Blues Fest, Inteview with Guy Davis


Erykha Badu performs at AACW Blues Fest – Photo by: Kari Thompson
By Wesley Hiserman

Last weekend Antioch College hosted the African American Cross Cultural Works’ Blues Fest. The festival followed a Gospel Fest at the Central Chapel A.M.F. on Wednesday and, on Thursday a lecture by Kevin Dean of the Ringling School of Art and Design and presentation by steel drum manufacturer Panyard, Inc.

The AACW Blues Fest started with the Terra City Blues Band, W.G. Blues Band, Karen Patterson Jazz Ensemble, and the Ark Band on Friday. The weekend featured sets by Guy Davis, Sangmelé, Jimi Vincent and Stallion, Nerak Roth Patterson, Mo’ Blues, Goapele, Frédéric Yonnet and Erykah Badu. Badu’s set ended the festival on Sunday a few hours after Yellow Springs mayor David Foubert named September eighth through tenth “African American Culture Week.? During this event that might be better described as “African American Culture Weekend,? I got the opportunity to sit down with acoustic blues master Guy Davis. Davis’ original songs are wellwritten and beautifully performed and while playing the oldest form of blues in the festival, he admits that his music is at best a perfectionist’s imitation of the original blues.

“I am not a bluesman, as I’m called. If they call me that, I don’t say anything. What I am is a blues musician,? he said Saturday night shortly after playing his set and making a guest appearance during roots band Sangmele’s. Davis is the son of two successful actors, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. He never experienced the anguish that normally corresponds to those who perform the same old style blues as he. As he (and his website) puts it, the only cotton he’s ever picked was his underwear off the floor. His understanding instead stems from an emotional awareness of history.

“My blues, I believe, is ancient blues. My spirit recognizes spirits that were here so, so long ago who came to this country in chains. And since that time, even when the chains were taken off by a proclamation of law, there were invisible chains still that held them down economically and racially. The music that I sing comes directly from those people as they came to rise up and go up off the farms where they labored even after slavery in something resembling indentured servitude.

“Sometimes the blues is entertaining, it’s sexy, it’s about a man who’s got a lot of girlfriends. Or it’s about a woman who lives in a man’s world doing the things that men can do. You know, it can be funny, it can be sad, blues can be many things but I think it originates in a cry of the human spirit for humanity, just for treatment as a human being. That’s where I think blues originates and that’s where I think my blues reaches back to.?

As for what his relationship is to real bluesmen, Davis is certain.

“A bluesman is somebody who came up in the time of Jim Crow and the time of unequal housing, unequal education, unequal health opportunities, job opportunities and such. They came up in a world where the black man was last and the white man was first no matter what else.

“I do not live in that world, although I do see remnants of that world. Some of that ignorance still exists but the world is no longer that and I am not a bluesman. I don’t show up in clubs with a knife looking for a fight. I don’t show up in clubs looking to get drunk because my blues heroes apparently, according to history, got drunk.

“…I could believe that it might help for a man to sing the blues if he has suffered true, deep, utter heartbreak, if he’s been so broke he’s had to beg for money, if his only comfort was newspapers stuffed in his clothing or a warm pint of some kind of whiskey.

“However, remember the world is a progressive experience. The men who came up with the blues dreamed that the world would not truly be like that always and their ancestors, the slaves, dreamt that the would would not be like that always. They wanted a world where their children could grow up and never know what a nigger was, and never know what it was like to be so poor that you had to stuff cardboard into the bottoms of the shoes of your children so that they could walk to school if they could even go to school.?

As a product of this progressive world some 68 years after the death of legendary bluesman Robert Johnson, whose biographical documentary Hellhounds on My Trail Davis played in, Davis is conflicted about what makes a blues musician authentic. The question of race is one area where this conflict surfaces.

“I have differing feelings. If it’s a Tuesday I say yeah, white boy should sing the blues. If it’s a Thursday I say no, they shouldn’t. It’s not really up to me. I don’t think the burden of that choice is up to me.?

Arguably, the line between a well-off African American and a poor White American is blurred as far as social power is concerned. Davis believes the expression of personal and political blues figuratively corresponds to the changes that occur in the world.

“Think of the Black Panthers, think of the black muslims coming along with Malcolm X. These men were saying what their blues was and they were saying that the world had to change and the world was not ready for change. J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI made sure the world did not change. Yet J. Edgar Hoover and all of his kind mostly have died out. So these changes are coming nonetheless. There was a time when I wouldn’t see a black face when I looked at a television screen and now you see them all the time.

