Last week, Liberty University shut down its College Democrats chapter, claiming that the organization runs counter to the values of the university. The group is no longer recognized as a student organization, meaning that it cannot advertise on campus or hold meetings on campus.
According to Liberty University vice president of student affairs Mark Hine, “the Democratic party violates the school’s principles by supporting abortion, socialism and the “‘LGBT’ agenda,” referring to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people” and that even though the group “may not support the more radical planks of the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party is still the parent organization of the club on campus.”
The group’s faculty sponsor has said that she was simply trying to allow alternative views to be heard on a campus where the Republican Party’s agenda is “preached on every avenue.” The Liberty University College Republicans have a large presence on campus and have not been the target of any action from the administration.
Now, Liberty University is a private institution and as such they can deny recognition to whatever groups they wish. However, just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. If Liberty wants to suppress free speech and intellectual discourse on their campus, they can do that. But they are only hurting themselves.
As I wrote in an earlier post, allowing ideas to engage in free competition with each other will allow the best ideas to win out. Attempts to control the competition of ideas only make it appear that the controllers have something to hide. This only increases interest in whatever it is they are trying to suppress. It also lends less credibility to whatever ideas end up winning in Liberty’s competition of ideas. After all, a victor with no competition is no victor at all. And finally, students who are educated in an environment where only one viewpoint is presented are ill equipped to defend their views once they enter the real world.
Liberty is within its legal rights to ban the College Democrats club from campus, but by limiting the competition of ideas, Liberty is only hurting itself and its students.