Ever since the Alumni Board’s official decision to move Alumni Reunion to October 2-4, from its usual time in June, Nonstop has been planning the Summer Alumni Festival, whose purpose is to both celebrate Nonstop’s accomplishments and to connect or reconnect Alumni with Nonstop. Much of the specifics of the Festival are yet to be determined, but the plan is to have work projects – such as painting a mural on the back wall of Millworks that parallels the bike path – dinners, and social events. The Festival is scheduled for the 18th through the 20th of June with hopes that the Alumni Board (AB) members will attend some of the events, since they will be in town for their summer meeting. The Alumni Festival could potentially sync well with the AB meeting, because it may have less time to spare in hosting visiting alumni. “The Alumni Board has already discussed having a very business-oriented meeting in June,” said Aimee Maruyama (’96), Director of Alumni Relations and Development. AB member Christian Feuerstein ’94 writes, “I would imagine that parts of our annual meeting are going to be Nonstop events, much as we did with our last AB meeting.”
Nancy Crow ’70, AB President, though hopeful that the Alumni Festival may bring more alumni to attend open meetings, is concerned that it may draw potential donors’ attention from the effort to get Antioch College back. “Calling the June event an alumni festival makes it appear as an alternative to the Reunion in October,” said President Crow in a subsequent telephone interview. It’s going to cause a tremendous amount of confusion,” she said. “We all share the same goal–to revive Antioch College–and we need to be strategic in our fund raising.”Crow would prefer to see the June event be framed as a celebration of what Nonstop has accomplished. Nonstop “carried forward the cause of progressive education,” she said.
On Friday, April 3rd, ExCil appointed to the Alumni Board Taskforce Molly Thorton of Class of ’10, staff member Carole Braun and Chris Hill of the Executive collective. The Alumni Board representatives have not been appointed yet. The Taskforce is a result of the March 7th the Alumni Board resolution “to foster collaboration and build consensus with representatives of the key stakeholders… Nonstop, the Board Pro Tem, and the Alumni Board.” The Taskforce was charged to develop the proposal presented by Nonstop to the Alumni Board so it could be presented to the Board Pro Tem. The Pro Tem Board has subsequently declared that they will not be sending representatives to the Taskforce, because “part of the board should not be involved in making a proposal to themselves,” according to Matthew Derr.
Meanwhile, TAG (Transition Advisory Group) met for the first time Tuesday, April 7th. Appointed by Matthew Derr, TAG currently includes student Jeanne Kay, Community Manager Chelsea Martens, Faculty Jean Gregorek, Executive Collective member Hassan Rahmanian, staff person Joan Meadows, Head of Alumni Relations Aimee Maruyama, Alumni Board member Ellen Borgersen, and Yellow Springs Village Council President Judith Hempfling. At the Tuesday meeting TAG defined its charge: “The Transition Advisory Group will work to facilitate communication between stakeholders in Yellow Springs and in the larger Antiochian community during the transition towards an independent Antioch College. It will advise Chief Transition Officer Matthew Derr for the Pro Tem Board.”
“The next few months are going to be extremely difficult,” said Jeanne Kay the spokesperson for the group, “Nonstop’s faculty and staff’s livelihoods and lifeworks are endangered, there is a multiplicity of visions for the new Antioch, and rebuilding the college will take a lot of work. TAG, hopefully, will tend to the community’s concerns, open communication channels between the Pro Tem Board and the Yellow Springs community, and do creative problem-solving as a group of committed Antiochians that have been part of the struggle since the beginning.”
Also on the 3rd, in accordance with a proposal brought by the Executive Collective, ExCil created a ten-person Advisory Group to help coordinate the efforts of Nonstop community members working in the Alumni Board Taskforce, TAG and Nonstop Community Goverment. The following were appointed to the Group: students Jonny No and Shea Witzberger; staff Donna Evans and Nancy Wilburn; Faculty Dennie Eagleson, Bob Devine and Nevin Mercede; Executive Collective member Susan Eklund-Leen and Beverly Rodgers; and Community Manager Meghan Pergrem. At the ExCil meeting ExCol member Chris Hill explained the history and rationale behind the advisory group: “One of the first ideas that the Executive collective floated was a larger, perhaps between 5 and 7 members of the Taskforce coming from Nonstop [but] Nancy [Crow] seems to want to keep the group smaller. So, we decided what might work, effectively, would be to have an advisory committee… that would serve as an advisory committee not only to the Taskforce but also to the folks that are going to be part of TAG.”
I’ve looked over the Board Pro Tempore’s concept paper a couple times since its release a few days ago, and my feeling are, to say the least, mixed.
