Campaign against Antioch College sheep draws protest

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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in Yellow Springs

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

One man’s campaign to save nine sheep from being slaughtered as part of Antioch College’s sustainable farm program has drawn national attention and heightend security on the small campus in the village of Yellow Springs.

The sheep graze in the school’s 1-megawatt solar array, which is divided by chainlink fencing across five acres that borders the Little Miami Scenic Bike Trail.

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The sheep are part of the college’s “sustainable farm-to-table dining program,” which “helps our students, and our faculty and staff, to understand what it truly takes to feed a community, especially in an ecologically sound, ethical manner,” according to Christine Reedy, the college’s assistant director of communications.

“Our farm is a learning laboratory, and students from across the curriculum use the farm in their courses, from environmental science to art to philosophy,” Reedy said.

Yellow Springs resident David Nibert, a Wittenberg University professor of sociology, came across the sheep during a walk in May. After learning the lambs’ fate, Nibert reached out to his neighbor, the college president, to see if the sheep could be given to a sanctuary instead of slaughtered later this year. The answer was no.

Nibert, a vegan, said the issue is more than animal rights. He said his academic focus since the 1990s has been on “the treatment of animals and its connections to human social arrangements and exploitation.” Antioch College’s practice of raising animals for slaughter strikes at the heart of his research, he said.

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A fenced-in 1-megawatt solar array located on Antioch College’s farm is the grazing grounds for nine sheep that are being raised to feed students. Yellow Springs resident and Wittenberg University Professor David Nibert is campaigning to save the sheep and protesting the college’s practice of raising animals for slaughter. RICHARD WILSON/STAFF

A fenced-in 1-megawatt solar array located on Antioch College’s farm is the grazing grounds for nine sheep that are being raised to feed students. Yellow Springs resident and Wittenberg University Professor David Nibert is campaigning to save the sheep and protesting the college’s practice of raising animals for slaughter. RICHARD WILSON/STAFF

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A fenced-in 1-megawatt solar array located on Antioch College’s farm is the grazing grounds for nine sheep that are being raised to feed students. Yellow Springs resident and Wittenberg University Professor David Nibert is campaigning to save the sheep and protesting the college’s practice of raising animals for slaughter. RICHARD WILSON/STAFF

“We know that raising animals for food is a leading cause of climate change,” Nibert said. “Antioch has always been on the cutting edge of justice. They should be leading the way for the global transition to a plant-based diet … They shouldn’t be teaching these young people that this is good and noble.”

Nibert’s activism led the college to seek and be granted a court-ordered cease and desist against Nibert, whose campaign drew protesters onto the Antioch campus this past weekend.

College officials said there were up to 20 people who gathered carrying signs by the solar array in protest. Part of the group then relocated to the busy downtown area of the village.

Antioch’s position has also drawn support from the local community and among other professors, including Lois Askeland, also a professor at Wittenberg University.

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Askeland wrote an open letter to Nibert that was published in the Yellow Springs News, stating she support’s Antioch’s stance and called on her “friend and colleague” to end the protest, which has led to menacing emails and phone calls to the college from animal rights activists.

“If humans and many other animals are to survive on this planet, human consumption of all resources must become much more conscious, and frugal, and aware of the cycle of life,” Askeland’s letter reads.

Reedy said the sheep will continue to graze until the growing season ends. They will then be slaughtered and the lamb meat, according to Reedy, will be used for special meals once or twice a month for the students.

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