“We’re not gonna protest!”
I was watching CNN this morning and saw a post about a small liberal college in Ohio that was offering free tuition to students. I was surprised, so I watched with interest.
Ohio has a ton of colleges. Vermont, technically, has the highest amount of colleges per capita — but they have like 620,000 residents, roughly 1/3 that of the greater Cleveland metro area. On a random tangent, this is why you have to know statistics and how they are calculated. Small population 23 colleges will yield greater per capita stats than a state of 11 million people. Ohio has about 108 last time I checked.
Small colleges are dotted all over my home state of Ohio: Ohio Wesleyan, Heidelberg, Kenyon, Oberlin, Denison, Wooster, Mount Union, Wittenberg, Wilberforce, Ohio Northern, Hiram, Baldwin-Wallace. The list goes on.
My father attended Ohio Wesleyan, which is a small liberal arts college in the beautiful town of Delaware, Ohio. I didn’t end up going there because I thought the whole place was too damn progressive for my tastes. My friend Joey Yost attended there and graduated still as a Republican — even though he’s a Steelers fan, which is a fault for any Cleveland native. Most of these small schools are very left leaning, most obvious among them, Oberlin. Antioch, is a different animal.
So, this CNN news report shows beautiful shots of the campus and they basically just say “this college closed, but alumni loved it so much, they donated $50+ million to its endowment so it could re-open.”
Now, I never looked at this college, but I definitely remember this college. Where did I hear about this college? We’ll get to that in a second.
CBS News ran a post that didn’t well, give you any real actual news:
Why so generous?
Obviously, it’s unheard of for a college to offer free tuition to its all students. There is, however, an explanation for the generosity.
Antioch is crawling out of the grave. Antioch College, which was originally founded by abolitionists in 1850, shut its door in 2008 after years of decline. Terrible management decisions, among other reasons, led to the closure, but tremendous financial support from dedicated alumni, who were appalled at the closure, led to its rebirth.
“Among other reasons?” Well, what the fuck were they? Oh wait, I remember this college now. This place was full of looney toons and closed down because nobody wanted to go there. This NYT article is barely decent, but doesn’t go into terribly much detail other than to paint the school as one that happened to have some silly liberalism at it at some point in time. It seems to paint the school in an ideal light. To give credit where credit is due, Huffington Post actually hints at some of the reasons this place really closed.
Neither CNN or CBS can give its viewers a truthful, historical, news-worthy account of this school. However, you can get that from a conservative publication called The Weekly Standard.
From that 2007 Weekly Standard article (quoted throughout):
The reasons for the shutdown given by the trustees and by Tulisse Murdock, Antioch University’s chancellor since 2005, were many: years and years of incurable deficits, this year totaling $2.6 million on an annual college budget of $18 million; an extraordinarily low endowment of just $36 million (neighboring Ohio liberal arts colleges Oberlin and Kenyon boast endowments of $700 million and $167 million respectively); and a chronically low student enrollment that topped 600 only once during the preceding 25 years (compare that with Oberlin’s enrollment of nearly 2,900) and has declined precipitously since 2003. During the 2006-07 academic year, for example, only 330 full-time students were enrolled in Antioch’s bachelor-of-arts and bachelor-of-science programs–once so highly regarded that Antioch could boast that it had more graduates who went on to obtain Ph.D.’s than any other college in the country.
Right. So, Antioch closed because of economic problems. Nobody wanted to pay $40k a year to go there. Got it.
Why did nobody want to go there? Coretta Scott King and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton went there, along with a slew of other notable people and some Nobel prize winners. What happened?
Although political views at Antioch might have tilted leftward even back then, the students of the 1950s and early-to-mid 1960s prided themselves on their willingness to hear out their more conservative classmates in lively all-night dorm discussions on politics and philosophy, inspired by professors who encouraged them to test all their assumptions against the evidence. “We were completely respectful of every point of view,” recalled Rick Daily, a Denver lawyer who graduated from Antioch in 1968 and is treasurer of the alumni committee that is struggling to save the college from closure. “We even had a Goldwater Republican in our graduating class,” Daily said in a telephone interview.
That was Antioch then.
You can guess what happened in the intervening years.
Antioch now might be fairly represented by a September 21 article in the student newspaper, the Record, consisting of a gloating account of the invasion by 40 gay and lesbian Antioch students (a full fifth of the current student body) of an evangelical Christian book-signing event at a Barnes & Noble store located in a mall in nearby Beavercreek, Ohio. Record reporter Marysia Walcerz described the hours-long “Gay Takeover,” whose participants wore rainbow-tinted bandannas, ostentatiously held hands and kissed, and did their best to shock both authors and customers in this socially conservative sector of Ohio, as a “success . . . for direct action executed in style.”
