Letter from Andrzej Bloch regarding De-Classifieds

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Dear Andrzej,

This letter is to inform you that statements made in your October 19, 2006 letter are in blatant violation of the Antioch Honor Code, rendering us unable to ethically accept them. Our institution is an intentional community dedicated to the pursuit of social justice. This is neither your institution, nor Steve’s, but ours. We at The Record, a community newspaper are duty bound to serving the information needs of our community. In an attempt to provide all community members a safe space for discourse, our predecessors created the “socalled? Declassified section, where anonymous idioms spur constructive dialogue, pine over a crush, rant about policy, and let out inside jokes. Declassifieds are by no means the most important part of our publication, but they are probably the most popular because they are a collection of a variety of community voices.

In your letter you said, “Menacing and threatening speech cannot be allowed in an official publication of an institution dedicated to education and human betterment.? We find this statement disgraceful. Education is not indoctrination. Opposing viewpoints, even angry ones are valid and have led to human betterment. Human betterment cannot be achieved by oppression and/or repression, and least of all by silence. A liberal arts education must present opposing views, a democratic institution must honor all voices, and the quest for social justice must include the ethics of the populace, not the elite.

We at the Record are students. We participate in experiential learning, and are clearly not professionals. However, we have made every effort to conform to the letter of the law. Through conversations with lawyers at the Student Press Association and discussions with our faculty advisor and former editor of the Yellow Springs News, Don Wallace, we have determined that the statement “Arrogant Shmuck please leave if you want to maintain your balls chop chop chop? is not illegal. You distortion of the legal issue involved is disturbing on many levels in that it shows you do not wish your institution to educate future leaders, but to oppress and silence dissent through intimidation and distortion for a very specific and transient presidential agenda. This is unacceptable and shameful. You denounce menacing speech and go on to indirectly menace our jobs. This position appears hypocritical. You seem to have disregarded the nature of our community through the delegitimatimation of value systems not your own.

Furthermore, by sending us this letter, you circumvented the Record Advisory Board, a body designed to hear complaints about the Record. If you had a grievance, you should have brought it before the board. Please respect democracy and community. For the past four weeks our community’s council has discussed ways to strengthen RAB, and while those present learned from the discussion, your absence contributed only to your own ignorance. Discussion is communal. Mandates are dictatorial. You spurn the opportunity to learn from our community, listen to its concerns and participate in discussion, instead relying on your position to validate your statements.

In your letter you frequently use the term ‘College’ as code for the Lawry administration. Is the ‘college’ really concerned about our practice of publishing remarks such as the Declassified in question? Are we ignoring the ‘college’s’ concerns regarding these kinds of published remarks? If you attended RAB you would know the answer to these questions. Last, you claim our behavior raises questions about the extent to which we are taking seriously our obligations to the ‘College’ as a paid employee. From where can we derive a clear understanding of our obligation to the college, and by that we mean the Antioch college community, if not community- wide discourse? It is our belief that open dialogue and democratic processes have virtues and by participating in that dialogue we can learn and grow, and fulfill the mandate laid forth in our honor code. We are committed to respecting our community, providing a publication reflective of that community, and to democratic social justice, even if that means taking a stand over a trivial Declassified.

Sincerely,

Foster Neill & Luke Brennan
Editors of the Record

Letter from Jeffrey N. James, Esq.

Date: October 20, 2006

Letter to the Editor – Antioch Record

I am writing to you as the father of Cary James, one of the four students recently suspended from Antioch College for traveling to Columbus, Ohio to purchase marijuana for themselves and other students.

Earlier this year, our family was pleased when Antioch accepted Cary’s application for admission. After visiting the college, Cary felt that Antioch was where he belonged and would flourish. Based on its reputation, we were thankful that Cary had chosen to attend a “liberal” liberal arts college. I use the term liberal in the most positive sense of the word, not as it has been defined in more recent times by conservatives and the religious right. By definition. liberal means “broad minded” and “favoring reform or progress”.

As an undergraduate student, I learned to logically examine the world by the Socratic or dialectical method. Through critical examination of issues, we come to a better understanding and resolution of the problems we face in life. This is the type of education I envisioned for my son in attending Antioch. I was disturbed when I learned that Cary was being expelled (which was later amended to a one year suspension). What concerned me most was not that he was being expelled, but the basis for his expulsion.

