Rowan Kaiser


Good afternoon. I’m Rowan Kaiser, class of 2005, and co-CM for the summer of ’08. I’m here putting my history degree to good use, trying to tell the story of Nonstop Antioch, both the name and the idea.

Our movement to Save Antioch starts around Reunion 2007, where hundreds of alumni, gather and declare that they are “ashamed to let it die.” I personally – and I doubt I’m alone here – most strongly come to believe that we can, and have to, save the college when emerita faculty Dimi Reber reads a statement from the faculty promising that they are going to continue to fight.

At the heart of the alumni movement is respect for the faculty as the core of what we’re fighting for, and the Reunion 2007 Resolution demonstrates the alumni commitment to rebuilding the institution around its teachers.

The Village of Yellow Springs is also instrumental in our effort, and as faculty member Chris Hill has said, if there’s a silver lining in the events of the past year, it is the strengthening of the bonds between the college and village communities. That connection is so strong that, over the last year, many Antiochians state that if we cannot convince the Antioch University Board of Trustees to allow the college to remain open, we should take our education and our faculty, staff, and students into “sanctuary” into the local community.

The first mention of this comes in June, shortly after the suspension is announced, even before Reunion. Alum (and Horace Mann relative) Art Dole ’46 suggests on the alumni-chat email list that we form a “Horace Mann College” with the faculty, staff and students.

For the next several months, the idea of taking the community and going into exile is floated consistently by community members and alumni. Professor Hassan Rahmanian speaks to this while discussing “Plan B” when the ACCC visit AdCil to discuss their plans for a Letter of Intent which is supposed to lead to independence.

In August, Beth Gutelius ’00 coins the phrase “I heart Nonstop Antioch” to make t-shirts in advance of the emergency Trustee meeting in Cincinnati. We believe that what you’re seeing here is actually the first-ever written use of the “Nonstop Antioch” phrase. Reaction from certain alumni is lukewarm. Fortunately, she doesn’t listen to me.

Beth conveys her phrase to a number of students and the Community Managers, and “Nonstop Antioch” becomes the primary slogan of resilience and celebration during such public actions as the Founders’ Day Parade, the community procession to meet the trustees at the October Homecoming, and the demonstration at the McGregor building in March.

The initial deadline for the ACCC/university negotiations is set for the Board of Trustees’ meeting in February in Los Angeles. In advance of this, the independent, anonymous community publication, The Blaze, puts out a call for the community’s ideas for “Antioch-in-Exile,” just in case things do not go well.

Things do not go particularly well. During the Trustees’ meeting, the university administration decides to trumpet their “reaffirmation” of the suspension of the college. As the Antioch Confidential film says – the community continues the struggle.

The week after that BOT meeting, the Alumni Board/College Revival Fund directors hold their regular meeting on campus. The Alumni Board and faculty work together to solve the problem of how to encourage faculty to stay during this uncertain period. Academics from the Alumni Association work intensely with college faculty to develop a significant enough plan that, by the end of the weekend, the CRF commits major financial support to what they decide to call – after some deliberation about the best name – Nonstop Antioch.

There are three major components of the Nonstop Antioch movement. First, the educational component: the Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute, which you will hear much more about soon. Second, the attempt to gain the college by agreement, which Ellen is about to speak to. Finally, the legal component. Shortly after the university’s “reaffirmation,” the college faculty refile their lawsuit to keep the college open. Money is needed for both arms of the movement to succeed, so therefore the third major component is the fundraising.

The “Nonstop Antioch” phrase gains extra currency when the staff of the Institutional Advancement office – the fundraisers! – are “set free” by the university and college administration. They are rehired by the College Revival Fund, who also rent out an office on Xenia Avenue so that fundraising may continue. A sign in front of office declares the building to be the “Nonstop Antioch Campus” or Headquarters.

Meanwhile, in response to the poor leadership shown by university administrators, some elected members of AdCil found the Executive Council – ExCil. The main frustration which creates ExCil is the feeling that normal college governance channels are not being allowed to function for the planning of the future of the institution. ExCil fills that need, and is now the primary governance structure of the Nonstop Institute.

The faculty have their own curricular planning continuing. They hold two retreats, in March and May. Community members working on Nonstop Antioch determine the need for coordination of the necessary functions, and develop an “Executive Collective” of coordinators: Educational Offerings, Adminstration, and External Relations. The Executive Collective, ExCil, the CRF, the faculty, Community Government, and as many alumni, students, staff, and villagers as we can get are working – nonstop – on Nonstop.

That is the quick version where we’re at. But I’d also like to say a few words about why we are where we’re at.

Many people have spoken about how they “hope” that Antioch can be saved. “Hope,” in my mind, means that you desire something to happen which is outside of your control, and that someone else will accomplish this desire. Throughout the last year, the vast majority of us have had “hope” that “the negotiations” would succeed. We can still hope for that. However, our consistent response to setbacks at the board level has been not depression, but resolution. Resolution to organize so we could do whatever we could do, whoever we happened to be.

By that reasoning, I do not have “hope” that Nonstop will succeed. I have optimism. I have the optimism that we have the talent, money, energy, and determination to make the right things happen. It’s in our hands, nobody else’s. I have optimism that you all will join us. Thank you.