I have to admit that it all looks very smart and exciting. In fact, there’s a lot of that stuff that I think I could get on board with. They want to enact more diversity initiatives and make the college more international? Great. Require students to develop a working knowledge of at least one additional language? Sure. The Distinguished Faculty program, with classes taught by alumni and friends of the college? Why not?
The Board is committed to a tenured faculty. That’s good. And though it doesn’t say so in the concept paper, I understand they also want union staff. Also good.
They propose a restoration campaign, and want to make the campus more sustainable. I support them in this too, so long as we take said “restoration” measures to have maximum emphasis on utility and minimum emphasis on glamor. Concentrate on the necessities of running a healthy college in line with our values, not projecting a classy image. I think we can all agree that Antioch College is never going to be luxurious, so let’s not throw desperately needed money away trying to make it look luxurious.
I agree with the Board’s wish to lower tuition. In fact, I would like us to commit to a long-term vision that one day Antioch College will be entirely tuition-free, with grants available for travel for geographically challenged students.
I also support the proposal to have students and faculty contribute a certain amount of work while on-campus, which I’m sure would also be a feature of an eventual tuition-free program. This Spring term at Nonstop we mandated a 4 hour per week work policy for students which-though beset with glitches-has on the whole been a step in the right direction.
However, I feel some of the concept paper’s other ideas give cause for concern. Most importantly: the three-year plan.
Anybody who’s seen my comments on Listen Up Antioch and ACAN knows that I think essentially eliminating break time for all parties involved is a spectacularly bad idea. In an emotionally and intellectually charged atmosphere like Antioch’s, students, faculty and staff need frequent breaks for a little change of pace, not to mention rest and recuperation.
Faculty, in particular need time to perform their own research, so they can stay on top of the latest information in their field and so that they can produce their own innovations, as good Antiochians do. Somebody at that DC area chapter meeting also pointed out that staff need time for building maintenance, and there simply wasn’t enough of it last time we were on trimesters.
Reading over the outlines for the curriculum plan, I can’t help picturing students running a three year educational obstacle course at top speed, with no time to rest, and also no time to pause and reflect. The best learning requires that the student have the opportunity to stop and digest what they’ve learned, subjecting it to critical analysis on the way. That’s what Antioch has always stood for. For this, the student requires time; more than three years, possibly more than four. Heck, let’s go back to being a five-year college, if that’s how long it takes to get the job done properly.
And while utilizing new technology to keep students in touch with the community while out on co-op sounds like a good idea, I can all too easily picture the concept being used to cram more work and obligations onto already overburdened students.
The first time I heard mention of this three-year notion was after the “Visioning a College” weekend at Earlham last year. The way I heard it, the alumni were talking about a five-year program and the organizers basically said “There’s nothing eye-catching about a five-year institution, why not go for a three-year program?”
In other words, the idea first came up as a marketing gimmick. When an institution bearing the name “Antioch College” is reduced to throwing cheap glitter over its program to attract students, I’ll know the Antioch I went to, the Antioch I loved, is well and truly dead.
Wake up, people! This is Antioch. We don’t want the students who are attracted to pretty buildings, or to a curriculum which rushes them through their education without time for any actual learning. Let’s have a curriculum which actually reflects our values of introspection and critical engagement.
One argument for the three-year plan is that it will be helpful in lowering tuition. What if instead we utilized that Antiochian propensity for innovation the Board brags so much about in the concept paper and find another way to keep costs down? Something that does not require such a potentially disastrous setup?
Elsewhere, members of the Board Pro Tem have been quick avoid making any definitive statements about curriculum, because they don’t want to tie the faculty’s hands. I can’t imagine what they thought they were doing with this extremely detailed concept paper, but it can’t’ve been keeping a blank slate.
I would like to take this opportunity to encourage the Board to let the faculty-once (they admit) they have a faculty-develop a workable curriculum, with input from Board members of course, and also of past, present, and prospective students, to insure that the result is something which addresses the needs of all Antioch stakeholders. As I said in my Listen Up and ACAN comments: we don’t need a plan that’s “trendy” or slick. We need a plan that’s right. A plan that’s Antiochian.
The Record: My first question is for you to introduce yourself, in terms of your experience at Antioch: when did you graduate, what was your major, what was your Antiochian experience, what was your relationship to Antioch since you left?
