Given Antioch University’s long-standing mission of educating for democracy and social justice, it joins and strongly supports the demands of the National Association of Manufacturers, members of Congress, and others, that the Cabinet and Vice President immediately invoke the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to remove Donald J. Trump from office. In the absence of immediate action by the Cabinet, Antioch University further demands that Congress impeach Trump, try him, and remove him.
It is beyond shocking and appalling that a mob of domestic terrorists would storm, vandalize, and desecrate the Capitol of this country and overtake the halls of Congress while it was engaged in one of its most sacred democratic tasks—affirming the certified votes of the electoral college and the peaceful transfer of power. But it is even more grossly appalling that the attack would be orchestrated by the President of the United States and that it led to the deaths and injuries of Capitol police. Our democracy is in peril.
The events of January 6, 2021 were the reprehensible climax of the assault on democracy that has been the hallmark of the Trump presidency since its inception. He is a profoundly disturbed and dangerous man who knows no boundaries in his effort to mount a coup d’état against the will of the American people. This is not a conflict around political ideology. It is a conflict in whether we will continue to be a democracy or instead become an authoritarian autocracy, whether we will be a country governed by the rule of law or instead a country ruled by a fascist dictator motivated by his own self-interests.
As a University founded on the principles of social, economic, and environmental justice, we are deeply concerned. There can be no social justice without democracy. And there can be no democracy without an educated electorate, schooled in the traditions of factual inquiry, science, and critical thinking. But like all despots, Trump has learned that the key to destroying democracy is sowing doubt about facts, and evidence, denying science, attacking the free press, and creating an alternative reality of his own making. This continued with his efforts to create an alternative reality around the 2020 election. Even before the election, Trump repeatedly used Twitter and other social media to proclaim that, “if he loses, it’s because the election was rigged.” He repeatedly attacked the use of mail-in ballots as “corrupt,” “unlawful,” and “fraudulent.” He claimed victory on election night when millions of ballots were still being counted.
Since the election, Trump has repeatedly made false claims of widespread voter fraud, claiming that ballot boxes were “stuffed” and the election was “stolen.” Yet despite over 70 legal challenges to various state elections, he and his campaign have lost every one. The decisions handed down have been filled with language rebuking the President and his lawyers. One judge described the case as a “Frankenstein Monster” stitched together “to avoid unfavorable court precedent.” One court noted that the paucity of evidence of any election fraud was so apparent that, “this lawsuit seems to be less about achieving the relief Plaintiffs seek…and more about the impact of their baseless allegations on the People’s faith in the democratic process and their trust in our government.”
Despite losing all of these legal challenges, Trump has continued to spread wild and false conspiracy theories that the election was “stolen,” a narrative that is now widely believed by those who stormed the Capitol yesterday and by as many as 40% of the population. It is a baseless claim that has been indulged by some Senators and Congresspeople largely as a political ploy to appease their base and raise campaign money. This is not the democracy our nation’s founders envisioned.
For these reasons, it is apparent that President Trump represents a clear and present danger to American democracy and the safety and security of the American people. Even as the insurrection in the Capitol was ongoing he tweeted that he had won a “landslide victory.” He must be removed immediately to ensure that the American people have a mentally competent executive leader for the next few weeks. Failure to do so would leave the nation vulnerable to further seditious actions by Trump. The institutions of government must once again be deployed to ensure that democracy, the peaceful transfer of power, and our Constitution are once again protected and restored to their rightful place of honor in this society. Most importantly, the immediate removal of the President will be a deterrent to other would-be despots who might follow and send a signal to the world that the 245-year-old American democracy is strong and worthy of emulation. The peace of the world depends on it. We must not fail.
In my letter to the community of June 1, 2020, regarding the George Floyd murder by Minneapolis Police, I promised that the senior leadership team and I would get back to you about ways in which Antioch University will work to foster racial justice and equity, both internally and externally. In that letter, and on behalf of the University, I condemned in the strongest possible terms the unconstitutional abuse of police power throughout the country, the racially motivated police murders of citizens of color, the systemic racism that fosters and protects it, and the growing cancer of white supremacy. As I have done following the Charlottesville riot and the massacre at Living Tree Synagogue, I called upon our elected leaders to unequivocally condemn the racism, bigotry, white supremacy, and white nationalism that continue to deeply infect our culture as a nation. Unfortunately, nothing of the sort has happened. Instead, the President doubled-down on Saturday by calling confederate generals “American heroes,” and protestors, “angry mobs”.
