Monday, January 14, 2008

Letter from Council to Ohio Board of Regents

At our meeting last week, the Village Council unanimously voted to send this letter, which I drafted, to the Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents and other state, local, and regional officials:

To the Honorable Eric Fingerhut, Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents:

We, the Village Council of Yellow Springs, in one of our first Resolutions of the new year, Resolution 2008-04, have expressed our support for the combined efforts of Antioch University and the Antioch College Continuation Corporation to come to an agreement that will keep Antioch College operating. Specifically, we expressed our support for Antioch College Continuation Corporation’s efforts to seek clarification on the issue of maintaining the Certificate of Authorization with the Ohio Board of Regents, as long as the standards outlined in Administrative Code 3333 continue to be met in the future.

We have therefore directed our Village Manager, Eric Swansen, to write a letter to you and to state and local officials expressing our concerns about this important decision, particularly focusing on the likely economic impact of even a temporary closure of the college on our village.

With this letter, we not only underscore Eric’s careful analysis of the gravity of this decision for our village’s economic sustainability, but also wish to emphasize the importance of Antioch College as the key institution in our village’s 155-year history, and its importance our current social, cultural, and artistic liveliness, which is key to our village’s attractiveness to so many people.

As Eric notes, Antioch College has been, historically, the powerful engine behind many industries that have made their home in Yellow Springs and the region during the twentieth century. YSI, the Antioch Company, Morris Bean & Company, Anthrotech, and others, all got their start at Antioch and today remain vital employers in our village. They have, with Antioch College and University, continued to help draw in a highly educated, democratically engaged, and artistic demographic that uniquely characterizes Yellow Springs as a village in Southwest Ohio.

Perhaps less tangibly, the ideals and philosophy of Arthur Morgan, who revitalized the College in the first half of the 20th century, have helped create a community that sustains successful non-profit ventures that comport with his vision of the small community, rich with green spaces and human-scale endeavors, as vital to democratic life and a sustainable civilization—including, most directly, groups as Community Service, Inc., the Glen Helen Ecology Institute, but also many others that provide valuable educational and other services to the region, attracting significant numbers of visitors to conferences, camps, and other events.

Antioch College is vital to our current identity as an arts community, which is both a source of economic revenue for our village, and, we believe, vital to the broader human need to craft creative responses to the problems we face in our world. Not only do many resident artists in town—not to mention many internationally-known artists, actors, and musicians—have Antioch ties, but many key events vital to our town’s cultural life are held on the campus.

The annual African American Cross-Cultural Works Blues Fest is held in the Amphitheatre on campus each September, attracting business vendors throughout the region to the festival area and emphasizing to the thousands who attend for the wonderful food and music the value of diversity in our world. The Yellow Springs Kids’ Playhouse—which provides children from the entire region with the opportunity to learn vital skills and perform and produce original theatrical works, at almost no cost to themselves or their families—uses Antioch College theatre facilities for all its efforts. These are just two annual arts events of many others held in Antioch facilities during the year. They not only draw in vital revenue and attract regional tourists, but help build and sustain community life.

Moreover, campus facilities are a part of our daily life as a community: many residents use the swimming pool and physical education facilities as part of their daily exercise regime. Many families regularly walk in the Glen. Students and residents alike use the Antioch College library. Most recently, in collaboration with Antioch Alumna Coretta Scott King and the Martin Luther King, Jr., family, the Coretta Scott King Center for Cultural and Intellectual Freedom was established on the campus with a key goal of helping both Antioch and Yellow Springs imagine and work towards socially-just local, national and global communities. The center brings artists and speakers to the area, and many local groups now use their facilities to try to carry forth the King family vision in Southwest Ohio.

We are therefore gravely concerned not only about the practical problems that may come with prospect of a vacated campus in the heart of our village for at least several years into the future, but also about the loss of this historical grounding for our cultural and artistic life, and our very identity as a village. We urge you to carefully consider the importance of the continued existence of both Antioch University and Antioch College to our village life as you evaluate their request for continued accreditation.


The Yellow Springs Village Council

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