Joe Foley: I’m Joe Foley and I graduated in ’64 with a B.S., I had a major in philosophy and a minor in math, and my primary interest at that time in my life was documentary film production which I did largely through co-op jobs because there weren’t any real courses on campus related to that. […] I worked a number of times with a documentary film company in DC and Antioch kept wanting me to take a wider variety of jobs and I kept saying but I’m doing a different things there every time so it came out my way as these things tend to at Antioch and it was very good. I also did a stand at a hospital as nurse’s aide and several odds and ends of things. After Antioch I did my graduate work at the University of Iowa, which turned out to be an excellent experience though Iowa city was a place I never thought I would go. And did my graduate work in communication, I was in speech and dramatic art and worked as a teaching assistant and ultimately as an instructor there largely teaching television production and running the instructional television studio that they had on the campus. After that I taught for a year at America University in DC and then went to what I thought was a temporary job at Ohio State University where I ended up staying 25 years. At Ohio State I was teaching some production classes, largely on the television side at that point, some social science research classes dealing with impact of media on audiences, and over the years my interest evolved and I became primarily focused on telecommunication policy things, first amendment issues, media and society issues, and issues that were developing in the 70s, 80s, 90s, as information was becoming a commodity rather than a kind of free good like it had been previously.
When did you become involved with the Alumni Board?
I joined the Alumni Board I think three of four years ago … and had been not particularly involved with the alumni association or with the alumni prior to that time. I certainly was not involved with the political aspects of campus life when I was on campus either.
Did you often come back to campus after you graduated?
Living in Colombus we came over to Yellow Springs a lot, particularly because our kids really liked coming to Yellow Springs, it was a town where they could go do things on their own…we would come to campus sometimes and sometimes come to a campus event but I didn’t have any particular ties with the campus.
You’re the new Vice President of the Alumni Board, how do you envision your role, how are Nancy Crow and you dividing tasks?
That’s very much evolving, and my view-in other organizations I’ve been board vice-president, I’ve been board president-my view is that the vice-president basically does the things that the president asks them to do. And one of the things that’s clearly gonna be part of my role is that I’m much closer to Yellow Springs than Nancy is so I’ll be more likely to be coming over here for meetings and so on.
So are you planning to interact with the Nonstop Community?
I’m certainly open to that; I don’t particularly feel like I need to impose myself on the Nonstop Community, which is clearly an exciting and dynamic and ongoing group. On the other hand if there’s ways I can be helpful, I’m glad to be and there may be some places where I feel I need to interfere and the Nonstop community will also see me in those roles.
And so you’re going to be more involved with the CRF office, is that what you meant by more involved in Yellow Springs?
Well, CRF, Nonstop, ExCil, all the other Cils… Don’t ask me to do a chart of how all the Cils relate to each other ‘cause I don’t know but… [I’ll be] involved in the whole movement for ongoing Antioch. But also that is very much a movement that is being done very well by a lot of very committed people in Yellow Springs who have invested large amounts of energy and creative kinds of problem-solving in making that happen.
What direction is the AB/CRF going to take in the next few months concerning the reintegration of Nonstop after the definitive agreement? What position do you see the AB/CRF taking?
Overall I don’t know that the Alumni Board has a position in the sense of “here is the particular scenario we wanna have played out,” I think that’s going to be an evolving piece of work over the next weeks, months, whatever the time frame turns out to be. The Alumni Board has a primary commitment to reopening an independent Antioch College in Yellow Springs with undergraduate instruction etc… the whole litany. And how we get from where we are now to that point clearly is something that’s going to continue to evolve based on the circumstances as they occur.
What are the next major decisions that the Alumni Board will be confronted with or issues that it will have to tackle?
The next major things I suppose are going to depend on what happens with the Board ProTem fundraising … If it comes out that yes there’s a definitive agreement, yes the Board Pro Tem Project is going forward then there is a whole series of things the Alumni Board has to do to handle the transition to that forward movement. If all of that turns out to be going nowhere then there’s clearly a whole series of other things the Alumni Board is going to be faced with and I don’t think anyone has any idea of how one would respond in that situation. The emphasis has been on what can we do to help increase the likelihood that the Board ProTem Proposal is going to be successful and that we can go forward in that direction.
Nonstop is a project of the CRF and Nonstop is coming to an end in terms of funding on June 30th. What is your position on what should happen after that, or how it should be reintegrated?
It’s not at all clear which of a number of directions that … will go. That’s gonna depend on external things, like what kind of funding if anything is available for various directions, and it’s going to depend on individual decisions from people who have been working with Nonstop. I think it’s certainly likely in a lot of those things that whatever is happening relating to Nonstop in the coming year will be substantially different from what happened this year. But what the parameters of that are, and which things will be different and which things will not be different, I don’t know. As far as I know there’s little likelihood that the funding sources that were available this year are gonna be available after the June 30th time period and that poses some pretty severe challenges to what could be designed going forward. One of the things the [AB] Task Force is looking in and a lot of people are looking in and talking about is what are some ways we can have a viable program going forward that captures the values and energies that Nonstop has had. If there were an easy answer to that everybody would be saying oh yeah there’s the answer, but apparently there’s not an easy answer to that.
At the last AB/CRF meeting we learned that there was a fundraising gap for Nonstop and we weren’t sure that the budget would be paid until June, do you have an update about that?
