Sweet Briar didn’t die, it was put down.
April 16, 2015 6:16 AM   Subscribe

Stewardship and Legacy: Sweet Briar and the Future of Women-Only Higher Education (Previously)

Sweet Briar's story may not be over. Saving Sweet Briar, a nonprofit started by Sweet Briar alumnae, has rallied and raised approximately $5 million. On March 30, 2015, at the urging of Saving Sweet Briar, the Amherst County Attorney filed a Complaint and Supporting Documents against Sweet Briar College on behalf of the Commonwealth of Virginia that may save the institution.
posted by SkylitDrawl (8 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Oh dear.

As to pedagogy: Male and female brains are, typically (and literally), wired differently.

That link goes to a Guardian article about a 2013 study with conclusions that are not universally accepted.

But mainly I highlighted that because if your goal is to convince me that women's colleges need to be preserved, don't use gender essentialism BS.

Dodd's earlier argument that "some women want these colleges, therefore they are worth preserving, they don't need any other justification," is actually much stronger.
posted by emjaybee at 7:13 AM on April 16, 2015 [36 favorites]

The county's Complaint specifically asks the judge to block SBC from closing, and also to get rid of the Board & President.

I have two daughters, and I hope they have many choices for higher education; I have two friends who attended women-ony colleges; and I work in .edu myself -- and I definitely think that the loss of this women-only institution is a bad thing. Meanwhile, a small part of me marvels at the notion that a court can simply instruct someone -- someone unwilling -- to do as complex a task as "continue to run an entire college." And that small part of me says, I love this crazy country.

The Complain also mentions that SBC sued the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1967 over the Will's restriction to admit only white women, and how the three-judge panel warned that "…the doubt of the legal and moral right of Sweet Briar to deviate from terms of the will can plague the college until an answer is procured form the State courts." In other words, the narrow terms of the founder's Will are weird enough and at enough of a tangent from state law that someday you will need to resolve this. And the notion that they found one way, but added this warning of future complications, is very interesting.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:19 AM on April 16, 2015

How Sweet Briar's board decided to close the college.

It's also worth pointing out that the Chronicle of Higher Education is doing a fair bit of reporting on this issue.

On the other side of the fence, Sweet Briar faculty member Dan Gottlieb has run he numbers himself and is in strong disagreement about the merits of the Board's decision.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:34 AM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

To say that SBC was 'put down' is to say that it was -- in the parlance of animal euthanasia -- 'humanely destroyed'.

But there was really nothing humane about it at all.
posted by grounded at 7:46 AM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

So, my understanding of the endowment means a rich woman (in this case) gave a bunch of $$ to make sure the school exists, runs, etc. I imagine it is held in a variety of the usual suspects in these types of situations- funds, bonds, banks, etc.

But what happens to the money if the college closes and is not under debt?
posted by Jacen at 12:25 PM on April 16, 2015

But what happens to the money if the college closes and is not under debt?

Apparently it would go back to the donors or their heirs
posted by BWA at 12:56 PM on April 16, 2015

I went to Bryn Mawr, so this has completely exploded in my sphere.

Honestly I wasn't super supportive when I first heard, just because it sounded like a woman's college that was still rooted in the old school view of woman's education, with the pink and green colors and the equestrian program, etc etc but then watching all these alums fight back- and they are organized was really impressive.

I'm rooting for them and I think Sweet Briar has a chance.
posted by KernalM at 6:06 AM on April 17, 2015

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