It is rare when student protests in America take a turn towards dialogue and not Alinsky-style direct action. Yet that’s precisely what happened at Liberty University last week as approximately 35 students voiced their concerns about Jerry Falwell Jr.’s comments directed towards certain members of the student body in e-mails obtained by the Associated Press:
Elizabeth Brooks, a junior majoring in politics and policy, told The Associated Press by phone that a recent Politico Magazine story as well as a Reuters report prompted the protest at the school in Lynchburg. She said about 35 students were involved.
. . .
Brooks said student protesters were particularly upset about quotes of emails in the Reuters story posted Thursday in which Falwell allegedly referred to one student as “emotionally imbalanced and physically retarded.”
David Corry, Liberty’s general counsel, told Reuters that Liberty wouldn’t respond “without knowing the details or seeing email chains in their entirety.”
Concern had centered around a handful of e-mails obtained by Liberty University staff and given to Politico alleging that the Falwell family had disparaged some student concerns over the years.
Meanwhile, not only is Falwell treating the episode as a betrayal of trust, he is also redoubling his efforts to assure the student community at Liberty that their best interests are his first priority — going so far as to praise the 35-member protest in the wake of the Politico article.
Liberty University’s enrollment has swollen in recent years to over 100,000 undergraduates and graduates, both on campus and online.