Rebekah’s Report: A Political Review – Freedom of opinion vs. campus loyalty

Rebekah Davis, Staff Writer

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When Ted Cruz, Republican senator from Texas, announced his plans to run for the presidency at Liberty University (LU) in Lynchburg, Va., the number of people in the audience filled the auditorium. It held about 11,000 students from LU, according to Tampa Bay Times. But how did so many students get there? Why wasn’t the audience comprised of more members from the community to support him?

LU requires its students to attend convocation three times a week. Not attending convocations can result in fines. All of the students were required to attend Cruz’s announcement, because he made it at convocation. The television broadcast showed thousands of attendants, making it seem like Cruz had a huge, supportive crowd.

And this is where the problem is found: Cruz’s announcement during convocation made it seem like LU and its students support his campaign.

There are two sides to this debate. One side says that the students go to the university, knowing well what their university’s political and religious positions are, and they are thus expected to support the university. The idea is that since the students chose to go to the school, participate in academics, and pay tuition, the students are members of the university. They are associating themselves with it, and they should support what the university does.

The other side says that even though the university has certain positions, students should not be required to support those ideas. The students should be independent and freethinking, creating and expanding their own opinions.

Many students showed up to the event disagreeing with the university’s practices. Some of those who did not support Cruz’s campaign wore shirts supporting other presidential candidates.

This has touched on a rather hot topic among universities nationwide: what is the limit to which universities can push their political and religious positions on their students?

One of the reasons why LU has come to the forefront in this argument is because they fine their students if they miss convocation. The university plans the convocation speakers though.  They have a big influence on what their students hear and to what they’re exposed, and the university’s convocation represents the ideas of the university.

Of course, it’s important to bear in mind that these students chose to go to LU. They knew what they were getting into. But LU is so different from FMU in that aspect, and it’s different hearing that some students are expected to support a university’s political ideology just because they go there.

We are very fortunate in that, as students at FMU, we have more freedom to attend what university-sponsored vents we want to attend. We have the ability to discern for ourselves what we want to hear.

I for one am thankful that I go to a university that doesn’t make me attend a meeting. I’m thankful to go to a university that doesn’t fine me if I don’t attend three of their events each week. I’m thankful that I go to a university that encourages me to think independently and to create my own religious and political ideologies.