Liberty University Criticizes Over $14 Million Fine from the Biden Administration

Liberty University Slams Biden Administration After $14 Million Fine

Liberty University, a private evangelical institution, has expressed frustration over what it perceives as biased treatment from the federal government following a hefty fine imposed for failing to comply with student safety protocols.

Established in 1971 by televangelist Jerry Falwell Sr., Liberty University is located in Lynchburg, Virginia, and has often been associated with conservative politics. In 2021, the university faced a lawsuit from more than 20 students and faculty members who alleged that it had discouraged victims of sexual assault from reporting incidents.

Although the majority of the co-defendants reached settlements with the university, the lawsuit prompted scrutiny of Liberty’s practices by the U.S. Department of Education, commencing in 2022.

Following a comprehensive investigation, the Department found Liberty University in breach of crime-reporting standards and guilty of dissuading students from speaking out, thus violating the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act.

Liberty University Criticizes Over $14 Million Fine from the Biden Administration
Liberty University Criticizes Over $14 Million Fine from the Biden Administration (Credits: The Hill)

Consequently, the Department of Education levied a historic $14 million fine against Liberty University on Tuesday, marking the largest penalty for Clery Act violations to date.

Richard Cordray, Chief Operating Officer of the DOE’s Federal Student Aid Office, emphasized the importance of ensuring safety within educational institutions, stating, “Students, faculty, and staff deserve to know that they can be safe and secure in their school communities. We respond aggressively to complaints about campus safety and security.”

He further added, “Through the Clery Act, schools are obligated to take action to foster safe and secure campus environments, investigate complaints, and transparently disclose information regarding crimes and other safety concerns. We will continue to hold schools accountable if they fail to uphold these obligations.”

In response to the fine, Liberty University acknowledged past shortcomings in its protocols while contesting the Department’s perceived bias in its approach. Ryan Helfenbein, a spokesperson for the university, remarked, “In the report, many of the Department’s methodologies, findings, and calculations were drastically different from their historical treatment of other universities.”

He continued, “Liberty disagrees with this approach and maintains that we have repeatedly endured selective and unfair treatment by the Department. The University concurs there were numerous deficiencies that existed in the past. Examples include incorrect statistical reports as well as necessary, timely warnings and emergency notifications that were not sent.”

Helfenbein concluded, “We acknowledge and sincerely regret past program deficiencies and have since corrected these errors with great care and concern.”

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