Liberty University proves keeping campus opened was right choice, alarmist media were wrong

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The liberal media is eating crow for raising an alarm of impending coronavirus doom at Liberty University which has largely failed to materialize.

Jerry Falwell Jr., president of the private Christian university in Lynchburg, Virginia, told Fox News host Laura Ingraham that the media’s reports predicting the school would be a hotbed for the spread of COVID-19 were “totally political.”

(Source: Fox News)

Falwell came under heavy fire by critics back at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in March, as he was lambasted in media reports for keeping the campus open. But the 57-year-old lawyer and university administrator is now getting the satisfaction of proving the media wrong, noting on Tuesday that none of the students living on campus or anyone who worked in a campus office tested positive for COVID-19.

Ingraham noted on “The Ingraham Angle” Tuesday that, although the liberal media wrongly predicted the decision to allow students to return and remain on campus would end in “complete carnage and disaster,” Falwell is likely not expecting a mea culpa any time soon.

“What’s your message to the media naysayers and other college presidents who are apprehensive about reopening?” Ingraham asked.

“Well, if you’re a conservative college president, be careful because they’ll come after you,” Fallwell replied.

“It’s totally political. It was totally political. And it was just so reprehensible how they did it,” he added, calling out specific outlets for the way the reporting was handled.

“They spent days on campus. The New York Times reporter and the other reporter [from] ProPublica. And even though there were ‘No Trespassing’ signs everywhere, [they] never called to ask us for any comment. Never talked to our on-campus doctor,” Falwell said.

The Times’ article in March, titled “Liberty University Brings Back Its Students, and Coronavirus Fears, Too,” was among countless others condemning the high-profile evangelical school for reopening the campus after the school’s spring break. The Times and ProPublica stories quoted students or professors who were reportedly critical of the way coronavirus safety guidelines were being implemented on campus and added misleading information about students testing positive for the virus.

The reporters allegedly spoke to a doctor in town and off-campus, and did not contact the university for a statement until one day before publishing, a Sunday, according to Falwell, who initially threatened to press charges against them for trespassing.

“We were scrambling, trying to pull everybody together on a Sunday. But that shows their intent,” the staunch supporter of President Trump said. “Their intent was to create this false impression.”

He explained to Ingraham that the university saw a small portion of its student population students return to the dorms after spring break, and the university continued to offer online classes to others who wished to complete the semester from home.

“We have a campus built for 16,000,” he said. “Twelve hundred students came back to stay in the dorms for seven weeks and they were students who either didn’t have high-speed internet, had elderly relatives living at home or were international students,” Falwell said. “And so they had no place else to go.”

Asked about other institutions that have announced they will remain closed, with some – such as Cambridge University which will only hold online classes through the summer of 2021 – Falwell was not in agreement.

“I think colleges have an obligation to do whatever they can to continue the student’s education. That’s what we did,” he said. “We do it in a safe manner. We really became the model. We had all takeout at our restaurants. We had social distancing. All the academic buildings were open so they could spread out.

“And … it worked perfectly,” he said, adding that it was better that his students were allowed to remain at the Virginia campus in the long run. “It was either that or send them back to hot spots like New Jersey, Illinois and New York or let them stay here and keep them safe.”

In Lynchburg, a city of more than 75,000 people, only 75 cases of coronavirus were reported by the Virginia Department of Health as of Tuesday.

In a university publication, Falwell noted that the school “finished strong” as student residence halls closed for summer break.

“No positive COVID-19 test anywhere in our region was linked to Liberty students who returned to their dorm rooms after Spring Break. The only COVID cases in the University community were employees working from home or offices off-campus and their infections were all traced to contacts in the local community with persons infected with COVID who were not related to Liberty,” Falwell said.

“Liberty University created the model that other universities should follow for pandemics by protecting its students, faculty, and staff from COVID cases in the local community,” he added. “We are thankful to God that nobody who lived in a campus residence hall or who worked in a campus office tested positive for the virus.”

“How it must hurt to have to admit: Jerry Falwell Jr. was right,” William McGurn wrote in an opinion piece published by The Wall Street Journal this week titled, “The Education of Jerry Falwell Jr.”

“No doubt this explains why we’re not reading stories about how the president of Liberty University kept his Lynchburg, Va., campus open while keeping his community safe from Covid-19,” McGurn wrote. “The doomsday predicted when Mr. Falwell announced Liberty students would return after spring break never came to pass.”


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