An attack on the very essence of the rights of women has befallen a bastion of well-rounded, highly-intelligible, honorable women who come from near and far to plant their roots in a place caressed by Virginia’s pristine and picturesque valleys, overseen by truly impeccable sunrises and sunsets. This great institution is where the notion of, Think is for women,” is an everyday occurrence that has lasted over a century, producing some of the country’s finest graduates. Sweet Briar College and the community, thereof, was told the place from which they emerged a better and brighter citizen would be shutting down and locking the doors on the pink and green-draped halls where the Vixens walk amongst their sisters, creating a bond so strong that it will never been broken. A bond which will stand the test of time.
The Vixens have cried wolf. Unfortunately, however, the wolf was draped with the facade of a fox. Sweet Briar College president James Jones Jr. announced the school will close just a few weeks ago. Though, surprisingly, he did not tell the current students, alumni, and professors until the media was already to campus. According to an alumnus, she was only notified the day of the incident that the college was in dire straits of financial needs and would have to close its doors. Moreover, the faculty and staff were notified of this just 15 minutes prior.
Jones has proven himself to been an atypical college president, a typical mediocre administrator. Jones has a track record that is as rigid as a week-old salad. He has consistently and continuously spoken out against conservative college campuses and the traditions that bear them the mark of an institution, while deflating the best of what education has to offer. This hostility was true with Trinity College, located in Connecticut.
Whilst the president of Trinity, Jones attempted to divert assets of the Davis Endowment to other ventures, including scholarships for foreign students. The attorney general’s office discovered that the college had illegally diverted $191,337 of college funds for an endowment to pay for an internship program, one which was deliberately less useful than giving potential students the right to a great education. The parties involved ordered Trinity College, headed by Jones, to immediately restore the money. At the end of his tenure, Jones brought Trinity from a top-ten school, to a horrific low in status, below 150.
It was stated by Jones that the Sweet Briar’s $94 million endowment would not suffice, as a $250 million endowment is necessary for the college to function. Hampden-Sydney College, an men’s only liberal arts college, has a current enrollment that equates to around 1,000 students. Sweet Briar, on the other hand, has 500, albeit with decreasing numbers. Furthermore, Hampden-Sydney has an endowment of about $125 million and has held steady in its fiscal matters. Therefore, it makes absolutely no sense that an institution with a student population of only 500 needs an running endowment of a quarter of a billion dollars. Jones seems to have missed this in his high school statistics classes when understanding correlations.
Jones has lamented that Sweet Briar needs a more “diverse” student body. However, he does not realize the notion of diversity does not only come from skin color and place of origin, but a state of mind. According to students of the college, the so-called “urban pipeline” plan sacrificed the very essence of the school for a few extra thousand dollars from student or a semester or two. In my opinion, these programs do not work; they are implemented in the wrong fashion. It makes more sense to recruit one student from which the college would receive eight semesters of tuition money, rather than three students that will only be with the college for one or two semesters. Thus, raking in more money. Moreover, a graduate of a college will donate money in the years after graduation and will continue to increase donations as their financial status grows. Obviously, someone who does not graduate, cannot contribute, henceforth. If he so chooses to have a diverse crowd of women on campus, let it be based on merit and character.
Why the board of trustees of Sweet Briar thought Jones would be a great candidate to the college is beyond my concept of logic and reason. He has shown that he is the antithesis to single-sex education in a conservative, traditional setting. For the board of trustees to do this, it shows that this may have been a deliberate egregious attack on women who wish to better themselves to take on the world and to create a bond between the young women that will never be broken.
As a Hampden-Sydney gentleman, I have had the pleasure of knowing and being in the presence of the women of Sweet Briar, so brilliant, so rich in character, and with truly beautiful personalities. Since I was alerted of the news I have felt a sadness that left me teary-eyed and weary-hearted, but not the sadness that is undeniably hitherto unknown to the young women of Sweet Briar, both past and present. As the tears have fallen from the eyes of the morose, infallibly vexed young women, it has sprouted a re-birth of the tree from which the seeds of hope and companionship originate. Hampden-Sydney has launched a donation campaign to help the needs of Sweet Briar, and have raised over $100,000 in just a few weeks. Therefore, I know the tiger and vixen tails will be knotted as they are, as they have always been, and as they will, forevermore.
The Sweet Briar community has raised over $3 million in just three weeks. This is not such a surprise considering some of the women graduates have go on to be the owners of leviathan-like companies and other American institutions. According to reports, Sweet Briar only needs $10 million to keep its doors open for another academic year. By the current donation rate to the “Save Sweet Briar” fund, this can be done in just two more months.
I believe Sweet Briar plays a vital role in the world and the transformation, thereof. In a world that suffers from violence against women, both foreign and domestic, the most important factor in the liberation of women is a good education. The fight for equality begins in the classroom. Yes, I think Sweet Briar could broaden its horizons with a more diverse outreach program with its potential students. Though, this should be influenced by the aforementioned diversity of state of mind. Sweet Briar should seek out women in countries that punish their young women for wanting an education, so that they can be the vessel which could carry them to harnessing the power to influence society. By doing this, I believe Sweet Briar could be an even bigger player on the world’s stage to empower young women to stand against forces that wish to disenfranchise them.
As one who holds a degree from a small, single-sex college, I have the ability to say that would not trade it for anything in the world. Our classrooms are filled with conversations of the very essence of freedom and liberty, the future of society, and how we should act, insofar as being a well-rounded member of society. It allows us to grow as we go forth into the world, in business, science, and on the political stage to show others how be successful while holding a stiff upper lip. Our education truly comes unabridged with what is seen as “standard.”
The Vixens of Sweet Briar have shown they will not stand for the reticence of the board trustees and the president who say their allegiance drips of pink and green. It is our job, both women and men, to rid putrid stench of treasonous transgressions from the halls of Sweet Briar that perpetuate against rights of women that wish to seek a single-sex education.
My message to the Vixens is to keep battling. As long as you protest against the demagoguery of what they call the college administration, we will stand with you. Although the news of the terrible tragedy left you in tears, the tears of many, have energized a base on which you can stand to strengthen your voice. I shall stand with the pink and green, to unite against a world that believes so unintelligibly that single-sex education has nothing to offer. This a battle for a bond that will never be broken. A battle for one of the last and greatest bastions for a women’s only institution of higher education. I shall exclaim give me the right to fight for a college I love as much as my own, give me the right to fight for the women who stand as one, give me the right to fight along side the women who will not stand idly by whilst their second home is destroyed, give me Sweet Briar or give me nothing.
Written by Alex Lemieux