Open Letter to Antioch students
I just returned from a weekend in YSO and attended the open forum session with the Board of Trustees. As an alum (class of ’77), I had not been on campus since the late 1990s when I tried to interest my daughter in attending. My experience this weekend reminded me of why I have always loved Antioch and why I stayed after the 1973 strike.
Everything I have ever accomplished of any significance is due to my years at Antioch College (parenting included). I’m often asked how I learned the skills of my profession and I always credit my years at Antioch College. (I own a healthcare consulting firm.) I explain that I learned active listening through participation in AdCil and long meetings held to debate whatever issue was the hot topic on campus (including the ’73 strike). My classes emphasized critical thinking and the synthesis of multiple theories and ideas. During my work study job in the WYSO newsroom, under the careful mentoring of Mark Mericle, I tested my communication and analytic skills. Finally, I gained confidence and independence through the coop program/AEA experiences in Mississippi, New Orleans, Washington DC, and Mexico.
So why did I become alienated from the College from which I loved and took so much?
In part, the complexities of life just took over. Fundamentally, however, my generation received unfair blame for the enrollment decline and financial chaos after the ’73 strike. Perhaps we were the first toxic generation. Many seemed to forget that the strikers, whether we agreed with their tactics or not, actually challenged Dixon’s funding priorities (expansion to over 20 campus locations) and predicted the College would eventually ultimately suffer (for which they were labeled as marginal and fatalistic thinkers). So, as a 1st year student who survived the strike, I distrusted the expansion and move towards a University system from the beginning. I endured the strike – thousands of pounds of garbage piled on the horseshoe in front of Antioch Hall (strikers picketed to prevent garbage pickup), the suspension of classes and meal service, and a deeply divided campus. Yet I stayed.
The first year students I drove to the Cincinnati Board meeting reminded me of myself and other entering students of 1972; excited, curious, inquisitive, polite, and eager to start their Antioch adventure. They sensed this year would provide a very special opportunity to participate in a collective effort to save Antioch College and to understand the dynamics that led us to where we are today.
I admire all of you, both entering and returning students, for making a decision to go down this unpredictable path. Please remember you have the support of staff, faculty, the village, and thousands of alumni who are working towards a common goal. We will not forget you are actually living through this uncertainty and intensity day after day. Believe me, you will not regret it!
Susan Greene 1977