“That is not to say there are not still tremendous problems in the entertainment industry regarding black people and work. But you do see more, you do see progress, you do see change. That means that somebody somewhere expressed their blues.?

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.


“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.

Horoscopes 09.15.06

By Amy Campbell

That’s right, I put Capricorn on top, because we‘re all goal
driven and what not. That and I like being able to find my
horoscope easily. Capricorn, dear fellow Capricorn, please,
please, please stop working so hard. I know that laying doom
and destruction upon all your fellow classmates makes an
excellent step ladder from corpses, but slow down and stop
to enjoy the mushrooms that sprout from all the fertilizer
you’re leaving behind. Don’t get so bogged down in work
that you can’t dig your way out of it. Let’s recreate, baby.
Also, you might have had a little fun last weekend, try not
to feel guilty about it, Antioch ain’t the Catholic church,
nor is it academic purgatory (unless you‘re a fifth year).
Tarot Card for this week: The Empress – in touch
with your own nature, but more in control than subject
to it. You have a wealth of knowledge and tend to
use it for everyone’s benefit, but only if they ask for it.

Dammit Aquarius, why can’t you get your life together? This
week might start with a surprise, hopefully it isn’t waking up
to an unexpected bed partner. Although your outlook for a
tasty fling is possible, but you may want to take a page from
Capricorn and plan for these things. You’ll be more productive
in the middle of the week than at the beginning or the end,
probably because of your hormones. Buy yourself a day planner
and stick to it. I know you’re an air sign, as crazy as that is
being a WATER-bearer, but it’s no excuse – do your homework.
Tarot Card for this week: The Moon – been distracted much?
Stop howling at the moon or those lobsters will bite your ass
and you’ll never get where you’re going. No really. Lobsters.
Big ones. I bought ten of them and I know where you live.

