Vandals Supply Steamy Welcome to New Semester

By Kim-Jenna Jurriaans

A recent spree of vandalism that struck the campus last week leaves Antioch to pick up the $3500 bill to pay for the restoration of destroyed artwork and windows, general repairs and labor hours.

The events approximately started on Sunday, September 3rd with bricks smashing the windows of both the president’s and the vice president’s offices, and ended in the flooding of the first floor of the union building early Tuesday morning, after unknown vandals purposely clogged and repeatedly flushed the upstairs toilets. The broken windows in Main Hall were discovered on Monday morning between 11.30 and noon, when one of the bricks was found on the floor of the president’s office. Another was found in the surrounding area.

According to Darrel Cook working at the physical plant, the flooding at the Union didn’t occur till the following night or early the next morning. After clogging the toilets, the offenders urinated into the water, causing urine filled water to leek into the cafeteria. Four workers spent two hours non stop sanitizing the area in order for the cafeteria to open on time for Tuesday morning breakfast. Dean of students Jimmy Williams was especially alarmed about the effects the incident might have on the ability to feed the campus community. “We’re talking health violations here. Those requirements are quite strict. We were close to having to shut the Caf down.?

In addition to the incident at the Union, vandals found a way into the science building where they left a $2500 trail of damage to artwork in the downstairs hall. The art consisted of digitally re-mastered photographs of the first generation of Antioch alumni from the 1850s. “Those Photographs had only been up there for about a year?, says Darrel Cook, assistant manager of the Physical Plant in charge of the clean up. “Whoever it was took them down and tried to flush them down the toilet. All artwork was urinated on and smeared with feces.?

According to Dispatcher Campbell of the Yellow Springs police department there are no official leads so far as to who is responsible. Given the nature of the vandalism, however, both campus crew and administration find it likely to be someone familiar with the buildings and the community.

The Science building is usually locked over the weekend, but with the number of keys in circulation among students that is hardly a barrier. Dean Williams goes on to say: “This is Antioch. This is not a place were we keep busy locking people out. If you want to get into a certain building, you will find a way.?

Cook says he above all felt discouraged by the incident: “The maintenance crew had worked very hard for the last three weeks to get the campus nice before the new students arrived. It only takes a couple of people some hours to make our lives hell.?

Dean Williams was similarly disheartened by the nature of the vandalism: “We’ve had vandalism before, but in terms of nastiness it has escalated?, he says.

Like many students on campus he links the events to the recent policy changes that took place at the college and which threw a rift between many of the older students and the Antioch administration: “The community is broken right now. And all sides are convinced that they are right.?

According to the Dean the atmosphere was tense at the end of last semester. With the arrival last January of yet another president to lead “the new Antioch? into becoming a less ‘toxic? community, debates arose over the use of authority and distribution of power on campus, leaving many students frustrated with the new status quo. “We’ve become a community suspicious of change, partly because we’ve had so much of it these last years?, says Williams. “People felt devaluated, they didn’t feel they were heard. There was a vacuum and if there is a vacuum something always slips in.?

Although the issue was addressed at last weeks RDPP orientation for entering students, the reaction of the community to the incident was surprisingly calm. Some interviewed students had heard of the events vaguely, others who were off-campus for several days last week, hadn’t heard of it yet at all. Second year transfer Mariel Traiman was quoted as saying: “When I first saw the broken windows on Monday morning I remember ‘thinking this will be a big issue on campus this week’. I’m actually surprised of how not a big issue it is.? Indeed there didn’t seem to be much of a ‘whodunnit’- atmosphere amongst students. Lunch conversations tended to focus more on upcoming classes and everyday business than speculations as to the motive of the vandalism and whether the events that took place on separate days were the works of the same persons. “I know that the college portrays the events as one incident, but I’m pretty sure they’re not?, continues Traiman, who has been living around Antioch the last months before entering as a student this fall. “For me the throwing of the stones was a political act. The rest was just plain stupid.?

