You don't have to name names (though that would help for context, if you're so inclined), but is this to say that these senior aikidoka view hitting as never being necessary in any scenario within or outside of the dojo, up to and including self defense? I'm asking for clarification because the OP is putting a premium on atemi for effectiveness outside of the cooperative confines of much of modern aikido.
Setting aside arts and styles, if someone's not willing to at least do something common sense like stomp on someone's foot or poke an eye to help get out of harm's way and see the next sunrise, well, good luck with that.
I don't think any of the teachers I have in mind would object to foot stomps or eye pokes. OTOH, I don't think they would devote a lot of dojo time to teaching eye pokes, either.
Which is sort of my point. Aikido is not karate. Even in the most atemi-focused dojos, striking is seen as a way to facilitate the successful application of *aikido* techniques and principles, not as an end in itself. Perhaps the OP's time would be better spent figuring out why that is the case.
In my own experience, having the positioning and alignment that I would need to strike successfully dramatically reduces the chance that I will actually need to use an atemi. So I see the OP's focus on inflicting damage as somewhat missing the point of atemi in the aikido context.