Repost: A Deal to Revive Antioch

The following was published in Inside Higher Ed on July 1st, written by Scott Jaschik. Original article here

Antioch College is poised to come back.

On Tuesday, leaders of the college’s alumni association and the Antioch
University Board of Trustees — which suspended operations of the college a
year ago — agreed on a plan to make the college fully independent of the
university. The college will gain its campus, the endowment (about $19
million), the ability to use its name, and the literary journal The Antioch
Review. Most important to many, the college will have its own board and will
not answer in any way to the university. The college’s alumni supporters
will pay the university about $6 million in return for the assets being
turned over.

Leaders of the college alumni group anticipate admitting a new class of
students — 100 at first — in two years.

Before the process can move ahead, various regulators need to sign off on
the plans, but approval is expected. The deal ends two years of intense
negotiations to save the college — a process that alternated between
enthusiasm and recrimination as various efforts moved forward and fell
apart. The negotiations were revived and advanced in recent months with help
of the Great Lakes College Association, whose involvement was praised by
both the university and the college for keeping the talks going.

Matthew Derr, who serves as chief transition officer for the college alumni
team, said in a briefing Tuesday that the alumni board overseeing the
transition is committed to reviving a college in the Antioch model — mixing
liberal arts education with career experiences. Further, he said that board
members believed strongly in tenure for faculty members and expected to
rehire some of those who lose jobs.

“We have our work cut out for us,” he said. “There is a strong feeling on
the part of the alumni that to do that swiftly, we need people with
experience in the traditions of the college. That’s a critical piece for

The intensity of feeling that has surrounded the question of the college’s
future reflects its significant — and at times controversial — role in
American higher education.

Antioch was founded in 1852, with Horace Mann serving as its first
president. The college played a role in the abolitionist movement and was an
early institution to admit students who were female or black. In the 20th
century, Antioch was among the pioneers in “co-op education” in which
students alternated positions of work all over the country with their
education at the Yellow Springs, Ohio, campus. Antioch was particularly
notable in that the education was focused on the liberal arts, and the
college was known for turning out graduates who went on to play major roles
in intellectual life and social activism, people like Clifford Geertz and
Stephen Jay Gould and Coretta Scott King.

More recently, however, Antioch’s history has been more troubled. The
campus — designed for 2,700 students — saw fewer and fewer students
enroll. The college’s long association of liberal politics attracted more
students in the ’60s than the ’90s, when a policy requiring explicit verbal
consent before any sexual act made the college a favorite target of pundits
seeking to mock political correctness.

Many at the college also for years resented the role of Antioch University,
which came into being as the college launched branch campuses around the
country. These campuses primarily offered graduate programs taught by
non-tenured faculty members. A central administration and single board ran
the college and the branch campuses — and college supporters said that the
board didn’t pay enough attention to the college. When the board announced
plans to suspend the college’s operations, many supporters of the college
denounced the trustees, saying that they had sacrificed the very heart of
the institution.

The university will maintain its headquarters and its distance education arm
in Yellow Springs. The remaining university endowment is about $3 million.

Art Zucker, chair of the university board, said that after the initial
decision to suspend college operations, the university board had the
“responsibility” to rebuild the college and wanted to do so. In explaining
the decision to agree to make the college independent, Zucker said that “it
became clear that the funding would have to come from alumni, and rightly or
wrongly, we think wrongly, many of the alumni felt an antagonism toward the
university, so we felt the best best was to ask the alumni association to
take over.”

Many alumni have pledged to up their donations to the college,
post-independence. Derr said that one good thing that has come out of the
turmoil of the last few years has been renewed activism and philanthropy by
alumni on behalf of the college. As planning gets started on the revival, he
said that support “is critical.”

In This Issue:

-Committees Form to Tackle Transition Issues

“An Evolving Piece of Work”: Joe Foley on role as Vice-President, the Nonstop budget and the Alumni Board’s upcoming challenges

Summer Alumni Festival in Lieu of Reunion in June

Beehive Collective Pollinates Community Day

Nonstop Students at Work: An Academic Portfolio

We all believe we are torch bearers: an Interview with Micah Canal ’08

Question of the Week: Staff Special!

