“In my mind, Antioch has a soul,” mused Antioch College professor Scott Warren to a small audience gathered at Wittenberg University last Wednesday. Community members Jeanne Kay, Scott Warren, Scott Sanders, and Wittenberg professor and Yellow Springs resident Laurie Askland comprised the panel in order to openly discuss the circumstances regarding the closing of Antioch College.
The panel started off with college archivist Scott Sanders, presenting pieces of Antioch history to illuminate parallels between the college’s current financial situation and those of its past. According to Sanders, the year 1880 saw no graduates and concerned alumni and students met with the college’s Board of Trustees in order to prevent the closure of the college. Sanders also described the events of the summer that led to the announcement of closure as “surprising” and elaborated upon the efforts of friends and alumni of the College to prevent the suspension of operations that is planned for July 1, 2008.
Jeanne Kay, a second-year globalization major at the college, providing a student perspective to an intimate crowd in the Wittenberg auditorium, lamented the wave of “bad press” over the summer, following the announcement of suspension of operations. Kay stated her concerns about limited operations, facilities, and the number of students on campus, but she disputed the sentiment parlayed in newspapers across the country that campus culture has had a negative effect on the retention rate of the college. she pointed to the 100 percent retention rate of the incoming class and the fact that the second-year class has had half of its original students return to campus even after the news of suspension of operations as indicative of the environment of tolerance resplendent on campus.
Scott Warren reminded the audience of the economic implications of the college’s closure to the community of Yellow Springs and the Miami Valley. Laurie Askland, a town representative and professor of Women’s Studies at Wittenberg University described the college as the “heart” of the village. “It became clear to me how much the fabric the community I lived in was linked directly to the college,” she said.
Warren further described the measures currently undertaken by the campus community and Yellow Springs to prevent the suspension and panelists listed their favorite websites for news and background on everything Antioch.
A week after the event, it becomes evident the wave of direct action, generated by alumni and friends of Antioch college since this summer, has found its way to the Wittenberg community. Students that were present at the panel discussion have contacted Wittenberg faculty and facilitators to inquire after ways start campaigns to effective fundraise for Antioch College.