A July 20 article in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Ralph Keyes, author of the bestselling Is There Life After High School? and a 1967 graduate of Antioch who moved with his family back to Yellow Springs some 20 years ago, described similar adventures by Antioch students in the intimidation of people who do not share their views. Keyes took pains to reassure the Chronicle’s readers that he himself had been proudly “left-wing” as an Antioch student, but he also detailed a once-tolerant campus culture that had deteriorated since his student days into “insults, name-calling, and profanity.” As Keyes described it (and others connected to the campus corroborate his observations), Antioch students regularly engaged, both inside and outside their classrooms, in the practice of “calling out” (public humiliation followed by social ostracism) their classmates for even the most trivial violations of an unwritten campus code of ideological propriety. One of the called-out was a Polish exchange student who had made the mistake of using the now-taboo word “Eskimos” instead of “Inuit” in reference to Alaskan aboriginals. Another called-out student had worn Nike sneakers, verboten among the radically sensitive because they are supposedly products of Indonesian sweatshop labor (the Nike-wearer was so demoralized by his treatment that he transferred).
Remember that movie, Accepted? I loved that movie. However, if that movie were based in real life, it would have been Antioch in the early 2000’s. I’m cool with non-traditional education, whether a school is left, or right or has people of all political views.
I have friends who went to Oberlin — yes, Oberlin. Normal people actually graduated from Oberlin, hard as that may be to believe. I enjoyed my time at Saint Louis University because it had a wide variety of views from professors and students. Heck, we even had guys like this, my diametrical opposite to the millionth power. But at its demise, Antioch clearly didn’t have that “diversity.”
The Weekly Standard continues:
You might call the current sad state of Antioch College death by political correctness. The rigorous academic programs that fostered Nobel laureates such as Capecchi are no more: Antioch scrapped its 40-odd traditional majors in 1996 in favor of eight vaguely delineated interdisciplinary programs that allow the students themselves to design their courses of study…. It has been a long, slow death, and it would be unfair (although certainly tempting) to blame the current crop of students for the pending demise of their alma mater. The blame might be more fairly placed on four decades of decisions made by Antioch College faculty and administrators in the name of keeping Antioch at the forefront of “progressive” academic fashion, which led inexorably to today’s campus nearly bereft of students and treasury nearly bereft of funds.
And a random D.C.fact!! Antioch set up a law school in D.C., and it was so bad that when the school had financial troubles it was one of the first things to go. It purchased by the University of the District of Columbia in 1986. The few people I’ve met who went to UDC for law were either crazy (Antioch influence?) or not terribly bright, though I am sure that many smart people have gone there. I wonder if Antioch alumni Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton had anything to do with the District’s bailout of Antioch?
Another D.C. fact is that James Renwick Jr., architect of the Smithsonian Castle on the mall designed Antioch’s main building. It’s DuBourg Hall, if you will.
At this point, you’re thinking Antioch got really one-sided in the early 2000’s. Filled with the kind of people who bitch and moan for diversity (meaning their type of diversity) yet cannot accept diversity of opinion — almost like a pre-cursor to Occupy Wall Street, but in collegiate format. Makes sense who nobody would want to shell out $40k a year to go there.
But we haven’t even gotten to the fun part! Which gives me the license to cite another one of my favorite college movies, PCU.
This, in my expert opinion as a PCU buff, accurate description from Wikipedia goes as follows:
Besides Balls and Shaft, the other great nemeses of The Pit are a radical feminist group on campus known as the Womynists, and the college president, Ms. Garcia-Thompson (Jessica Walter), who is obsessed with enforcing “sensitivity awareness” and multiculturalism to the point where she proposes that Bisexual Asian Studies should have its own building (ousting either mathematics or hockey). The Womynists’ entire world view revolves around a paranoia about rape culture and all things phallic, and they are known to hold protests at parties chanting “hey hey, ho ho, this penis party’s got to go!” Ms. Garcia-Thompson conspires with Balls and Shaft to get The Pit, their mutual nemesis, kicked off campus, giving Rand control of the house.
The Pit responds by throwing a party to raise funds to pay off their debts and keep their house. The Womynists take offense to The Pit’s flyers advertising the party, and hold a protest outside. The party at first appears to be a failure. However, a series of unlikely events results in George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic performing at the party. Students begin streaming in and the party successfully raises the funds to keep the house.