-Concept Paper Forum:

“The rest is pretty okay” by Gerry Bello ’97

“Cheap Glitter and Mixed Feelings,” by Lincoln Alpern ’11

“Collaborative Process,” by Dan Reyes

-Letters to the Editors & Op/Eds:

“Support Nonstop,” by Chad Johnston ’01

“Support Nonstop, 2” by Tony Dallas

Committees Form to Tackle Transition Issues

On Friday, April 3rd, ExCil appointed to the Alumni Board Taskforce Molly Thorton of Class of ’10, staff member Carole Braun and Chris Hill of the Executive collective. The Alumni Board representatives have not been appointed yet. The Taskforce is a result of the March 7th the Alumni Board resolution “to foster collaboration and build consensus with representatives of the key stakeholders… Nonstop, the Board Pro Tem, and the Alumni Board.” The Taskforce was charged to develop the proposal presented by Nonstop to the Alumni Board so it could be presented to the Board Pro Tem. The Pro Tem Board has subsequently declared that they will not be sending representatives to the Taskforce, because “part of the board should not be involved in making a proposal to themselves,” according to Matthew Derr.

Matthew Derr, Community Meeting April 7th

Meanwhile, TAG (Transition Advisory Group) met for the first time Tuesday, April 7th. Appointed by Matthew Derr, TAG currently includes student Jeanne Kay, Community Manager Chelsea Martens, Faculty Jean Gregorek, Executive Collective member Hassan Rahmanian, staff person Joan Meadows, Head of Alumni Relations Aimee Maruyama, Alumni Board member Ellen Borgersen, and Yellow Springs Village Council President Judith Hempfling. At the Tuesday meeting TAG defined its charge: “The Transition Advisory Group will work to facilitate communication between stakeholders in Yellow Springs and in the larger Antiochian community during the transition towards an independent Antioch College. It will advise Chief Transition Officer Matthew Derr for the Pro Tem Board.”

“The next few months are going to be extremely difficult,” said Jeanne Kay the spokesperson for the group, “Nonstop’s faculty and staff’s livelihoods and lifeworks are endangered, there is a multiplicity of visions for the new Antioch, and rebuilding the college will take a lot of work. TAG, hopefully, will tend to the community’s concerns, open communication channels between the Pro Tem Board and the Yellow Springs community, and do creative problem-solving as a group of committed Antiochians that have been part of the struggle since the beginning.”

Jeanne Kay reports to Community Meeting April 7th on first TAG meeting that morning

Also on the 3rd, in accordance with a proposal brought by the Executive Collective, ExCil created a ten-person Advisory Group to help coordinate the efforts of Nonstop community members working in the Alumni Board Taskforce, TAG and Nonstop Community Goverment. The following were appointed to the Group: students Jonny No and Shea Witzberger; staff Donna Evans and Nancy Wilburn; Faculty Dennie Eagleson, Bob Devine and Nevin Mercede; Executive Collective member Susan Eklund-Leen and Beverly Rodgers; and Community Manager Meghan Pergrem. At the ExCil meeting ExCol member Chris Hill explained the history and rationale behind the advisory group: “One of the first ideas that the Executive collective floated was a larger, perhaps between 5 and 7 members of the Taskforce coming from Nonstop [but] Nancy [Crow] seems to want to keep the group smaller. So, we decided what might work, effectively, would be to have an advisory committee… that would serve as an advisory committee not only to the Taskforce but also to the folks that are going to be part of TAG.”

Alumni Interview: Gerry Bello, ’97

Gerry Bello, '97

Thursday, March 5th, in Gerry’s car.

What did you do after you left Yellow Springs?

After I left Yellow Springs […] I went to work for Anti-Racist Action, in Columbus. […]

What did you guys do there?

We were and are (I’m still involved with the organization, I just don’t work there full-time. We don’t have a national office and staff of six. We’re just a decentralized network now; we don’t have the resources we used to have in the 90’s) [We get out of the Car] but we’re a direct-action anti-fascist organization. We go and smash-up klan rallies, quite literally. No, really, fascism can’t be debated, it has to be destroyed. [Opens door] (Come in, welcome to my humble abode.)

We enter his living room, which is starkly white and empty. About one third of the room is taken up with cardboard boxes. The only pieces of furniture are the coffee table holding his ash tray and his bed which he promptly sits on. Clearly he’s just moved in.

