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save sweet briarGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

My apologies to those two or three of you who come together over the decanter for the silence this week.  Once I recovered from Monday, I found myself occupied with other matters and somehow just couldn’t make it to the keyboard in the evenings.

Anyhoo, the main topic of interest round here continues to be the fight to save our beloved Sweet Briar College.  Of note, the campaign is now sufficiently organized that they are able to take actual donations of moolah instead of just pledges.  (Port Swiller Manor has tossed in some coin, probably more than we can afford.  But as somebody pointed out, if it doesn’t hurt, it’s not really charity.)  Also, the majority of the faculty have now openly sided with the Rebel Alliance. 

In the meantime, a couple of interesting articles appeared on the innertoobs this week, the one penned by Jan Sheets Jones ’69, wife of Interim President Jim Jones, the other a post-bombshell interview with a Lynchburg paper by Dr. Jones himself.

First, Mrs. Jones’ screed (which appeared on a class web page but which, so I’m told, she attempted to remove, ha ha ha), which in addition to serving up the usual (and mostly false) Talking Points of Doom used to justify the closure, also demonstrates that public relations is not exactly her forte.  A snippet about us Rebel Scum:

If you have email, are on Facebook and/or have attended one of the recent regional alumnae gatherings, you know there is a movement afoot called #savesweetbriar. It is a small movement making a great deal of noise about nothing more than trying to block this closure. The group has no “vision statement,” and there is no consensus about how to change Sweet Briar College so that it will be a financially viable institution in today’s world. Their words and actions have become very ugly, spiteful, and irrational. They are ready to “fight” and haven’t yet realized that the Directors and current Administration are NOT the enemies. The “enemies” are intractable historical forces in American higher education that have now been working against schools like our beloved Sweet Briar for a half of a century.

Note to Mrs. J: “Eff You!” is shorter and tighter.  (When Mrs. R first read that bit to me over the phone, I blurted out (in words not really politick to my office), “Goddam hippies!”)

Dr. Jones, on the other hand, is far more of a politician:

Q: What was your reaction to finding out that there are two former members of the Sweet Briar College Board that are now members of the Saving Sweet Briar, Inc. Board? [They left in May and June, respectively]. They obviously came to different conclusions than you did.

Jones: “I will respect their innate rights to state anything they wish. As someone who has been running schools for a very long time, I just do not see how the sustainability of the college is even a question. … I’m surprised that people, I think, with a good sense of the data, could come to the conclusion that there is a way on this earth to save this dear old school, but I do not think there is.”

See, that’s how you present the iron fist in a glove full of Vaseline (to quote Thomas Dolby).  On the other hand, he refers to SBC as “this dear old school”, but earlier in the interview he confesses that he hadn’t even ever thought about the place between the time his wife was a student there and the time he came aboard.  Similarly, depending on which answer you read, he either thought about closing from the beginning or was surprised by the idea right at the end; either took the decision himself or left it to the board; and either did or did not discuss merger or absorption with more or fewer other schools and it’s none of your damned business anyway.

So here we are.  Rumor says that the Rebel Alliance is going to file court papers in the very near future seeking an injunction to stop the closure. Meanwhile, there is a growing demand that the current board be removed (which see the pic above) and a new one put in place.  And although there has been much emphasis among the Rebels to keep the tone professional and positive, I don’t think you would have to probe anyone’s mind very far before you reached a vision involving the Joneses, tar, feathers and some required assembly.

In the meantime, what else is there to say except





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March 2015