Liberty University Makes Political Clubs “Unofficial”

A month ago, Liberty University made news because it shut down the Democratic Party club at the school because of the party’s platforms. The Young Republicans group was allowed to stay put.

Of course, since Liberty is a tax-exempt university, they cannot take sides politically and they could’ve been in deep trouble with the IRS.

Jerry Falwell, Jr. announced a new policy yesterday in regards to the groups. Here’s how Rob Boston of Americans United put it:

Falwell has announced a new policy at Liberty. Under its terms, both the Republican and Democratic clubs will be considered “unofficial.” Such clubs can use the university’s name but won’t receive any funding.

The students who run Liberty’s Democratic club say they think the compromise could work. Americans United considers the new policy a big step in the right direction but intends to keep an eye on the situation. The one thing we’ve learned over the years about the Falwells is that they don’t always keep their word. They are quite capable of saying one thing and doing another, so we’ll remain on alert.

It’s a bad way to make a compromise, though. Liberty would’ve been fine if it allowed both political groups to be officially recognized. Instead, they decided to strip both groups of official recognition.

Why is that bad? If your options are letting several political/religious groups get campus recognition or letting none of them get it, it’s best to side with the first option.

Give them all access to funding and space and see what sorts of dialogue take place. A university should be promoting the notion of a healthy debate — let students decide for themselves how they feel about the various arguments.

To silence all the political groups in this case (by not giving them money or rooms) hurts the entire campus community. Yes, the groups can meet “underground” but it’s not the same thing.

Then again, I’ve never known Liberty as a place that contributes to healthy dialogue, so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised…

For what it’s worth, Brian Diaz, the former president of the Democrat Party club, is now transferring from Liberty. Here’s hoping he goes to a university that supports diverse political viewpoints.

And… you know… reality.

  • Jeff Satterley

    A university should be promoting the notion of a healthy debate — let students decide for themselves how they feel about the various arguments.

    I think we’ve known for quite some time that Liberty is a university in name only. They have no interest in any form of fair or healthy debate, and they certainly don’t want students thinking for themselves.

  • gribblethemunchkin

    The funniest thing about this (which doesn’t begin to counter the crushing despair i feel about the type of graduates they must turn out at liberty) is that whenthe democratic group started there was talk about Liberty being open to other viewpoints and they said all these wonderful things about open dialogue, debate and it being healthy for their students.

    Then they abruptly changed their minds, effectively saying,
    “You know what, we prefer our students to have closer minds with no dialogue and debate and being spoonfed one version of reality without exposure to alternate viewpoints. We believe this is best”.

    Never have they so openly displayed the true nature of their vile, wicked little hearts.

    I feel so sorry for the students there, to grow up in such a blinked ass-backwards place.

  • Epistaxis

    Brian Diaz, the former president of the Democrat Party club

    Is that really what it’s called? I thought only Fox News intentionally said “Democrat Party,” and activists ought to get the name of their own party right.

  • http:///www.bisforbarnstorming.blogspot.com BarnStormer

    For what it’s worth, Brian Diaz, the former president of the Democrat Party club, is now transferring from Liberty. Here’s hoping he goes to a university that supports diverse political viewpoints.

    And… you know… reality.

    Here’s hoping the notion is carried on by other students attending Liberty University, and any prospective students when they begin applying to colleges.

  • http://twitter.com/RtPt RtPt

    Liberty University is a step below Capella or Phoenix. It is basically to produce “good Christians” graduates for “good Christians” to hire. Look at the appointees in GW’s reign…they couldn’t spell cat even if you gave them the C & T, but they were certified “educated (indoctrinated)” good Christians. It is about the club you belong to (Ivy League blue-bloods do the same thing). Good Christians aren’t democrats…hence no club. The other matter is just because of the money.

    Someone at Liberty should start “The Unofficial Atheist Club of Liberty University”…

  • http://chaoskeptic.blogspot.com Iason Ouabache

    “Liberty University” is a big misnomer. They don’t care about liberty and they aren’t much of a university.

    The one thing we’ve learned over the years about the Falwells is that they don’t always keep their word. They are quite capable of saying one thing and doing another, so we’ll remain on alert.

    This. I fully expect to hear about some university official or school donor to illegally start passing big bucks to the Republican club through some back door.

  • GreyTheory

    The Republican club will just rename itself like other PACs. I’d wager the name will be some variation of “Conservative University Student Alliance” so they can avoid endorsing a specific party while still being a parrot for the GOP’s platform.

  • http://middleman-is-lost.blogspot.com/ MiddleMan

    This. I fully expect to hear about some university official or school donor to illegally start passing big bucks to the Republican club through some back door.

    I agree. This is going to be one of those situations: “Oh, look how fair we are! We’re not supporting anybody! But, we can’t help it if a donor gives to their favorite group!(wink. wink) Unless that donor doesn’t meet this schools standards.

  • Richard Wade

    Liberty University is a step below Capella or Phoenix. It is basically to produce “good Christians” graduates for “good Christians” to hire.

    It seems inevitable to me that Liberty University graduates, if they are not adequately educated to perform and contribute in the wider world, will run up against their incompetence, will simply not be able to adequately get the things done that are expected of them. They and the businesses that hire them will begin to fail when faced with their better educated competition.

    Outside of government, which we all know is a mess from hiring Liberty graduates, does anyone know of such problems appearing in the private sector?

  • epicskeptic

    Seems to me the decision to unfund the republican club is an attempt to create strife among republicans so they can blame the democrat club. The theists has been doing it for years. IE: If you don’t want to pray before the basketball game, then we all will not pray to make it even…then everyone gets mad at the atheist and peer pressure sets in thus outcasting the atheist.

  • Miko

    I don’t see the problem with not funding either: the money was coming from student fees anyway, so why not just cut out the middle-men (I say “men,” since I assume this is the reality at LU) and let the students support the groups they like and not support the groups they don’t like?

  • http://lyonlegal.blogspot.com/ Vincent

    I disagree with you Hemant.
    If in order to maintain it’s tax status it cannot endorse any one political party, then it should not endorse any.
    This will not eliminate dialogue. Groups will still form based on issues and ideologies.
    If the university said “any and all political party clubs are officially recognized by the university, and each will now get $x of the university activities budget” you would have every conceivable party show up (wiki list of US political parties) .

    It’s no different from the Washington state capitol building that had a display of the 10 commandments. They said “we can’t limit who so anyone can display here” and they had to stop because they ran out of physical space they had so many applications. Next year they won’t display anything.
    If neutrality is the object, the only way to be neutral is to refuse all.

  • Curtis

    This one of the few times I do not think criticizing LU is appropriate. All or none, either is fine. I prefer all when practical but none is a perfectly acceptable decision. It is how most atheist feel about religious diplays. I prefer the “all” stance that Vincent mentions especially since it shows that “all” is not always practical.

  • http://cycleninja.blogspot.com Paul Lundgren

    Easier solution: end all tax-exempt status for religions.

    OK, back to that reality you mentioned.

  • Jen

    Good going, LU! This will convince’em that you are a real school! Those damn heathens with their “science” and their “academic standards”. Suckers. You have unofficial clubs! Just like a real school!


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