By Paige Clifton-Steele
Where were you when you found out about Antioch closing?
Rory: We were told about the closing of the college in Steve’s office. Our jaws dropped literally. I felt sick and sad and angry. We took a drive together in the CG van and couldn’t believe that it was true. Then we attended the address together, where Steve Lawry made the announcement to the entire community.
What duties have you taken on that you didn’t expect to have to do?
Corri: This summer has been a hard summer for everyone who has been working at the College. We all have had to accommodate the announcement and incorporate different tasks and duties into our jobs. This goes for everyone, faculty, union staff, non-union staff and CG. In CG, our weekly meeting count kind of went off the charts for a bit. We attended oh so many Save Antioch meetings and facilitated some. I joke that I’ve become Antioch’s official minute taker. And I am a contact/conduit for various alumni who want to keep in contact with the College.
Rory: One of the many things that has drastically changed is my idea for events this year. I am trying to get Alumni back on campus as much as possible. Not only to help with the efforts of saving Antioch, but also to make connections with people. There are so many amazing alumni I have met through all of this I want more people to meet them. Sometimes it takes a crisis to bring people together. Anyone who wants more information about these efforts in specific, come talk to me or email me.
Can you talk a little about your personal reaction to the announcement of the closing and the furor following that?
Rory: At first I was in shock. I didn’t know what to do. I got really angry and upset. I felt overwhelmed, but charged with a notion to do something. All I knew was that I couldn’t sit back and watch Antioch College ‘suspend operations’ leaving a shell of an institution. Antioch would not be the same without our faculty, our staff, our governance system, the three things which will be lost if operations are suspended. And I have never learned so much about facilitating and organizing as I have this summer, not on any co-op, never.
Corri: I was heart-broken. Antioch College is a place I believe in and have worked very hard at for the past 4 years. To hear that BOT members, who are only at the College every other year, determine that the College must “suspend operations” was infuriating, I feel that the lack of procedure in order to come to this decision was a dereliction of duty at best and calculating at worst. I’ve been so impressed and inspired by the faculty, alumni, YS residents, College staff, and other Antioch College devotees who have spent countless hours organizing and planning around the effort to save Antioch College. It’s also very heart-warming and encouraging to see those same groups of people work so hard to give the students a great year, regardless of their feelings on the BOT’s decision.
Can you tell us about your plans for the upcoming term? What’s the first party going to be?
Rory: I have a number of events planned for this year. The first party is the weekend of Orientation. I am planning and hoping to have a party every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I also have a number of events planned that are focused around getting alumni on campus. I also have some academic events planned (academia is so fun). Check the today board on First Class for a calendar.
What does all of this mean in terms of the formulation of a CG budget?
Corri: It means endless hours of frustration! There was quite the snafu in budget calculation in the beginning of the summer; I had spent weeks working on it and then the announcement came and all bets were basically off the table, as far as enrollment numbers go. The number I was originally working on was 289, and now I have dropped that number to 160 to calculate the CG budget. Because our enrollment is so low, our budget has shrunk accordingly. I’ve tentatively finished the budget for now, but I’m waiting until the first week of classes to get an accurate number and then I will propose my new budget to ComCil for approval.
You must have talked to a lot of alumni lately. What’s your impression of their attitude? Is there any unity in their position? What recurring themes show up when you communicate with them?
Corri: Fortunately, the alumni have been doing a great job of keeping in contact, specifically with CG. I’ve been able to communicate and work with alumni on their various action items, specific interests and committees. Alumni continue to amaze me with their dedication and commitment to the school that is matched with intensity of action. In regards to whether or not there is unity in their position, I think there is an over-arching commitment to keeping the College open and most points are agreed upon but there are still divisions about the best way to go about making this change happen. Some recurring themes that come up are problems with the governance structure of the entire Antioch system, poor stewardship from the BOT, and the lack of process in coming to this decision. Some other themes that come up are their willingness to help us, faculty, staff, students, and the College in whatever way they are needed, and their inspiring, morale-boosting, and infectious attitude.
Do you have ideas for how off-campus students can help Antioch, or deepen their connection, while away on leave or coop?
Rory: There are a number of Alumni all over the world who want to get connected with students. This connection does not just have to be about saving Antioch College. If you are on co-op or away from Yellow Springs and want to get connected with area alumni, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . I am working with Alumni Board member Tim Eubanks on making these connections happen.