Students at Liberty University, the private evangelical Christian university founded by Jerry Falwell, are staging a protest after reports of University President Jerry Falwell Jr.'s misconduct. Falwell Sr. would be so disappointed.
Falwell has been in the news a lot lately. He helped his personal trainer acquire land owned by the university, and according to Michael Cohen, Falwell had him take care of "racy" photographs that he did not want released to the public.
On Monday, Politico published an article detailing the culture of fear and mismanagement Falwell engages in at the university. The article is based on eight months of research, interviews with more than two dozen current and former university officials, and documents provided by Falwell's aides.
The article describes how Falwell and his wife, Becki, have consolidated power, and utilize university resources for their own gain, notably by funding real estate deals for friends and family (like with his personal trainer).
Other examples of suspicious dealings include hiring his son Trey's company to manage a university owned shopping center, giving university contracts to businesses owned by friends, and giving loans using university money to friends.
One senior university official said, “We’re not a school; we’re a real estate hedge fund. We’re not educating; we’re buying real estate every year and taking students’ money to do it.”
Wow! Is that what Jesus would do?
The article also covers other behavior that does not seem too Christian. University employees allege that Falwell excessively parties at nightclubs and graphically discusses his sex life at work. Several photos of Falwell at a nightclub in Miami have since surfaced. When Falwell said that someone must have used Photoshop to insert him in the first published photo, the photographer published several more on his website.
All of this insanity has lead students to protest at the school. Elizabeth Brooks, a sophomore at Liberty University and one of the protest organizers, said, “We are not calling for Falwell to resign right now.” In a mission statement she wrote, she stated that the official position of the demonstration is to “bring to light the truth of these allegations of various misconduct.”
Ian Parish, another student involved in the protest, said, “The mood is changing from ‘We wish Jerry would keep quiet’ to ‘We wish we had better representation for our school’. Jerry doesn’t have our best interests at heart. He doesn’t share Liberty’s mission statement to train champions for Christ.”
I hope the students are able to get their voices heard, although I wish they would lay off that "champions for Christ" crap. They do deserve better, though. Unfortunately, Liberty University, and Falwell himself, have a reputation for silencing dissent. That makes it hard to be optimistic.