My name is Julian Sharp and I am a senior at Antioch College. Over the past three years my experience at Antioch has been rich. I have taken challenging courses, involved myself in shared governance, for those of you on the board who know what ComCil is, I at one time served as the chair, made life long friends and have traveled the world through co-op and Antioch Education Abroad.
Over the past few years I have also had the privilege of serving on the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Association. A key focus of my role as Trustee has been fiduciary responsibility, something I suspect you may be familiar with. Somewhere between homework and my social life this twenty-two year old has managed to partially oversee financial resources to the tune of nearly a quarter billion dollars. I have learned that we invest in what we value. Where we spend money speaks volumes about our morals. As a trustee I consider it my personal responsibility to clearly understand complex financial issues, regardless of how daunting they seem…what about me seems toxic to you?
I don’t know if many of you are aware, but I can legally get married in the state of Massachusetts. While on co-op in Boston I worked for an organization called Mass Equality. Mass Equalities goal is to secure equal marriage rights for same sex couples. This past summer we won! Two thirds of the state legislature voted for marriage equality. Antioch is a part of this victory. Our students and Alumni are making important contributions toward the betterment of society across many sectors. Movements to counter oppression and create just and sustainable communities are full of people like us, students and alumni of Antioch College.
When asked to describe the college, I always make the comment that Antioch is one of the most relevant schools in the country. Being able to take a course on the USA PATRIOT ACT and then co-oping with the American Civil Liberties Union is a great example of a relevant college. Students graduate from Antioch better equipped to understand academic theory and its practical application. Antioch students are involved in struggles against systemic violence and injustice. If you look you will see that Antioch’s legacy is alive and kickin with its current students. Why don’t you know that and where have you been?
I believe in Antioch, our legacy, our current situation, and our uncertain future! I trust the faculty, the alumni board, I even trust most students. But honestly, I don’t know you, and you have already lost most of my trust. This board is removed from the community it’s supposed to govern. I believe you and your recent predecessors have engaged in a board culture of abandonment of our beloved college. This is a problem. It is indicative of systemic problems I have witnessed over time. From board member to board member, clearly there is money to be raised and clearly with real leadership we can raise the funds to be financially secure. But not under your leadership and not under our current dysfunctional governance structure. If you do not see viable options you are not looking. For this and many other reasons I strongly support the Alumni Board of Directors plan, and I hope you do too. I think we are all hoping that you will make the best and most educated decision in the coming months. However, let it be known that the students are back! We are back and we are organizing. Be aware, the students will not sit by while our college is gutted. There is a strong possibility that individual and collective legal action will be taken on behalf of the students.
I am not toxic. Our culture is not toxic. Our faculty is inspiring, our students are brilliant, creative and unconventional and our spirits are high. Again, my name is Julian Sharp and I strongly support the Alumni Board of Directors plan to keep Antioch College open, its faculty tenured, and its financial situation stable. To miss this opportunity would be a travesty.
This speech was delivered at the Cincinnati meeting with the BOT, on Saturday 25th August 2007