LU Petition against Trump has over 2,000 signatures
LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) - Liberty University's President may endorse Donald Trump, but many students do not.
Students say they're tired of being identified as supporters of a man they call one of the worst presidential candidates in American history.
"As a good leader he needs to be held accountable," said Alex Forbes, a member of Liberty United Against Trump.
The group "Liberty United Against Trump" says they respect Falwell. They also say they can't stand by and watch Falwell associate their university with Donald Trump.
"It's so important for us as Liberty students to disassociate with Donald Trump," said Dustin Wahl, who wrote statement against Trump.
Wahl said he has been against Trump for a while, but it was Trump's comments about sexual assault that prompted the student to write the statement. He says those comments were the final straw and he wanted his statement to preserve the integrity of LU.
"It hurts the Gospel of Jesus Christ when we associate it with any politician, but especially someone who is actively opposing what we believe in," said Wahl.
He says since posting the statement, he has received hundreds and hundreds of emails containing support from current students and alumni. "The values that we are taught in our classes, the values we are encouraged to believe in are the values that Trump consistently opposes and is proud to oppose," Wahl said.
Falwell, though, says his endorsement of the Republican candidate is purely personal and in no way tied to the university. "I am proud of them for being bold enough to speak out, that's not true at a lot of Ivy League schools where conservative students are afraid to say what they think," Falwell said.
Falwell has said he is not taking the statement seriously, noting that Mike Pence received five standing ovations at Wednesday's convocation.
The students, however, say because Falwell is so closely tied to the school, his endorsement will be interpreted as theirs. "This is not the mission of Liberty, the mission of Liberty is to train champions for Christ, not to champion Donald Trump," said Wahl.
Those wishing to sign the petition can use their liberty.edu email address. Currently, the petition has well over 2,000 signatures.
The following is a statement from Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr. in response to the LU student group Liberty United Against Trump:
I am proud of these few students for speaking their minds. It is a testament to the fact that Liberty University promotes the free expression of ideas unlike many major universities where political correctness prevents conservative students from speaking out. However, I am afraid the statement is false in several respects. First, the statement claims that a “majority” of Liberty faculty, staff and students are not supporting Donald Trump. It is true that Donald Trump lost in the Virginia primary at Liberty’s precinct when there were many Republican candidates still in the race but, when Mike Pence spoke to many thousands of students at Liberty yesterday, he was applauded when he spoke of the importance of supporting Donald Trump for president. In fact, he received five standing ovations during his speech. The group of students now speaking out against Trump represents a very small percentage of the Liberty student body of 15,000 resident students and 90,000 online students. The group (led by a never Trump activist, I am told) claims to have between 200 and 1200 signatures on a petition but admits that many of these signatories are not Liberty students. The student statement also falsely claims that I am “touring the country” and associating Liberty University with Trump. The fact is I traveled with the Trump campaign only one weekend in January and I always make it clear to the media that my endorsement of Trump is my personal endorsement only and that I am not speaking for Liberty University, its students, faculty or staff. I am only fulfilling my obligation as a citizen to ‘render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s’ by expressing my personal opinion about who I believe is best suited to lead our nation in a time of crisis.
Jerry Falwell, Jr.