Insert Antioch in the early 1990’s:
The widely-publicized date-rape policy that catapulted Antioch onto Saturday Night Live and into nationwide ridicule in 1993 was a kind of object lesson in what can happen when demographic implosion (reducing the student body to its most radical core) unites with a laissez-faire administration philosophy that consists of giving even the most extreme factions everything they want. The extremists in this case consisted of a group of student feminists who called themselves “Womyn of Antioch” (a title that might have sent up a red flag to administrators elsewhere) and claimed to be reacting to two incidents of date rape on the Yellow Springs campus in 1991, which they said the administration had ignored. No Antioch students were ever charged with those offenses either formally or informally, much less found by a college tribunal to have committed them, much less prosecuted for any crime by outside authorities. Antioch’s archivist Sanders said that the alleged rapes might have been more a matter of “perception” than reality. Nonetheless, when the Womyn “stormed” (the word comes from Antioch’s website) an Antioch community meeting and insisted on pushing through the policy they had drafted regardless of parliamentary niceties, the administrators and faculty who were supposed to be on at least an equal footing with the students at those meetings, if not their superiors on the basis of maturity and experience, said, oh, okay.
The Womyn-drafted sexual-offense policy read: “Verbal consent should be obtained with each new level of physical and/or sexual contact/conduct in any given interaction, regardless of who initiates it. Asking ‘Do you want to have sex with me?’ is not enough. The request for consent must be specific to each act.” The penalty for even being accused of failing to obtain consent for one of the “levels” was immediate expulsion without a hearing or any other rights. Not surprisingly, when word leaked out (it took a while) that Antioch’s board of trustees had actually approved the policy and made it official, the reaction of the non-Antioch general public was . . . laughter all around. One wag estimated that Antioch required a student seeking a home run in the baseball game of sex to ask for the consent of his beloved a total of 150 times. A few years later, after much media mockery and several threatened legal challenges over the lack of due process, Antioch modified the policy to bring it into line with other colleges’ procedures for handling accusations of date rape and related sexual offenses.
Maybe PCU was based on Antioch college. It’s so similar, it is eerie. Now, the crescendo of bat shit craziness that was the cherry on the top for Antioch was inviting former Black Panther (and convicted murderer!) Mumia Abu-Jamal to be their commencement speaker. The college also invited 9/11 firebrand Ward Churchill in 2005, but the school’s administrators
Antioch had a new President, Steven Lawry. From the accounts I’ve read, he seemed like a stand up guy. He busted kids for pot on campus, disciplined students that wrote him vulgar emails, and put a stop to those putting lewd classifieds in the school rag. And, he understood that money is the lifeblood of a school. Who knew? Endowments, lewd jokes aside, are only useful when they are big — or “how you use it” some might say. Somehow this crazy place managed to get a sane captain, but could he fix things?
It’s easy to predict how this ends. A realistic guy trying to turn around an island of misfit toys? Ousted. Not every story has a happy ending like Moneyball. Lawry, according to the Chronicle for Higher Education, was pushed out by the radicals at Antioch. The author of that article wrote one my University’s President on a topic I have some involvement in, and I tend to think that the author, Scott Jaschick, is a fair reporter.
Antioch took some time off for a few years. Kind of like the Cleveland Browns did. Now they’re back, and all we’re seeing on the news is “How to get a $106,000 college education for free” No mention of its radical history, its absolutely crazy students who ran the place like an insane asylum. None of that. These headlines are as unbelievable as those stupid advertisements that read “Obama wants moms to go back to school” with the bearded guy in the ad.
And you wonder why people don’t trust the news media these days. This is a great example because rather than report a story, they just say “Look! Free college for everyone who gets accepted!” No mention of why the school shut down, since apparently “among other reasons” suffices, and more importantly NO REPORTING ON WHETHER THE SCHOOLS IS STILL FILLED WITH FUCKING CRAZY PEOPLE.
This former editorial writer isn’t outraged, but rather, just not surprised. Providing folks with the real story doesn’t have to revolve entirely around the past and why the college closed. However, they should cite why Antioch closed with some real reasons. They should be telling viewers whether or not the place is still haunted with the ghosts of the politically insane. A viewing audience shouldn’t be lured in by the fact that it’s free, but rather, should be told the facts and the history so they can make an informed decision about whether or not getting a degree (free or not) from Antioch College is in their best interest.
That, in my opinion, is what journalism should be about.