Paige Clifton-Steele, 2nd year, responds to LA Times article “Who killed Antioch? Womyn”
Hi Ms. Daum,
I’m an Antioch student who just finished her first year. I’m writing because I read your column “Who Killed Antioch? Womyn” in the LA Times, and I’m concerned about your comment on our SOPP, and the trend it (your comment, not our policy) represents. SOPP-era Antiochians are used to the assortment of media misperceptions that have, since 1993, asserted themselves in the face of all evidence and good sense. But in the wake of the announcement of our college’s closing, what used to be a puzzling phenomenon has become salt in the wound. You rightly note that the SOPP and public relations have had a shaky relationship. But you are incorrect to suggest that the policy is infantilizing, and offensive, if not strictly wrong, to characterize its historical context as “hysteria”. I’ll say groundswell, you can say hysteria, and we’ll still be talking about the same 200,000 some sexual assaults reported in ‘04-’05. Which, interestingly, is down 69% since 1993. (Bureau of Justice Statistics)
I entered Antioch as a skeptical freshman, spent a week talking about how utopian and unrealistic the SOPP was, and the next year learning how many ways I was wrong. Which is to say that, as an outsider who had neither put the policy into practice, nor spoken extensively with folks who had, I was mostly unqualified to comment. Now, you don’t have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture of the SOPP, but have you talked to the students who have? Have you heard from the people who live within the (hardly binding) bounds of the SOPP about the ways it shapes the culture of our college life? If you had, you might have several things, among which is the fact that the SOPP enjoys the overwhelming support of a student body that is, if anything, more sensitive to paternalism than most.
In one letter of reasonable length, it’s difficult to convey the spirit of the policy. It’s difficult to convey how much the average first year learns about his own sexuality the first time he is asked to articulate his specific wants and hell-nos to others. It’s difficult to describe the kind of damage that the cult of “just feel the moment, baby” can do to young people’s sex lives before they learn how to do that articulation. It’s difficult to describe the unmatched climate of respect and accountability that stems from the policy. Finally, it’s difficult to convey how *sexy* the SOPP is, moment for consensual moment.
Therefore, it’s difficult to explain to you how bewildered (I believe) many of my classmates feel when people with voices that travel farther than ours, but who know next to nothing about the policy, take it upon themselves to make disparaging assumptions about it.
Yes, the SOPP needs a media package. No, the SOPP is not infantilizing. It is, if you’ll forgive the “womynly” buzzword, liberating.