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The Resurrection Of Antioch College: A Small Victory For Humanity

September 6, 2009

The struggle and victory to re-open Antioch College as an independent institution separate from Antioch University is a major victory for peace and progressive forces in the United States. On Friday, September 4, Antioch University officials signed a 750-page closing document after 14 months of negotiations to turn Antioch College assets over to the Antioch College Continuation Corp. (read: the alumni).

A group of Greene County citizens recently dropped a complaint filed with the Ohio Attorney General’s office to strip the University of its tax exempt status. The complaint alleged that the University had neglected and wasted the assets of the former College, including severe damage to the historical main building at the Yellow Springs campus.

The Attorney General’s office acknowledged that the withdrawal of the complaint helped pave the way for the final settlement.

The Dayton Daily News reports that the resurrected Antioch plans: “…for a small, first-year class in fall 2010.” The Chronicle of Higher Education asserted that: “Admitting applicants and educating students are at least two years away.” And, Antioch University itself said when it closed the College that it would attempt to re-open it in 2012.

When the increasingly corporatist Antioch University Board of Trustees announced that the College would cease operations in July 2008, it was a stake through the heart of advocates of socially-conscious liberal arts education.

The sooner Antiochian-educated students are injected into America’s body politic the better. In many ways, the little liberal arts college in Yellow Springs has functioned as the conscience of American higher education. Also, it has served as an incubator for virtually every progressive struggle that has improved human rights in this nation.

Mussolini understood in his bid for fascism, that alternative and selfless ideas must be eradicated. He once gave a definition of fascism as “illiberalism” and “corporatism.”

Bruce P. Bedford served on the Board of Antioch University as well on the Board of the Arlington, Virginia company GlobeSecNine. The company was described as possessing a “unique set of experiences in special forces, classified operations, transportation security, and military operations” according to Bear Stearns. Michael Alexander, a former Trustee, founded AverStar whose clients were primarily the U.S. Defense Department and NASA. AverStar merged with the controversial Titan Corporation in the year 2000. Titan, with close ties to the Bush administration, pleaded guilty and paid, at the time, the largest penalty under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for bribery and filing false tax returns in March 2005. Questions have lingered over the role of Bedford and Alexander with their close ties to the U.S. military-industrial complex and the U.S. intelligence community.

At the time of the closing, the Dayton Daily News reported that a $5 million accounting error caused the College to close. Bedford, University records show, served as Treasurer just before the decision was made to close Antioch College.

Recalling Antioch’s history is key to celebrating this victory. The Christian Connection founded Antioch in 1852 and famed educator Horace Mann helmed as president in when it opened its doors in 1853. Mann’s quote: “Be ashamed to die until you win some victory for humanity” inspired the progressive spirit of the school. Antioch College was one of the first mostly white colleges to aggressively recruit African American students in the 1940s and refused to expel students accused of “Communist” leanings in the 1950s. Antioch provided a setting for growing activist movements such as the civil rights movement, New Left, Black Power, and feminism. Antioch students were encouraged to participate in practical work along with their classroom learning.

Former Antioch College faculty, staff, and others continued holding classes while the College was closed in what they called “Nonstop” Antioch during part of 2008 and 2009. Students attended classes at Yellow Springs bookstores, coffee shops, churches, homes, art galleries and even at the Glen Helen Nature Preserve.

An alumni reunion is scheduled for October 2 at the re-born Antioch College. Let us hope that the spirit of the event is that which caused the college to be targeted as a “vanguard of the New Left” under the FBI’s notorious COINTELPRO operation. Those who fought to save Antioch have clearly won another significant victory for humanity.

See: Shock, awe and Antioch at freepress.org

Bob Fitrakis represented the Greene County citizens group seeking to strip tax exempt status from Antioch University. He is also the author of “The Fitrakis Files” Spooks, Nukes, and Nazis” on the role of the CIA in Ohio politics and the author of the forthcoming volume Cops, Coverups and Corruption.”

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