By Jeanne Kay
Many things were different about this week’s AdCil meeting: it was held in South Hall, it started a little late and there was no coffee thermos on the table; but the main difference was that Interim President Andrzej Bloch did not sit at the end of the conference table. Instead, it was Faculty member Eric Miller, who had called the meeting, who took stacks and chaired the session of AdCil in exile.
“AdCil is just not working and won’t work under the current conditions,” said Miller as an introduction, “and we need to see if there’s anything we can do about it.” After Andrzej Bloch, by announcing the University’s unilateral decision to reconfirm the suspension of operations at Antioch College on Friday February 22nd, positioned himself as a mere messenger of the University, several calls for his resignation were made by community members in the week preceding the ad hoc AdCil. The members present on Tuesday morning—though short of forming quorum, were thus faced with the delicate task of redefining AdCil’s mission.
Union Member Carol Braun expressed the view—supported, she said, by many of her constituents—that “regular” AdCil should continue to meet as before, while they also met for an alternative session once a week, in order to prepare for the Tuesday “official session” but also to work on a separate agenda. Faculty member Cathy La Palombara, however, expressed doubts as to whether seven weeks were enough for an alternative governing body to achieve anything substantial and reminded the audience that “the situation is, we are closing.” She also argued that it would be stepping out of AdCil’s jurisdiction for it to assume a leadership role. Community Manager Chelsea Martens, disagreed with this view, pointing out that the closing statement was “not the work that came out of this weekend.” She then pleaded for AdCil to reinvent itself in view of the current situation: “In the absence of good leadership from the president, it’s in AdCil purview to re-envision its role,” she said, “…we can step up and assume a leadership role.”
The question was raised as to whether a new governing body, separate from AdCil should be formed to fill the gap in leadership. Student member Kim-Jenna Jurriaans pleaded for AdCil to take this role; she argued that the continuity of membership was important both for legitimacy and institutional memory. She reminded her fellow members that AdCil was seen as legitimate, if not crucial, by the Alumni Board. Finally, she advocated for the consultation of the subcommittees (Curriculum and Budget) that were formed at the end of last term, emphasizing the usefulness of their work.
Faculty member Hassan Rahmanian further defined the new mission of AdCil as filling the “vacuum of leadership” not as an advisory body but taking on the role of “guiding, governing and empowering.” He emphasized the urgency of the situation, laying down a time framework of two weeks left to “create a critical mass.” Carol Braun emphasized the fact that, while Andrzej Bloch claimed to be working on two tracks — that of suspension and that of continuation– he only focused on the first one. She expressed the wish for AdCil to take care of the “good tracks,” from now on; which include Non-Stop Antioch either on or off campus. “It’s not an idea anymore,” said Rahmanian about Non-Stop Antioch, “It’s… a movement.”
Another Ad-Hoc AdCil will meet on Thursday March 6th at 8:30 in the Co-op Conference room on the other side of South Hall. The meeting will be open to all and will include further discussions on the new role of AdCil. While this role might seem unclear at present, it is part of an attempt of re-empowerment of the community in the context of Non-Stop Antioch; as Kim-Jenna Jurriaans summed up: “If there’s not going to be certainty, there needs to be spirit…let the University take care of closing the college. We have other business here.”