This old civil-rights attorney that used to work with us, he goes, “Gerry, why are you wasting your time on that crap?” (Here, pull up a milk crate. Sorry, I haven’t built chairs yet, I’ve only got as far as a trash can, a bed and a desk.) He goes, “why do you waste your time with that?” I’m like, “Cause they’re sayin’ X, Y, Z.” He goes, “Well talk is shit man. Talk is shit.” He goes, “Look, we’re talking about politics and they’re talking about us and if you’re a true humble servant of the people, [CLAP] than you’re nothing, you’re just an implement. So, if you’re talking about politics and they’re talking about you, they’re talking about nothing, so whose got something to say? Shut up and do your job.”

And it’s the same kinda thing you know, it’s like, if there is one problem about Nonstop, it’s that it spends too much time talking about Nonstop and not enough time talking about the world. Or talks about what Antioch has done and can do. […] Ya know, I’ve a guilty pleasure or two and one of them is that I watch Battlestar Galactica. And there’s a quote in it and it’s like, “It’s not enough to fight hard, we have to behave in a way that we deserve to survive.” We gotta ask ourselves what have we done, what have we achieved, what are we intending to achieve that makes this project something where we deserve to survive. (So, I’m going to break down boxes while I do this.)

[…] What did you do on your co-ops?

[…] My next co-op I went to Dixie Idaho. I was working on this thing called the Cove Mallard Campaign, it was an Earth-First campaign. […] Cove Mallard was an environmental campaign to stop the putting in of clear cuts in part of a national forest that adjoined three roadless wilderness areas which would have made the roadless wilderness areas no longer contiguous. Thus the smallest of them, it would decrease their biological diversity of them because some really wild species like grizzlies won’t cross a road. Wolves will not cross a road. So if you drive in a lot of roads a wolf pack that’s in this area, that could migrate through all this area, is going to be just here, it’s gonna lose its genetic diversity, it’s going to inbreed and die off. So, I was there for the second summer of an ultimately successful seven-year campaign to stop clear-cutting in this area. That was a really hard co-op. That was really, really, really hard. It was physically really fucking demanding. Because of the altitude, we were a mile up in the air. We were in the most remote place that people live in the lower forty-eight states. Right? Like the outhouse that I took a dump in every morning looked out over a canyon that no one had ever lived in. The Native Americans had never lived in this canyon. […]

So, you’re at altitude, you’re living in really, really primitive conditions, you’re living in tents and makeshift shelters. We had to truck in our own gasoline. ‘Cause the locals were all riled up about how environmentalists take your jobs, so nobody would sell us gasoline. Or we couldn’t stop. If one of our cars stopped in the town that we were outside of, which was Dixie, people would come out of their houses and beat us to death, if your car didn’t get moving. People would drive past our land and shoot at us once or twice a week.


Because we were gay, hippie, environmentalist Jews from New York. Probably communists, too. It was literally that kind of ugly. The first sign that you saw as you had to drive through Dixie (and Dixie was like three houses and a couple of trailers and a hotel/gas station on one side of the street and post office/general store on the other. There’s literally more […] and horses than pick-ups. Like really really Wild West. As you pull into Dixie, and you’ve already not been on a paved road for about a half-an-hour the first thing you see is a poster of some hippie hanging by his neck with some kinda bird-legs coming out of his ass, presumably a spotted-owl. With bullet holes in the picture and it says 100-yard target, and it’s 50-yards from a dudes front door. […] Every business, the next town up Elk City, all the way out ’till you got to the county seat, Gringeville, which is about the size of Yellow Springs […] there are little blue index cards right as you walk into any business that says […] “This business supports the timber industry and its views. If these are not your views we invite you to take your business elsewhere. Thank you.”

That’s the toxic culture that people are afraid of. There was an activism where people took risks for stuff. That’s what they’re trying to kill here; it’s not just that people’ve got analysis but that people have got the guts to go to Cove Malard or People’s Park or Big Mountian. Probably hundreds of Antioch students have put in their time at Big Mountain. All the other campaigns where people are people and risk there asses to do something. Why do we deserve to survive? It’s cause we put our asses on the line for shit.

There’s real reasons why the status quo wants this place closed. There’s more to our heritage than community and co-op and classroom and critical thought. It’s our praxis that they’re afraid of. Everyone that goes on co-op takes some shitty job, at least once, under bad circumstances and can survive and prosper in a hostile environment because it’s part of what they feel they need to do at that moment in their life to advance with their life and since our lives are about social justice that means we’re a school that trains people to undergo hardship. Whatever hardship that they can take and as much hardship as they can take in pursuit of what we believe in. So, yeah, they want us fucking gone. They want us right the hell off the map.

