Dispatches from Community Meeting

On Tuesday afternoon Antioch’s most famous weekly rendezvous again gave daytime tv a run for its money. First years: Community Meeting is Antioch 101.  It’s where progressive ideals and the quirks of living in a tiny community grind against each other in the hopes of accomplishing the week’s business. And the whole institution facing annihilation twist just ups the ante as Corri, Chelsea, and Rory moderate the room.
With a guest appearance by Andrzej Bloch, the college’s new Chief Operating Officer (COO), the meeting climaxed and reached its restless denouncement during Pulse.  Bloch, appointed to the COO role in light of former president Steve Lawry’s hasty resignation, danced in front of the room while he fielded questions from an array of community members representing nearly every constituency on campus.
Bloch, in a speech pre-empting Pulse, stated that Lawry’s early resignation came as a surprise and he refused to answer any questions pertaining to the specificity of Lawry’s decision. Bloch made it clear that as COO he is committed “to secure the best conditions for students and  faculty.”
He announced that he was making budget room for new library employees.
He also stated and reiterated throughout the course of the meeting that he must serve a dual role in the capacity of COO. First he must keep the closing date of the college in mind and he must keep an eye on the possibility that the college might stay open.
Many faculty members raised issue with the tenor and significance of the new language of the title “Chief Operations Officer.” Scott Warren asked that, if in a standard corporate structure the COO must report to a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), who the CEO of the College is. Bloch  responded that he had not thought of the implications of the new terminology and that he didn’t have an answer to the question at that time.
Susan Eklund-Leen asked that Bloch clarify the reasoning behind Lynda Sirk’s hiring into the new position as assistant to Bloch. The latter responded that with Syrk installed as an assistant that communications would be streamlined.  Eklund-Leen then asked Bloch who she worked for, the University or the College, and to “run tight herd” on her.
Bloch was later grilled by alumni relations officer Aimee Maruyama ‘96 whom on Friday was one of the employees who were asked to go home early. The locks to their offices were subsequently changed, their FirstClass access was restricted, and the IT department constructed out of office reply messages to any incoming email to their account, signing their names at the bottom.  She asked, “I wonder if any of us have given you a reason to show that level of mistrust for our professionalism?”
Bloch answered, “Already the decisions were made. And I’m not going to second-guess why those decisions were made.”
His response garnered dismayed laughter, boos, and hisses from the crowd. He promised to speak to Maruyama about the decisions and asked them to “just accept it for what it is.”
Nicole Bayani asked Bloch if he would want the College to stay open, to close, or to reopen again in four years.  He said, “Suspending operations at the college is not a wise idea,” and that he was “open minded to any possibilities that could keep the college open.”
Emily Mente asked if Bloch would continue Lawry’s commitment to attend each community meeting for the rest of the term to which he agreed.
Earlier in the meeting candidates for AdCil and ComCil announced their intentions for running and listed their credentials.  Some old faces and some new, but each candidate was on board with perrenial ComCil candidate Scott Warren’s charge that “this year, more than ever, we need to build community.”
But looking on the bright side if all this happened second week what could we possibly be afraid of eighth week?