Not to prolong the eulogizing over Antioch College’s demise, but apparently there is a theory — popular among a certain demographic — that the college’s closure has to do with CIA infiltration in the board of trustees and secretive ties to the military-industrial complex:
At the time of its announced closure, Antioch College, perhaps America’s most progressive and well-known peace college, had a few visible capitalist hawks on its Board of Trustees.
Bruce P. Bedford, one of only three Trustees not a former alum, had been appointed to the board of Arlington, Virginia company GlobeSecNine in 2005. The company is described by a representative of investment corporation Bear Sterns as having “a unique set of experiences in special forces, classified operations, transportation security and military operations.” One can only speculate why the nation’s longest-standing anti-imperialist education institution would appoint a trustee with extensive ties to the military and security industrial complexes.
Feel free to read the whole thing here if you can stomach a nearly-impenetrable and logic-free collection of conspiracy theories. That article is by Bob Fitrakis, Green Party activist and chief complainant that George W. Bush stole the 2004 election by voter fraud in the state of Ohio. (An example of his writing is titled “How the GOP Stole America’s 2004 Election & Is Rigging 2008”, just to give you an idea.)
What Fitrakis’ article glosses over is that there are more realistic things to consider regarding Antioch’s closure — like, for example, a $5 million accounting screwup that doubled the college’s operating deficit:
[Antioch CFO Tom] Faecke came in and lined up the numbers and found a series of problems unfolding,” board Vice Chair Dan Fallon told the regional paper. “It’s sort of like someone robbed Peter to pay Paul … there was certainly no criminal behavior but nonetheless the numbers ended up in different columns.” Since the finding, Faecke “has put his foot down” to get the numbers to line up, Fallon added. […]
Over the past few years, the college has operated at a loss, while officials worked to cut costs through staff layoffs and postponed capital investments. But those actions have led to further erosion of student enrollment numbers. To cover the deficit, the college also tapped into a $10 million gift that had been designated for scholarships, and it has relied on $1.5 million annual subsidies from its sister schools since the early 1990s.
With a $21 million operating budget, Antioch College has largely blamed its financial troubles on low, restrictive endowments and decreasing enrollments; the school projects to have a little more than 300 students on campus next year, down from 577 students in 2002, and 2,470 in 1972.
When your operating budget is $21 million and your endowment is only $36 million, $5 million is an awfully big bite. You would think that those military-industrial infiltrators on the Board of Trustees could have stepped up, or something.
Any time a college goes out of business, it’s serious business for the faculty and staff who find themselves suddenly unemployed and the students who find themselves without an institution. One may not agree with the political orientation of Antioch (whose campus bookstore sold t-shirts proclaiming the school as the “Bootcamp for the Revolution”), and I have registered my misgivings about Antioch before. But certainly, for the sake of those who did love the college, the task of understanding why it closed deserves a more serious, practical-minded approach than the tinfoil-hat conspiracy-mongering hysterics that Mr. Fitrakis gives us.