurasek, who refers to himself as Antioch’s “Chief Operations Officer, in local nomenclature�?, responded, “it is a loss of revenue, of course. That’s a painful fact. But it is an even more painful fact that there are those students who would like to come to Antioch, who cannot because of the culture.�?
When pressed for comment President Steven Lawry said, ‘Drug-use is destructive of individuals, families and communities, and all community members must take responsibility for eliminating it from Antioch.
I will also add that I was deeply troubled by the “Question of the Week” in the September 15th edition of The Antioch Record. (What do you have to say to the Narc?) It was hugely irresponsible for the editors to pose a question that implies condemnation of truly responsible and courageous community members who want to live in a learning environment free of drugs and are taking steps on behalf of that cause. This was a morally misguided and irresponsible question. I was deeply troubled by the character of many of the responses to the question, some of which suggested that harm come to the so-called Narc. These suggestions, in combination with the blatant use of aggressive obscenities, deserve condemnation, and should not be honored by publication in our community’s newspaper.’
The students expelled were all hurt by the seemingly rash decision. Alan Fiser, one of the lost community members, said, “This is not what this school is supposed to be, and I am disappointed.�? “I am worried about where this college is going to be in four years,�? said Cary James, “but I love the sense of community and the people.�? Brock Kalbfleisch said, “I came here because it was more than a school, because community was involved with the avenue of education I wanted to pursue.�? “I feel that this is the best place for me to foster my personality, individuality, and my art,�? said Stubby Carroll. “I think that this is a good place with awesome, compassionate people, but I think the administration is misguided and is forgetting about the human side of things.�?
The day before the students’ forced departure date, Kathryn Leahey sat down with a visibly shaken Stubby for a brief and emotional interview.
SC: [Holding up a lit cigarette] Do you mind if I smoke this? I can put it out if you want.
KL: No problem.
SC: Alright, cool.
KL: So Stubby, to be blunt, how much longer are you with us?
SC: Tomorrow at noon. Then I’m banned from campus. Banned from campus. Isn’t that ridiculous? I can’t even come back to visit this place and these people that I’ve made these profound relationships with.
KL: Do you feel that Antioch is the same place to which you applied?
SC: I don’t know, man. It’s sort of the same as I feel about the national government and America as how I feel about the Antioch administration. It’s just tough, you know. It’s the only word I can use to describe it. It’s very arbitrary. The people are still great, though. They’ll be what I miss the most, the community. This place is all about community. I know the administration would never see it this way, but that night, all we were trying to do was build community, man.
KL: Speaking of the community, how do you feel about the public’s response to your expulsion? Were you expecting this kind of a reaction?
SC: Well, I wasn’t expecting to be expelled because of the way the communication was between us and the Dean of Students office. I wasn’t expecting anything, really. We never thought that this would happen. But yeah, the community has been great. They’ve really come to our support in a way that’s just above and beyond. I’m so grateful for everything they’ve done, so grateful. But none of this could have been expected.
KL: What were expecting to happen? What were you told would happen if you signed the statement that you did?
SC: I was told that our punishment would be less severe.
KL: Who actually suggested that you sign the statement?
SC: Jimmy Williams, although he didn’t actually suggest it. [pause] He more than suggested it.
KL: Do you feel as though you were misled into signing the statement under the assumption that this would not have happened? That you wouldn’t have been expelled?
SC: Yes, I do. I definitely do. We were completely honest, too. We told them everything. We didn’t give up names but everything else. And look what happened.
KL: Do you think that there is anything that people are missing about the story?
SC: Well, are a lot of people hearing that we’re being kicked out for dealing drugs? Yeah. That was never our intention. We have people that went there together and people who came back, and it was distributed, you know? People just bought it from the guy that we got it from.
KL: So, what are you planning to do now?
SC: I don’t know, man. I know that I’m still going to do accomplish everything that I wanted to. I just wish that I could do it here. Here with my friends. It just sucks, man.
At this point in the interview, Stubby was overcome with emotion, and Kathryn’s line of questioning was discontinued. Parting sentiments were exchanged. A stand was made. Four friends were lost.