As Chancellor, I have strongly maintained that silence is not an option, that all institutions, especially a University founded on principles of social justice, have a moral obligation to stand up for their values and to advocate for change. To the extent there is any confusion about my position, I reiterate today that Antioch will not be one of those institutions that offer obligatory platitudes carefully crafted to not offend anyone. I and the Board rededicate ourselves to the notion that we have a moral duty to oppose actions, especially government actions, that violates our values. Finally, we acknowledge that we have a moral duty to support the social and racial justice movements that will bring about change.
Unfortunately, this is the twelfth time in the past three years in which I have felt the strong need to stand up and exercise our institutional voice, to denounce injustice, and to call for change. And while Antioch University specifically, and higher education generally, cannot be the movement per se, we all have an obligation to support the efforts that advance our Antioch mission, including the efforts of the peaceful protesters and demonstrators in the Black Lives Matter movement who have raised their collective voices against racial injustice, systemic racism and white supremacy. They have risked their personal safety, and economic security to be a force for change in a society that desperately needs it, and they’ve done that in a political climate that offers them no protection from the very police brutality they are marching against. Some have lost their lives in that struggle, including Heather Heyer in Charlottesville three years ago. We know that many of you are mobilizing in effective ways to oppose persistent racial injustice and systemic racism and to fight for change. We stand together with you.
But, while silence is not an option, it is equally true that words are not enough. Antioch must take concrete actions to confront systemic racism both internally and externally, to be willing to engage in honest self-assessment, and to take corrective action and affirmative steps toward becoming an anti-racist university. Since June 1, I have been working with the Board of Governors and the administrative leadership to chart a course for this work. It will require a commitment of time, energy and resources, but we are all committed to this effort. To that end, today, the Board Chair, Paul Mutty, and I are announcing the following initial actions:
Antioch University provides learner-centered education to empower students with the knowledge and skills to lead meaningful lives and to advance social, racial, economic and environmental justice.
This is just the beginning for Antioch, as it is just the beginning for our nation as a whole. We must seize this opportunity to confront both our personal and institutional racism and to act for the common good in promoting a racially just society. I will continue to keep you informed of the recommendations of the ATF and the actions we are taking. Thank you for all you already are doing and for your commitment.
In Antiochian solidarity,
Bill Groves, Chancellor
Paul Mutty, Chair, Board of Governors
Dear AU Community,
Noose or knee, lynching or suffocation, the result is still death at the hands of the very law enforcement institutions meant to serve and protect. We have all seen the gruesome video of the last minutes of George Floyd’s life, lying on the ground in Minneapolis, handcuffed, helpless, clearly within police officer control and custody, yet with one officer’s knee still planted forcefully on his neck, holding him down while he cries, sobs and begs for his life, pleading that he could not breathe. “Please Momma, I can’t breathe.” His death rips at our hearts. The officers’ callous and reckless indifference to human life shocks our conscience. Yet, it’s not unique. George Floyd was just the latest in a long history of police brutality and excessive deadly force, and a history of vigilante-style murders of innocent men, women, and children of color, a history that has sparked the “Black Lives Matter” movement. A couple of weeks earlier, it was Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.
Some have said, “this is not the America I know.” Unfortunately, it appears to be the America we have. It is an America with a deep and long issue with race, an America first experienced by blacks–as slaves. Our notions of equality are contaminated by history. While the Declaration of Independence declares that “all men are created equal,” those words were written by a slave owner. The word “men” did not include blacks. To the extent there was any confusion about that, the US Supreme Court ruled in 1857 in the Dred Scott case that slaves were not “citizens” under the Constitution. They had no rights of citizenship; they were chattel. And while that notion was changed by the adoption of the 13th and 14th Amendments and The Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, in 1868, they were followed by a century of Jim Crowe laws that enforced racial segregation. Those laws had court protection resulting from the US Supreme Court ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson, (1896) that “separate was equal.” That was the law of the land for another 58 years until Brown v. Board of Education, (1954) in which the Court held that “separate was inherently unequal” giving blacks the full and equal protection of the laws. And even then, it took federal legislation like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to put any muscle behind those words.