One of the reasons the administration has taken a low-key approach to the incident seems to be not to want to spoil the overall upbeat vibe on campus that came with the arrival of the 150 new students two weeks ago. “That’s why we were so disappointed when it happened,? continues Williams. “We had had a really good week so far. And then Bam!? At the RDPP meeting Williams encouraged students to step forward if they had any information, but so far none have. ?I do think it is a problem that people know about it and choose to stay silent?, he says. He acknowledges that the atmosphere has changed over the previous years, with a low point being last semester. “The culture has gotten a little mean-spirited.? Part of the problem he attributes to a lack of communication between administration and students. “If people don’t get answers, they find answers. Administrators need to know students. In a place as Antioch that should be really easy. We should fix that.? The Dean of students nevertheless denounces the choice of action. First year Caitlin Murphy seems to agree: “This is simply not the way you get things done.?

“The irony is, we used to brag about being really tolerant here?, continues Williams. “Now we’re less tolerant. This used to be the place where dissenting opinions were discussed, petitioned. Somewhere along the line that got lost. We’re in a time of confusion right now, but I think our problems have an easy fix. This is not a student – faculty problem, but a student -administration issue. We need to get out more, be more approachable.?

So far the events don’t seem to have put a damper on the new community vibe. Since the College itself isn’t planning a large-scale inquiry into the incident, the vandalism is likely to stay unaccounted for.

Antioch is currently looking into options to get the pieces of artwork restored, but it is still unclear whether that is possible. If not, the 2500 dollars reserved for the restoration will go towards new artwork for the Science Building.

Campus Life Gets a Life Guard

by Christopher DeArcangelis

It had been a groggy start. Head in the shower, clothes on the ground and no breakfast. The class had been one of irritation: “McGregor still has no elevator or handicap accessible entrance and its recent cleaning has unleashed a fierce mold.? When class was over I couldn’t stop thinking about eggs and mayonnaise. My hunger was trying to take me for a ride.

I ran into Joe and he said “Listen: I cant get into Birch.? I looked at him and rubbed my guts. I had consumed the coffee stimulant, but no food. I needed Birch for its kitchen.

“Come on, ole Joe. I’ve got a key. “ Joe looked back pensively, not letting me in on his inner understanding. We walked down the path past the dew and craters that compose one of Birch’s main pathways. Joe almost broke his ankle stumbling into the hole in the ground. Examining his reddening joints he remarked,

“Oh, I hope lunch is good.? I helped him up and we made it up to the door. I reached into my pocket, stained from last night’s Gin, and fumbled for my keys. I found them buried beneath my coinage and whipped them out into the keyhole. Turning the key gave way to nothing; the sweat on my brow now ran down my eye sockets. I began to turn the key more aggressively, pulling on the door handles and muttering oaths.

I had not yet received my new Antioch ID. These new IDs include the ability to unlock the dormitory doors, standing for a new era in the General Safety of Antioch. This also means that until someone walked by with an ID card, my friend and I would be pressing our faces to the glass of the doors hoping to see a concerned face. And there she was.

It was Kim Deal, from the rock ‘n’ roll band The Pixies. She is also from Dayton, a nearby industrial city. She was making her way down the stairs and saw our flustered faces. She let us in through the door with the sympathy of a sailor, saying “Hey, we’re all on this ship together.?

I said, “Why, with all this good nature about, I can’t help but wonder if you know something I don’t.? Her eyes widened. Her shining teeth revealed themselves to me as she announced her new position as the Campus Life Guard.

“Campus Life Guard tell me more!? Joe beckoned. The Campus Life Guard took us aside to the Birch Space Kitchen and began preparing some sandwiches a she explained the various changes occurring on Antioch College that require our immediate attention, as well as the aid of a skilled Campus Life Guard.

“This term is but another in a series of swift changes in policy towards the students of Antioch College. The college moves on with its Renewal Plan, and the Housing website still shows a picture of Birch while leaving it out of its Internet tour of Antioch’s student housing.

Changes that face returning students this term: The necessity of a written proof of illness in order to partake in the Cafeteria’s Food Exchange Program; the lack of a smoking friendly dormitory or hall; the reorganizing of financial aid, of the FWSP; the key card identification system that took years. The understaffed faculty. The Pepto-Bismol nightmare interior of the Antioch Inn Practice Spaces and Hailed Hallway of The Dance Space. The largest first year class in years is also welcomed this term.

This term Antioch will posses the following abandoned residence halls: West, Mills, G Stanley, and Norment. “

The sandwiches were served, along with the proper end of summer cordials. Kim peered out through the Birch Space windows as she elaborated.

Housing

“Gazing about the halls of Birch one cannot find a common space. Instead, the passageway, the hallway, is the common space. Folk hang about as if waiting for the bus or a ride, one leg crooked against the wall, cigarettes in hand.

Fuck not smoking, a bright second year says.

The rooms seem to be in fine working order. Aside from the closet full of ancient piss and the incriminating fleabites that spell “get out.?

Though things seem to have taken a turn for the worse at Birch Town, its residents still have faith in the future. A fancy bench has made its way into one of the dorms halls, providing what would seem to be an attempt at the creation of a common space.

As for smoking, Ohio and many other states have decided to tighten their brassiere in a collective show of progression by banning smoking in some way or another. In Ohio it has been county by county, and while Green County remains indoor smoking friendly Antioch College does not.

The ratio of smoking detectors to smoking Antioch student has continuously caused unwanted smoke alarm detonations, particularly during the last few terms in Birch. It is rumored that tensions are rising between the Yellow Springs Fire Department and Antioch College. It seems that Antioch has been trying to save face, however, what with the sacrificial offering of the recently abandoned Torment Hall to the Fire Department for training exercises.

The RA of Willet Hall in Birch, Rob the Rev, says: “Over the last few terms their have been a lot of fire alarms going off which I think is straining our relationship with the fire department. I think that in the interest of maintaining the basic safety of this campus and the students it would be the logical course to ban smoking.?

For the first year class, North has been rehabilitated with all the floors open and ready for business. Dorm life is being kept closely monitored. Near the entrance to Green Hall there is posted warning about the seriousness of underage drinking and drinking in North. Underage drinking and smoking will not be tolerated. Steve Lawry has voiced his personal concern with underage drinking in North.

Whatever you do, don’t buy any minors beer this term.?

Campus Life

“The Financial Aid restructuring has continued to affect the Community Government and Independent Group’s on campus. The various groups provide resources and outlets for the diverse minds and bodies that compose Antioch College’s student body. These outlets show the true potential of Antioch College as a place for creativity and progress. With their diminished importance and volunteer status, they are threatened to disappear completely without student initiative. Even the Antioch Record itself has been struggling keep a hold of funding.

The first years are on a completely different curriculum from the upper classmen. Their days are spent in class. Most of the steady teachers have been usurped into the CORE program for the first years. For a while the fresh key cards given to returning students did not work in North.

Weekend Dance Space parties have long been a staple of Antioch College nightlife. This term, alcohol will no longer be sold at CG parties. It is sad to see the eradication of one of the most ancient forms of socialization. BYOB is encouraged, but still serves as yet another division between the older and younger students at Antioch College, a school with a very small student body.

The cafeteria has taken a new stance on the food exchange program limiting access to a great idea: take home some of the raw goods that the cafeteria uses. You must have a written notice from a doctor validating your need to partake in this program. At a school that is known for its progressive posturing, you would think the food wouldn’t put people asleep or straining at the toilet! But it does, and the cafeteria remains stigmatized.

Kim Deal really had taken this job full on. My stomach was full, but my head was filled with questions. These questions, like many, desire an answering. I leaned forward on the fancy table and asked, “But Kim, what does anyone think?? I looked at her plainly, naïve to the whole thing. She reached an arm into her pocket and prepared a mini cassette record to myself and Joe. “In order to better understand the changes, I thought it best to speak with some upperclassmen. Here for your pleasure and understanding are the true testimonials of Rob the Rev, and Emily Thornton Wourms

Emily TW

Q: How has your housing situation changed?
A: When I entered I lived in north and it was cesspool of first year debauchery and I liked it that way. The biggest problem with housing is that they don’t differentiate from the people who do drugs and the people who don’t and because of that people are put in awkward positions where their lifestyle conflicts with people around them and I thought that was a very valuable thing and that school did too.

