Is living as a Christian and voting for a Democrat an irreconcilable combination? The media coverage surrounding Liberty University’s decision to de-recognize their College Democrats chapter has cast the school as promoting such a philosophy.
“Even though this club may not support the more radical planks of the democratic party, the democratic party is still the parent organization of the club on campus [sic],” stated Mark Hine, Vice President for Student Affairs in an email to the (former) Liberty University College Democrats (LUCD) chapter. Since the LUCD had endorsed candidates who “uphold the Platform and implement it” and whose goals “are directly to contrary to the mission of LU,” Hine argued, the students could no longer associate themselves with Liberty University and were heretofore forbidden from the school’s name “in any of their publications, electronic or internet, including but not limited to, any website, Facebook, Twitter or any other such publication.”
As of this writing, LUCD’s reposted website, their Facebook page, and their Twitter account retain the Liberty University references; at the bottom of their website in small text they state that they are no longer recognized and “Any trademarks are the property of their respective owner” but they still heavily utilize pictures of the school and its sports teams.
President Jerry Falwell Jr. and Mat Staver, Dean of Liberty’s School of Law, told this correspondent that the LUCD chapter retains the rights granted any non-recognized student group, including the right to assemble, bring speakers on campus using independent funds, and post fliers.
Staver acknowledged that “official recognition does give certain extra benefits, but students pass out literature and promote the various causes all the time” and said the decision to revoke University support resulted from a new school policy which he helped create. “We’re in the summer months, school is out and we’re preparing for the new school year as it begins in the Fall of 2009 by going into the academic year as we’re looking forward to move ahead [and] increase our funding of our student groups and we’re analyzing all of our organizations,” he said.
Staver said that the University had no plans to revoke funding from other organizations but would use the same “even-handed approach” toward all recognized campus groups, maintaining that “the issue is not their political positions, the issue is certain core values on life and marriage.”
While LUCD’s charter says that it “will take a pro-life stance and support the traditional form of marriage,” the group’s president, Brian Diaz, wants to make sure the club can support President Barack Obama.
Diaz told New Advance over the weekend that he hesitated to affiliate the group with Democrats for Life because they could no longer campaign for the President. “If we were to charter under the Democrats for Life organization, we would not be able to endorse or campaign for, or do anything for Barack Obama and his re-election run,” he said.
“Mr. Diaz told us that he personally believes abortion is a ‘great travesty’ but said that his club is willing to endorse politicians, such as Mr. Obama, who support Roe v. Wade but are working to reduce the number of abortions,” commented the WaPo editors on May 27.
“Mr. Diaz’s explanation is as reasonable as the university’s handling of the situation is not. Why recognize a club for campus Democrats but not allow it to actually support Democrats, including the president of the United States?” they ask.
President Obama has made it clear in recent weeks that he does not actually desire to reduce the number of abortions but to reduce the “need” for abortions. “So let us work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions. Let’s reduce unintended pregnancies. Let’s make adoption more available. Let’s provide care and support for women who do carry their children to term,” he said at Notre Dame University.
Wendy Wright, writing for Human Events, pointed out that “Melody Barnes, the Director of Domestic Policy Council and a former board member of Emily’s List” told her during a meeting that “It is not [the Obama Administration’s] goal to reduce the number of abortions.” Rather, she argued, the Administration’s stated goal was to “reduce the need for abortions.”
Bill Clinton’s policy was to promote the idea that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare,” but this language was removed from the party platform last year.
Regardless of the merits of the school’s policy, news outlets continue to fail to correct basic factual errors on their websites.
The Associated Press and other outlets erroneously reported last Friday that LUCD members would no longer be able to “advertis[e] events and [hold] meetings on campus. Violators could be reprimanded and face expulsion for repeated offenses.” While the Washington Post later retracted similar statements from its in-house article, it has not corrected the erroneous AP article which remains, unedited, on its website. As of this writing, neither has Fox News, the Richmond Times-Dispatch or News Channel 8 corrected the AP error and thereby continue to misinform readers.
LU President Falwell Jr. had accused the media of discriminating against his university. He asserted in a May 25 op-ed that “Much of what went to print was wrong. Most journalists were interested in scooping their competitors rather than seeking the truth. Even when some reporters learned the facts, they could not bring themselves to correct their stories because the fanciful reports were just too tempting.”
The AP article mentioned above used both Staver and Falwell Jr. as sources. Neither Falwell Jr. or Staver replied to the question whether they had told the AP writer otherwise before the story went to print.
E.D. And none are asking this question: Who is funding the College Democrats chapter with the state-of-the-art website?
Bethany Stotts is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.