Drying of Main Campus Continues as Local Petition Moves Ahead




The drying out of campus following flooding from broken attic sprinkler system pipes in South Hall and Main Building is running ahead of schedule, said Lynda Sirk, Antioch University Director of Public Relations. “The damage is not as extensive as we believed when [Munters, the company providing mitigation of the water damage] first came on campus. We’ll be able to salvage everything and have Main Building back to its original state except for a few damaged ceiling tiles,” stated Sirk.

Sirk said damage was confined to the central areas of Main Building. “The registrar’s office, AEA and the music department stayed dry” she declared.

South Hall should be done in two to three days, said a Munters worker who wished to remain anonymous. The mitigation of Main Building will take longer, another worker said, because the painted plaster walls need a long time to dry. Wednesday morning the workers said they were waiting for a decision from Tom Faecke, Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer of Antioch University, on whether they could begin removing paint from the plaster walls so that the walls could be dried more efficiently.

“Without proper ventilation and heating, moisture from condensation may damage plaster, cause paint to peel, stain woodwork and warp floors. If such conditions are allowed to continue, structural damage may occur,” according to a 2008 letter to Antioch University from Glen Harper, Manager of Preservation Services for the Ohio Historical Society listed on the Antioch Papers website. Sirk said she was not concerned about moisture from condensation or other sources causing mold or other damage to Main Building in the future; “ It’s so dry, it will take time for moisture to build up again.” She said the University and the Antioch College Continuation Corporation would continue to work with Stanley Consultants on how to maintain campus buildings.

In the meantime, Greene County resident Otha Davenport is planning to present the petition he initiated to the Ohio attorney general in Columbus on Friday morning, February 27th. The petition asks for investigation of what Davenport calls the “missteps” of the Antioch University Board of Trustees in bringing about the closing of the College. According to state law, five or more county residents can call for the investigation of a nonprofit that has failed its duty to serve the public interest. “The University [administrators] seem to think they’re a private company, but they’re a nonprofit. They don’t pay village, Greene County, state or federal taxes,” Davenport said.

Art and Culture in Mali– “It Was Glorious”

By Dennie Eagleson

I spent some time last week talking to Shea Witzberger, current Nonstop student, about her experience in Mali this past fall. Shea is currently co-oping with Anne Bohlen, working on Anne’s documentary film project, Toxic Tours, and taking classes in painting and theatre.

Shea Witzberger in Mali
Shea Witzberger

Dennie: Can you say where you are from, and a brief summary of your history at Antioch College and Nonstop?

Shea: I am originally from all over. I was born in Arizona, but mostly I am from Iowa City, Iowa. I entered Antioch in 2006 right out of high school, and spent two years there, and this fall, I did the Antioch University program in Mali: Arts and Culture. When I was at Antioch, I determined a focus of political theatre and community building. I originally entered thinking I was going to study Peace Studies and Environmental Studies, which is connected for me to community building. I would like to focus more on the arts, so I am doing theater, and now my specific focus in theater is puppetry, which is what I was studying in Mali.

Why did you chose Mali?

I chose Mali because India Davis, another Antioch student said “you are interested in political theater and puppetry. There is an amazing puppeteer connected to the Art and Culture Program in Mali, named Yaya Coulibaly.” Yaya is one of the foremost puppeteers in the world, definitely in Africa, and is known as the guardian of the oldest African puppetry tradition. He is connected with the program as a teacher, and students can apprentice under him. I have to say that all of the teachers for every discipline were that amazing. There were some talented and renowned people. The program sounded exactly like what I should do in the fall. I sure didn’t want to go to a normal school. That would be so anticlimactic. I called them up to see if that was a possibility, and applied.

Can you describe your day to day life, how the program was structured?

For the first three weeks all of the students were living in the same house together. We studied language, history and culture, and got a base. There were fifteen of us, and a teaching assistant. Nick Hockin, the program director, had his own place. We studied all day and did outings, activities, and got a base knowledge. And then we all went into home stays, usually with our teachers. I lived in the same house as my teacher and his family, and many of the dancers and puppeteers in his troupe. This was the apprenticeship, which didn’t feel like a class. It felt like intensive learning with a mentor. Most people (in the program) remember the apprenticeship, because that was the most fun part. It made the experience really round.

Two weeks in the middle, we traveled around the whole country of Mali in a bus, and did more touristy things. We saw the Grand Mosque, different cities, and went to cultural events in those places. Then there were four more weeks in our home stays. In the last week, we were all scrambling to prepare for a final showing of what ever we had produced. The performers got together and collaborated on creating a big show, a spectac. It was hard, because it was the same time that our academic papers were due, so we were writing twenty page papers, and rehearsing all day. But it was glorious.

