Falwell defends decision to keep Liberty University open to students; numbers show Liberty is not alone

Local News

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — You’be probably seen the back and forth between Liberty University and leadership from Lynchburg on Richmond over allowing nearly 2,000 students to be on Liberty’s campus during the Coronavirus pandemic.

This decision by Liberty President Jerry Falwell Jr. to keep campus open has caught the national spotlight, but according to students this isn’t outside of the norm for Liberty.

“Liberty has a tendency to do things loudly because of who our president is,” said AJ Thomas, a Junior at Liberty University.

According to Falwell, the reasoning behind keeping Liberty open was to accommodate international students who aren’t able to find a way home for the time being and American students who aren’t able to get out of their off-campus lease.

Thomas is in a lone situation, in that he is an American citizen whose parents are currently serving overseas as missionaries.

“I have sympathy for the students here that kind of have housing because Jerry Falwell has opening up Liberty for them,” Thomas said. “It’s a unique situation, but it’s one htat needs to be taken care of.”

In a Mar. 25 interview with CNN, Falwell clarifies that “opening campus” does not mean business as usual.

“The campus has become more like an apartment complex than a university,” Falwell said on CNN. “All the education is being done online. All restaurants are serving takeout only. We are wiping down every surface that’s touched on every hour.”

Thomas stated that Falwell’s previous comments on Coronavirus are ones that should be left to the professionals, but regardless of commentary Thomas says Falwell receives this level of scrutiny simply because of who he is.

“Because of the personality that Jerry Falwell is and the kind of persona he has in the media and just even around campus, the decisions he makes draws a lot of attention, a lot of it negative,” Thomas said. “I think what people need to do is focus on his intentions. I think the intention to keep Liberty open to students is pure.”

Looking at the numbers, it would appear Liberty isn’t the only university in Virginia that has left its campus open for students who are having trouble making back home, both international and American.

Virginia Tech currently has anywhere from 900-950 students on their campus. The University of Lynchburg currently has 19 international students on their campus, and Virginia Military Institute (VMI) currently has 14 international students on their campus. They, according to a VMI spokesperson, however, are arranging travel and will all be in their respective country by next week.


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