The battle ensues between the arts and Valparaiso University’s administration. Three months following the announcement of a plan to sell three paintings from the Brauer Museum of Art, students, faculty and alumni continue to actively express their disapproval. Specific information regarding the announcement and initial responses can be found on (“New dorms put a number on priceless works”).

On April 24, a lawsuit was filed in the hopes of stopping the sale. In the lawsuit, Richard Brauer, the namesake of the campus museum, and Philipp Brockington, a retired professor emeritus of law at Valpo, are the plaintiffs. Both President José Padilla and Indiana’s Attorney General Todd Rokita are named as defendants.

“Plaintiffs, and the public at large, will suffer irreparable injury if Valparaiso University violates the donor’s intent and liquidates assets of the trust…,” states the lawsuit.

At a May 1 general assembly meeting for Student Senate, Padilla commented on the lawsuit.

“We will vigorously defend against it because remember, my career was as a lawyer and a general counsel. We will be, at the appropriate time, moving to dismiss, unless they were to dismiss themselves, which I kind of doubt. You don’t bring a lawsuit if you intend to dismiss it,” Padilla said. “There’s only one party in this state that has the standing to stand in our way and that’s the Attorney General of the state of Indiana and the Attorney General’s Office attended a hearing last week arguing with us against that lawsuit. So we’ll be vigorously defending it because we strongly believe that we have the ability to sell that art and we will continue to seriously examine that and do the due diligence we need to do … that includes also consulting with the Attorney General’s Office.”

Padilla explained that he has spent 16 years as a general counsel and another seven years as a university lawyer.

The matter continues to hit close to home as on-campus initiatives to halt the sale have also occurred in various forms. During a March 2 special session meeting of Faculty Senate, in a 13-6-2 vote, a Faculty Senate resolution was passed (the full resolution can be found on The document called for the university to reconsider its decision to sell the paintings.

Calling for the examination of alternatives to the sale, the resolution named a short-term loan and a short-term intensive fundraising initiative among potential solutions. Additionally, faculty senators approached the statement by addressing the ethical violation the sale would have against the university’s mission and values.

Approximately one month following the vote, on April 14, Faculty Senate received a response from university administration.

“The University’s (administration and Board [of Directors]) primary ethical obligation is to fulfill the University’s Mission, Strategic Plan and achievement of the Plan’s strategic objectives,” stated the response.

The response also determined that the presented alternatives would either increase Valpo’s financial obligations or prolong the timeline for residential hall renovations. There was no part of the response commenting on the sale going against Valpo’s ethical responsibilities.

“There is no prescribed mechanism for what happens with Faculty Senate resolutions. So they go up the line,” George Potter, an at-large faculty senator, said. “One of our concerns is that we actually don't know who all read that [resolution and] we don't know if it was shared to the Board. The response to the resolution that we were sent was unsigned and undated. So we don't know who wrote it. We don't know when it was written. We don't know if it was a conversation between the administration and the Board or the administration alone.”

In addition to information that still has yet to be released, the overall projected timeline for when the three paintings would be sold is among the list. The rapidly approaching summer has caused some growing hesitancy throughout the community.

“A big concern is that they will go ahead with the sale during the summer,” Potter said. “It seems like the kind of thing that would happen when there are less people around to complain about it and I think, aside from thinking that the sale of the art is wrong, I think trying to do things when most people aren’t around is a bad way to operate the university and a bad way to communicate with your university constituents.”

While the faculty have reached out directly to administration, students have also joined the movement. Taking both active and passive approaches to show their disapproval for the sale, one motto has rang true: “Art is a Core Resource.”

Students have created a website, a custom hashtag and a social media account, all of which the phrase serves as the namesake. Since the announcement, a petition has been available (found on to the overarching Valparaiso University community and currently garners over 2,500 signatures.

“With that petition, anyone can sign it. We have museum professionals, we have somebody from Sotheby’s who signed it, we have people from the Smithsonian … It’s really a petition for anybody that is impacted by that sale in any way and who disagrees with it,” said Ashley Vernon, a junior at Valpo and one of the spokespeople for Art is a Core Resource. “And so don't be scared to spread it around to your family and friends.”

Thus far, the group has encouraged students to write letters directly to Padilla and utilize #artisacoreresource on all social media platforms. Students have visually shown their objection to the decision throughout campus with posters and flyers containing QR codes. Primarily, however, the VUCA (Valparaiso University Center for the Arts) has housed a majority of the group's initiatives. Three tapestries hang on pillars in the building, each with a color scheme similar to one of the paintings.

Additionally, red has come to the forefront of the movement for its metaphorical significance. Red dots are the standard indicator for sold paintings in a gallery setting. Red paper dots adorn the tapestries, the VUCA floor and red stickers add to posters showing signers of the petition. Red dot day was April 28 where individuals against the sale were encouraged to wear red. The day coincided with the arrival of the Board to campus.

“The reason that people viewed this [the art sale] as something that was acceptable is because they thought the museum was actually just a gallery and galleries are allowed to sell art. And we're not a gallery, we’re a museum. So we wanted to differentiate that and kind of use the red dots and flip the narrative as our art is not for sale, and kind of using that as a symbolism for it,” Vernon said.

Despite the outspoken student activism and Faculty Senate criticism, university administration has made no apparent attempts to halt the sale.

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