Antioch folds

Antioch College is closing next summer with hopes of reopening in four years. In the ’60s, when it was famous for radical politics, Ohio school drew more than 2,000 students; it’s down to 400.

Michael Goldfarb, a freshman in 1968, writes Antioch’s obituary in the New York Times.

“It was liberalism gone mad,” a former professor, Hannah Goldberg, once told me, and she was right. 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. But there were too many new programs and too little cash reserve to deal with the inevitable growing pains.

Campus radicals attacked the only “bourgeois” target in Yellow Springs, Ohio — the college itself. In 1973, a student strike “destroyed Antioch’s spirit of community,” Goldfarb writes. Enrollment fell by half.

. . . 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.

Much of this conformist thinking focused on gender politics, and it culminated in the notorious sexual offense prevention policy. Enacted in 1993, the policy dictated that a person needed express permission for each stage in seduction. (“May I touch your breast?” “May I remove your bra?” And so on.) In two decades students went from being practitioners of free love to prisoners of gender.

On The Quick and the Ed, Kevin Carey explains how non-elite colleges stay in business.

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  1. Half Canadian says:

    I remember, while as an undergrad, reading a story about Antioch, where students took over the president’s office for some offense. The president sided with the students, arguing that (s)he didn’t want to dampen their activist spirit.

    My first reaction was that this would never fly in the real world. I didn’t realize that this attitude would kill the university, but I can’t think of a better object lesson.

  2. As an Ohio native, the idea that a place like Antioch was in my state always made me a tad queasy. I mean, Kent State (an alma mater) should be enough to keep any leftist happy.