The majority of College Trustees have pushed for the admission of women at the long-time, all-male Deep Springs College east of Big Pine, but two trustees have legally disagreed. They have now won a significant first round, but the legal dispute is not over.
In a 25-page decision, Judge Dean Stout ruled, “The Trust can not be construed as giving the Trustees discretion to admit female students.” Judge Stout’s decision says, “What is best for the future of the school is not the question before this court.” Judge Stout said the Court is limited to determining what Trustor L.L. Nunn intended. Nunn’s trust was executed in 1923.
Judge Stout said the question before him was whether the language of the Trust can be interpreted as giving the Trustees the discretion to institute
coeducation at Deep Springs College. He ruled it does not.
The majority of Trustees argued that the Trust language gives them broad discretion regarding the gender of the students. The Trust does specifically refer to the “education of promising young men.”
Judge Stout’s decision says, “The Court rules in favor of the objectors. The Trust can not be construed as giving the Trustees discretion to admit female students.”
The majority of Deep Springs Trustees also argued that the Deep Springs College Corporation is a separate entity from the College. The Court decision indicated that these trustees seemed to think the Corporation could conduct co-education at the college. Judge Stout disagreed. He said that the Corporation is also subject to the same ruling as the College.
Trtustees Kinch Hoekstra and Edward Keonjian are the ones who legally opposed the admission of women. They also asked the Court for a Preliminary Injunction to keep Deep Springs from admitting women and to maintain the status quo while the legal battles goes on. The Judge granted the injunction. Stout also noted statistics provided to the Court which said, “…the school has had little difficulty attracting qualified faculty and students under its single-sex policies, and is financially healthy.”
Judge Stout still has to consider whether the Trust can be legally modified. Both sides have a call with the Judge on February 22.