Jerry Falwell Jr. Invites Thousands of Students to Return to Liberty University During Coronavirus Outbreak in Lynchburg, Virginia
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. invited over 5,000 students to return to residence halls and told faculty members to continue to report to campus in Lynchburg, Virginia as a deadly coronavirus outbreak spreads in the small town.
Falwell has publicly downplayed the threat of the coronavirus and even floated a conspiracy theory about the deadly virus being a plot by China and North Korea “to get Trump.”
On March 23, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam directed all non-essential businesses to close by March 25, which Falwell is essentially defying.
Falwell told the Lynchburg News and Advance that students are expected to live in campus dorms,where they will continue coursework online:
I think we have a responsibility to our students — who paid to be here, who want to be here, who love it here — to give them the ability to be with their friends, to continue their studies, enjoy the room and board they’ve already paid for and to not interrupt their college life.
I think we, in a way, are protecting the students by having them on campus togethe. Ninety-nine percent of them are not at the age to be at risk and they don’t have conditions that put them at risk.
English Professor Marybeth Davis Baggett, who refused to return to campus during the course of the pandemic, publicly called on Liberty’s board of trustees to overrule Falwell’s decision to keep campus open:
Lives are at stake. I think this decision is a recipe for disaster and I have been trying to push that as much as I have been able to internally.
Baggett plans to join the Houston Baptist University faculty this fall after 17 years at Liberty University.
(Source: Lynchburg News and Advance)