Antioch College: an object lesson

An op-ed in today’s New York Times op-ed “Where the Arts Were Too Liberal” (Michael Goldfarb) left me gasping in a couple of places. Antioch College, famous for its progressive approach to education, was an early education option for Universalist women. (Olympia Brown was a graduate.) After 155 years, it will be closing after the next school year with hopes (high hopes, it seems) of re-opening as a high tech campus later. The official Antioch College website is serenely agnostic about its future. Antioch’s nineteenth century history is why I read the article, but I kept thinking: Where does this sound familiar?

Goldfarb’s review of his alma mater, frankly, reminds me of an intensified version of the Unitarian Universalist Association and that’s why I kept gasping. Reminded me not exactly, but there are certain echoes and the comparative timelines are telling.

The Socinian scooped me to the UU blogosphere, so read at his site or at the New York Times.

5 Replies to “Antioch College: an object lesson”

  1. Since I was at Wesleyan in 1993, I totally remember Antioch’s sexual relations policy (widely discussed), and was both mocked and followed.

  2. Would you care to expand on that comparison between the fall of Antioch and the UUA?

    …I also remember the sexual relations policy on Saturday Night Live. I was living in Columbus at the time…

  3. This is shocking. In my part of the Mid-West, Antioch still has a strong if eclectic academic reputation. I considered it when looking for my own college back in 1992.

    I wonder what will happen to entities like the Antioch New England Graduate School? And what about students who find their education de-railed in mid-stream?

    Where I see an Antioch – UUA parallel is the frenzied liberal desire for new programs, and unending quest to be THE MOST cutting edge institution possible. But to paraphrase a Taoist teaching, “Keep sharpening the knife and you will blunt it. Fill the bowl to the brim, and it will spill.”

  4. I am from Ohio not far from Antioch and was sad to see it close, although I agree with the statement in the article that said something along the lines of “Liberalism gone mad.” And I also thought about blogging about the ways that the article might speak to challenges in UUism. But then I read your post and thought it did enough to make the point. Sad to see it go, but yet, I also understand why it was unsustainable. I remember a graduate of the place telling me about how the cafeteria was hardly ever open because the students were always protesting because the cafeteria workers were not paid enough. I would love it if it would reopen and be a good, reasonable place somewhat in touch with reality. I think there were a lot of great things about it that would be quite the loss should it not reopen. Thanks for the post. E

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