Did you mostly study puppetry?

I would say all art in Mali is more integrated than in the States. There is less of a fine art division. Puppetry is always performed with dance, with singers. There have to be musicians, and there is storytelling. I learned how to make marionettes and rod puppets. I made, carved, and sanded a marionette and a rod puppet in the first weeks, working with Yaya Coulibaly . Then I studied with the troupe in performance, and I was performing giant cow puppets with cages made out of sticks and covered with raffia. I learned how to perform small puppets, how to stilt, and how to dance on stilts. I learned some song, and playing some instruments, playing basic jenbe and kora. It was lot of things wrapped into one. It was a really whole experience, because I was living with people I was working with, and learning spiritually from them.

Would you be willing to perform for us?

I need to build some stilts. I am going to build stilts with Katie Connolly, (another Nonstop student) who is also a puppeteer. A lot of the things I performed in Mali were giant and I wasn’t able to bring them back. I have my marionette. I would like to do a small informal performance for everyone. That is on the record.

What was the hardest thing for you?

At first I was scared of everything. When traveling, I didn’t speak the language. The colonial language is French, though most people speak Bamanankan. I didn’t have any French background. I excelled in Bamanankan, because I couldn’t rely on French as a crutch. The hardest thing was the unknowing. I was really comfortable at the end. I didn’t want to come home. Something that was unexpectedly hard is that I have really weak lungs, and the pollution in the city was hard to deal with physically. I didn’t have any health problems adjusting to eating and I was drinking tap water. I couldn’t breathe sometimes. That was hard, enduring the workouts every day. Eventually I got a deep cough from the pollution and had to be medicated. The country is beautiful, and the city is huge – over a million people – one of the fastest growing cities in the world. It was gorgeous.

What was the easiest thing for you? What did you have skills in? What did you bring?

I got along very easily, because I am so damn talkative, and outgoing. When I moved in to my home stay, I quickly made friends with the troupe, and the people who would hang outside my house and drink tea. That helped my language, and helped me communicate a lot. After not that long, I could go out by myself on a bus, and be more independent, because I could communicate pretty easily. That and the comic part of performance came easy to me. The dance part did not come so easy at first thought it was fine in the end. But the visual comedy, and being outlandish was a common theme between myself and the other troupe members. The experience was like being at home. I was totally comfortable. I made such good friends.

Talk about your final performance.

We had to do a performance, or an exhibition of visual art. We had to be able to talk about what we were doing. It had to be substantive. Many of the performance students decided to work together. A drummer can’t really play by himself. The two dancers needed music. Me out by myself with a marionette would not be that interesting, but a galloping giant cow puppet, to the roar of multiple drums, backed up and overcome by these dancers leaping and then stilts – now that is BIG.

How was it being a young white American?

It was really hard to process after being at Antioch. There is a very specific focused lens at Antioch, in which we look at identify, race, all these issues, that is radical and contextual, and it is in the context of the States, normally. I had been looking at these issues in a very America-centric way. That makes sense, because that is where I am from. I had been focused on all the ways to behave and to think and to talk in a very specific, focused way. I thought more about these things than some of the other students, because that is what you do at Antioch. It was very hard to process things that happened through a new lens.

I felt like I stuck out a lot, something that is a traveling experience, generally. Something that happened for me is that culturally, fat is beautiful in Mali. I am a fat person in America. I learned a lot about the ways I thought about myself, by being in a place that was so different. I got a lot of attention, because I was outlandish and crazy. I was by myself alot, and white and young. People thought I was from the Peace Corps. Not a lot of white people speak Bamanankan. Most white people are French, doing humanitarian work, or hanging out, or are American military people. Our program was one of two student programs there. [The other] is focused on health and women’s issues. You could feel the rarity [about being a white person]. It changed the dynamic. When people realized I spoke Bamanakan, they wanted to talk to me about so many things.

How did you learn Bamanankan so quickly?

We had good language teachers. Everyone spoke Bamanankan. My home stay family is large, and houses the troupe. Everyone is there all of the time. There would be 40-100 people when there was drumming. I had a heavy exposure to people. We first learned greetings and casual talk. I was the MC at the final show, and I was speaking Bamanankan, which I felt was a feat. I was surprised with myself. I read it off a card. We had to learn fast.

What do you take away?

