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A Virginia lawmaker thinks a college's abrupt decision to close is illegal ' here's why

Published by Business Insider on Thu, 19 Mar 2015


Support efforts to save Sweet Briar College have been mounting within the alumnae community, and now a Virginia state senator is alsoquestioning the legality of the board's decision to close the school at the end of the semester."I truly believe that the board just missed understanding their obligation to the situation which is, number one, to be faithful to the mission of the college as it was founded,"State Senator Chap Petersen told Business Insider. It's also the board's duty"to be faithful to the intent of the donors, both the original donors and all other people that have donated to the school and kept it alive as a nonprofit," Petersen added."And just folding the school without any opportunity to keep it alive and giving people a chance to keep it alive ' Ijust don't see how you can do that and be consistent with their duty under law," he said.Earlier this month, the board of directors at Sweet Briar 'a 114-year-old women's college ' announced that it would be closing after the spring semester. This led to vocal outcry from students, alumnae, and the community ' including Petersen, whosent a letter to Virgina Attorney General Mark Herring asking him to investigate the legality of Sweet Briar's closing. The senator, a practicing attorney whose grandmother is a Sweet Briar alumna, had questions about the rights of donors who had recently given money to the school, as well as about the rights of current Sweet Briar students. Hebelieves that the Sweet Briar administration was unwarranted in the decision to close."And just folding the school without any opportunity to keep it alive and giving people a chance to keep it alive ' Ijust don't see how you can do that and be consistent with their duty under law," he said.Senator Peterson has not yet received a response from the attorney general, but thinks that the next step for alumnae and others fighting the board's decision is to continue to move quickly with their efforts. "Ithink they need to move pretty swiftly because in order for the school to be functional you need to have students that stay on campus and sign up for next year," Petersen said.Join the conversation about this storyNOW WATCH: 9 animated maps that will change the way you see the world
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