Legal Blow Won’t Stop Fight Against Campus Move, Say Westminster Choir College Supporters

Ximena Conde, WHYY | March 4, 2020 | Education
Despite judge’s ruling, advocates for keeping college in Princeton say they will continue to resist plan to move campus to Lawrenceville
Credit: (Ximena Conde/WHYY)
Williamson Hall at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey

Students, staff, and alumni of a world-famous choir college in New Jersey said they’re going to continue to try and stop its parent university’s plans to move the Westminster Choir College campus from Princeton to Lawrenceville. That’s despite a legal blow in court this week.

On Monday, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Robert Lougy dismissed two cases brought on by the groups that attempted to stop the move.

“Nothing has changed, we’re going ahead, this is just the first step in what will probably be a long legal battle and we’re eager to move on to the next step,” said Constance Fee, president of the Westminster Foundation, which has helped students involved with the lawsuit.

Fee said appeals could be filed as early as Tuesday.

Rider University has said it wants to move the college to its main Lawrenceville campus so Westminster students can have a more well-rounded liberal arts education. The university also argues that, in terms of long-term financial sustainability, it makes more sense to consolidate the schools.

But in their lawsuit, 70 current students claimed the Lawrenceville campus could not adequately satisfy the rehearsal space needs required by the performers.

“Westminster is what it is because of the Princeton campus, in large part because the facilities are state-of-the-art, designed specifically for decades for training choral ensembles,” said Fee. “There is no other school like it in the world. Once it is gone, it is gone forever.”

Rider has been moving ahead with plans to move the choir college to Lawrenceville by September. It plans on building a three-story addition to the university’s fine arts building for the choir students and liberal arts students to use.

A spokesman for Rider has said the total investment for the consolidation will be $20 million.