The first thing is connections with people, learning how to connect more easily, and becoming more comfortable with how to do that. I still talk to people from Mali, at least once a week (in Bamanankan) on the phone. I would love to get back soon. That is a serious goal. With all travel, it broadens a person’s world perspective in a way that I could not have imagined before. I am on a ladder, and Iowa is in one place, and it is wonderful, but my exposure was limited to people of similar background to me. Coming to Antioch, it was a big leap, and things were different. A lot of people (at Antioch) had similar backgrounds, but a lot of people had really different ideas than I did. Mali was another giant leap-in learning how to talk to people about things that I disagreed with them about, trying to recognize I would never understand other people’s experience, and trying to understand people’s experience. I feel more open as a human. It opened a door for me. I need to travel more. I need to go back to Mali, to work with these people I made connections with, to further my friendship. I am more open now.

Dennie Eagleson
By Dennie Eagleson

Dennie Eagleson teaches photography and Convergent Journalism at Nonstop and is also involved in organizing workshops in Local and Sustainable Agriculture.

AEA Digest: Pick your Destination

By Eva Erickson and Stacey Johnson
If you followed the many colorful flyers plastered around campus, you would find yourself in the Antioch Education Abroad (AEA) office, surrounded by foreign food, information, and a crowd of advisors and students sharing their stories from far-away places. This gathering at least shows that AEA, even in the face of the college’s instability, is thriving as usual.
Continue reading AEA Digest: Pick your Destination

“The most important incoming class”

First-years explain why they decided to come in spite of it all

Ben Horlacher, First-Year, FL

I still remember my fingers trembling as I opened the envelope, I remember scanning the letter head to understand the gist of the words on the page. I remember screaming when I finally figured out the message the letter conveyed, I was necessarily excited about the next four years to be spent at Antioch.

I remember hearing the news from someone else, I remember thinking, “there is no way.” I remember reading every word on the web page, hoping that something somewhere would indicate that it wasn’t happening. I remember not wanting to talk about it.

When I first heard about Antioch, I felt myself drifting into its ephemeral attraction; I knew that somewhere out there was a place for me. I had spent a short lifetime searching for some place to embrace my weirdness in the way that Antioch already has. Having spent my high school years in the South, I was one of three openly gay men at my high school. So when I first visited Antioch I found something I had never known before, a place where I could speak my mind and people would respond not with jeers or cheers but equally informed, and passionately discussed ideas and opinions.

I was not looking for a liberal, or homosexual bastion, what I was looking for was a bastion for diversity. Where I felt my differences added to the community, not separated me from it. So when I heard it was closing, I was crestfallen. I knew that there may be other great schools, but nothing like Antioch. I felt like Adam leaving Eden, my sanctuary had been ripped out from under me like I was the glass of water on the table that had just had its table cloth ripped out so quickly it didn’t have time to fall.

Then the inevitable questions from friends and family: “Do you really want to go to a college that is closing?”, “Does it make any sense just to go there for one year?” In my mind there were no doubt; one year at Antioch was worth one-hundred years anywhere else. So it was odd when people asked me “Why Antioch?” To me Antioch was not the end of a question, but the answer to a question, “Why? Antioch.” The reason I would attend a college that was supposed to close was because it was Antioch.

Alex Borowicz, 1st Year, WI

On possibly the most beautiful day of  spring, I first stepped onto the Antioch campus. I was immediately struck by the old and wizened trees shading the campus grounds.

As I waited among the other prospective students collected within Weston Hall I tried to imagine the school covered with a fresh layer of winter snow.  The green trees overpowered the idea and I was brought back to the real world as Brad began his pep talk on the school.

Leaving the campus that evening after a dance concert, I remember talking excitedly to my sister about my day.  I told her of my time with the Order and Chaos class, the people I’d met, the campus and buildings.  The rough state of the buildings seemed nothing to me; I’d lived in places much worse in South America.  How could something like that hold me back from an education like this?

As the summer began, I first heard of the new fate of Antioch College.  I am not much of a sensationalist, and I took the hit stoically, but so many of the things I had come to Antioch to experience were slipping from my grasp!  I would never be able to go on a co-op, or participate in AEA… but I was sure there would still be something for me at Antioch.  I soon saw the outpouring of support for the college and I felt a surge of pride at the thought of attending an institution that was so loved, for it is only love that can drive students to follow a school to its death.
It is that sentiment that steadied my hand and signed the check for the tuition deposit.  How can one possibly know what this last year of Antioch will bring?  Whenever asked about my decision, all I can do is assure my friends that “it will be an interesting year.”  I have no doubt of this, and I can only hope that I take advantage of everything it offers me during the next 9 months.