Okay Pisces, I know you had a bad time this summer, but
get out there and meet some people! You’re a first year,
or you’re an upperclassman who hasn’t met the ass-ton of
first years on campus yet. No whining about how hard it is
to make friends. Maybe if you turn up the charm that we
all know you have you’ll make some new friends to make
up for the hard time you’ve been having with your social
life recently. Blah, blah, blah, is all I hear, stop shouting at
the paper, it cares as much as I do. You’ll thank me later.
PS: Potential cuddling, snuggling, and nuzzling
if that’s a motivator for you.
Tarot Card for this week: The Hierophant
– you’re so far away on that throne. Why don’t you
step down and join the rest of us for awhile?
Aries, you’re such a speed demon, but this week you’ll be
slowed down a bit. Don’t worry, this is temporary and pace
will pick up again in a few days. In the meantime you should
be gathering your thoughts, maybe put that cell phone down
and go out and enjoy the weather. Try not to get too caught up
looking ahead, you’ll miss something in the present that will be
worth catching. If you get offended this week, you’re probably
over-reacting a bit. Take the time to sit down with whoever
offended you and have a <3 to <3. Chances are they didn’t mean it the way it came out, especially if it’s an overloud Capricorn. Tarot Card for this week: The Fool - You’re too busy looking up where it’ll do you no good. Take a look around and start noticing what’s going on around you and your immediate future rather than way off in space. Trust me, the next step is a doozy, you’ll need to be prepared for it, but you’re not going to know what to do if you don’t know what’s going on now. TAURUS (APRIL 20-MAY 20) It’s all about money, and how you don’t know how to spend it properly. You’ll probably get a wad of cash from your parents and blow it on something frivolous. And you know what, that’s okay. Depending on what it is. Try to make purchases that will last, that way if you regret it later you can always Ebay it. If you haven’t picked up a FWSP or IWSP job yet, now might be the time. I hear rumor they need a couple of down to earth people in housing and the bookstore, but that’s only from a little genie who floats around campus so don’t quote me on that one. Buying a Capricorn a drink at a party is always a fruitful investment, unless they have a Virgo Ascendant. You may also seem a little homesick and stuck right now. Tough it out, it’ll get better, and if not you can always transfer next term. Tarot Card for this week: Eight of Swords - help, help, I’m being oppressed! GEMINI (MAY 21-JUNE 21) I was given permission by the editors to be outright mean to Gemini’s in writing my horoscopes. Unfortunately, you guys have it pretty good this week. You need to stop feeding the rumor mill though, it has enough help without you. Do us all a favor and keep your lips closed until you’re sure about what’s going on. This isn’t to say you should be social, in fact social interactions are pretty beneficial this week. Just ask for clarification rather than running around spouting stuff you don’t know anything about. Take some time to get to know a stranger, and I don’t mean in the carnal sense, unless that floats your boat. Tarot Card for this week: Two of Pentacles - what personality do I want to present to the world today and how will I get away with having multiple personalities? Get real, Gemini. No, I mean it. CANCER (JUNE 22 - JULY 22) Are we thinking about dropping out, becoming an alcoholic, changing majors (again), transferring, dropping a class, taking an academic leave? Yes, we are, Cancer. Don’t worry, I don’t think less of you. You’ve had a little help in this area. You’ve been talking to embittered fourth years again. Try not to let their opinion influence you too much. You’ll have enough trouble trying to sort out what you actually want to do, both in the near future and in your life in general. Now might not be the time to take advice from other people, unless maybe it’s your academic advisor. Remember, nobody likes a quitter, especially if you don’t give two weeks notice. Tarot Card for this week: Page of Pentacles (reversed) - things are more complicated than they appear, especially the transfer process. Think about what you really want to do before acting rashly (and about that rash…ew). LEO (JULY 23-AUGUST 22) Blah, blah, blah. Yes we all know how important you think you are, Leo. But really, once you shave off that mane you’re just another big cat…with claws…and teeth. Whatever it is you’re roaring about probably isn’t important, at least not to other people. Make sure people care if you want them to listen to you, otherwise don’t get offended when they tune you out. It’s not you, it’s just that you’re talking about something really boring. Stop it. Don’t worry though, you’ll be soaked with sun-shiny rays of positivity and joy. Try not to be too annoying to your more cynical friends. I mean, it’s good to see you in a good mood, but too much is too much. Even when the glass is half full, it still means you have to go back to the drink machines in the middle of your meal at the Caf. Try and write something, like those two papers due this week. Tarot Card for this week: The Star - Let the good times roll, but try to add to those good times rather than spilling milk. VIRGO (AUGUST 23-SEPTEMBER 22) Work, work, work. You’ll most likely be editing your paper for the third time or cleaning your room for the tenth time this term. Unfortunately, these will probably be distractions from things you actually need to be doing, like editing the Record. Try to make sure your super powers of anal retention are put towards things that actually need to be done. If you need more to do, come find me, I’ve got plenty of suggestions for things that need to be done on campus. Oh yeah, and if you wanna clean my room, I’m looking for a pool boy. Try not to forget to celebrate your birthday, and for god’s sake let someone else plan it this year. Tarot Card for this week: Nine of Cups - so much to do, I can’t pick what I should do first! Oh, I know, first I’ll arrange them by size, then shape, then color! No wait, now they’re all different heights! Enough with the OCD, ignore the vessel and just tackle the problem already. LIBRA (SEPTEMBER 23-OCTOBER 22) You might want to go out and buy a black hoodie if you don’t already have one and put on your saddest, most pathetic music. That’s right, you’re going into emo-mode. Mostly you’ll just be overly reflective. I hope you’re taking Epistemology this term, at least then you’ll have an excuse for the moping. Luckily your scales will tip often enough that you’ll have some good times this week too. Tarot Card this week: Ace of Cups (reversed) - I am a fountain overflowing with joy. This happiness will never cease. SCORPIO (OCTOBER 23-NOVEMBER 21) Scorpio, get out of that dank dark hole you live in and resolve that issue with Cancer or Leo you have already. Chances are you’re being a jerk anyway and you need to apologize. I mean, I know Cancer and Leo can be annoying, but so can you. Grow a backbone before you become a squishy mess on someone’s shoe, otherwise you’ll miss out on some great opportunities, unless you enjoy being scraped off of someone’s shoe. Oh yeah, and at some point you have to leave Antioch, even if you know you‘re not ready yet. I know it’s as dark and dank as any hole and here they think it’s cool that you glow in black light, but if you don’t change holes some other Scorpion will come by and drag you out by the tail. Tell me Scorpio, if you’re flipped on your back and held down, do you have any choice but to sting yourself? Tarot Card this week: Three of Cups (reversed) - you’re having such a good time that you forgot to realize that this isn’t fun anymore! SAGITTARIUS (NOVEMBER 22- DECEMBER 21) Mood swings again Sagittarius? Maybe it’s time to take a break from Pisces and Aquarius and hang out with a more stable sign. You’ll be discussing philosophy at some point during this week, whether you recognize it or not. It seems that you’ll just need different things at different times. If something’s not working for you at the moment go do something else and come back to it. No point in stripping screws just because you’re frustrated. I recommend not putting together IKEA furniture this weekend, or ever really. Tarot Card this week: The High Priestess - something isn’t right, you just don’t know what. Try listening to that feeling and avoiding people and situations that make you uncomfortable. Next week may be better for confrontations.

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.