The Demise of Antioch College
Charlotte Allen, author of a must-read essay on the sad decline of Antioch College, reports that the institution is once again slated to close.
The story of Antioch is a cautionary tale about what happens to an educational institution when an imposed radical orthodoxy replaces a commitment to free inquiry. Allen summarizes this process in her latest post, and notes its devastating consequences:
The result of all this was, well, the kind of campus where radical feminists called the shots. So did radicals of every other stripe, creating a student culture of aggressive leftist ideology and enforced political correctness that was quite the opposite of what had prevailed during the freewheeling 1960s. In 2005, for example, Antioch's graduating class chose as its commencement speaker the former Black Panther and convicted cop-murderer Mumia Abu-Jamal. Those who didn't like that kind of thing could leave - and they did, or they signed up elsewhere..
During the 1950s Antioch was almost as hard to get into as Harvard. Its graduates included Coretta Scott King, wife of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, and Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling. By 2007, Antioch was begging for students on a now mostly-empty campus and running chronic deficits. There are lessons to be learned from its imminent demise. One is there isn't much of a market for ultra-radicalism, at least at a private college where the price of attendance is nearly $40,000 a year. The other is that college administrators who capitulate to extremes of campus faddishness do so at their institutions' peril.