- Associated Press - Saturday, June 13, 2015

SWEET BRIAR, Va. (AP) - Sweet Briar College has ordered seniors enrolled in a summer business seminar class to stop raising money to try to keep their school open.

Scott Shank, the college’s vice president for finance and administration emailed the students’ professor Thomas Loftus on Thursday to bring an online T-shirt sale to a halt, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports (https://bit.ly/1FRNRj4).

Shank said the proceeds from the project cannot be given to the alumnae group Saving Sweet Briar, which is currently suing the college over its decision to close. The college announced the planned closure in March, citing declining enrollment and debt, among other things.

“The college is not going to authorize transactions that directly or indirectly provide resources to Saving Sweet Briar due to the conflict of interest that exists given the current litigation,” Shank said in the email. “I understand that the basis of this project is part of the curriculum of your class, but Saving Sweet Briar cannot be affiliated or be a beneficiary in any way.

Hallsey Brandt, a senior business major who is taking the class, was stunned by the news.

“We never thought the college would stoop this low,” Brandt said.

Loftus said he disagreed with the rule, but he will comply because he does not want his students to be stripped of credit.

“I was completely blindsided when I got the email,” Loftus said. “I did feel strongly that it was an abridgement of their freedom of speech.”

College spokeswoman Christy Jackson said there would be no additional comment beyond what was in Shank’s email to the professor.

Brandt said the class had put $15 T-shirts for sale on a student-run, online store. The shirt features pearls, a duck boot and 10 reasons “you know you’re a Sweet Briar woman.”

The class planned to donate 20 percent of the proceeds to Saving Sweet Briar.

Brandt’s classmate Ellie McElroy said sales of the shirt exceeded $1,000 within five days of being placed online.


Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch, https://www.timesdispatch.com

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