The Worst Scandal in American Higher Education Isn’t in the Ivy League

Olde Hornet

Well-Known Member

Those of us who write about higher education can pay too much attention to America’s elite universities. Schools like Harvard, Yale and Stanford are seen as virtual cultural superpowers, and the battle over these schools is sometimes seen as a proxy for battles over the future of the country itself. It’s not that this argument is wrong, exactly. That’s why I’ve written about these schools myself. But it’s incomplete.

In rightly ascribing importance to the Harvards of the world, we can forget that other schools in other contexts also exercise immense influence, and their virtues and flaws can sometimes be more consequential than anything that happens in the Ivy League.

In fact, I’d argue that the moral collapseat Liberty University in Virginia may well be the most consequential education scandal in the United States, not simply because the details themselves are shocking and appalling, but because Liberty’s misconduct both symbolizes and contributes to the crisis engulfing Christian America. It embodies a cultural and political approach that turns Christian theology on its head.

Last week, Fox News reported that Liberty is facing the possibility of an “unprecedented” $37.5 million fine from the U.S. Department of Education. The department has been investigating violations of the Clery Act, a federal statute that requires federally funded colleges and universities to publicly report data about campus crime. To put that number into perspective, consider that Michigan State University paid $4.5 million for its own “systemic failure” to respond to the infamous Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal, in which Nassar was convicted of sexually abusing dozens of women in his care. While Liberty’s fine is not yet set, the contents of a leaked Education Department report — first reported by Susan Svrluga in The Washington Post — leave little doubt as to why it may be this large.

The report, as Svrluga writes, “paints a picture of a university that discouraged people from reporting crimes, underreported the claims it received and, meanwhile, marketed its Virginia campus as one of the safest in the country.” The details are grim. According to the report, “Liberty failed to warn the campus community about gas leaks, bomb threats and people credibly accused of repeated acts of sexual violence — including a senior administrator and an athlete.”
A campus safety consultant told Svrluga, “This is the single most blistering Clery report I have ever read. Ever.”

If this was the only scandal at Liberty, it would and should be a national story. But it’s not the only scandal. Far from it. I’ve been following (and covering) Liberty’s moral collapse for years, and the list of scandals and lawsuits plaguing the school is extraordinarily long. The best known of these is the saga of Jerry Falwell Jr. Falwell, a former president of the school and a son of its founder, resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct involving himself, his wife and a pool boy turned business associate named Giancarlo Granda.

Falwell is nationally prominent in part because he was one of Donald Trump’s earliest and most enthusiastic evangelical supporters. Falwell sued the school, the school sued Falwell, and in September Falwell filed a scorching amended complaint, claiming that other high-ranking Liberty officers and board members had committed acts of sexual and financial misconduct yet were permitted to retain their positions.
Liberty University is ran by a bunch of christian nutjobs. Also the student body is very unhinged and abnormal ... more so than average. It should close down b/c they promote propaganda and cult-like loyalty to the leaders of the institution moreso than they promote Jesus and a proper education There's nobody I liked that went to Liberty

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