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Course Correction: Has the Liberty Way Been Changed Too Much?

Liberty’s code of conduct has undergone many revisions as the school has grown.

Take a quick look at an online forum designed for old Liberty alum to talk Flames news and whatever else is on their curmudgeonly minds, and you will see many of the older folk do not like where Liberty is heading, in regard to “The Liberty Way.”

“The attire of the females has legitimately gone unenforced both on students and staff,” LUAlum1215 said on a football thread. “My wife comments on this regularly and I can’t disagree. The University should be represented better than this.”

Whether it be the clothing or the music choices, many Liberty graduates have been vocal about their disdain for the new policies in the student code of conduct. With this in mind, do the old folk have a point? Or is the change in Liberty policy in recent years for the better?

I think the answer is yes to both. Things around here have changed drastically over the last six years, but many of the rule changes simply took out restrictive sections of the Liberty Way and allowed for more ‘liberty’ among the students.

“Leadership at Liberty has listened to students, and where we felt like we could … we’ve made change after change after change,” Senior Vice President for Student Affairs, Mark Hine, told the Liberty Champion in February. “What I think needs to be understood is that there are some changes that, if allowed to be made, would change the core of what Liberty is about and the special place that it is.”

Which begs the question, what is the “core of what Liberty is about,” and has Liberty not already strayed from it?

One of the main changes to the rules in recent years is the stipulations of curfew.

“Any student who is 20 years of age (determined by their actual date of birth) or older may remain off campus past curfew, pending their completion of the After Hours Sign Out sheet prior to curfew,” according to the On-Campus Living Guide.

On top of the relaxed curfew, students can now attend R-rated movies and even enjoy a little snogging on campus.

Back in my day (2014), a romantic date to an R-rated movie after midnight that ended in a kiss could have led to expulsion. But these days, that is a perfectly appropriate evening for Liberty students.

President Jerry Falwell frequently boasts that Liberty is not the legalistic school of the past, and these rule changes certainly seem to point to that, but is that all there is to it? It seems not.

Students still cannot “attend a dance.” They cannot be at an event where alcohol is served, much less actually consume the stuff. They cannot be in the dorm of the opposite sex.

Liberty still has the measly remains of a dress code, although I am not sure anyone follows it, and students are still required to attend convocation twice a week. So how has Liberty chosen which rules to keep and which to axe?

“Liberty’s code of conduct has undergone some revisions to reflect more accurately the campus environment and the way in which Liberty students are conducting themselves,” Dean of Students Robert Mullen told the Washington Post in October of 2015.

In other words, Liberty decides to cave on certain rules when they realize none of the students follow them anyway?

In its introduction, The Liberty Way says some of the rules are “simply preferences that promote deference to one another while living in the university community.”

If this is true, why have those preferences changed so much in the last six years, and what is keeping more from changing?

If Liberty is going to relax the dress code, why not remove it completely? If David Nasser, the Senior Vice President for Spiritual Development at Liberty, is only going to require Convocation attendance twice a week, why require it at all?

As established, “The Liberty Way” has almost never been about following the Bible, but about being different from the world. If most of the rules are going to get cut, why keep any of them? Get rid of all conduct rules that are not “requirements from local, state, and federal laws” or “biblical mandates or principles.”

Otherwise, bring them all back. If the Liberty Way is truly part of this school’s core DNA, then make it what it used to be. Stop relaxing the rules, and start enforcing them.

It is time to stop using the rules to pretend Liberty is what it used to be, because for better or worse, this is not your grandpa’s school anymore. Except in regard to dancing. I think we can all agree that is a sin.

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