The Liberty Way
What’s so free about Liberty University?
It’s always been interesting as a Canadian to watch American political brands in action. One of the most prominent is an adherence to the idea of liberty, a pseudo-libertarian agreement across the US political spectrum that freedom is good—whatever that happens to mean.
Sometimes brands can be deceiving. Take for example Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, whose code of conduct (below) is riddled with interdictions on sexual morality, dress codes, political and fundraising activities, even on the teaching of certain topics in biology. (This, after all, is the school that claimed to find dinosaur fossils only 3,000 years old, and once posted an ad on its website looking for biology teachers who follow “a young-earth creationist philosophy.”) Add to that a policy of having a non-tenured teaching faculty, ostensibly so that Mr. Falwell can dismiss faculty members at any time for teaching “something wrong.” Indeed, freedom ain’t free.
And neither is Liberty. With yearly costs pushing $20,000, it’s perhaps the most expensive university in its class—that is, among 4th tier less-than-selective institutions.
“The Liberty Way” is a guide to Liberty University students both on and off campus. It introduces students to student life at Liberty and outlines the philosophy and principles designed to promote a positive Christian environment.
We affirm our belief in one God, infinite Spirit, Creator, and Sustainer of all things, who exists eternally in three persons, God the Father. God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. These three are one in essence but distinct in person and function.
We affirm that God created all things. Angels were created as ministering agents, though some, under the leadership of Satan, fell from their sinless state to become agents of evil. The universe was created in six historical days and is continuously sustained by God; thus it both reflects His glory and reveals His truth. Human beings were directly created, not evolved, in the very image of God. As reasoning moral agents, they are responsible under God for understanding and governing themselves and the world.
Single students who are under the age of 21 are required to live in the residence halls. Married students, as well as students 30 years of age or older, must reside off campus.
Student participation in on-campus demonstrations, petitions or picketing is prohibited unless approved by Liberty University administration. The administration may also prohibit or restrict student participation in demonstrations, petitions or picketing at places other than on campus, where such participation would contradict or otherwise compromise the principles and policies of Liberty University.
Distribution of literature is permitted on campus only when prior administrative approval has been secured from the Student Life Office or University Services. Distribution of literature in the residence halls requires written approval from the Residence Life Office.
Liberty University encourages students to abstain from any form of entertainment that would compromise their testimony to the world and their relationship to God.
Liberty University has always attempted to maintain a conservative standard in its approach to the arts and entertainment. Current policy for movie viewing allows for attendance at theaters but prohibits viewing of movies rated “R”, “NC-17” or “X”. The penalty for viewing such movies is a reprimandable offense. It should be remembered that in no way is Liberty University endorsing the movie industry’s rating system as appropriate or Christ-honoring. In addition, the Division of Student Affairs will continue teaching guidelines and principles to students related to all forms of entertainment. This would mean that many “PG-13” and some “PG” movies, although not prohibited by policy, may also be inappropriate.
The playing of video games that are “A” and “RP” -rated is not permitted, and is a reprimandable offense. The playing of “EC”, “E”, and “T”-rated games are permitted but should be played with discretion. Any “M” -rated games with descriptors indicating any sexual content, alcohol/drug content, or strong language are not permitted, and is a reprimandable offense. “M” -rated games depicting violence will be at the discretion of Resident Directors. Liberty University refers to the Bible for all moral standards.
NOTE: Many games portray realistic military operations and while they contain violence descriptors, they do not contain any reference to sexual themes, drug/alcohol use, and/or strong language. Games that contain criminal violence not suitable for playing on campus are often paired with descriptors such as strong sexual themes, strong language, drug use, etc.
Philosophy, tastes and personal convictions concerning music vary greatly among our students. Liberty University endeavors to teach discernment in evaluating and selecting all music. It is Liberty’s desire to maintain a music standard that is conducive to a healthy Christian atmosphere. Students should learn to choose music that honors the Savior and is in harmony with God’s word. Music that is offensive (i.e., lewd lyrics, anti-Christian messages, etc.) to Liberty’s Christian stand is not permitted. This policy is implemented because:
- The University desires to suggest a conservative policy for music, which honors the Lord.
