Second lawsuit filed against Sweet Briar College

Alumna seeks to save school, make it co-ed

A second lawsuit against Sweet Briar College was filed Monday by an alumna seeking injunctions to prevent the school's closure and make it co-ed, the News Advance reports.

Jessica Campbell's case was not coordinated with the one filed by the Amherst County Attorney the same day, though it also focuses on the will of founder Indiana Fletcher Williams, who left her land and savings to create a school for women.

Sweet Briar might be saved after all

"We felt it was essential to step in and get this done," says Elliot Schuchardt, Campbell's lawyer, adding that they had been waiting for nonprofit alumnae group Saving Sweet Briar to take legal action.


Sweet Briar College announced in early March that it planned to close at the end of the current academic year. The announcement stirred up protests among faculty and alumnae, who quickly launched a crowdfunding campaign and moved to block the closure. Last week, they threatened legal action, as did the county attorney.

The decision to close may have seemed sudden to students and alumnae, but it actually had been planned for months.

The lawsuit

Campbell argues that if Sweet Briar's officials thought keeping the women-only college was impossible, they should have transitioned the school into a co-ed one in order to honor Williams' will.

The complaint requests a preliminary injunction to prevent further actions to shut down the college and for a permanent one for the same reason—with the addition of directing the college to go co-ed.

Sweet Briar's response

In a statement, school officials call the lawsuits "well-intentioned but misguided efforts" and say they jeopardize the college's ability to meet responsibilities to creditors, staff, faculty, and students.

Additionally, they have been in touch with the Office of the Virginia Attorney General to make sure any spending of the funds in question are authorized, according to the statement (Pounds, News Advance, 3/30).

The takeaway: Sweet Briar College faces a second lawsuit that seeks to prevent its closure, according to the News Advance.

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