Matt’s “Keep Antioch Open” letter to Alumni-Chat

On Jun 30, 2007, at 7:00 PM, Sistersara wrote:
>Matt, I don’t think keeping open is really an option.

Thank you for being clear on where you stand on this issue. As I mentioned earlier there are a number of us who are working, very hard right now, towards the ‘Keep it open’ goal. I am not excited about the idea of ‘building a new college’ in 2012, no matter how cool it may be. That will not be ‘Antioch’ to me if the current ‘community’ is dissolved. My heart and checkbook will go elsewhere.

As you said,  I’m reacting to the heat of the now but it’s more than that. This isn’t kneejerk, I don’t think the BoT or Steve Lawry are evil, I just think they are steering the ship in the wrong direction and don’t share the same vision for Antioch College that I and others share. For as long as I’ve been involved with Antioch there has been a tangible tension between the “business” of Antioch verses the “Community” of Antioch. I think that we’ve drifted too far into the business end of things and that’s what has been hurting the college. I think the BOT was right in one of their arguments on why the new curriculum was needed… Antioch should be unique. However I think they were idiots for telling the faculty how to do the curriculum, the curriculum wasnt what we needed to make unique, what we needed was a way to market what was already unique about Antioch. But the BOT was pushing for profit.. “make it more generic on the politics/community aspect, get a more generic president, other generic places make money, we can too”. This is similar to what happened with WYSO.. it got “NPR”d.. local volunteer shows were replaced with syndicated ones that raised more money. More money = better right? Not if it’s at the expense of the mission, and I think the BOT’s ‘mission’ and vision of Antioch College got watered down and has drifted far from the potential the college has.

Here’s the thing, I care deeply about the faculty there now, I studied with many of them 15 years ago as a student, and worked with them for the 5 years I worked at the college after graduating, and have met and corresponded with many of the newer faculty since then. They are an amazing bunch of people and I am have no qualms about the academic program Antioch provides. They are worth fighting to save. I have also met and corresponded with a number of current students and they too are worth fighting to save. While I have some mixed feelings about the pros & cons of Unions from time to time, they staff members I know & have worked with are amazing individuals. No one stays at Antioch for the money, they stay for the community, whether that’s the broader community or the co-workers they work with day to day, logical or no, I believe Antioch attracts and retains exceptional people. Antioch’s institutional memory and community are worth fighting to save.  If the doors close on 7/1/08 we lose all that.

While I love the goal of having an independent Antioch College, and of having an Antioch College in 2012 that rocks, I refuse to accept the idea that the only way to accomplish this is to shut it down and restart it years later. And while others may not be posting here on this subject, I know for certain I am not alone in this feeling. That’s what is driving me to spend hours on this subject brainstorming with others about ideas on how to save Antioch, raise funds, help admissions, help the faculty etc.  Not just now but down the road. This huge grassroots effort we’re seeing now isn’t a ‘reopen in 2012’ effort. It’s “Save Antioch”. Closing the doors in 2008 is letting it die, and I will not let that happen without a fight. I can point out a number of things I think were flawed with the current Antioch but I refuse to believe that it was a dying college. This crisis was manufactured by the BoT. If they had left the curriculum alone, or even funded the 5 year plan they promised, I believe Antioch College would be solvent. Struggling perhaps, but not closing it’s doors.

I’m not living in an illusion. I understand the BOT is in control now. I understand that faculty, staff and students are leaving NOW. I also understand that keeping it open will be hard and isn’t statistically likely. But I’ve also seen more energy and focus on Antioch in the past week than I have in years. I can’t explain this in any logical manner, but there are a number of us who have been basically waiting for a chance to help Antioch. Antioch never asked for our help beyond fund raising and that wasn’t what we could provide, least not in the amounts they wanted. But whether the BOT intended this or not, they’ve woken the ‘sleeping giant’, at least for the Antioch circles I travel in. People are not just pissed off and whining, they are working hard with ideas, vision and passion to do what they can to keep the doors open. We may not succeed but damned if we’re not going to do all we can to fight this decision.

This is why it’s worth doing work NOW to keep it open. The sooner we reverse this decision the sooner we can start the new Antioch plan and put this passion towards not just fundraising but helping Antioch reach it’s potential. I am glad folks like you, Michael Olenick, and Mark Pomerantz are discussing some of the bigger vision planning for down the road. I still believe in an amazing kickass Antioch in 2012, I just think.. no, scratch that… I BELIEVE we can get there from where we are now without hitting the reset button.

If others are out there who feel the same about keeping it open, please speak up, i’m feeling kinda lonely here. On the other hand if everyone here are all ‘2012ers’ well then we need to figure out why the dozens if not hundreds of folks doing the grassroots ‘save antioch’ work are on such a different page than those in the chat rooms. In the meantime, if it takes bake sales, concerts, and other wild ideas to keep Antioch open then that’s what we’ll do. Logical & pragmatic, probably not, but worth doing? Definitely.

-Matt ’92

One thought on “Matt’s “Keep Antioch Open” letter to Alumni-Chat”

  1. hi matt. i pilfered the RSS feed icon on your site because it seemed to match the color scheme of my site more closely than the orange one that wordpress offered as a default: hope ya don’t mind.

    i’ve been in touch with sarah stratton who went back to the ol’ alma mater for the recent reunion. and, of course, seen the ny times story with the dan shoemaker photo.

    2012? what are the trustees waiting for? the end of the mayan caldendar and the galactic synchronization beam that jose arguelles has been predicting?

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