But while the laws have changed over our tortuous history, culture has not kept up. Many still regard America as a white, Christian nation, in which others are not true citizens but mere subjects, and interlopers. Even our immigration policies favor whites. For many, “equal protection” is a nice notion, but some people are more equal than others. Black men are ten times more likely to be killed by police than white men. Jogging while black can be deadly. Walking through a white neighborhood to buy Skittles while black, can be deadly. Playing with a toy gun while black will get you shot and killed before the police exit their car. But storming the state house of Michigan, armed with an arsenal of AR-15’s and other semi-automatic rifles results in no police action. This is what white privilege looks like.
Some have argued that what is needed is a deep conversation about race relations in this country, not more policy and legislation. But, I believe it’s both. We need immediate changes to our law enforcement systems. Police hiring and training need to change now. Police officer discipline needs to be reformed with national standards, and national licensure. Police fired in one jurisdiction must not be allowed to be hired in another jurisdiction. We have a “few bad cops” for a reason; they move around. Decisions about whether to criminally indict police officers for brutality and murder must be removed from those officials with the clearest conflict of interest, the local prosecutor’s office. And police brutality should be made a federal offense litigated in federal courts.
Changes in culture will require strong national leadership, something that is now woefully lacking. Culture starts at the top. Supreme Court Justice, Felix Frankfurter, fought hard in Brown v. Board of Education for a 9-0, unanimous decision and he got it. He knew that any dissent in the opinion would lead to widespread civil unrest. The same is true today; the winks and nods to white supremacists, white nationalists, and neo-Nazi organizations fuel the culture of hate and the culture of police brutality.
We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the culture of police brutality and racially motivated excessive force in this country. We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the culture of racial supremacy, hate-filled racist ideology, and violent actions that are part of our historical legacy and still part of our culture. We call upon our state and national leaders to take swift action to improve our institutions of law enforcement and justice and to unequivocally condemn racism, bigotry, and intolerance that continue to infect our culture as a nation.
As an academic institution, we will work as a community to continue discussion, debate, and dialogue around these important policy and cultural issues. Each campus has worked on various forums and groups for this purpose and I will work with the University faculty and administration to determine what else Antioch University can do in this regard to foster social justice and a culture of equality. Please look for more announcements over the next weeks about these and other opportunities to share your experiences, your civic engagement, and your perspectives.
I know that many of you are hurting in a year already marred by pandemic, economic stress, and political tensions. My heart goes out to you. Just know that you have a safe place at Antioch University and, despite our social distancing, we stand with you and continue to care deeply about you. Together, we will succeed in making America the kind of country we want to pass on to our children.
In deep sorrow and resolve,
William R. Groves, JD
Dear Members of Antioch University’s Faculty and Staff:
We are moving into uncharted waters as an institution, a country, and a planet because of the risks of the COVID-19 virus. My paramount concern is the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and the communities we serve. We all have a social responsibility to not only protect ourselves but to also protect others around us, many of whom may be much more vulnerable.
Therefore, we have been monitoring the situation carefully and have reviewed the recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and other state and regional health agencies. We also have conferred with the leaders of other universities struggling with the same problem.
Based on these discussions and my own assessment of the unpredictability of this evolving situation, I have made the difficult decision to move to remote learning modalities for all courses for this term effective immediately. This decision applies to all campuses and programs of the University. This shift to remote learning is temporary, but will likely continue until April 30, 2020. Our leadership team will be continuously monitoring the situation to determine any possible future change of course.
Antioch faculty and staff have been hard at work designing and creating the best possible learning experiences under these circumstances. In fact, we have extensive experience across the university in providing excellent teaching and learning environments remotely through online and low-residency modalities, as well as with our on-site courses and programs. One example is this past week’s almost-immediate shift to Sakai and Zoom at our Seattle campus. Other examples are the creative ways in which Antioch University Santa Barbara quickly shifted to remote learning in 2018 when faced with the twin crises of fires and mudslides that prohibited students and employees from getting to campus. We also have a longstanding history with at-a-distance, low-residency graduate programs, such as Antioch LA’s MFA or the University’s PhD in Leadership & Change. All of these efforts have retained the personalized and mission-driven Antioch pedagogy for which we are known. I know we can meet this current challenge.
