Recently, an editorial was published in the Dayton Daily News concerning the ongoing efforts made to keep Antioch College open. The article is a good overview of this effort of the students, faculty, staff, and alumni involved. However, there are certain misconceptions present in the opinions expressed towards the end of the article. The opinions address the changes and concessions the college needs to implement to remain open.
The writer suggests that “Antioch has a reputation for a certain repressiveness coming from the political left, an excessive dedication to political correctness.” I think the biggest problem with this statement is a misunderstanding of the term ‘politically correct’. Political correctness is a concept that the left created to poke fun at one another for their attempts at being universally inoffensive. It was then appropriated by the right to discredit any ideas that were rooted in the idea that language is powerful, (ironically) using the argument of freedom of speech. As an Antioch student, the relegation of consciousness to political correctness is personally insulting. There is a difference between dishonest, restrictive language and the raising of consciousness about the role of language in oppression. I do not believe there are many conscious students here who are making at effort at political correctness. Rather, I believe their interests are in exposing the ways that language plays the oppressive role of abuse or even dehumanization.
I do not believe there is a repression of “genuine intellectual freedom” at the college. Instead, I know that Antioch is one of the few schools in the nation providing a space for a truly progressive or radical opinion. Antioch is a milieu for marginalized thought; this school is our refuge. I would agree that Antioch is a school of (largely) “left-leaning” students and faculty, but their “niche” as the article suggests is, instead, a space for radical discourse that most institutions do not tolerate. The Antioch I know is not being saved in the interest of creating a homogeneous environment. The Antioch community I know is interested in salvaging the “guts” of the school; its radical roots.
Andy Blackburn, 1st Year Student