As a criminal defense attorney, I am troubled by the criminalization of our youth, and the hypocrisy with which we administer our current “zero tolerance” policy regarding drug and alcohol use. As one who upholds the principal of honesty, I freely admit that I have smoked marijuana. I was, after all, a product of the sixties and seventies. In raising my children, I have not voluntarily disclosed my past usage, nor have I denied this fact as they grew older and were capable of questioning me. I have however always advised them of the potentially harmful effects of drug and alcohol use and abuse, and tried to instill in them an understanding of the problems associated with any addiction. At the same time, I understand that people will engage in the vice of their choice. What vice you indulge yourself (food, wine, sex, gambling, the list goes on), is a matter of your choice. Just as I ask that you tolerate my vices, so long as they do not infringe upon your rights, I will tolerate your vices. For me, the occasional one or two martinis long ago supplanted any desire to smoke marijuana. However, I do admit that a few years ago I smoked marijuana with a good friend, Deb, six months before her death from cancer. We were attending an outdoor wedding for mutual friends. Deb had discovered the benefit of marijuana in counteracting the constant nausea caused by the chemotherapy. Deb did not want to smoke alone, so I gladly joined her in sharing a joint on the shore of a lovely lake. I will always remember that afternoon and the time spent with an old friend.

I have no regrets, nor shame for that event, so please don’t have any for me.

Unfortunately, too may of the people in a position to set policy for the rest of us, hide or deny their own use or experimentation with marijuana. This is sad in light of the statistics regarding marijuana use in our country. According to the 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 96.8 million Americans age 12 and older, have tried marijuana at least once in their lifetimes. This represents 40.2% of the age 12 and older population. Among college students, the Office of National Drug Control Policy reports that in 2004 18.9% of college students admitted to marijuana use within the past 30 days, with 33.3% reporting use within the past year and 49.1% within their lifetime. Among similar aged young adults not attending college, the statistics on marijuana use are comparable to those reported for college students. Obviously, these statistics demonstrate that a substantial portion of our young adults have tried or are using marijuana. The question thus becomes, are they all criminals? Unfortunately, our country’s misplaced “war on drugs” and “zero tolerance” has answered that question with a resounding “yes”.

According to the report “Incarcerated America”, published by the human right organization “Human Rights Watch”, over two million men and women are currently incarcerated. Although we hold ourselves out as the “land of the free”, the United States “incarcerates a higher percentage of its people than any other country.” Contrary to popular beliefs (perpetuated by the fear politicians attempt to install in us to mobilize support), the increase in our prison population is not attributable to any increase in violent crimes, which has held steady over the past two decades. Rather, the increase has been in non-violent, drug related crimes. Since 1980 the number of people incarcerated for drug offenses has increased twelvefold. Further, we should be alarmed by the disproportionate burden the “war on drugs” has had on our minority population. “Although blacks account for only 12 percent of the U.S. population, 44 percent of all prisoners in the United States are black”.

Drug Sense (www.drugsense.org), an organization committed to educating and debating the merits (or lack thereof), of our current drug policies, reports that over 1.68 million people will be arrested this year for drug offense, according to FBI estimates. A large portion of these arrests will be for marijuana. FBI statistics for 2005, estimate that 786,545 people were arrested for marijuana law violations, of which the vast majority, almost 90 percent, were for simple possession. Not only is there the tragic human costs (disrupting families, lost work and productivity, criminal records, etc.), the actual monies spent to fight the “war” is staggering. It is estimated that between the federal and state governments, over 50 billion dollars will be spent in 2006 directly related to enforcing drug laws. I suggest that, as a nation, we would be better off if a large portion of this money was spent treating drug addiction, educating our children and providing employment opportunities. This issue should at least be openly discussed and debated.

Similarly, we have taken a wrong approach to the use of alcohol by our youth. When I was in college, it was legal to drink “3.2 beer” (beer with an alcohol content not exceeding 3.2% by volume), from age 18 to 20. The effects of increasing the drinking age to 21 have been far reaching. In analyzing this issue, we must recognize the extent to which alcohol is being used by our youth. According to the Core survey, sixty-nine percent of college students under that age of 21 report using alcohol within the past 30 days and eighty-two percent admit to alcohol use within the past year.

By increasing the drinking age to 21, we have criminalized our youth. This instills in them disrespect for the law, as they have determined to ignore the law and drink anyway. Additionally, we have failed to teach them about drinking. We simply ignore the fact that they’re drinking alcohol and then turn them loose at age 21. By bringing back “3.2 beer” (or what ever percentage is determined appropriate), we would allow them to drink in a safer environment. From their standpoint, because it’s all illegal, what difference does it make whether they drink beer, wine or 151 proof rum. Either way, they are committing the same criminal offense – underage consumption of alcohol – a misdemeanor of the first degree. Thus, we have young adults consuming more potent forms of alcohol, with the consequences of excessive intoxication and alcohol poisoning.

For years I have been an advocate of bringing back 3.2 beer and lowering the drinking age to 19. Whether we agree on age 19 and beer with an alcohol content of 3.2 percent is irrelevant. The point is that this issue should be openly debated, and hopefully we will come to a better solution. Alternatively, we can continue with our current policies and accept that we have made our children criminals and placed them at greater risk from drinking more potent alcohol. Just as we debate other issues (abortion rights, stem cell research, the war in Iraq, illegal aliens and so many others), we must openly debate the failed effects of our drug and alcohol policies, particular towards our younger citizens.

