Wittenberg Professor Has Beef with Antioch College

The fate of nine lambs on Antioch College’s farmland in Yellow Springs, Ohio, once was a local story. It has since attracted national media attention and an online petition which has gathered over 9,000 signatures to save the lambs from slaughter as part of the school’s farm-to-table program.

At the center of the story is David Nibert, a Wittenberg sociology professor on sabbatical this semester who lives in Yellow Springs, about 11 miles south of Springfield.

Nibert, who has written three published books about animal rights, came across the lambs by chance while on a walk in May. The free range animals have been on the Antioch campus since 2014 and currently graze on the grass in the college’s solar power array.

“Antioch College stands by a general statement which represents their farm as ecologically sound,” Nibert said. “However, this representation has been challenged by scholars who are calling for the release of the lambs. Critics of the program note that animal agriculture, including operations big and small, is a leading cause of the climate emergency.”

“Rather than teaching students to respect life and to produce sustainable plant-based food, students are being taught that living beings are disposable and replaceable,” Nibert said.

Antioch says its food-to-table program is working to bring the reality of where our food comes from to the persons consuming it. In this case, that food is produced about 1,500 feet from the final table.

College President Tom Manley defended the program in comments the Cincinnati Enquirer reported were taken from an email he sent to Nibert.

“Far from being unethical, Antioch’s practices reflect a thoughtful, integrative approach to environmental and ecosystem management and have been recognized for doing so nationally,” Manley said. “It is a question of education ultimately, and if more colleges, universities and schools in Ohio and across the world adopted similar approaches, the environmental health consequences could only be beneficial.”

The story also was reported nationally by the Daily Beast.

Antioch’s position notwithstanding, Nibert is still working to save the animals.

“Several regional sanctuaries have offered homes for the lambs, and the famous Farm Sanctuary based in Watkins Glen, NY has offered to take the lambs or assist in their placement,” said Nibert.

The controversy that has generated an online petition to save the lambs also has generated threats to students, staff and Nibert, and the usually very open campus appears to be on edge.

An Antioch staff member said the school has been “getting a lot of calls, a lot of opinionated people, a lot of the rhetoric on social media has gotten rather hot, and that concerns me [because] there is sometimes corresponding action by people.”

Amidst the controversy, the lambs reside inside a fence that surrounds the university solar array and protects the animals from dogs and coyotes.

This area includes an apothecary garden with medicinal herbs. The lambs look to be well taken care of and are not the least bit shy of humans.

5 Comments

  1. To correct you, we are talking about 9 lambs not 19. You are missing much more to the story as well. You know David is now banned from Antioch’s campus? Not only due to him harassing students, staff and alumni and posting flyers on the buildings but his off leash dog attacked another on leash dog and the other dog and owner were injured. Also staff, students are being harassed via email and phone and now the president of the college in the past week received a death threat over David demanding Antioch to release the lambs and use wording like, David wants the college to do what he wants them to do. This has all gone too far, all while David is the middle of writing a new book. One would think he wouldn’t be putting all of this in his new book…

  2. David Nibert lives approximately 2000 feet from the solar array. He walks his dog,off leash, on campus. The sheep have been there since 2014. He goes on sabbatical in 2019 to write a book on animal rights. He claims he first became aware of the sheep in May of 2019. He is getting a lot of free publicity from online publications. Draw your own conclusion.

  3. According to one published report, Nibert drives — yes drives — the 22-mile round trip every day from Yellow Springs to the Antioch campus, even while he’s on sabbatical, to feed a bunch of feral cats on the Wittenberg campus. Then he lectures Antioch college on the ecological unsoundness of lambs. O, the hypocrisy!

  4. The issue is not about Dr. Nibert or Dr. Manley. The issue is simply this, is it O.K. to kill animals for our eating pleasure ?

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