200 Liberty students attend protest after new Falwell revelations

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A circle of students hold hands during a demonstration at Liberty University on Sept. 13, 2019, in Lynchburg, Virginia. Demonstrating students want more transparency from school leadership, particularly President Jerry Falwell Jr. Photo courtesy of Austin Gaebe

(RNS) — In the wake of reports alleging objectionable rhetoric and conduct by Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., about 200 students at the evangelical Christian school gathered at a protest on campus Friday (Sept. 13), with student organizers estimating that about 60 of the demonstrators were there to demand an investigation of the president and his administration.

“We are not calling for Falwell to resign right now,” said Elizabeth Brooks yesterday evening (Sept. 12), a sophomore at the school and the main organizer of the student protest. But in a mission statement Brooks wrote, she stated that the official position of the demonstration is to “bring to light the truth of these allegations of various misconduct.”

Brooks did not elaborate on the allegations, only stating that the protest comes in response to an article by Brandon Ambrosino that appeared in Politico this week that quotes current and former members of Falwell’s “inner circle” describing Liberty as a “dictatorship” and more of a “real estate hedge fund” than a university.

The article portrayed Falwell bragging about his sex life with employees, attending a nightclub and later denying it, claiming photos of him at the club were altered. He is also accused in the article of dealing university contracts to friends and family.

Some of the allegations had been reported in other outlets over the past few months, but after the most recent revelations, described as based on emails and interviews with Falwell aides and employees, Brooks and her fellow student Ian Parish, who is assisting with the protest’s efforts, said they have seen a shift in the student body against Falwell that hasn’t been seen in the school’s recent history.

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