Following Cary’s expulsion, I was given an opportunity (exactly one-half hour), to meet with President Lawry, Dean Williams, Richard Jurasek and Joyce Morrissey. In expressing my views, as set forth above, I found your administration less than receptive to discuss these issues. When I expressed my concern that they had chosen the most severe from of punishment (expulsion), I was rebuked in my categorizing expulsion as the “most severe” sanction. I was then advised that they could have turned the matter over to the local prosecutor’s office.

I was astonished that your administration would consider criminal prosecution an option. In response, I simply reminded your administration that possession of marijuana in an amount less than 100 grams is a minor misdemeanor in Ohio. Whereupon, Dr. Lawry asserted the charges could have been greater (apparently suggesting that the four students were engaged in trafficking). As a defense attorney, I can only state that such charges would be problematic. Under Ohio Revised Code section 2925.51, the state must preserve and test any illicit drug and provide defense counsel with both the test results and a sample of the drug for independent testing. If the state fails to comply with these requirements, the charges must be dismissed. But, more important than the obvious defenses, do you really believe that the four students, in sharing their marijuana with their fellow students and friends, were engaged in trafficking? Have we gone that far in criminalizing our youth? What about the hypocrisy this demonstrates. All of us who have smoked marijuana at some time in our past (and the numbers are substantial), acquired it from someone, maybe a friend or fellow student. Were they all criminals?

It is unfortunate that this matter has come to this conclusion. I know that Cary will not be returning to Antioch and that he misses the friends he made in his short time on campus. What happens at Antioch in the future is in the hands of the administration, staff and students. In writing this letter, it is my hope that the school’s policies will be critically reviewed and debated. Only then will Antioch resume its course as a “liberal” arts college. Our future is in the hands of our youth. It is my hope they pursue a future free from the intolerance and hypocrisy which we have shown them. I wish you all the very best in your future.

Jeffrey N. James, Esq.
email: jjnjames@aol.com
Lombardi, George & James, Ltd.
7 W. Bowery St., Ste. 507
Akron, Ohio 44308
Office: (330) 535-9655;
Cell: (330) 815-3063;
Fax: (330) 535-9921

Car Accident Injures Five Antioch Students

By Paige Clifton-Steele

On Monday, October 9th, at 7:30 PM, a Jeep grand Cherokee carrying five Antioch students collided with another vehicle at the intersection of Leffels Lane and Dayton- Xenia road. Jessica Davis, Tony Colella, Vanessa Little, and Hannah and Emma Woodruff were heading back to campus when, according to witnesses, the other vehicle ran a red light and hit them as they pulled into the left turn lane. The other driver was a woman whom witnesses reported seeing talking on a cell phone at the time of the crash.

The car carrying the Antioch students was knocked in a semicircle by the collision, but all five students made it out. Vanessa, whose door was impacted, was helped out by a bystander. “If you saw what the car looked like afterwards, you would think we were all dead,? says Emma, third year.

Several people who witnessed the accident stopped to help people in both cars, and to call for help. The first ambulance arrived within minutes.

The students all suffered injuries and were taken to Community Hospital. Hannah suffered two broken ribs, Vanessa for whiplash, Jessica a bruised sternum, Tony a burn on his hand, and all were treated for various scrapes and cuts. The woman in the other car suffered a broken ankle. Though shaken, the student say that they are recovering quickly. All were discharged within hours of their arrival.

Asked how she is dealing with the aftermath, one of the student’s replied, “Pain. Drugs. Beer. Beer is really helpful, and I think it’s a lot better than taking opiates.? Vanessa’s mother came from Springfield to see her, while Jessica’s mother and brother, who live in Fairborn, visited her the next day.

“It was really surreal,? says Anthon. “I was like ‘that car’s gonna stop. That car’s not coming towards us. We had a green light, I saw it.’?

They have since interviewed and settled on a lawyer.

The students would like to thank the community for being so supportive. In particular, Emma would like to thank Vanessa and Jessica for letting her sleep in their rooms. Tony would like to thank Katie for coming to get them. Jessica would like to thank Hannah for washing her hair. Hannah would like to thank Jay for helping her get out of bed every day, and Steve Lawry for not disrupting her recuperation with any calls, emails, or get-well cards.

ComCil in Crisis

Row Over RAB Leads to Tears and Tyranny

Like an endless Greek tragedy, last week’s Comcil was yet again fueled by the RAB discussion. In an effort to give the paper tiger its claws back, the council for the first time did not talk about REB, but fully focused on the revival and restructuring of the excising advisory board instead.

