Many citizens in the city of Lynchburg are hopeful that Liberty University students, faculty and staff will neglect their civic duty to vote in local elections on Tuesday, Nov. 3. These citizens have benefitted greatly from Liberty’s presence in Lynchburg over the years and from the fact that on-campus housed LU students were not allowed to vote. This allowed the city to raise sales taxes, lodging taxes and meals taxes to astronomical levels and to spend those tax revenues on projects that benefit downtown and other sections of the city while requiring LU to build roads and other infrastructure — the types of projects that have been funded by taxpayers in other parts of the city.
This is the classic scenario of what occurs when there is taxation without representation. Now, thanks to the Obama campaign and the ACLU, the rules have changed and LU now finally has a chance to make its voice heard in City Hall. We are expecting those who want to continue to bleed LU and its students to show up at the polls on Tuesday to intimidate our students, faculty and staff. We will have dozens of poll watchers in place to quickly stop any intimidation or threats.
No matter who wins or loses tomorrow, the important thing is that LU students, faculty and staff turn out in big numbers. That will send a message to the city that it is not OK to impose exorbitant taxes on LU students or impose expensive requirements on LU when the school grows. The fact that so many students registered to vote this fall is already having an impact. You may remember from our convocation forum earlier in the semester that the city changed the zoning of our campus in 1992 and took away our right to expand without city approval. The city then used that permit power to require LU to spend millions on city-mandated projects. Just last week, the city advised LU officials that it is willing to discuss the return of those property rights to LU. This one change will save LU millions of dollars in coming decades.
This apparent change in city policy would never have occurred without the registration of thousands of students locally and without the huge LU turnout at the polls in the 2008 presidential election. We cannot afford to back down now. We need every one of you to take the time to vote on Tuesday. LU’s future is in your hands. LU’s Board of Trustees and its administration greatly appreciate your support for this, your university. Please do not let LU down.
- Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr.