‘SteamCil’ Leaves Red Faces, Disheartened Members

censored.jpgComCil discussion on installation REB to go into new round this week

by Kim-Jenna Jurriaans

“This could very well have been the best ComCil I’ve ever been to.” An impromptu processing session and cigarette consumption on the steps of Main Building revealed the nerve wrecker that was last week’s ComCil meeting. In a heated session last Thursday, discussion on the latest proposal for a Record Editorial Board (REB) turned into a power-measuring exercise that left many members of ComCil disillusioned over the outcome. Still, several members referred to last week’s ComCil as one of the most vibrant in a long time. The meeting was finally adjourned and discussion was tabled until next ComCil, which takes place as this paper goes to print.

Members left last week’s meeting disillusioned after a two and a half hour discussion on the REB proposal, that was brought to ComCil two weeks ago, failed to bring a clear outcome on the installation of the interim board. Instead, questions arose on ComCil’s power to block the proposal, which were initially met with evasive answers by vice-president Rick Juraseck and Dean of Faculty Andrzej Bloch.

Bloch, who together with the vice-president and CM Levi B. Cowperthwaite had brought the proposal to ComCil, stressed the need for accountability beyond RAB in the form of an extra, editorial, board.

In response to Events Manager (EM) Melody Mackowiak’s repeated inquiry whether the initiators would go thru with the installation of the board regardless of ComCil’s decision on the proposal, Jurasek answered by pointing out the need to “fill an editorial gap”.

Feeling that her question was not answered properly, Mackowiak again asked for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response. The vice-president finally answered, saying there is a need to set editorial policy and that they, the initiators, will go on to create a body that can take on that task. His answer was met with loud gestures of surprise and disbelieve from both members and guests. Many voiced similar feelings as Corri Frohlich, who posed the question: ” what exactly are we doing here If you are not going to listen to us anyway?”
EM Melody went on to ask whether the proposal was at least open for negotiation. Vice-president Rick Jurasek commented: “This document asks for suggestions. We want to launch a process. There is an editorial gap and this proposal is brought forward to fill that gap.” Jurasek underlined that the board will be temporary while “starting a broader conversation in the process of building a community paper”.

In its effort to “build” a community paper, the president’s office has taken it on itself to hire a journalism teacher in order to provide staff-writers and editors of the Record with the necessary journalistic background and to help in supervising the Record. In addition, Jurasek offered to provide the Record with the means to update its close to nostalgic IT-facilities, which, according to co-editor Foster Neill had narrowed down to “a computer and a half” in the course of last week. Neill, however, friendly declined the offer, stating he’d rather work with the limited funds CG can provide than lose independence of the paper: “I’d love to have a new computer and we could definitely use it right now, but if taking on the offer means the Record will become more dependent, I’d rather not have it. I can’t speak for future editors, but I, for my part, will definitely not take it.”

Reflection

Issues over the nature of the publisher, CG or Antioch College, arose, yet again, and remained unresolved. Again, the fact that the Record is payed out of student activity fees was brought up to point out community ownership. The Dean of students countered by saying: “We cannot collect a penny of the students as long as the budget is not approved by the board of trustees.” In response to Andrzej Bloch’s statement that the newspaper carries the Antioch name and is therefor regarded by the outside world to reflect the College, Neill, who is in charge of the layout for the Record, posed the question how The Antioch Review, that also carries the Antioch name can be regarded as reflection of the community.

Andrzej Bloch went on to make a distinction between Antioch College on one hand, and the College Community on the other. He elaborated on his idea of REB and RAB functioning next to and with each other, each representing one of the two entities. Given the inequality in authority installed upon both boards, however, this was met with skepticism by the members of ComCil, who fear erosion of the functions of RAB. In addition, the idea of having two similar boards was widely seen as impractical, “adding layers on top of layers”, as Katrina Dorsey described it.

In light of the efforts to bring more journalistic knowledge into the record newsroom, the need for top-down editorial enforcement was also questioned and, according to Bob Devine, is contrary to the co-op premises set out for the editors, which consist of “learning by experience, being forced to wrestle with complex practical and ethical issues and to make determinations for which they must be accountable.” (from: October 2nd written reaction to REB proposal). Devine underlined his views in last week’s meeting, stating that the Record was a lab Newspaper to learn, adding: “how do you think the editor of the New York Times learned what is appropriate.”

Vice president Rick Jurasek stressed the temporary nature of the board, pointing out the option that: “The editorial board can disappear in time.”

Respect

Gradually the conversation moved towards reviving RAB rather than installing the REB. ComCil member Chelsea Martens pointed towards the Legislative code in front of her and urged the Dean of Faculty and Vice-President to please respect the code, with its strong roots in Community Government, and to respect the efforts that had been made to create it. Martens was backed up by fellow ComCil member Bryan Utley, who underlined that the installation of an ad-hoc board without approval of ComCil would be disrespectful of the deliberative Body that is ComCil. Martens also raised questions on the issue of accountability. More specifically, “how can a board consisting of two students and two staff members be a better representation of the community than RAB with seven members and direct accountability to ComCil?”

In order to provide Antioch College, as institution, with the requested representation in matters concerning the Record, RAB members present brought forward the proposal to write one or two extra seats into the RAB outline in the Leg code for institutional representation to take seat in.

Room temperature rose even more, when a motion to deny approval of the Proposal was tabled and second by another member of ComCil, then however taken off the table again, in order to keep open the option of bringing in an amended, more detailed, proposal into next weeks ComCil meeting. the initiators where give the advise to consult sources outside of the college’s legal council and present a proposal that goes into more detail about the editorial policy that the interim board is burdened to establish, the sources that it will used in the process and the place and amenability of this new policy in future terms. As the discussion goes into yet another round, the meeting, taking place as this edition goes to print, is expected to bring the awaited verdict on the installation of an Editorial Board for the Record, the consequences for the Community’s Newspaper and future role for its current Advisory Board.

Letter from Daniel E. Solis ‘06

An Open Letter to President Steve Lawry
October 5, 2006

Dear President Lawry,

It is with the heaviest of hearts that I write this letter to you. As a proud alum of Antioch College, I am deeply disturbed by the emerging direction of your presidency. You have taken actions that not only violate the most cherished of Antiochian values and traditions; but also move against the fundamental mission of the College – education.

Given that your actions affect not only the on-campus community, but also everyone who has sweated, cried, and sacrificed for Antioch in its long history, I felt it appropriate to address this letter to you in a very public way. I understand that this will be taken by you as an act of confrontation, for indeed it is. When people in power commit gross violations of the power they have been entrusted with; ethical people have no choice but to be confrontational. That is why I write to you now in the form of an open letter.

In your rather short time as an Antiochian, you have single-handedly chosen to impose a top-down cultural shift at the College. You find a pessimistic “Culture of Confrontation? to be undermining Antioch, and have decided – with minimal input from all sectors of the community- that this culture must be eradicated for the College to grow and be successful.

You have seriously attacked the intellectual freedom of faculty and staff through seemingly arbitrary dismissals or forced “voluntary retirements.?

You have attacked the community’s free press, The Record, by legalistic manipulations and the imposition of an Editorial Board controlled by you. This has very serious implications in an academic community that depends on open and unfettered deliberations.

You have unilaterally moved vast extents of decisions traditionally made collaboratively through the legitimated bodies of the Antioch community, into the hands of a small cadre of relatively new high administrators. Through these actions, you have eviscerated both Administrative Council (AdCil) and Community Council (ComCil).

Most tragically of all, you have birthed a culture of fear at Antioch. Through the strict enforcement of “the President’s Agenda,? the thoughtful deliberation that you claim to cherish has completely disappeared. Faculty and staff members fear for their jobs. Students fear that they will be summarily expelled or suspended for confronting you or your Agenda. The entire community fears honest discussion for how it might offend you.

Given the state of our nation at this present moment, when fear rules our lives, when fear is pessimistically manipulated for the gain of a small elite; it is not only tragic that you too have chosen to rule through fear – it is shameful. Our institutions of higher education have no greater responsibility in our society, than to educate our youth to be responsible members and advocates of democracy. It is reprehensible that your leadership has moved Antioch away from its long-standing role of educating the defenders of democracy.

To further illustrate your own hypocrisy, I quote at length from your welcoming speech to first year students and their families this past September. You said,

An authentically liberal learning environment should be one where complex ideas and problems can be studied, discussed and debated- -openly and freely. This is how we learn; this how we come closer to a truer understanding of ourselves and our world. We are a Community of Inquiry.

From time to time, we somehow convince ourselves that we have possession of the answers to complex problems, and further discussion or debate about them surely is not necessary. And those who express contrary views should be ostracized, and made to remember the error of their ways. This causes pain and anger, and is corrosive of the freedom to learn and inquire that so many have fought so hard to maintain in our society. It is corrosive of the Community of Inquiry that we are and that we must be diligent in protecting.

So, I invite you to an Antioch life, a life of sifting and winnowing, of doubt and discovery, of trying to do better by our families and communities and our planet. The Antioch community, for me, is grounded in a commitment to intellectual freedom and respect among all community members, students, professors and staff. These two qualities—intellectual freedom and mutual respect—must always be present if we are going to continue to succeed as an educational community. I have high expectations that you will embrace these values in your time at Antioch and beyond.

I respect these words for they truly represent what lies at the core of the Antioch Community: thoughtful and critical engagement, contentious deliberation, and respect for one another. While I will be the first to admit that this has often not been the case at Antioch, you cannot address this issue by doing the exact same thing. One does not end a disrespectful and closed-minded discourse through disrespectful and closed-minded actions.

President Lawry, your relentless belief in the supremacy of the executive is not only detrimental to the deliberative process that is the bedrock of a democracy; it is also inefficient and wasteful. Rather than focusing on how to strengthen Antioch College and secure lasting financial stability or ensuring the success of the new curriculum, you have decided to consolidate your power within the College on the backs of Intellectual Freedom, Deliberation, and Democracy.

President Lawry, I hope that you will take this letter as a chance for thoughtful reflection and will truly question your motivation and actions. However, I am not encouraged by your past reception of criticism or confrontation. While I do not expect a radical change of course, I do hope that the faculty, staff and students that agree with the views expressed in this letter will creatively and appropriately rise up to challenge the attach upon Antioch. Antioch is a community of critical thought and action. Only time will tell if the current caretakers of Antioch will accept their responsibility and protect our core values you seem so unfamiliar with. I, for one, remain committed to responsible actions and am willing to dialogue with you on this matter. I do believe that you have strengths that can greatly aid Antioch, but you must be educated first. I look forward to assisting your on-going education as a proud Antiochian. I leave you with a quote,

“If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable.”

~Louis D. Brandeis

Respectfully,

Daniel E. Solis ‘06

Bringing Censor Back!

Record awaiting installation of new Editorial Board

by Kim-Jenna Jurriaans

Awaiting ComCil’s vote on last week’s proposal concerning the installation of an editorial board for the Antioch Record, hopes persist that this week’s ComCil meeting will bring more clarity about the future outline for the community’s newspaper. The board, if approved, will function interim for the fall term 2006 only, until a permanent board is established by the beginning of spring term 2007.

Dean of Faculty Andrzej Bloch, Vice President Rick Jurasek, and Community manager Levi B. Cowperthwaite, in reaction to recent controversy over student’s answers to “the Question of the Week?, in the September 15 issue of The Record, brought the proposal to ComCil last week. According to a memo sent by President Lawry to advisers and staff on September 18, several resonses to the question “What would you say to the Narc?” were seen by the College’s Lawyer as “high-threat messages” entering “high-risk legal territory”, thereby putting Antioch in danger of liability charges being pressed against the College. This, in combination with strong feelings within the administration that The Record is missing a clearly defined editorial policy, led to discussions about, and eventually putting down on paper of an outline for a new, empowered board to take responsibility for the Record’s content.

REB vs. RAB
The proposal, sent in to ComCil last Thursday, foresees in the installation of a Record Editorial Board (REB) to set out and enforce editorial policy, to be carried out by The Record’s editors. In doing so, the new Editorial Board would take on the role of the little, but more powerful, brother of the existing Record Advisory Board (RAB), which has been functioning as the main source of advice to editors and staff in previous years. So far, the existing Record Advisory Board only had the power to advice on editorial policy, without having the authority to enforce it. The new board, which would not replace but function in addition to RAB, would cover this authority-gap, in favor of more structured, institutional, control over printed content.
When asked about the reasons for installing the new board, Andrzej Bloch answered: ” It is our job to represent the interests of the school as an institution. Everything that is printed in the Record has the Antioch name on it and it reflects the school as an institution. The same applies if a faculty member would do something outrageous in class. The question is always, how do you balance academic freedom with respect of the institution.”

Educational value

In another memo, sent to the college faculty two days after his first testimony of concern about the content of this newspaper, President Lawry urges faculty to “be supportive and responsive” to requests to join the editorial board. In the memo, forwarded to the Record by various members of faculty, Lawry states that: “The college is the owner and publisher of The Record, which functions as part of the College’s educational mission. As an educational institution, we are responsible for the ethical and educational development of young people. Too much of the content of The Record suggests to me that we are failing in that mission.”

It is precisely this educational development, which the president urges so strongly, that others fear will be the first victim of the new policy. Community manager Levi B on ComCil concerns to the proposal: “There are several parts of the proposal that ComCil isn’t happy with. For example, why have two boards? Why put energy into this reactionary ad hoc board instead of investing in the old one? But there’s also the educational side. Part of education is taking risks. Taking away that option is taking away part of the educational value.”

According to Levi B, the CM, the number of seats on the board and the way they are filled is also an issue that worries ComCil. The proposal mentions the board as consisting of 4 members, 2 members of faculty and two students, who will be appointed collaboratively by the College President and the Community Manager. The latter mentions ComCil’s view that this board is not representative of the community.

Continuity

One major problem that RAB seems to have been struggling with in the past is continuity. Finding former editors to take a seat in the Advisory Board, for example, has been difficult at times. Introducing a system of stacked appointment in the board is one of the goals Andrzej Bloch sees for REB. The interim editorial board doesn’t solve the problem of continuity; it merely bridges the gap until negotiations over the form and authority of a permanent Editorial Board have finished. The administration sees a permanent Editorial Board as the best means to guarantee continuity and future implementation of the new editorial guidelines that will be set out by the interim board this term. So far, a lot of questions about the approach that the interim board will handle and what the permanent board will eventually look like, remain up in the air. Hopes are that a decision on the interim board proposal will be announced in this weeks ComCil meeting, with or without amendments.

Where it started

Back to the roots

Going back to what has started the argument about “bad editorial judgment” and the need for a cleaner editorial policy, the administration’s reaction to the comments printed in the September 15 issue of the Record managed to surprised many on and off campus, including faculty and people from the Yellow Springs community. And for many, it is seen as an example for the iron wind of change that seems to be blown thru the Antioch campus recently, to radically clean up whatever leaves of campus culture are still left lying in the grass, that characterize a college identity that doesn’t fit into the vision of the clean cut suburbia lawn that is set out for it.

Reports of students being called into the Dean of Faculty’s office, Memo’s to student advisers, urging them to meet with their advisees to denounce “hostile street-language” and “menacing speech”, in addition to the need for a midnight proof-read of a recent issue of the Record to protect it from further repercussions, are widely perceived as ways of intimidation and signs of an institutional tour de force to streamline the college.

Jen Parnell, who’s comment was found to be most damaging by the College’s lawyer, was called into the Dean of faculty’s office to discuss the possible consequences of her comment. “I was told that my statement was found prosecutable and felonious by the college lawyer and if the ‘Narc’ would feel offended, he could press charges. I had been in contact with my lawyer, who told me that since there is no clear and present danger to specifically named person, there is no liability. Andrzej insisted that that wasn’t true and that I had to watch what I say.” Denouncing rumors around campus, Andrzej Bloch made it clear to he Record, that “Jen’s comments were never and will not be a reason to expel her from school.”

Phone calls to the Civil Liberties Union, as well as attorney Mike Hiestand, legal consultant for the Student Press Association, also point towards the absence of liability in Jen Parnell’s specific case. Mike Hiestand: “even if the ‘Narc’ would make himself known and claim to be offended, that is his problem, not the student’s. There is no liability here.” This stands in strong contrast to the college’s legal council, that, according to the September 18 memo, said “these responses clearly signal that an unnamed person has cause to fear serious physical harm. This is intolerable as it is illegal.”

Since the school is a private institution, the 1st amendment, which prohibits censorship by government officials doesn’t apply. Actions to prevent certain material from being printed are therefore left to the discretion of the college. “Even so,” Hiestand continues,” Although actions against a student or the student paper would in this case not be illegal, it is still highly out of proportion.”

In an issue of the Record, printed in June of this year, last term’s editor William Parke-Sutherland was already voicing his concern about what he called efforts to censor the Antioch Record, calling it “a path down which I refuse to walk.”

Unclear

An interesting point of attention will also be the choice of sources that the interim board will turn to for information to base the new editorial policy upon. Levi B: “I don’t know the specifics yet, but I say we will look at Internal policy, the Honor Code, the Civil Liberties Code and advice from lawyers. The idea is that the board sets editorial policy to create a relationship of trust. It will not have hiring and firing power.”

Although they both tabled the proposal for the interim board, when it comes down to the appointment and position of the permanent REB in the community, the Dean of faculty’s view seems to be different from that of the Community manager. In answer to the question what procedure will be followed to install the new permanent board, Levi B. says: “My understanding is that it goes thru Comcil and that a rewriting of the legislative code is necessary. That means there has to be a two third majority in two different terms before it can get installed.” Contrary to CG’s views, Dean of Faculty Andrzej Bloch says he does not see the need to write the new Permanent board into the College leg-code: “Actually, I see this as business for AdCil rather than Comcil. The suggestions for appointments should be made by AdCil, with final appointment by the president.” Community manager Levi B.: “The Record comes out of activity fees, not part of the annual operating budget. Appointments don’t represent the community ownership. “Installing the interim board for this semester only requires temporary suspension of the code, which can be done with a majority vote. Following regular procedure, the permanent board should have to go thru a tougher procedure in order for REB to be written into the Leg-code. Whether a proposal for the permanent board will be presented to ComCil or not will likely be the result of discussion between the Community manager, the Dean of Faculty and the office of the President. This and other issues, including whether REB will have hiring and firing power over The Records editors need to be resolved within the course of this term.

Dispatches from Community Meeting

By Kathryn Leahey 

The term’s second regularly scheduled community meeting proved to be less exciting than the first. To begin, Beth Jones and Meredith Root (or Be-Root, collectively), the masterminds behind the Womyn’s Center, were named Community Members of the Week. A string of thankfulness involving organized events then ensued. Hope thanked Robin for providing the meeting with refreshments, and Ivan Dihoff thanked all those who had attended the previous emergency community meeting, the organization of which prompted Amanda to offer her gratitude to Levi. Caitlin thanked Jimmy Williams for the Constitution Day festivities while Kaleigh lauded Melody for the Shabbat and workshop she organized this past weekend. CG as a whole was also recognized for bringing Swan Island to campus. Chelsea and Jenna both thanked the women’s rugby team as well as the Cincinnati Women’s Rugby Team. Jenna also extended her thanks to her friends for their assistance during her period of limited mobility. Finally, Luke thanked all Record readers who complimented the first issue of the term.

When the entire community’s gratitude was exhausted, we proceeded with the candidate’s forum. Six students have decided to run for ComCil, while only four students and one faculty member are making an attempt to be elected to AdCil. Those running for ComCil are nearly all third-years and seem to be overwhelmingly female. Brian Utley, the sole second- year male candidate, made it known that he feels his minority opinion would be an asset to the council. Others’ reasons for running differed. Nicole wanted to make sure that campus voices continue to be heard during the changes that are occurring at Antioch, and Meghan Pergram felt as though her thorough understanding of the Leg Code would be an asset. Chelsea Martens and Julie Phillips both cited their previous community involvement as a reason for electing them while Sarah Buckingham banked on her sheer love for Antioch. Questioning began, and we discovered that, although all of the candidates are already exceedingly busy, they all believe that will have ample time to fulfill their ComCil duties if elected. When asked about specific policies, Meghan referenced a long-term guest policy that she would like to see devised and Brian mentioned an idea to support low-income students throughout the registration process, although exactly what he went by that was not made clear. Most candidates were found to have ideas for making meetings more efficient. Brian announced that he was a trained meeting facilitator while others presented ideas about preparation, redirection, and sub-committee use. Meghan, however, felt as though long conversations are often very useful. Chelsea and Meghan also both gave some ideas for strengthening the council’s presence on campus and its standing with the administration which centered around assuring timely progress.

Finally the interrogation of the prospective ComCil members ended and future AdCil members were up to bat. Hassan Rahmanian., the only faculty member who came forth, has been on AdCil for 10 years, but this is his first instance of running on the community side. Two prospective council members, Erin Winter and Ryan Boasi, decided on the spot to run. Both cited frustration with the state of the school as the reason for their decisions. Erin is also, apparently, a morning person, a statement that cannot be truthfully made about most college students. Corri Frohlich, another candidate, is trying to make the big move between ComCil and AdCil. Chris McKinless, the final student hopeful, is most concerned about AdCil’s advisory board status, a concern that he say is his reason for running. When asked by Caitlin how he plans to handle that concern, he mentioned “creative methods?, although he didn’t explain what he meant by that. Ryan and Erin responded to the question by saying that AdCil needs to improve the student body’s relationship with the administration by acting in a strong but respectful manner. However, Corri, as opposed to Chris, sees nothing wrong with AdCil’s status as an advisory board. Although some of the questioning by the community devolved into statements rather than inquiries, Amanda’s question about AdCil taking action had all five candidates poised to show their passion for actually getting things done.

Many of the announcements made after the candidates’ forum involved help being requested in one form or another. The Phone-a-thon still needs workers, as does the Coretta Scott King Center, Events, and the Tecumseh Land Trust. Volunteers were called for by Jelesia for Make-A-Difference day as well as the CG office, the community garden to build a scarecrow on Saturday, and the SOPP office for a poster campaign. Despite all the help that is apparently needed, only one organization asked for any money. One hundred dollars was requested for the Queers Only Party on Friday, about which we were told to “be there or be straight.? The Womyn’s Center is holding an event entitled “Love Your Body Night? on the 29th and a Planned Parenthood Potluck on October 6th. Everyone should also check posts around campus about upcoming Wellness Center activities.

The most anticipated part of the meeting, clarification from Robin Heise, shared little new information and left some with a bad taste in their mouths. Robin read from a statement that she had posted to First Class, reinforcing basic ideas repeatedly. John Minter apologized for any misinformation that he may have taken part in, and Meghan thanked him on behalf of all of the students for being so available; Robin followed up his statement by saying that John had not been working in financial aid long enough to truly understand it. The statement was likely well-intended, although some felt as though Robin was more chastising John than coming to his aid. After the financial aid talk, Melody led a brief party etiquette refresher course. The wisdom imparted? 1) Don’t break anything! 2) Clean up after yourselves! 3) The SOPP still applies, even if you are drunk.

The final major topic brought up at Pulse was a discussion over the appropriateness of last week’s Question of the Week. Most saw no harm in the topic, although some felt that it was possibly exacerbating a standing problem. The misunderstanding related to the Record feature was determined to be due to the difficulty of judging a person’s tone in print without the use of the dreaded emoticon. Noam Chomsky and Voltaire were quoted and ideas about personal rights and discretion were discussed, but no real conclusion was reached except that the article was provocative. Tune in next week for more information about union workers on campus having to submit to drug testing.