A deserted Antioch College campus came alive with the arrival of over 600 alumni, spanning seven decades. The unruly group came by plane, car, boat and foot to make the historic Alumni Reunion 2007, largely in response to the announcement of the closure of the College. Dorms and Springs Motel brimming, some alumni pitched their tents on the empty Presidents’ lot and the golf course in true Antioch fashion.
Just 18 minutes past 9 am, Kelly Hall stage fi nally greeted attending Board of Trustee members, President Lawry, and John Feinberg, Alumni Board Chair. Feinberg delivered opening remarks, followed by a surprise statement from Demi Reber who condemned the BoT decision to close the school and announced faculty resolve to seek legal action to keep the College open.
The time came for questions, infamously known to take the form of statements and repeat or convolute themselves in true Antioch tradition. But this year was different. Alums waited patiently for their turn like mothers waiting in line to punch a drunk driver. Many found it difficult to relinquish the microphone and nearly all failed to keep their questions under the allotted 30 seconds of time. Those answering, which was whoever ‘felt up to it,’ likewise weren’t in a hurry. Attempts to blame previous leaders from the last 30 years, however, fell short with alumni, who, judging by the tone of the their questions, took it as the executive equivalent of “the dog ate my homework.”
By 11:30 less than half of the 50+ slotted questions had been asked, but Feinberg assured alums there was ample time throughout the weekend to answer all remaining questions.
Spurred and spurned with the address, alumni stormed the Caf in what may have been the culmination of anger and motivation Antioch College has been waiting for. Perhaps remembering their time at Antioch, alumni stuffed as much food into their mouths between words, trying to organize and fuel themselves simultaneously.
Meetings both impromptu and scheduled continued for the rest of the day. Community Managers both current and past got together to form a plan to turn things around, starting with the mother of all Community Meetings, scheduled for the following afternoon.
Community Meeting was held in Kelly Hall to accommodate the massive attendance. It surged forward as CMs ran through updates from every faction present on campus, in an attempt to get everyone on the same page before further organization. From there, focus groups were formed ranging from possible legal actions to governance structures. The groups went their separate ways for over an hour before meeting back up in Kelly Hall to discuss what actions should be taken. The slogan “Be ashamed to let it die.” and the announcement of the College Revival Fund marked the Community Meeting as the first solid step toward in an effort to keep the College open, while former CM Matt Baya started groundwork on a communal forum under Antiochians.org,
Meanwhile, a silent auction was held in the Caf, offering Joe Cali paraphernalia amongst others, that pulled in the first thousands of the later nationally cited $400,000 that were raised during alumni weekend. “Mike Brower was going like a televangelist,” alumn Tim Klass ‘71 jokingly recalls the fund raiser.
With no time to spare, the CM squad organized the results of their Community Meeting into a three page document outlining gathered information and ideas. A pledge card appeared only hours later under the dinner tent set up between the Glen and Main Building. As the $30 dinner ended, alumni pens scribbled their way to breaking the $40,000 benchmark.
A keg of Two-Hearted Ale and countless bottles of wine then became the alumni response to the invisible beer-truck no one could fi nd: Alumni DIV was taking off. Night fell on Antioch campus as it had only one year before during the last summer term at Antioch College, complete with music blasting from the Dance Space and half drunk rambles on the stoop. As the evening progressed into the morning, alumni rebelled against the Pepto-Bismol pink walls with whatever marking instruments could be found, scrawling ‘toxic’ statements like “Eat alumni pussy” on the walls that once held grafi ti of generations ago.
As if the bubble that traditionally envelopes the College fi nally burst, alumni danced the night away, furious that booze was no longer sold at Antioch parties and vowing vengeance on those responsible for crimes committed against ‘toxicity.’
At 5am, a few hardy alums still raged in Union halls, as if endurance alone were proof of their ability to save the school. A short seven hours later they were found slamming water under the tent behind Main building before hopping into their Priuses and heading home. By noon the campus was almost completely deserted.
A few stragglers stayed behind, clinging to the campus like they just graduated and weren’t ready to say goodbye yet. They mingled in front of Birch where they were squatting around noon for the next few days to come. At night, they could be found smoking cigarettes on the Gulch patio and talking action as former student Steve McQueen served drinks.
For those who have been living on Antioch campus and around Yellow Springs in recent years, the weekend’s events were both a fl icker of hope and a cause of tears. With the chances of success for faculty and alums unknown, a rollercoaster of rage and sadness kept them staggering down Xenia Avenue, waiting for the next day’s news.
In an effort to obtain an injunction that would prohibit the University from closing the doors of the College next year, a majority of the 42 faculty members of Antioch College who have received notifi cation that their contracts will be terminated by June