Between mandatory meetings, the Sexual Offense Prevention Policy, the Racial Discrimination Prevention Policy, partying, registration, going to class, and trying to keep the school open, the first week at Antioch College has been a baptism by fire for the first years.
Students arrived for orientation and move-in on Thursday, the 23rd. They were given an eleven item check list, and went from station to station getting room keys, filling out paper work, and being handed bags of free stuff. Carmen Atlee-Loudon described her first impression of Antioch College as “slightly disorganized but really welcoming.” When Gina Potestio, arrived at Antioch her first thought was “this is going to be interesting”. Eric Kobernik’s first impression of the college was “hardcore.”
After the first day came the mandatory meetings scheduled back-to-back, sending students from one building to another. Friday was the most tightly scheduled, with both the SOPP and RDPP meetings being held that morning. First years were anything but overwhelmed with the myriad activities planned for them. “I was stoked to do everything; that’s why I came here,” said Kobernik.
That evening a community gathering was held to prepare for the Board of Trustees meeting, and at six o’clock in the morning the next day students, alumni, and villagers gathered outside of Antioch Hall to join the caravan to Cincinatti. Among the students who woke up early that Saturday morning, there were more then a few first years, a number of which also had the opportunity to address the board at the morning meeting.
“It was one of the most amazing demonstrations of solidarity among a group of individuals that I had ever seen,” said Jay Casale, one of the first years who spoke to the board on Saturday, “It struck a really deep chord in me.”
The effort to keep Antioch open was very visible to all the first years.Some even felt a little lost in the hustle and bustle surrounding the issue. “It was kind of overwhelming, in the way that you want to get involved but you’re not really sure what to do,” said Atlee-Loudon.
While stopping the college in which you just enrolled from closing is not the normal freshman concern, fitting in is, although first-years at Antioch seemed to be taking that in stride. First years were being shuffled around together, and had plenty of time to socialize, something they found easy, because, as Atlee-Loudon put it, “everyone is so welcoming and friendly that it easy to start conversations.” Even socializing with the upperclassmen (usually represented as big and scary in cliché) came easily to the members of the entering class. “[at Antioch] they want to be your friend, in other schools upperclassmen shit on the freshmen, [but] here it is much more social,” said Kobernik.
Maybe the biggest challenge posed to the class of 2011 is answering the question “Why did you come to a school that you were told would be closing in a year?” This year’s entering class is here to make the most of this year and do everything that is quintessentially Antioch. Students want to get in their last walks in the Glen, engage with the SOPP and RDPP, attend Board meetings, and take advantage of their classes. The climate of solidarity on campus and the exceptional community mobilization since the June announcement might also have weighed in the balance. As Eric Kobernik put it some students are here because of the closing, and they might not have had a shot at such an exhilarating orientation anywhere else.