Q: With the changes in smoking and alcohol tolerance do you feel that the school is changing its stance?
A: Oh yeah, we used to have a semi official harm reduction policy when I first entered and now it seems more like z parental relation ship between the students and administration

Q: Do you feel distanced from the first years this term?
A: Yes, but not as much as last year, which I think is very important and a very good sign. I think the issues over housing last year caused a lot of animosity over the first years and older students. I think having the older students in Birch here they’ve always been since I’ve first got here was important.

Q: Do you think that the role of the older students as potential mentors and friends is being eradicated on campus?
A: I think they are trying to formalize that role. I know they have all these official mentor ship programs but when I arrived here there was a lot of informal mentor ships which in a lot of ways worked better because it entered people lives more it was just if you had a problem with homework you had a name you could hunt down, you actually had these relationships. Maybe they are trying creating this in a more formal way, great, but I haven’t seen that happening.

Q: How do you feel about the lack of a common space in Birch?
A: I’m trying to do my senior project, and someone just moved a couch literally a foot and a half from my front door and I think that is going to be very detrimental to me trying to do my senior project, and this was done to compensate for the lack of a proper common space.

Q :Do you feel that a common space is really better than a couch outside your door?
A: A lot better for me.

Q: Why do you think they took the common spaces out of birch??
A: Probably to try to get rid of the community atmosphere that many older students enjoyed here that was somewhat destructive and somewhat dirty but I think that people are just creating that atmosphere in a narrower place that only intensifies that atmosphere, literally narrower.

Q: How do you feel about the need for a doctor’s note in order to partake in the Food Exchange program?
A: I have a bigger problem with not being able to get a refund for your meal plan and take
the money you would have spent on it. The food exchange program is great and if people
can utilize it I think they should but you should be able to opt out of the whole thing.
Q: What would you prescribe to Antioch if you were a doctor?
A: Hmmm, some antibiotics and some Valium.
Reverend Rob
Q: Do you feel cut off from the first years?
A: I do indeed I feel that the first years are in a bubble within a bubble. At the same time when the first
years were put in Birch last years it was the same thing so, I don’t think its so much a spatial issue as
much as a generational issues, as the older generations tend to cut themselves off from first years
and the first years tend to put themselves in a cocoon, it seems this problem would be inevitable
Do we stand a chance?
“Well Kim,? I started, “thanks for taking a good keep over the flock. I feel like my place in the community
is still pretty blurry though. I almost feel sick thinking about these changes. What do we do, Kim??

She stood up from her seat.
“The upperclassmen and first years are presented with some daunting challenges at a college
typically known for its strong community and support of radical thought. The leaves will all being
to fall and time will pass. A healthy diet and good sleep remains important, as well as dancing
and the occasional well supervised consumption of a cold beer and a book. It is up to us to get
what we want, or do what we want. As this term unfolds we will see just what’s in store for us.?
She then jumped through the window, glass shattering in slow motion, and walked off to
stand post as the Campus Life guard.

The Past 50 Years of the Antioch Presidency, Part II (1985-1997)

By Marissa Geiger

[The first part of this articles was published last issue (Vol59/Issue18)-BS.]

The Man in White Came in Riding on a Horse

After a presidential search, the BOT chose Alan Guskin to replace William Birenbaum. Guskin’s presidency spanned from 1985 to 1997 and I split them up into two very distinctive periods: 1985-1990 were the calm years and 1990-1997 was when things started to get severely problematic. According to Guskin, when he arrived here, AC was an estimated 12 months from closing. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, in the first two years Guskin was here, in order to reverse a downward spiral, he had to fire some people, begin phasing out the Law School in D.C. and balance a budget some $800,000 in the red.