- Music expresses such an expansive variety of culture and background, attitude and thought, belief and message.
- Some music, in its message, is clearly contrary to the standards of Liberty University.
- There is a wide variance in personal styles and tastes.
- Controversy surrounds some particular preferences.
Liberty University seeks to provide an environment free of alcohol, tobacco and any illegal drugs or controlled substances. Therefore, Liberty prohibits the possession, use, manufacture or distribution of alcoholic beverages, tobacco and illegal drugs or controlled substances by its students and employees.
In the Fall semester of 1988, the University instituted an on-going program of mandatory random drug testing for students. The purpose of this program is to detect the use of illegal drugs and administer disciplinary action against those students and employees whose way of life is incompatible with the University community and whose example and conduct may be a detriment to the lives of other students and employees. To that extent, Liberty University is committed to using every lawful means at its disposal to preserve the purposes upon which it was founded and continues to exist. Attendance is a privilege. As a private educational institution, Liberty University is free to control the admission and attendance of students. In consideration for the benefit of attending a University where a diligent effort shall be made to detect and remove those involved with illegal drugs, a student hereby agrees to the following:
- To cooperate fully with Liberty University’s drug testing program, including the supervised furnishing of hair, urine or blood samples at a time and place determined by the University for the purpose of laboratory analysis.
- To participate in this drug-testing program, which permits
the University to test any student (hair, urine or blood as specified
by the administration), irrespective of the method by which that student
was selected. Student selection will be accomplished both on a random
basis and on the basis of suspected use and/or drug possession as
defined in the “The Liberty Way”.
NOTE: Students who test positive for drug use will be responsible for covering the cost of the drug test.
- That failure to cooperate with the University’s drug testing program will result in disciplinary action against a student, including the possibility of administrative withdrawal from the University.
- That failure to achieve a negative drug test (i.e., the absence of illegal drugs) will result in disciplinary action against a student, including the possibility of administrative withdrawal from the University. In assessing disciplinary action, the University shall have discretion to impose a wide range of sanctions other than administrative withdrawal, including but not limited to, drug counseling and periodic drug testing.
- That possession and use of illegal drugs may also require notification of law enforcement authorities.
- That all drug test results, in which a student participates, may be communicated by the persons administering the tests, to one or more Student Affairs Deans for possible disciplinary action. Such communication will not constitute a breach of any confidentiality.
- To waive all claims one might have against Liberty University or its employees as to any threatened or actual damage to reputation, privacy, mental/emotional condition resulting from the administration of the drug tests, the processing of the drug tests or the enforcement of the University’s disciplinary or academic penalties.
- To waive all legal claims of any nature, such as those claims one might have against Liberty University or its employees, arising out of drug testing.
- That admission to and enrollment at Liberty University does not exempt a student from the University’s disciplinary and academic penalties, even though a drug problem was revealed to the University prior to, at the time of, or after enrollment.
Hair and clothing styles related to a counterculture (as determined by the Student Affairs Deans’ Review Committee) are not acceptable. Hair should be cut in such a way that it will not come over the ears, collar or eyebrows at any time. Ponytails for men are unacceptable. Facial hair should be neatly trimmed. Earrings and/or plugs are not permitted on or off campus, nor is body piercing. Questions concerning the standard of dress for men should be addressed to the Dean of Men’s Office.
Hair and clothing styles related to counterculture (as determined by the Deans’ Review Committee) are not acceptable. Dresses and skirts should be no shorter than the top of the knee (sitting or standing). Skirt slits should be modest; open slits should be no higher than the top of the knee, closed slits should be no higher than two inches from the top of the knee. Shoulder straps should be no less than two inches wide. Anything tight, scant, backless, see-through, low in the neckline or revealing the midriff (in any position) is immodest and unacceptable. Slips should be worn under thin material. Earrings and plugs are permitted in ears only. No other facial piercings or plugs are allowed, including tongue.
