On our way to and from the Ohio Renaissance Festival this weekend, Joel and I spent some time in Yellow Springs, the home of my beloved alma mater, Antioch College. Given the de-facto association between our denomination and Antioch, Joel has graciously invited me to post my observations here.
On Friday evening, the man who checked us in to the Springs Motel (a very pleasant renovation of what those of us of the elderly persuasion remember as the Anthony Wayne motel) confirmed my suspicion that the college did not reopen this fall quarter. I was thus tempted to avoid visiting the campus for the same reason many people state for avoiding funerals: "I don't want to remember him this way; I'd rather remember him as I knew him". However, that "slant of light" of a late afternoon in October was so evocative of every idyllic college film I've ever seen that I asked Joel to turn the truck around so we could take a few photographs.
I maintained composure through the view of the main building as seen from the train in the 19th century:
the mural on Maples' garage door (How many schools have a student run fire and ambulance department?) :
and the theatre parking lot looking towards the amphitheatre where my parents showed up one June evening to tell me of my fiancé's death:
but this view of the stoop
(where at one April Saturday night dance, the "us" rock and rollers seized disc jockey duties from "those" disco aficionados, danced the night away, and then, when the music was over, drummed on the rubbish bins, sang "We don't need no music" and kept right on dancing) did me in.
On the drive home, Joel challenged me to answer the question "Aside from the co-op program and the fact that you loved it, what was unique or special about Antioch College?" I believe that the answer reduces to hands-on, experimental and student-driven.
For starters, while exams did exist at Antioch, projects and research papers were usually considered more indicative of a student's performance. Secondly, Antioch's policy of detailed written evaluations in lieu of letter grades encouraged accepting academic challenge and reaching beyond the comfort zone. One of my most rewarding Antioch experiences was getting permission to take a genetics course without the statistics and chemistry prerequisites. (I was a liberal arts major whose career objectives at the time included breeding Arabian horses). The genetics course was a stretch and a mighty struggle but tremendously educational and I wouldn't have risked it with a GPA at stake. Thirdly, academic interests not included in the course catalogue were accommodated with faculty support of independent study and student led courses.
Finally, while many schools may include student representation on the occasional committee, I suspect that said representation is along the lines of something my father once said: when I congratulated him on a new board chairmanship, he replied "Oh, it's a lot like those toy steering wheels attached to a baby's high chair tray; it makes a lot of noise and keeps the baby out of trouble but it doesn't steer any vehicle". At Antioch, on the other hand, besides community council, students held seats on administrative council, residence hall advisory board, dining hall advisory board, community standards board and any other committee affecting the quality of campus life, up to and including interviewing prospective faculty.
Perhaps all of this is why I find the traditional passive voice phrase "was graduated from (insert college name here)" grating and prefer the active voice "graduated from".