Letter from Zach Gallant

If anyone has taken a course with Scott Warren, they’ve heard his analogy of the situation at Antioch “It’s like the grandchildren walking up the stairs with a pillow to smother grandpa for the inheritance money”. Appropriate analogies have never been what I’d refer to as an Antiochian strength, but this is as accurate as it is vivid and amusing.
At the same time, let’s take a step back and ask ourselves, like I imagine the grandfather from that analogy might between muscle spasms and screams, how we let this happen. When people at home or work ask me why Antioch is closing, as much as I’d like to scream about the evil University, what I always end up answering is “Decades of mismanagement by radical liberals”. The University is certainly not innocent in its money-grubbing opportunism and disregard for history, tradition, or decorum, and the cowardice of these destroyers will not be forgotten. But they are simply vultures, looters attempting to squeeze another penny out of someone else’s hard work. They are not frightening aside from their prevalence. What’s much more terrifying to me is what allowed them this opportunity: The death of the Antioch dream.
Antiochians are nothing if not ready to fight for what they believe. The problem is the methods that they choose. Rejecting the methods of modern warfare for the theoretical and philosophical stances one believes in leaves you uncomfortably vulnerable to reality and the advances of such scavengers as the University. It is not bravery, nor stupidity, that keeps people from adapting to the realities of Outside-The-Bubble. The College has been in a state of denial and has refused to adapt as the world around it has changed.
This denial of conventional realities underscores the problems of an Antioch education when all three legs of the stool that James Malarkey spoke of in his Founder’s day presentation have been kicked out from under us. We lost ourselves and our ability to succeed when we became rigid and unadaptable. This unwillingness to fight, the failure to do all that is necessary to defend the principle and the institution of Antioch, is the most insulting betrayal of all that our College stands for, and we must be ashamed, no matter what victories we have won in the past, that we have allowed it to die. The fight waged this past year has been seen as admirable, but if we look deeper, we see the pre-warned failings of a fundraising plan that depends largely on conditional pledges, we see the long-predicted failings of a poorly crafted and completely disorganized media plan. But even a pristine plan with perfect delivery would have been hard-pressed to compete with decades of financial negligence. A college must raise money, and Antioch has had every opportunity but has not taken the initiative. My sister’s school calls us for donations every semester. Even the school from which I transferred after one hateful year still calls and e-mails. I’ve been at Antioch for four years. We’ve never received a call. I know a lot of students hate this practice, but how else is a school going to sustain itself without income?
All the weapons to fight and win this battle were in our arsenal. We were destroyed by our own refusal to take responsibility, by our inability to act. Just think of what was at stake. The economy of Yellow Springs and the livelihoods of its inhabitants. The political spectrum of the United States which just jumped one institution further to the Right. The legacy and future of American radicalism. And honestly, the institution to which I owe all my successes. We should be ashamed. We let them die. Even if the ACCC keeps Antioch open, it will be despite our failures, not because of our successes. We have nothing to be proud of.
Zach Gallant