“Observations on Antioch” – Letter by Ted Goertzel ‘64

November 7, 2007

When I attended Antioch from 1959 to 1964, it was a vibrant, bustling campus known for political activism, although only about 50 of us on each division actually went to meetings and demonstrations.  I went to Columbus to protest the blockade of Cuba, to Selma to march for civil rights, and to Wright Patterson air force base to protest militarism.  I was arrested right in Yellow Springs for protesting segregation at Gegner’s barber shop, and spent the night in jail in Xenia. 

My FBI file reports that Police Chief James McGee told the FBI that I was a “very unreasonable type person.”  The picket in front of the Union on June 17, 1963, was to protest an FBI investigation of my freshman hall advisor who had refused to take an oath of allegiance to the United States when inducted into the Army.  Ironically, the investigation worked to his benefit because the FBI decided he wasn’t loyal and the Army exempted him from service.

I pretty much gave up on Antioch after all the publicity about sexual relationships.  It was too Orwellian to defend, so I just stopped mentioning that I’d gone to Antioch.  But I happened to be in Ohio last June for my wife’s high school reunion, so I came to Antioch for what turned out to be the big blow-up over the suspension of the College.

I was dismayed by the spectacle of the alumni venting their anger and frustration at the University Board members who I thought were trying to deal realistically with a difficult situation.  Most of the alumni seemed convinced, however, that the Board had deliberately screwed the College.

When I started following events on the WEB and posting to the antiochians.org discussion list, I found I was in a minority, although several people emailed me privately to say they agreed.  I was more bothered by the tone of the discussion than the content.  Several people were nasty and insulting and proud of it.  Even the reasonable people seemed convinced there was nothing much wrong with the College, everything was the fault of the Board and the University.

This strategy seems to have worked for fund raising.  The alumni campaign was much more successful than I thought it would be.  And the Alumni Board seems to be working out its differences with the University Board.  I commend both Boards for their patience.

At this point, it may be possible to focus on College issues.   I think the college needs to clearly define its “niche” in American higher education.  An article in last Sunday’s New York Times described it as “known for its alternative life styles and student driven education.”  This isn’t bad; there aren’t too many colleges in that niche. But “alternative life styles” can be interpreted in a way that may scare away straight students, especially men.  Maybe a focus on “activism and social change” would be better.  “Bootcamp for the revolution” is dated, but maybe the slogan can be modernized.

Another niche Antioch might fill could be to start an early college, for students of high school age who are ready to start college.  Both of my children went to Bard College at Simon’s Rock to get out of high school early.  Now my oldest grandson is there and it is quite vibrant and successful.  Antioch University has an early college in Seattle, for Native American students, but I don’t know of one in the Midwest.  It could be marketed to young people seeking an alternative to the typical high school life style.

Antioch needs a new project, something other than “back to the good old days.” The good old days were progressive for their time, but those days are past.

By Ted Goertzel ‘64

One thought on ““Observations on Antioch” – Letter by Ted Goertzel ‘64”

  1. re: “I pretty much gave up on Antioch after all the publicity about sexual relationships. It was too Orwellian to defend, so I just stopped mentioning that I’d gone to Antioch.”
    I am so disheartened, embarrassed, and disappointed every time I read that YET ANOTHER alumnus has laundry-listed examples of his early-sixties activism in an attempt to lend some sort of “activist authority” to slandering the Sexual Offense Prevention Policy.

    This kind of self-aggrandizing academe depiction makes temporal a presumably rich relationship with the civil rights movement. Prof. Goertzel’s discrediting lack of acknowledgment of the socio-political successes of later generations of alumni leads me to the conclusion that Goertzel is unfortunately nostalgic for the “good old days” he wills us to wave goodbye to in the close of his letter.
    I am bewildered that someone who clearly holds his own participation in pickets, protests, and arrests in such high esteem would be “more bothered by the tone of the discussion than the content”.
    If you are still the engaged activist you claim the history of, then please see the links between:
    going to “Wright Patterson air force base to protest militarism.” and the current relationship between Antioch University Administration, the management of the Antioch McGregor School’s development, and the US’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission.

    And please, question WHY it would make you so uncomfortable that Antioch is a hospitable place for students with “alternative lifestyles”. Stating that that single piece of positive publicity in the New York Times “may scare away straight students, especially men” is a transparent statement of personal feeling. The kind of publicity which I believe TRULY may scare away straight male prospectives is This Article you have written: sharing hypothetical doubts of your ability to cope and thrive in an educational environment with which you have NO meaningful experience. Please consider this perspective in your future posts, and in re-evaluation of your current narrative of political activism.
    Your fellow alum and rabble-rouser,
    Raina Daniels ’05

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