Antioch College bites the dust

June 19, 2007

Once a liberal hot bed of political activism, now a college that apparently no one wants to attend, Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio is closing its doors next year due to lack of interest. According to the Associated Press, “Enrollment at the private liberal arts college has dwindled from more than 2,000 students in the 1960s to 400 this year.” College admissions are an increasingly difficult process, where students are often vying for few openings.

How on earth could it be that a private college, in a period of time of such high demand for a college education, turn off so many students? Well, let’s take a look at this bizarre and obsessively liberal college.

As the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) reports, the College made headlines in the 90’s for their odd sexual offense prevention program. After being prompted by the “Womyn of Antioch” (read: crazy feminists who don’t want the word “man” in “their” word), Antioch came out with remarkable requirements to meet for “consent” in the context of a sexual relationship. As FIRE points out, the requirements were “virtually impossible to fulfill—but to fail to do so was a sexual offense.”

The first requirement was “Consent is required each and every time there is sexual activity.” At first glance, this seems reasonable. Before sexual intercourse, there should be a clear understanding that it is warranted. But this applies to sexual “activity,” which includes kissing and spooning. Imagine that during the romantic moment where you connect with your boyfriend or girlfriend, you must stop and say “can I kiss you?” – rather than leaning in slowly for the kiss.

Next, “All parties must have a clear and accurate understanding of the sexual activity” and “Each new level of sexual activity requires consent.” Without getting too graphic here, could you imagine this conversation with your partner? “After about ten minutes of foreplay, I’d like to move into sex of an oral nature. Do you consent? You will not be required to reciprocate, but I’d sure appreciate it if you did. Do you consent? Next, we will have intercourse in the missionary position, to which you will encourage my technique with gentle moans every 30 seconds. Do you consent?” And please remember that, according to Antioch, “Body movements and non-verbal responses such as moans are not consent” so be sure to get verbal consent in the form of “yes.” Yeah, that sure is realistic and reasonable.

Perhaps my favorite requirement is that consent may not be given if one has impaired judgment, such as “mental health conditions, [and] physical health conditions.” I suffer from anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder—I wouldn’t be able to have sex at Antioch. Furthermore, if I ever feel like I’m coming down with a cold, I may not consent to cuddling.

Crazy ultra-feminist consent requirements aside, there were other nuts running the nut house. During their 2000 commencement, Antioch honored notorious cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal. As National Review guest commentator Daniel J. Flynn wrote:
Shortly before 4 a.m. in a seedy part of Philadelphia on December 9, 1981, Mumia Abu-Jamal fired five shots at Daniel Faulkner, hitting him once in the back and then finally in the face. The officer had the misfortune of pulling over Abu-Jamal’s brother for driving the wrong way down a one-way street. A failed radio journalist, Abu-Jamal drove a cab for a living at the time he was arrested. Abu-Jamal was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death in 1982. Since that time more than a dozen judges presiding over numerous appeals have denied all motions to reverse the unanimous decision by a jury of twelve.
According to Flynn, the wife of the murdered officer made several attempts to contact then-President Bob Devine regarding the commencement. As Flynn reported:

The phone calls she made to Devine were not returned. She did, however, receive an impersonal letter from him that looked eerily familiar. Last year, she had read a similar letter from June Jervis, president of Evergreen State College, which had also honored Abu-Jamal at commencement. Looking at both letters side by side, she saw that whole paragraphs of Devine’s correspondence had been purloined from Jervis’s note. The school president’s plagiarism would be the first in a series of lies by school officials.

In a country where college campuses are a bastion of extremist liberalism, even Antioch was seen as too liberal. In a recent op-ed in the New York Times, Michael Goldfarb puts it well: “The college seemed to forget the pragmatism that had been a key to its ethos, and tried blindly to extend its mission beyond education to social reform.” He goes on:

Antioch College became a rump where the most illiberal trends in education became entrenched. Since it is always easier to impose a conformist ethos on a small group than a large one, as the student body dwindled, free expression and freedom of thought were crushed under the weight of ultraliberal orthodoxy. By the 1990s the breadth of challenging ideas a student might encounter at Antioch had narrowed, and the college became a place not for education, but for indoctrination. Everyone was on the same page, a little to the left of The Nation in worldview.

Goldfarb could not be more correct. Like many liberal arts colleges, Antioch takes advantage of students in their small classrooms by indoctrinating them with leftist propaganda. In my own experience at Occidental College, a liberal arts college that, at the time, enrolled approximately 1800 students, professors routinely took advantage of the fact that it was easier to propagandize their students in small courses.

The College’s closure should serve as a reminder to the excessively liberal colleges out there that students will not continue to show interest in your programs if you continue to go overboard with repressive policies and silly commencement addresses and honorees. One lefty college bites the dust; only a few hundred more to go.