A.E.A. Student Murdered in High Profile Homicide

5 students lived together during their internships Cuiabá, Mato Grosso and worked at the Uníversidade Federal do Mato Grosso (Biolab)

5 students lived together during their internships Cuiabá, Mato Grosso and worked at the Uníversidade Federal do Mato Grosso (Biolab).
Back – Left to Right: Jason Watts, Wesley, Jorge, Danielle Klinkow (’06) Front – Left to Right Anne Fletcher, Michelle Gardner-Quinn, Late Larabee (from COA)

By Anne Fletcher and Madeline Helser

Late on the evening of October 5th, 21 year-old Michelle Gardner-Quinn went out barhopping with her friends in downtown Burlington, Vermont for a birthday celebration and never returned.

Michelle began her academic career at the University of Vermont. After being enrolled in 5 universities in the past 4 years, Michelle finally thought she had found the school for her at UVM. A senior, she majored in Latin American Studies and Environmental Science.

Michelle went on Antioch’s Brazilian Ecosystems study abroad program last fall where she became close with a group of Antioch students. At the time, she was attending American University in Washington, D.C. and in the processing of applying to transfer to UVM. According to Anne Fletcher, a fourth year student who also was on the trip, Michelle clicked well with the Antioch students, who encouraged her to transfer here.

According to police, at around 2:15 a.m., Michelle left her friends at the bar to walk back toward campus. The Police believe that her cell phone wasn’t’ working, and she stopped to use a man’s cell phone; ironically to tell her friends she was alright. A six-day search followed Michelle’s disappearance. This caught the attention of both the national and local media. Dozens of University of Vermont students searched the greater Burlington area and the surrounding countryside searching for any signs of her.

On the afternoon of Friday, October 13th police found Michelle’s body on the side of Dugway Road, after receiving a tip from a concerned resident. In a press conference on the eleventh, Burlington Police Chief Thomas Tremblay said they found her on the side of a rural road in Richmond, about 15 miles southeast of Burlington.

A suspect, identified as 36- year-old Brian Rooney of nearby Richmond, is being held on unrelated charges of sexual assault, attempted sexual assault and lewd and lascivious conduct with a child while authorities continue their probe into what they concluded was her homicide.

Anne Fletcher recalls that during the first week of orientation in Key Largo, Michelle and four Antioch students (Anne, Jason Watts, Leland Reilich, and Danielle Klinkow (’06) had a fun time drinking tequila and skinny-dipping in the lagoon they weren’t supposed to. Leland recalls, “She just had a pretty good spirit that we all related to pretty quickly. Real open and honest.? Anne remembers her as being laid back and intelligent, on top of her life and where she was headed, and very on point with her devotion to social change. “It seemed like the kids from Antioch were on a different from the kids from the other colleges in respect to our ideals and social interactions, and Michelle was a part of that,? said Anne.

For their internships during the last month of the trip, Michelle, Anne, Jay, Danielle, and Kate Larabee(a student from College of the Atlantic) all lived together in a house in the Brazilian city of Cuiabá in the heart of the Pantanal and worked at the Biology Department at the Universidade Federal do Mato Grosso. There, in that house, was where the students all connected. Anne even expected to be roommates with her some time in the future after college.

“I felt her values were real,? said Anne.

The media attention around her disappearance and death has brought a feeling of surrealism to the whole incident. Police are investigating her death as a kidnapping and murder, and have identified Brian Rooney, a 36-year-old construction worker who resides in Richmond as a suspect, said the October eleventh press release. Brian Rooney has been identified as the man seen in a video taken from a jewelry store security camera talking with Michelle at approximately 2:30 a.m. the night she disappeared. The court papers that were filed last Monday said that he denied having anything to do with the incident when police interviewed him. Judge Kathleen Manley set his bail at $150,000 until the full court proceedings take place. Rooney is pleading not guilty.

For those who knew her, the facts are still sinking in. Anne said, “It brings me back to the reality of our lives now, the beautiful people we have around us, and how much they mean in our lives. I really regret that I can never talk or organize or celebrate with Michelle again, but I am so happy to have known her and that we created the great memories that we did.? Michelle will be greatly missed by all who knew her. The world is missing a wonderful, beautiful woman, and we should grieve, but also realize the possibilities and beauty in life, in ideals, in passion, and in friends.