Campus facilities will be open during Spring term. University staff members will continue to provide full academic and student services, although many may be working remotely from home. Only courses and classroom gatherings are fully shifting to remote. While we may be doing things a bit differently in this unusual time, we will do all we can to continue to provide the highest quality service and support. We are committed to ensuring that all the university operations needed by students and faculty to continue their teaching and learning is uninterrupted. We will also be increasing IT and Academic Technology support to ensure rapid response to questions from students and faculty as we shift modalities.
Given the regional variations of our university campuses, the different start and stop dates of academic terms, and other germane local characteristics, the campus provosts will be the primary source of local information. Following this letter, each campus/unit provost will be communicating directly with you to provide more detailed information specific to that locale or program. If you have any questions, please contact your campus provost (see below). For those of you not engaged on a campus, please contact your appropriate senior supervisor. For non-campus specific questions or thoughts, please feel free to email the University’s Crisis Management Team ([email protected]).
I am so proud of how Antioch faculty, staff, and students have stood together through these and other challenging times. We are a resilient university. I know this is a lot of change and that you are all experiencing your unique levels of anxiety about your own well-being, and the impact of this public health crisis, but maintaining a certain degree of normalcy is important. We are committed to ensuring that you are all able to stay on track with your educational goals in what has become our new reality of social distancing.
I am confident we will continue to demonstrate our ability to provide a distinctive and progressive education with personalized teaching and learning. Our incredible faculty and staff are committed to serving you in your quest to advance justice locally, nationally, and across the globe. We care about you. Be well!
William R. Groves, JD
Ben Pryor, PhD
Laurien Alexandre, PhD
Graduate School of Leadership & Change
Mark Hower, PhD
AU Los Angeles
Shawn Fitzgerald, PhD
AU New England
Barbara Lipinski, JD, PhD
AU Santa Barbara
Terry Ratcliff, EdD
Robert Morgan Fisher ’14 (Los Angeles, MFA) is 2nd Place Runner-up for the Saturday Evening Post 2021 Great American Fiction Prize, his story “Pipe Dream Paste” will appear in the magazine in early 2021 and in the digital anthology. His story “Superlative” appears in Feral Cat Publisher’s new anti-fascist anthology Dear Leader Tales and he has stories in the current issues of Cowboy Jamboree Magazine, The Wild Word, Blood and Bourbon Magazine, Grey Thoughts, Pandemic Publications, and Upstreet.
Andressa Lutiano (Antioch University Online, IMA) was interviewed about her work at Wish School, the bilingual school in São Paulo that she directs. The interview covers the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, remote learning, and the importance of innovation. Lutiano is interviewed in Portuguese, however auto-generated English subtitles can be turned on, and they work great. Find the video on Youtube.
Noah McIntyre (Online, IMA) was interviewed by Kelle Sparta on her podcast “Spirit Sherpa.” The episode, titled “Graditute with Noah McIntyre,” is a deep discussion of the practice of gratitude and the impact it can have on everyday life. He talks about his experiences being taught to meditate by Thich Nhat Hanh, working as an executive at Werner Erhard’s Landmark Education, and now working as a gratitude coach. Find the episode in your favorite podcatcher or stream it on Youtube.
Victoria Chang, Chair of AULA’s MFA in Creative Writing, has had her fifth book of poems, Obit, selected by Time magazine as one of 100 “Must-Read” books of 2020. The Time editors say that Chang captures the “visceral, heart-stopping ache” of grief in these poems, which were written in the wake of the death of her mother. “Although Chang initially balked at writing an obituary,” write the editors, “she soon found herself writing eulogies for the small losses that preceded and followed her mother’s death, each one an ode to her mother’s life and influence.” Obit is published by Copper
Mindy Velasco ’19 (Los Angeles, MA) serves as California Program Manager for the Latino Coalition for Community Leadership.
Michelle Suzanne Snyder ’19 (Los Angeles, MA) began working as an arts educator at CSU-Long Beach. She also launched her own business, DreamOut People’s Project, a customized workshop that blends oral history, writing, and visual art for community building.