The Coalition to Save Westminster Choir College has hired crusading attorney Bruce Afran to help them prevent the sale of their school.
Rider University, which has owned the college since 1991, is now seeking to sell it as a cost-cutting measure. Rider said it was hoping to sell it to another academic institution to continue to run it as a school, but the buyer could potentially move or close the school.
In hiring Afran, the coalition selected a lawyer with a recent track record of opposing local academic institutions. Last year he represented a group of Princeton residents who were suing Princeton University in an attempt to make the school pay property taxes. The suit was settled, with the university agreeing to provide property tax relief to lower income town residents. He also represented the Princeton Battlefield Society in its case against the Institute for Advanced Study, which was is building housing its campus next to the Princeton Battlefield. The society sued to stop the building of the homes, saying they encroached on the battlefield. The suit ended in a settlement in which the institute will preserve 14 acres of land to expand the existing state park, while reducing the footprint of its planned housing.
Afran has told reporters that the coalition would sue Rider if it went through with any deal that didn’t allow the college to continue operating on its current campus. The group also raised the possibility of spinning off Westminster so that it would once again be an independent institution.