Liberty U. v. college Dems.

  Below is a round-up of stories and editorials related to the decision by Liberty University to revoke university recognition of a student Democratic Party club.
Times Dispatch news story: Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and all four candidates for governor faulted Liberty University's decision to revoke its recognition of the campus Democratic Party club on moral grounds. The News & Advance of Lynchburg reported yesterday that the university, founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, had pulled the plug on the club it had formally recognized in October, saying: "We are unable to lend support to a club whose parent organization stands against the moral principles" of the university. The club is barred from using Liberty's name and cannot advertise events or hold meetings on campus. Violators could be reprimanded and face expulsion for repeated offenses.

News & Advace news story: Liberty University’s College Democrats club members were trying to draft two documents -- a new constitution and a clarification of their comments to news media -- Wednesday after meeting with Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. and other administrators. The new constitution could allow the club to regain official status after LU revoked its recognition because the club supported the Democratic Party’s pro-choice platform and candidates. But any official acceptance will wait until the club has retracted and apologized publicly for statements that accused an LU official of saying that Democrats couldn’t be Christians, and that the school told club members they couldn’t hold meetings, Falwell said.

Times Dispatch news story: A group that backs the separation of church and state asked the Internal Revenue Service yesterday to review Liberty University's tax-exempt status because the university revoked recognition of a student-run Democratic organization.
(Internal link on link below to Jeff Shapiro commentary)

News & Advance news story: Members of Liberty University’s once-recognized College Democrats club say they hope a meeting today with Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. will lead to their reinstatement as an accepted campus group.
Jerry Falwell Jr. Letter to the Editor: A number of media sources recently reported that Liberty University banned Democrats from meeting on campus. One headline erroneously read: "Democrats at Liberty University forced to meet off campus." Apparently many journalists do not let the facts get in the way of a juicy, agenda-driven story.
Liberty University College Democrats Letter to the Editor: Last Friday, College Democrats’ recognition was revoked by Liberty University. This action generated a considerable amount of controversy, both here in Lynchburg and across the country. Liberty University College Democrats (LUCD) is disappointed and disagrees with this decision, and we are working to try and resolve this dispute in a manner that is satisfactory to everyone.
Times Dispatch editorial: You almost have to admire Jerry Falwell Jr. Surely he and other officials at Liberty University knew their treatment of the college's Democratic Club would invite ridicule. They acted anyway. The scorn rained down without, however, the salubrious effects of manna. The whole incident seems yet another episode in a comedy in which everyone plays a designated role.
Washington Post editorial: YOU CAN be a Democrat at Liberty University as long as you don't support Barack Obama. Or Virginia Rep. Tom Perriello. Or any other candidate who so much as hints at supporting abortion rights or same-sex marriage. That, at least, seems to be the message Liberty University sent when it withdrew its recognition of the campus Democratic group as an official club. The students' offense was not that they spoke out in favor of abortion or gay marriage but that they supported candidates who do. Liberty is a vibrant, diverse school of 11,500 residential students; it's too bad its administrators appear to have so little tolerance for political diversity.
Darrell Laurant commentary: The headline in our newspaper Friday morning -- the very top headline, no less -- told the world: "LU pulls plug on Democratic club." In terms of shock value, this was the equivalent of "VMI freshmen forced to do pushups" or "Taliban leaders oppose plans for new disco." The mystery here is not that Liberty University decided to disassociate itself from the college’s Democratic club, but that the club was ever allowed to exist in the first place. "We are in no way attempting to stifle free speech," said LU vice president of student affairs Mark Hine in an e-mail to Democratic Party club president Brian Diaz. Excuse me? Saying that belonging to a club representing one of the two major political parties in the country could trigger reprimands and eventual expulsion is hardly promoting free speech. On the other hand, it’s not that incoming LU students don’t know what the deal is.
Roanoke Times editorial: This might leave you speechless.  Liberal isn't welcome at Liberty University. A report by the Lynchburg News & Advance confirms that not every college campus is an oasis of liberal thinking. By "liberal" we do not mean the political left label (though that's not particularly welcome at Liberty University either), but liberal in the sense that a pursuit of education is about broadening the mind, exposing it to a myriad of views, even those -- especially those -- contrary to your own. The university revoked its recognition of the campus Democratic Club granted just before the presidential election. Should the group meet or advertise an event on campus, the students would be violating the Liberty Way conduct code and face reprimands. LU is a private school and can refuse whichever clubs it wants. It does support the campus Republican Club. But the Democrats, well, their "platform is contrary to the mission of Liberty University and to Christian doctrine," Mark Hine, vice president of student affairs, wrote in an e-mail to the newspaper.

Tamara Dietrich commentary: Liberty University couldn't have made it any plainer: Democrats not welcome here. For that matter, liberty is getting expelled, too. In fact, officials at this fundamentalist Christian GOP feeder school in Lynchburg violated Lady Liberty when they kicked a club of student Democrats off campus two weeks ago. These students didn't binge-drink or suck on bongs. They didn't cheat on exams or use foul language. They're "great Christian kids," said Liberty President Jerry Falwell Jr. in a news report. They're "well intentioned and honorable," said Student Affairs Vice President Mark Hine. But they're Democrats. And that's enough to shut 'em down.

Open letter to Jerry Falwell Jr.: I write today in the unfamiliar position of defending a group of Democrats. As you are aware, Liberty, in a review of policies, has decided to remove from the College Democrats the official imprimatur of the school. The club may no longer receive funding or use the Liberty name, though (in contradiction to recent press coverage on the issue) it may still exist and meet on campus. That is, in my humble opinion, a mistaken policy that should be reversed.

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