NOTE: RA’s, RD’s, Deans and others will enforce dress code and educate all students regarding what is acceptable and what is not. Questions concerning the standard of dress for [men or] women should be addressed to the Dean of [Men or] Women’s Office who will be the final authority.
All students are asked to display mature Christian behavior in social interaction. Proper respect must be shown to all individuals at all times. Harassment of any type will not be tolerated. Handholding is the only appropriate form of personal contact. Improper personal contact or other forms of public display are considered in poor taste. After dusk, students should not be alone with an individual of the opposite sex in any unlighted area such as the ball fields, parking lots, parked cars, ravine or other wooded areas, etc. This is considered improper social behavior.
Commuter students must be off campus by midnight. Those students who need to be on campus after curfew for the purpose of work, computer lab use, or special events must obtain permission at the main entrance (checkpoint area). Single students are not allowed to visit in apartments of the opposite sex or to entertain visitors of the opposite sex in their own apartment unless there are three (3) or more persons present. Under no circumstances, should any person enter the bedroom of the opposite sex. A visitation curfew of 12 midnight will be in effect. Resident students are not permitted to stay overnight in the apartment or house of an off-campus single person.
Students are to be in their residence halls each night by curfew. Everyone is asked to be courteous at all times concerning noise. No one is permitted to do laundry after curfew. Curfew hours are:
- Sunday through Wednesday—12:00 a.m. (midnight)
- Thursday—10:00 p.m.
- Friday and Saturday—12:30 a.m.
The following entertainment policy for residence halls has been established for practical enforcement purposes:
- No music (vocal or instrumental), television, videos and other media that is offensive (i.e., lewd lyrics, anti-Christian message, etc.) to Liberty’s Christian stand will be permitted.
- The University understands the variance of personal interpretation concerning entertainment. Therefore, Resident Directors are available to clarify areas of confusion.
All posters and pictures in the residence halls should coincide with the standards and policies of the University, i.e., all posters and pictures should conform to the University’s music, movie, dress and conduct standards. No road, traffic, or office signs may be displayed or stored in the residence halls. Resident Directors and Resident Assistants will check rooms on a regular basis to give guidance, answer questions and ensure compliance.
Written approval is necessary for the following situations:
Out of the Residence Hall Overnight
Any time a resident student plans to be out of the residence hall overnight, it is imperative that he/she sign out on the overnight sign-out sheet. These sheets are available from the Resident Assistant and must be filled out completely in order to be valid permission. Resident freshmen, sophomores, and juniors are not permitted to stay off campus overnight in the apartments or houses of single off-campus individuals. Use of the overnight sign-out sheet is limited to three (3) nights per week.
Working After Curfew
Any resident student who must arrive on campus after curfew (due to his/her work schedule) must receive prior written permission from the Resident Assistant. A note on company letterhead from the work supervisor will be required in order to obtain this permission.
Exceptions to Normal Policies and Procedures
If a student feels he/she has legitimate cause to warrant an exception to normal policy and procedure, he/she may request advance approval from the Dean of Men or Women’s Office. This request can only be made during regular business hours. The Division of Student Affairs reserves the right to grant or reject the request.
University-Approved Late Night Events
If a student plans to attend a University-approved event after curfew (i.e., late night activity, computer lab, etc.), he/she must sign the sign-out sheet on his/her hall before curfew.
The Residence Life Office must approve all residence hall fund-raising projects. Once approval is received, scheduling must be done through the Student Life Office. Any fund-raising without prior approval and scheduling will result in a fine for the hall, club or organization. Money collected must be turned in to the group’s restricted account. Groups are not to establish accounts outside of the University’s accounting system. There will be only one fund-raising project of the same type in operation at any given time. An official approval slip must be obtained from the Student Life Office at the start of each fundraising campaign.
The President’s Office or Spiritual Life Office must approve any speaker who is not a member of Liberty University’s faculty or staff before any invitation to speak or perform is issued. This regulation will be closely adhered to in an effort to avoid embarrassment to all concerned.