Wirths and Space: Pressure to stop sale of Westminster paid off

Wirths and Space: Pressure to stop sale of Westminster paid off

Harold J. Wirths

TRENTON, N.J. Rider University announced yesterday it would no longer be moving forward with the sale of Westminster Choir College to Kaiwen Education, a Chinese for-profit company partly owned by the Chinese government. Assemblymen Hal Wirths and Parker Space in the 24th Legislative District, who introduced a resolution (ACR222) opposing the sale, called the announcement a big win.

“It took many vocal opponents, but our efforts paid off. Rider University made the right decision to stop the sale,” said Wirths (R-Sussex). “From the very beginning, the company’s interest in the music college for the purpose of academia seemed suspicious.”

Rider University had planned to sell the renowned music college in downtown Princeton to Kaiwen Education. The company has no experience in higher education and in fact prior to 2016, they had no business in education whatsoever. It was a government-owned Chinese defense contractor that manufactured steelwork for bridges, ships, cranes and power plants.

Parker Space

“The announcement is a big win against the authoritarian Chinese government who we feared might be using the guise of academia to access Princeton’s world-class scientists, researchers, and institutions for nefarious purposes,” said Space (R-Sussex).

An FBI-issued a white paper on higher education and national security, says that forgiven governments use campuses in the United States to steal information, recruit individuals for espionage, and spread false information for political or other reasons. It cited several examples of the Chinese government using colleges and universities to gain intelligence.

Senator Steve Oroho (R-Sussex) introduced the Senate version of the resolution, SCR-160.

The University said its new plan will move Westminster Choir College’s programs from Princeton to their Lawrenceville campus beginning in September 2020.