Inyo Superior Court Judge Dean Stout has issued a preliminary ruling that the Deep Springs College Trust can not be interpreted to admit female students to the long-time, all-male college.
The Deep Springs Trustees went to Inyo Court last year to ask that the Trust created by college founder L.L. Nunn be interpreted to admit women. The Trust says the college was established for “the education of promising young men.” The Trustees reasoned that since 1917, times have changed and women play a much more significant role in society. So, they argue, it’s time for women to be admitted to Deep Springs.
Two of the Trustees, represented by attorney Joe Liburt, disagree and went to court to oppose the majority of the Board. Liburt had said that it is a matter of trust law and what the trust says. Judge Stout has issued an order which says that the Deep Springs Trust “can not be construed as giving the Trustees discretion to admit female students.”
Judge Stout also ruled that the Deep Springs Corporation is bound by the trust, and he granted a preliminary injunction to stop admission of women for now. The majority of trustees had reasoned that the corporation essentially holds all the assets and operates the college aside from the trust. The Judge disagreed.
There is still an issue pending – whether or not the court will agree to modify the Trust to allow female students. A status conference and setting of further hearing on that matter is set for January 22nd in Inyo Court.
The Deep Springs Trustees had already opened the door to female applicants before this court decision. On the college website, a letter written by college President David Neidorf apologizes to female applicants for the inconvenience. The website says the college is “disappointed that we cannot move ahead with coeducation this year, but remain confident about the final outcome of the ongoing litigation.”
The website also says that once Judge Stout has issued his full ruling, the Trustees will “develop the next phase of its legal efforts.”