Letter To The Editor – 10/11/06

To The Editor:

We are new members of what one might term the “extended community? at Antioch. As family members of an Antioch student we have had the opportunity to visit campus a few times, meet a number of students, and read several issues of The Record. We have had the chance to meet some members of the faculty and administration, as well.
It is our hope that, as a “Boot Camp for the Revolution?, Antioch is a place where all assumptions are questioned, the voiceless are heard, and where those who will bring change to society are encouraged to observe, evaluate, and act. Indeed, the legacy of Antioch is one of promoting justice, peace, and a better world. Unfortunately, some of what we have read in this paper and experienced during recent campus visits is, rather than demonstrating openness, promoting a culture of insularity and mistrust of anything or anyone new or from the outside.
We have observed that there is a lot of introspection at Antioch, perhaps too much. It seems that a large number of community members are so engrossed in arguing about “Antioch values? that the school itself seems to be an end, rather than a means, to impacting and changing society. To wit: there was little or nothing that we could see on bulletin boards, in the school paper, posted on walls that speaks to issues outside of your small world on campus. Here are the three main messages we’ve been able to glean from these sources: 1.This is a place where there is tolerance and openness to all expressions of human gender and sexuality. 2. Safe, consensual sex is a value and right for all community members. 3. There is mistrust of those trying to bring about change at Antioch. This is frequently expressed by insults and name-calling.
Meanwhile, in the world beyond Antioch College, discrimination rages, the poor are getting poorer, civil rights are eroding, and those in power seek to rule via fear and suspicion. If Antioch is really the “Boot Camp for the Revolution?, we wonder why the major issue at hand seems to be a single-focused obsession with “the idea of Antioch?. Truth be told, we are not certain what is meant by that expression. We have noticed, however, that in spite of a seeming openness to ‘otherness’ and diversity at Antioch, there is instead intolerance and a willingness (on a shocking level) to engage in name-calling and profanity when describing those with whom one disagrees. There seems to us to be little or no ground for respectful discourse at Antioch.

There is much about Antioch that we admire. The idea of a liberal arts college that encourages independent thinking and then equips students to engage the world in a way that fosters justice and peace is something we support. Unfortunately, at least at this time, Antioch seems too self-obsessed to be able to engage in a respectful dialogue among even its own community members, much less the world.
Scott Leannah and Gina Kuemmel