Against the Odds

By Erin-Aja Grant

This past weekend Antioch was alive with visitors. They were alums, town members, and the Antioch community’s first glance at the newest abbreviated in-group. The AC3, or ACCC, or Atrip, is officially named the Antioch College Continuation Corporation. This all-star alum group came to Antioch hoping to gain a community perspective on the College’s current situation. Students, faculty, and staff were provided the opportunity to interact with the ACCC Saturday in smaller groups. The AC3 members are: Frances Horowitz ‘54 (co-chair), Eric Bates ‘83 (co-chair), Laura Markham ‘80 (secretary), David Goodman ‘72 (treasurer), Steve Schwerner ’60, Catherine Jordan ’69, Lee Morgan ’69, Barbara Winslow ’68, and Terry Herndon ’57. Some of these people are familiar faces from the Alumni Board and some of them are just outright familiar names. There was no doubt that as Antioch Alums each member feels a responsibility and nostalgic love for the school, but the community still had its questions.

After breakfast planning, the day kicked off at 10am with a community meeting. It started with Andrzej Bloch, who made a few brief remarks concerning the recient power outage on campus. The meeting proceeded with an introduction by the ACCC members, and a brief presentation on the new corporation. McGregor 113 was packed with Yellow Springs residents, faculty, staff, and students. Many people said during the meeting, and after, that they were confused by the presence of Glenn Watts. Watts, the former CFO of the college, stated that he was only there to record the events happening and is no longer affliated with the University or its board.

The letter of intent was a major topic of discussion for the community. Many were intrested to know which steps where being taken to salvage the college. On late Monday afternoon the University board received a “Letter of Intent” from the AC3. While roadblocks, pertinent dates, and legal issues are a part of the process, audience members pressed community issues. Faculty member Pat Mishe asked about Olive Kettering Library and its future. AC3 member Laura Markham replied, “…We all went to school with Joe Cali.” While some questions sought security that cannot be granted, the fight is being fought. Laura Markham’s arrival after the meeting started was a testament to Eric Bates comments on “late nights all about Antioch… some of us have lost clients.” The meeting had a steep stack. Many different community members had chance to voice their opinion and overall it was received well. Operations Manager Corri Frohlich commented on how well the meeting went. “People asked informed questions.” Frohlich said.

The AC3 remained optimistic, but honest. Eric Bates told the community, “[W]e are in a moment in our collective history, where we can do this.” The community heard these encouraging words, mixed with realities of student retention, Yellow Springs business relations, and unemployment. As a panel they survived community. Then they went to the Cafeteria for lunch with students and other community members. While in the café many AC3 members spread out speaking to faculty, staff, and students. Then at 1pm many of the same people went to main building for AdCil. Andrzej Bloch immediately opened the floor and Pat Mische hit the ground running. Prof. Mische asked about faculty seats on the board, clear communication, and the inevitable wait period between now and June. Some AC3 members spoke to these issues but overall the main point was that AC3 is here to get a deal done, and make college independence. The issues of how the school will operate and faculty proceedings will be in the hands of another entity. Catherine Jordan suggested ”scenario planning” because even the AC3 cannot promise an outcome of this complicated process. Eric Bates told Hassan Rahmanian, “[T]o make negotiations that are fair and balanced, that’s tricky.” AdCil asked about how it could help and made pleas on the part of community members, refrencing the “rollercoaster ride” that the community has experienced. Hassan Nejad was on speakerphone for the duration of meeting. The committees that AdCil created were encouraged by the AC3. Members were told to continue to meet and try to come up with workable solutions. Visiting AdCil, the AC3 seemed to show an understanding of Antioch that most fear being lost. First year Eva Erikson attended AdCil gaining clarity on the role of the AC3. “It was good to hear, to keep morale…it’s still up in the air.” Eva stated “They are going to help us but they are not magicians with wands.” When asked, the AC3 confirmed that this is not a sentimental journey for them. They are just trying to get the college in an independent state, and do so as smoothly as possible.
Next the ACCC went to committee meetings, and met with students, staff, and faculty again. The meetings were held in Weston Hall. People talked in small groups about communication, budgets, and governance. Beth Goodney, Jamila Hunter, Fela Pierre-Louis, and Julian Sharp participated in a conference call with Alums across the country. People were discussing governance upstairs in a quiet room, while others discussed the budget and the information around it. Communications focused on positive PR, Alums, and Antioch community members came together to debate tactics, while discussing realities of the current situation. After the committees the AC3 went to have dinner with the faculty in the Inn. They talked and answered questions. Philosophy professor Scott Warren described the AC3, “they are taking time out of their work, their lives and working on this all day… you know good people.” The next stop for them was the dorms and they were there. Alums were in Units, Birch, Mills, and North. Just like the schedule said, they where talking to students. After interviewing some students it was obvious that the review was mixed, although this was clearly because of limited student participation in the meetings, as opposed to negative feelings about the ACCC itself.

The members met with students asking about their needs and concerns. Drew Geckle, second year, met Eric Bates and Rick Daily in Unit #1 during the dorm visit. He told the Record, “We got the impression that they wanted to know about what life was like on campus.” Some students just didn’t see or meet the AC3 all weekend. The dorm interactions seemed to have a positive effect for some like first year Stacy Johnson, who told the record that she thought it was productive. Students who met with the AC3 like first year Ian DeLaire who attended the North meeting was impressed and skeptical. “They were incredibly friendly” he noted, “They had a much different understanding of the quality of education. Their view was based on their experience when they were students here rather than what’s going on.”

Through committees, lunch, and dorm visits the AC3 made themselves accessible to students and the general consensus was that the visit was successful. Corri Frohlich told the record that she thought the AC3 did a good job gaining participation from the campus. In AdCil it was reported that the AC3 submitted a letter of intent to the Antioch University Board of Trustees this past Monday. The letter will be discuss during the BOT conference call scheduled for this Thursday. Community Manager Chelsea Martens commented on these new developments. “This is a really positive thing for Antioch College, it’s the direction we were hoping for.” Martens told the Record, “We still have to hold out for what comes out of the February BOT meeting.” As we move forward Antioch will continue trying to fight for community process and the salvation of larger morals.