Things look good for us to win in a lot of ways. If you read the situation that you find us in right now, from Sun Tzu, Sun Tzu would say that we’re on what he calls heavy ground.

Which means?

[…]Heavy ground is where you allow yourself to be put in a terrain disadvantage, outnumbered and threatened with annihilation because if you put yourself on heavy ground everybody will fight to death and therefore you’ll win. Now we didn’t necessarily put ourselves on heavy ground but this looks like heavy ground to me. Having been in a quite a few scraps this is looking like heavy ground, man. So, I guess we’re just going to win! [We laugh!]

What do you do working for Nonstop?

[…]I came to help in anyway a could. […] Casselli did a lot of the design work. Meg and Tim and I threw out ideas of things we wanted to see in there, and Casselli liked the ideas and he really incorporated them and made them. […] Like, we were like, “Solar tubes!” and we was like, “OK, solar tubes.” And then we’re like, “Light tray!” and then we’re like, “no, light tray doesn’t work too well.” And then we’re like, “You know, this column needs a bench” And “You know, I need somewhere to put my beer during a dance.” So effing what? It’s college, people drink beer and dance. If there’s nowhere to put the beer, the beer ends up on the floor, people slip and fall.

[…]We did most of the carpentry work in there, and jacked up the roof and sheeted the roof and insulated it, and replaced the windows and framed up the walls and did a lot of finish carpentry work. Fair amount of painting, we did the atrium, it was a lot of fucking work.

How many people do you have working for you?

Two students and one nonstudent work for me. Jobs pending I’ll be taking more people on (cross your fingers). I’m lucky to even have a chance to say that in this economy. I like what I do. [laughs] I’m happy to have the opportunity to make people’s space better, while I sit around and wait to smash some injustice somewhere. As things calm down, I want to get back to my other activism. There’s going to be a neo-nazi resurgence in this country; I want to be available to fight it again.

COPAS Gives Community Intentional Focus

“We say that our curriculum is built on the 3 C’s: classroom, co-op & community but the only two that [were] institutionally recognized [were] classroom and co-op”, said Community Manager Chelsea Martens.

COPAS (Community Organization, Participation and Service) is a mandatory class that gives students credit and support for community involvement. Through the framework of COPAS, students work as receptionists and techies, and provide studying assistance to fellow students. Students, also coordinate Nonstop Presents events, community lunches and the food pantry. Coordinators of the Independent Groups (IG’s), such as the Alternative Library and the Queer Center, are supported and credited through COPAS as well.

In addition to job supervisors, every student has a COPAS faculty advisor who helps the student analyze the decision-making structures and partnerships involved in their job and reflect on the impact of their work.

The work commitment is only one part of COPAS. As Martens explained at the February 9th meeting, “COPAS also aims to, empower and enhance the work that everyone’s doing regarding community, so that it’s done… in more of a thoughtful manner, but also in a way that enhances your ability not only to do community organizing at Antioch… but so we develop skills that transfer into other organizations…. Community organizing isn’t something you just know. It’s something you have to do with a lot of intentionality; it has to be done responsibly.”

Due to COPAS’ intentional focus on process and facilitation, Community Manager Meghan Pergrem said there has recently been more curiosity about her responsibilities as a community manager. As she is carrying out her duties she is explaining the purpose and thought behind them, so that her part of the process is understood. People who are thinking critically about facilitation will be able to work better together and help refine the process, when necessary said Pergrem.

Previously, the work students did for Nonstop was paid through tuition remission. This amounted to “institutional classism because … those who already had to work… and were struggling financially would have even more hours of work than those who were more privileged,” according to student Jeanne Kay. It flattened the value of community participation by “linking it with financial need”.

ExCil approved a new tuition policy where work would not be tied to tuition, but ExCil members insisted that there be a work requirement nonetheless. When the Work Project was ratified in ExCil, there was no defining structure aside from a policy requiring a certain hourly contribution based upon a specific status of enrollment, full time four hours and half time two hours, says ExCil member Michael Casselli. The Work Project was then referred to ExCil’s Curriculum Committee for further development. Casselli said he was unsettled by a “transformation” of the policy without the proper authority or communication. According to CM Chelsea Martens who participated in the drafting of COPAS, issues of jurisdiction made it impossible to bring COPAS as a class to ExCil since Faculty controls curriculum.

Student Lincoln Alpern commented, “This is an opportunity for me to articulate and work on how I contribute and participate in community.”