Dear Antioch Community,
This is a letter to everyone from Beca and Tim. We have both recently returned from the New Mexico Co-op “Community”. Two of our classmates are being expelled for events that occurred throughout this co-op “community” experience. As we were both present throughout this entire ordeal and had a close connection with both students, we felt we should share what we witnessed, and why we feel these expulsions are unjust.
As you may know, finding housing in Santa Fe, NM is a very tricky and expensive task. Many students (including both of us) had an extremely diffi cult time fi nding a reasonable and livable housing situation. When co-op coordinators failed to assist in fi nding housing (which happened on *multiple* occasions) the co-op students at St. Elizabeth’s took us in. At one point during the term, we both lost our homes, were fed up with our jobs, and were ready to leave our co-ops and never come back to Santa Fe ever ever again. At this critical point in time, they offered us a place to sleep in their apartment at the homeless shelter, averting what could have been a crisis for the co-op offi ce and us personally. They took us in for around two weeks, and asked for nothing in return for their amazing, co-op saving hospitality.
During the time we stayed with the St. Elizabeth’s co-op interns we had the opportunity to get a close look at what life and work was like at the St. Elizabeth’s homeless shelter. The treatment of these students by their employers was shocking; they were being constantly demeaned and undervalued. These students were making insultingly low wages (less than 3$/hr) while being overworked to the point where they had no life outside of the shelter. They were essentially always on duty, being emotionally and physically put to the limits, and seemed on the verge of a breakdown. They were frequently put in dangerous situations, being harassed (by clients and administration). Their job was far more demanding than anyone else in the New Mexico co-op community.
Their “compensation” (aside from their absurdly low wages) was the intern apartment where they were allowed to live rent free. This space was being constantly disrespected to the point where sometimes we were afraid to leave them there to sleep alone at night. There were multiple occasions where staff and guests of the homeless shelter would break into the intern apartment, making their space unsafe and scary. Throughout all of this, we saw both of them give so much to the people they were there to help (the clients at the shelter) as well as to those of us on coop in New Mexico. If it was not for their generosity and support, we would have both left New Mexico and our co-op jobs.
We have personally told our side of the story to the co-op offi ce. The co-op offi ce is disgruntled, because this job will no longer accept Antioch students. Would you want to coop here? Personally, we would never want another Antioch student to be treated in such a way. It is frightening that the coop offi ce would knowingly want to send a student into this type of environment.
Expulsion does not allow anyone to learn from their experiences (good or bad). We would like to ask that these students be given the opportunity to learn from their co-op experiences, as all Antioch students should be allowed to do. The co-op offi ce and New Mexico co-op community coordinators have been less than supportive to these students throughout co-op and since their return to campus. It is shameful that these bodies have not stood up to the mistreatment of their own students. Please show your support/outrage at what has happened here; or this could be you.
Beca and Tim