Hell, High Water and Hope

By Linda Sattem
It is hard to accept that Antioch College is in bad shape when daily we work with such wonderful students. The following are comments and feelings I have had since the closing announcement this summer that I don’t often have a chance to share.

This summer was very hard with the second round of layoff of staff. Then when I offered requested programming about grief, loss, searching for jobs, etc., there were complaints that I was “giving up” on Antioch, that I was undermining the good fight.
In fact we were acknowledging what had already begun to occur. We were both mourning the loss of friends and colleagues while still trying to prepare for a difficult year with a skeleton staff.
It is difficult to work, with ever increasing workloads for Student Affairs staff, especially with the criticism that we are not working to save the college. We all care deeply about the college and we are working to support the students still here.

High Water
This term has been equally hard. We are watching students struggle with their course work and organizing. They are struggling with decisions most people never face.
Many are struggling to keep their heads above the rising tide of fatigue, anger, hopelessness and feeling powerless. How do you feel good when you have done all you can, and it still is not enough?
As we work with students we have to help them figure out what is best for them. Maybe they have to leave, so that they continue to be strong and balanced. Only then will they ever be able to come back, as alumni, as faculty, as staff, as parents sending their children to Antioch College.

The recent efforts of alumni/staff/students/faculty and the faculty lawsuit are where I receive hope. There was genuine shock over the uproar about the closing. (And I firmly believe that the end game was to never reopen.)
At a church I once saw a hand printed sign that read:
The church is what is left after the building
burns down and the minister leaves town.

They can tear down as many buildings as they want, send away as many people as they can, and Antioch will still be here. When we reopen it will be with residential students and tenured faculty.
All staff in the various student services feel privileged to work with students day in and day out, in the dorms, in the café, in the ASC, in the gym, the library, Main Building, in counseling and wellness. For our amazing students — present, past and future — who are brilliant, compassionate activists, will not let us die.