There are three essential elements that combine to form a Nonstop education: Co-op, Classroom and Community. Of the three, Community is the most dynamic and the hardest to define in its entirety. That is because the word “Community” means many things, especially at Nonstop.
In this document, we will go over the many facets of Community at Nonstop. The first facet of Community is Community process; this document is an example. It begins with a few people, but continues to evolve as the Community sees necessary. We intend this to clearly express what Community is as well as enable us to change the way we understand Community to be.
Family, Friends & Peers: A Community that Lives Together
Listening to and attempting to understand others – is the foundation of a successful community. It is built into the fabric of Nonstop’s governance structure. Students, staff, and faculty all have official voices in Nonstop’s decision-making processes. Meetings are almost always open, and allow for the participation of everyone in attendance, even those in the alumni community who are listening remotely via the internet.
This formal kind of respect can also translate to informal respect, where every Nonstop community member has the chance to understand the voices of our diverse community members. It is from this respect that all other aspects of the community flow.
In order to be part of a strong community, community members are encouraged to have a strong sense of self. Nonstop community members develop and articulate their identities through their classroom, co-op, and community experiences, where they consistently challenge and analyze who they are and how that affects their behaviors.
This process, though often difficult, helps foster the confidence and empathy necessary for Nonstop community members to improve their communities, both in Yellow Springs and beyond.
Nonstop helps build individual’s strong sense of self through close interaction with other Community members. In a sense being a part of the Nonstop Community is a lot like being a part of a family. We’re not a big school and we don’t have the luxury of being able to hide from one another. We may not always agree, but we do have to get along. We share our triumphs and our sorrows and we take care of our own.
The spaces we use as people and as a community help define who we are, and reflect what we think. Our spaces for community-building include classrooms in coffee shops, walks in Glen Helen (just down the street!), apartments shared with friends, and presentations in village meeting-places. These spaces allow us to engage with the Nonstop community as well as the larger Yellow Springs community.
We aim for Nonstop’s spaces to be as conducive for learning as possible – either on-the-job, academically, or something new about the community.
At Nonstop, culture is one of the most obvious elements that make us truly unique. Nonstop is unique in that we attract students of all ages from across the country and around the world. With small class sizes and frequent interaction outside the classroom, Community members have ample time to share ideas and perspectives. The result is a truly dynamic Community that challenges Community members to critically analyze their environments and become agents of social change.
The Movement and its History
The Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute is founded on two major active principles: that many of the former faculty of Antioch College were not ready to stop teaching, and that keeping an educational institution alive in Yellow Springs will help sustain the movement. But even more than that, Nonstop is a creative, energetic cause for its faculty, staff, students, and friends to build an institution on our shared values and towards our shared goals.
The solidarity of our movement helps build our community, as working together develops the trust and respect necessary for a successful movement.
Like magnets, being part of the same community helps people connect with each other in ways that don’t seem immediately obvious. Members of the Nonstop community will have the potential for an instant connection with the other students, staff, and faculty of Nonstop, in addition to the hundreds of Antioch College alumni and friends supporting Nonstop via the College Revival Fund.
These simple, immediate connections can create relationships that last for decades – the most lasting part of a strong community.
Shared Governance & Responsibility:
Months before Nonstop’s launch, as faculty were planning their governance structure, there were discussions regarding who was going to be in charge. The typical model in academics is that a President or a Chancellor acts as the head of an institution. Rather than concentrating power into a single individual, the Nonstop planners decided to create a collective model, wherein three faculty members are tasked with coordination of different aspects of the Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute: External Relations, Academics, and Administration. The Executive Collective works with representative councils, committees, and individual people in a fair, consensus-seeking decision-making process.
This collective approach is used by Nonstop at as many levels as possible, from the Executive Collective to building a Community Day, and helps to separate our community from many others in higher education.
At Nonstop, when we say “Shared Governance” we really mean it. Students, Faculty and Staff meet as peers to decide what is best for the Community. It isn’t always easy to come to decisions when it effects an entire Community, so we created a governance structure that facilitates Community processes.
There are two main legislative bodies at Nonstop: ComCil (Community Council) and ExCil (Executive Council). Each is comprised of elected representatives from the Community, with seats reserved for specifically for Faculty, Staff and Students. Both hold open session meetings, so anyone can participate. Additionally, each week, there is a Community Meeting in which Community Members can bring their concerns, thanks, complaints, wants and needs into the public arena.
We hold weekly committee meetings in which Community Members can bring their ideas, wants, needs, and complaints. They ensure an authentic, shared governance through the following structure: ComCil (Community Council), ExCil (Executive CounCil),
Accountability and Responsibility
We hold each other accountable because we place a high value on responsibility and respect for one another. We hold everyone to the same standards and no one is untouchable. For example, Community Managers are accountable to ComCil just as the Executive Collective is accountable to ExCil. Additionally, anyone can be brought to the Community Standards Board where issues can be resolved when the magnitude of the situation calls for intervention.
However, accountability and responsibility mean more than just holding our leaders to the same standards we hold ourselves as individuals. Accountability also means active recognition of your role as a Community Member, including all the responsibilities that come with Community privileges and rights. We believe holding ourselves accountable is the first step to holding others accountable. Really, it’s about fostering an environment of growth and potential to encourage Community Members to be responsible in their everyday actions. We have standards aimed at supporting that growth and a governance structure that’s able to correct problems as they arise.
Community members must recognize that some types of behavior are offensive to others and harmful to the Community, and that these factors must be considered regardless of the personal interests of the individual. The Community expects high standards of behavior and makes every effort to see that all Community members act responsibly and with sensitivity.
Nonstop Community members are expected to be responsible for the consequences of their actions. In our social behavior, we are expected to consider the well-being of ourselves, others, and the Institute. Social conduct that hinders individuals and the Institute in carrying out educational principles, especially if exploitative of another or of the Institute, may be cause for dismissal.