While Birenbaum named the University, Guskin sustained it at a very high level of prosperity for most of his tenure as an administrator. It is not until the period of 1990-1997 that you can see why he may be so controversial. Things started going sour when the Record investigated an administrator whom Guskin appointed without approval of any pre-established legitimate processes (AdCil various committees of the time). Michael Bassis was unilaterally hired in 1989, and just happened to be one of Guskin’s old University of Wisconsin colleagues (where he held a position previous to Antioch) and also created a position for him, AU Executive Vice President to assist Guskin with the College. This was a developing trend for Guskin, as he appointed many people who shared his interest to high-level authority positions. The Record unearthed that Bassis lied about the concentration of his PhD: it wasn’t in Sociology as he and Guskin adamantly proclaimed time and time again, but in Education. This raised serious questions about his qualifications for the job and honesty relating to his academic record. But Guskin shot back, “Mike Bassis will be here as long as I am”.

The Snowball Effect

The problems snowballed. That little lie set the stage for the rest of Guskin’s tenure. Guskin had been rearranging positions and departments since he got to campus, but nothing was as epochal as the restructuring of 1992, which stretched until 1994. This was often referred to as “decentralization”, or Guskin implementing his “federal model”, in which there was is autonomy but within a negotiated policy framework. According to Devine, who was also the Dean of Faculty a short while during Guskin’s tenure, “The federal model allowed the College its autonomy to have the governance that we have, to have the program that we have and provided the safe harbor to say ‘We had a bad year’ and we had some subsidies to help cover what we’re doing.”

The subsidies Devine mentioned refer to the other units of AC. It was at this time the position of AU Chancellor was created, to link all the other executive directors (i.e. presidents) of the other campuses. This decentralization was said to promise the reduction of the responsibility and workload of the central administration. It was at this time there were only five units under the AU (six if you count the AU administration as a separate entity): Antioch College, McGregor School, Seattle, Southern California, and New England (last four are adult campuses).

Instead of AC pumping money into the adult campuses, Guskin reversed the flow of resources and they turned into, in effect, the College’s endowment. Money flowed toward the AC from all the centers it birthed years ago. It usually added up to about $1 million from each center (this number fluxes depending on the source). Devine added, “Guskin was good at working a board. That’s what a CEO of a non-profit has to do. Love him or hate him, he did rebuild the finances of the place.”

Under Guskin’s model, the affected offices were Personnel, Business, Financial Aid, the University Registrar, and (at the time) possibly the 1993 equivalent of Tech Resources. The campus was assured that the consolidation of these departments would save money.

Administration for each unit would be central, but would report to the BOT through the Chancellor of the University, which made the relationship between campus administration and the Board a little more ambiguous. Denman calls Guskin as a loving parent and all the units his children, “Guskin fell into the trap of getting too close in his sense of identity to the College and its future so when he began to receive criticism after the romantic period was over (1985-1990), he withdrew periodically, began to see faculty and students as aliens. At times he tried. When it didn’t pay off for him, it was a reason for anger, and he would move back into the authoritative role. He loved Yellow Springs; his love affair was too great; love in the romantic sense. Love of one who could maintain own independence, and offer independence of College to itself. Its like the love of a parent and letting the child become an independent person that bewilders, disappoints but also achieves its own visions.”

The Crowfoot Dismissal

Guskin took the chance to become Chancellor of AU, thereby ending his dual presidency. After a presidential search (which also caused an uproar in the way it was conducted), Jim Crowfoot was chosen as the 18th President of AC. He only lasted one year (1995-1996). This particular year in our history is the reason the AIF was born and part of why some alumni feel so severed from the AC community.

The Crowfoot controversy is a complicated one and depending on who your sources are, can be entirely hearsay. According to a faculty compiled chronology of events, a new College budget came out on July 1st, accompanied with restrictions on the budget. Crowfoot left for planned vacation on the 22nd. The 23rd, the University imposed a freeze on spending and College could not authorize any spending. A memo given to faculty read Severe disciplinary action if procedures are not followed. Crowfoot was contacted and said a freeze may be helpful and that it is essential to cooperate.

