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.