The meeting began with a quick update by the Subcommittee on Community Learning Structures, which was formed on October 12th in reaction to a memo that President Lawry had presented in Adcil several weeks ago. In the memo he outlined his views on the tasks and position of several community organs, including Comcil and AdCil. The sub-committee has taken on the job to research the history of all organs and find out whether the President’s standpoints reflect the function they were originally endowed with. In its first update, the committee briefly mentioned how it divided its chores and what sources it will consult, including Antiochiana and former presidents of the college.

The subject quickly moved on to the ongoing RAB discussion, in an effort to find workable solutions for some of the problems that were addressed by the initiators of the proposal for an editorial-board. ComCil shot down a revised REB-proposal authored by the Vice president, the Dean of Faculty and the CM two weeks ago. Instead the members voted in favor of a motion to restructure the existing Record Advisory Board.

The revised proposal had failed to win over hearts in ComCil, because the adjustments to the original were too minimal and general questions concerning the accountability of the board prevailed with the members. REB was thus off the table for the first time since the debate about the need for an editorial board started four weeks ago, leaving room to fully concentrated on ideas to bring more representation in to RAB without taking away to much of the power dynamics in the advisory body.

Some members were asking where the Dean of students and the Vice president were in this discussion, as they had been shining with absence since the original REB proposal was tabled 3 weeks ago. In the mean time the proposal had been rejected and a motion had brought about a constructive discourse to enhance the quality of advice presented to the Community’s newspaper. So far, the veto of REB elicited no reaction from the president’s office. Following the “no news is good news? motto, ComCil stoically continued its move towards reforming RAB, by further elaborating the tabled motion with concrete suggestions to add two extra faculty seats to the existing board and introducing staggered two year appointments for non-student members. Brainstorming and discussion, however, quickly turned into tears and anger after Record co-editor Luke Brennan returned from the President’s office with an unexpected letter from the Dean of Faculty. In the letter, (found on the back of this issue) both Brennan and co-editor Foster Neill are addressed personally, in what Bloch calls “a final admonition that the Antioch Record not be a platform for menacing and threatening speech.” In the letter, Bloch calls into question the extent to which both editors are taking seriously the educational purposes of their co-op experience and their obligations as a paid employee of the College. Brennan, who read the letter to ComCil calmly, took a minute for himself after putting down the paper. Vice-president Jurasek, who had just walked in to the meeting about half way into the letter, took seat in the back to listen. After a ! clear moment of silence, it is CM Levi B. Cowperwhite who first speaks up, addressing Jurasek personally: “I’m pissed! Why wasn’t this taken to RAB? Why is this system so unimportant to you? We fight for what we love, we think it’s important. We talk about it all the time. It means nothing to you. This is what we work so hard for every day. That’s what makes leaders, Rick. What are you teaching us?” He pauses for a second, but doesn’t get the desired answer. “You are skipping every educational moment here. By writing this letter and not bringing this to RAB. What makes you think you’re so damn important? And I mean you Rick! I know this is also you.? The CM takes moment, before he continues: “We’re trying to make it better, we’re trying to safe this unsavable thing. You don’t care. We’re just a bunch of crazy kids to you. You don’t care that we’re loving and thoughtful kids who care for this. I have no respect for you any more. Respect is something you have to earn. And you did nothing today to earn that. “

For a moment the room went silent, nobody knowing what to say. Many stared down at the table in front of them in silence, glancing up briefly at the person sitting on the opposite side of the table. The chairwoman cried, and she wasn’t the only one. After this unexpected speech concluded a somber silence filled the room. A member of the Alumni Board that attended the meeting as a guest was clearly affected by what she had just seen.

It was Jurasek’s turn to break the silence. “Well, I’m slightly surprised. I thought I was going to come here to reform RAB. I can’t comment on what’s in the letter, since I didn’t write it, but I guess it isn’t necessarily widely unrelated. Does that sound understandable? There are often separate tracks to things. And they sometimes seem to contradict each other, they don’t necessarily. We still have to work on how we manage editorial policy. I want to work to reconfigure RAB, parallel to the letter, that is separate but not widely unrelated.

This eloquence seemed to strain the heads of the burned out ComCil members slightly. It had been an emotional meeting and everybody was eager to leave and get some fresh air. Cigarette consumption was again at its peak after the meeting was adjourned. Several parties at the meeting seemed to be going into a private second round afterwards, as issues were clearly not resolved for all. “ComCil does RAB? act 6: in a theatre near you, as this paper goes to print.

On a more positive note, the RAB debate has opened up a wider discussion and growing interest for the Advisory Board meetings. In a meeting of the board held in the Record office last Friday, RAB appeared vigorous and eager. Community and ComCil members joined the dialogue with editors, writers and members of RAB about last week’s paper; an encouraging sight after the gloomy ComCil departure the day before. To keep the progress going, all community members are encouraged to join this weeks RAB meeting, Friday at noon in the Antioch Inn.