On August 6th, Crowfoot flew home to attend an AdCil budget meeting and found that $600,000-800,000 deficit is why the University took over. It was announced the 13th that Crowfoot “resigned”. Guskin replied with “Sometimes you have to act.” Now, I have heard from some that Crowfoot was a terrible President and the campus culture didn’t mesh well with him.

Denman said “These climatic events, turning points… In the minds of some of us, we felt these were moments where it was established, or should’ve been established, that certain kinds of processes are legitimate here and other processes are not. It stands as a precedent that the University can’t get rid of a College President without consultation, without real involvement of the AC process for hiring and firing. It all goes back to the notion that we make decisions collaboratively at the College. We have normative processes that we should follow for making decisions.”

The dismissal of Crowfoot, was out of line with the College practice of due process, up until that point, that is. There was a flood of articles posted in every newspaper in 25-mile radius, and one thing resounded, the actions of the Executive Committee of the BOT were necessary and the stability at the top of the College hierarchy was the key consideration. Less than a week later one of the Board members, Malte von Matthiessen resigned, citing a lack of confidence in the leadership of AU Chancellor Al Guskin. Malte’s concern lay in the fact that Crowfoot wasn’t given the resources or the support to deal with the College’s problems and was not informed as to how severe they really were. It was doomed from the start merely from miscommunication.

Do you need clarification at this point?

From 1972-2002, the College had 16 different leaders. In the first ten years, 1972-82, enrollment dropped from 2,470 to around five or six hundred, where it has remained. I asked Bob Devine his what he thought of the stagnate admissions rate in the past 20 years and he replied, “You gotta meet 100% of financial need to compete. We need consistent financial aid and more people on the road promoting Antioch College.” Money is always the issue with this question. When we spike the money to be able to bring people here, we spike in admissions. There is a direct correlation between the two. All distractions aside, I set out to determine the root cause in our current crisis, and I believe it lies within the Dixon Network. Superfluous educational imperialism of the early days of the University set the precedent. But I should probably describe what I mean by the “current crisis”. Not really knowing who is really in charge compounds the effects of living within, as Devine calls it, a manufactured crisis. The Board made the decision to charge depreciation to the College’s budget (and every other unit) two years ago. “Depreciation is the $1 million worth of physical plant and it’s going to wear out in 10 years so you must show expenses of $100,000 each year. It originally showed up on AU’s budget (started in 1993, since it was required to have it)- depreciation as an expense, and endowment growth and revenue and they wash each other out.” Numerous consultants advised AU financial executives not to charge each unit for depreciation, claiming the College can’t take the hit.

It is a good strategy, since the money can be used to revitalizing dorms, inadvertently addressing issues of retention. However, it is taking a huge chunk out of the school’s budget for depreciation. At the same time that it was a shock there was no reserve funds set aside to counteract dilapidated conditions of the grounds, $1.8 million dollars was also wrenched from the College’s pockets at the same time when all the other units decide to stop paying the overhead they have been sending our way for years. Instead, the subsidies are called (money from adult campuses, because remember, they were thought to be our endowment) “allowable deficit”, meaning they will go away sooner or later if we get our finances in order. Glenn Watt’s attitude and the rest of the University is destructive, as both think it is time for all other satellites to concentrate on themselves, to better themselves with all their revenue, instead of pumping money into a black hole of a college. Devine responds, “The College is a black hole cause we don’t know what people do, and we don’t necessarily share the values.” But the University seems to forget that the College is a vital part of AU. The central administration is located here and without some of the resources we have (library, cafeteria, etc.), the other schools could not be accredited.

Adult campuses are the most important source of revenue for the University. Not only do they bring in more money, but the other branches of the University are growing amazingly fast, in comparison to the College, which is currently struggling to maintain its existing attendance figures, as it waxes and wanes like it always does, or has for 20 years. A liberal arts model of education is expensive and there are two ways of remedying it: large endowments, which we don’t have, and/or high enrollment rate, which we don’t have.