As of last night’s conference call with the executive committee, it looks like if the expenditures for Nonstop are within or below the budget figures, we’ll be able to reach the end of June in a position that’s ok. If the expenditures for Nonstop are above the budget figures, we have a real problem.
So we are going to be able to meet the budget target?
It looks as though the dollars available will be able to cover the dollars specified in the budget. The challenge is going to be will the expenses be within the dollars comprehended by the budget. It looks like we’re on target for that and but that is never an easy thing to do and the next few months are very critical in making sure that happens. And it’s important obviously ‘cause you can’t pay for things with money that doesn’t exist but it’s also important I think for the Nonstop story going forward; that story is told one way if the fiscal result of Nonstop is amazingly “this whole project was carried off with all these exciting things and was within budget” and that’s one kind of story and it’s a very exciting story, and another story that is not so exciting is “lots of interesting things happened at Nonstop but it really didn’t make any sense fiscally because it was over budget by x amount.” And even if x is a relatively small dollar figure, it really colors the way the story of Nonstop is told into the future. So I think it is very important that we be sure that it comes in with the expenses within the numbers comprehended within the budget.
My last question is how do you envision the upcoming few months?
I think the upcoming few months are going to be very very challenging for everyone. Saying we’re living with a lot of uncertainty certainly doesn’t make the news in Yellow Springs, you can’t imagine a headline saying the future of Antioch college is uncertain as being something anybody thought was a new breaking story, but in fact that is the case. And as the parameters become more apparent as to what that story is going to be, either going forward with the board ProTem or not going forward with the Board ProTem, or deferred judgment on the Board ProTem’s part or whatever the scenario happens to be and there are hundreds of them that could be out there that we all speculate on, then there’s going to be some real adjustments that are going to be made to that scenario.
A tiny swarm descended upon Yellow Springs on Nonstop’s Community Day, on March 25th. The bees, as they call themselves, are members of the Beehive Collective, a political media-arts collective based out of Maine. Their mission is to “cross-pollinate the grassroots,” touring their large-scale graphic campaigns that intricately weave together the environmental and social aspects of issues from around the globe. With a focus on horizontal organizing, consensus based decision making, and communal living, they had a lot to share with the Nonstop community.
The giant banner they were currently touring focused on MTR, or mountain top removal, a modern form of coal mining that uses heavy machinery to blast away the entire mountain top. This mechanized process exposes a seam of coal that is then scraped away. In addition, this method requires the rock and debris that once was a mountain to be scraped off and dumped into the surrounding valley, decimating one of the most bio-diverse places in the world. In addition, it negatively affects all communities in its wake, destroying their land and forests, toxifying the water and soil, and continuing to weaken a historically exploited and economically depressed region. The complex graphic was compiled of several large sections depicting different aspects of this involved issue. These included a social and environmental history of Appalachia, the changes in industrial and mining process, the effects of mining and coal consumption locally and globally, and a picture of current resistance and a vision of a healthy Appalachia.
Rather than use images of miners, coal companies, and other human constituencies, the posters make use of plants and animals from the bioregion to play these roles. The story becomes even more visibly connected to the history of the place they are dealing with. The bees do much of their research on site, and have spent months traveling Appalachia to gather a picture that is relevant and real from the people that are living with and fighting the socially and environmentally destructive practice of mountain top removal.
At Nonstop’s Community Day, they gave a presentation discussing the situation, the graphic, their work and missions as an organization, and the work that is to be done. They facilitated small group discussions to process the material and generate feedback about their work. Simultaneously, the groups generated ideas about solutions, organizing, and further work against mountain top removal. The bees stayed for long conversations and did some networking, sharing, and organizing with the community, and even ate at the acclaimed Nonstop weekly staple, Big Beautiful Pizza. They talked with children at Mills Lawn before heading to their next tour stop later that day. The community’s reaction was quite positive. As one community member said, “It feels good to be able to talk together about something important that isn’t our own institutional issues.”
At the April 7th COPAS (Community Organizing, Participation, Action and Service) Community Meeting, Nonsters reflected on organizing and about our experience with the bees. Meghan Pergrem, current Nonstop Co-Community Manager, reflected on their visual presence helping our community to understand what they were doing. Chelsea Martens, our other Co-Community Manager, appreciated their use of those visuals to reduce reliance on a specific language and make the material accessible to a wider audience, which the bees covered in their presentation.
The community’s discussion about our lessons from the Beehive included observations about their skills in communication, methods of research and organization, their process of presentation and education, and the similarities and joint struggles between our two communities with regards to commitment, transience, individual and collective needs, and the specific struggles of communal living and working. This illustrated a connection and a depth of learning and conversation that has stayed with this community since the bees presented here. While we were sad to see them buzz off, we’ve clearly been cross-pollinated.