Again, the structure is questioned

“But when the autonomy goes away [supplied under Guskin’s federal model] and the subsidies go away then I question whether the College does not need its own BOT, its own structure.” which is Devine’s response to how he feels about the current AU/AC dichotomy. AU administration is putting us in a very difficult situation, as all our money is tied up in projects that should have happened a long time ago. It is really easy to fall into the trap of not seeing the end in sight when it comes to campus projects, since we have adopted the “band-aid fix” for many years now. I asked Denman for his opinion on AC/AU and he said, “I have been convinced that it would be good for the College to regain its independence, but I have concluded in the last four months that this is an impossibility, that the AIF was the last good try, that now the future of the College lies within the University and that we better do everything we possibly can to have the entire University system thrive with the College as a part of it. The trustees will never really entertain the question, let alone answer it favorably.” (In a Record from 1993, it said the Board will no longer entertain questions about whether the University should exist or not.)

I asked Pelakoudas the same question and he mentioned that other places had Board of Visitors and depending on how the BOT defines the BOV, they can be delegated whatever powers the want. He suggested, “Total abolishment of current hierarchy. The University is a holding company with five separately incorporated units. It’s a business model. It doesn’t produce anything. Make the University a non-operating unit, contrary to what we have across the street. The superstructure can exist, but while not running programs. Each unit can make decisions about assets and leadership as long as they are consistent with the holding company (AU) and the BOT. As long as AU owns the resources we cannot be successful. We must manage our own resources to be successful, if we have any chance. (And here is where Al and Connie agree) It may be that we are beyond the stage where anything will work. I hope not… but I don’t think we can work under the present structure.”

I ran into an article in a Record from 1985 titled Is the University good for the College? Professor of Co-operative Education Dan Hotaling responds with, “Accountability and sense of responsibility are so spread around that no one can get a handle on how to run the place. No one is in a position to make a significant difference. No one can truly lead here since advocacy for this campus clashes with subservience to the University’s administration. Who is in charge of AC and what can s/he really do?” I want to challenge and prove Guskin wrong when he says, “It is an academic truism that trying to change a University is like trying to rearrange a cemetery.” It doesn’t sound like Connie’s suggestion would be that painful.

Reports of linkage problems

Even if our ideas are not heard or just completely ignored, the current system should not go to waste or make us go to waste. We have a communication problem with the University and it is to our benefit to remedy it. I read in the NCA report from the last time the accreditation team was here in 1993. A serious fault they see within our system is the problem of linkage, connecting different departments, especially between AC and across the street. Duffy explained to me that, for a long time, Glenn Watts didn’t know the air condition was broken in the library. He told Duffy that no one had told him, to which replied to me during the interview, “Kettering Building might as well be in Mexico.” Although, I do know information slips through the cracks over there and irresponsibility cannot be blamed on workload. If that is the argument, a review is in order of the consolidations that occurred more than a decade ago. So…what?

This summer, I was blaming Joan, and then I convinced others and myself that it was the BOT. Recently, I think that it is we as a community. Richard Lapides, a trustee of nine years, resigned June 8th, 1995. He was interviewed in the Record and he had this to say about the “blame game”, “Sometimes people like to talk overmuch about leadership because it’s a way to avoid dealing with them. It’s a lot easier to hold a leader responsible for what’s good or bad, more often what’s bad, instead of looking to oneself and one’s own role. It’s ridiculous. It happens all the time. It’s human nature.” I don’t fully agree with that statement, but I do think he makes a valid point by singling community members out and telling them to take responsibility for their surroundings. Times have changed since 1995, and I wonder if any Trustees would agree with his statement while still recognizing how many times students voices and efforts have been quashed on this campus.

Which leads me to four criteria I found in a commentary I found in the Record by student Matthew Rick. 1) The people who control the money call all the shots. 2) Important decisions are made from the top down. 3) The people in control don’t have to apologize. 4) Protest is tolerated as long as it doesn’t change anything.

These were written in 1992 and I remember discussing these same issues in the days following Joan’s meeting with us. We protested about DOS restructuring and the blatant weakening of the Office of Multicultural Affairs. If you have noticed other parallels through out this report to what is going on now, do not be surprised. It all goes back to the Guskin era, at the start of his difficult years. Notice that Guskin created a position specifically for Bassis. We ran into that issue this past summer with how obvious some of the positions were designed and written. Some purposely excluded while others were inclusive. It was as if some of the positions were being molded around individuals. Also notice in Guskin’s decentralization/federal model how there was decentralization of less centralized power in one area (AHEM DOS) and this command came from above, namely the BOT, but implemented by President <enter name here>. The College Community has yet to see the Restructuring Committee notes that were compiled at numerous social settings and via email. Again, whom are we supposed to go to for it? I gather there is some hesitancy from up above Joan to release them, or she would have put them out by now. Or maybe not. The students don’t have the money to be able to call the shots, but we certainly have every other constituency beat by majority. And without us, there is no reason for the College to continue operating. “If you don’t feel influential over your environment, then you loose the will to change.”

There are interesting parallels between the past and present. McGregor School merged with AU in 1995. Of course there was a lot of discussion on taking on such collaboration. At the same time, the Yellow Springs campus dwellers were in an uproar about the College renting out Units to McGregor. And here we are, in 2003, McGregor is threatening to leave, and we are negotiating with them to rent out Units (or maybe it was quashed by Housing). It was also the same time as racism/systematic oppression were active issues on campus. You would think the administration would have it down by now, right? We are moving in circles around a circle. It seems as if we keep asking the same questions over and over again, and they are the wrong ones every time because we don’t get the right answers. The question “Is AU good for AC” is becoming tedious and gets us nowhere close to achieving some sort of independence within the College.

We have been operating in the same cursed structure for 20-odd years. The fear that I mentioned before plays an important role in keeping us in this static position. Pelakoudas states, “An environment in which you feel squeezed by limited resources and constant economic constraints makes dealing with the other issues difficult (those of race, class, gender, etc.) It makes people angry and scared. It comes down to ownership of resources and the quality of life campus. If you don’t feel influential over your environment, then you loose the will to change, and not just financial, governance side. It is also the ownership of assets, issues surrounding governance. If you really feel that [influence] working with colleagues, you can make a difference. If you don’t have that possibility, what is the point?”

I personally, do not feel like I am, or have been, influencing my environment. The resistance against that this summer was suffocating and culminated at one particular community meeting where two executive administrators began to tear up. THEY WERE ACTUALLY LISTENING FOR ONCE. And its not like they had a choice. There is no room for power hungry individuals in administration. Guskin is a member of the Renewal Commission. Check out and click on “Project on the Future of Higher Education”. Notice who is on it: Guskin, BASSIS, and a few other of his friends he appointed to administrative positions while President/Chancellor.

Should this scare you that he is once again a part of a crucial decision making process? I will leave that for you to decide. I am not placing blame on any one individual for all our current woes. However, it seems odd to me that we are tackling issues that have root in the Guskin era, and he is on the Commission. People say the Commission and its members have the best interest of the College in mind. But what they mean is the members have their own interest for the College in mind and in turn, come to the table wielding their own agenda.

I am not a proponent of this, it is merely an observation- I already pointed out that we, as students, have the majority, population wise. Students in 1973 took advantage of that and look at the damage they did. We are still recovering from it. I say we escape this perpetual victim mentality that comes along with living in an environment where we have no control. We are at another crucial bend in our cycle, where we could possibly break off. The Renewal Commission, restructuring of the DOS, presidential search- its all happened before, and all at the same time and Antioch College reacted the way we always do, with fear and trembling submission. I am going to take Duffy’s advice and “adopt” a trustee, alumni, or a member on a commission and open my heart to them totally so I can feed them so they can make the judgments by they know from me. I cannot accept “Nothing will ever change here”, because the means lie within all of us.