Students hear from Virginia candidates during special Convocation
Liberty University students heard from six political candidates as part of a special Convocation hosted by the Center for Law & Government on Monday at the Center for Music and the Worship Arts.
The candidates for U.S. Senate from Virginia, as well as Virginia’s 5th and 6th Congressional Districts, were each given seven minutes to speak to students. Issues ranged from immigration and taxes to gun rights, business reform, and government spending.
Robert Hurt, executive director for the Center for Law & Government and a former U.S. congressman, emceed the event and introduced each candidate.
“I can tell you, as someone who’s been in politics, I deeply believe that the future of our country is in your hands, and that gives me hope,” Hurt said to students. “I hope that being here and hearing from the candidates will pique your interest and get you to research more as you get ready to do your civic duty.”
Guests included U.S. Senate candidates Republican Corey Stewart and Libertarian Matt Waters, congressional candidates Denver Riggleman (R-5th District), Jennifer Lewis (D-6th District), and Dan Webb (’10), campaign manager for Ben Cline (R-6th District). Incumbent U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine sent a video message for the event.
Liberty has become a hub for speakers on the campaign trail during election season. In September, Liberty held a U.S. Senate Town Hall (in partnership with Hampton University and the Virginia Association of Broadcasters) featuring Kaine and Stewart. A second Town Hall took place at Hampton this month. The university also hosted the Republican primary debate for U.S. Senate this past April.
In April 2017, the Center for Law & Government hosted the Commonwealth of Virginia Debate for Governor at Liberty. It was the first televised debate that Liberty has hosted.
For years, LU has brought in a diverse array of world-renowned speakers to its Convocations, giving students opportunities to engage with experts from many different fields as part of the learning experience. Notable speakers have included U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, then-presidential candidate Ronald Reagan, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Presidents Donald Trump, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush have all been the keynote speakers at Liberty’s Commencement.
Senior Jack Duffy said he was glad students could hear from candidates with opposing viewpoints.
“It gives you a better understanding of who you’re voting for,” Duffy said.
Senior Addyson Garner said she was glad to see students coming out to hear from candidates and wanting to get involved in local politics.
“I think students feel like they don’t have a voice in issues here in Lynchburg, but they can,” she said, noting that there are several clubs on campus that work to inform students. “It’s incredibly easy to get involved in politics here in Lynchburg.”
Garner, who serves as the president of the campus chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, said she was glad to see Liberty bring in candidates.
“I think it allows the students to trust the university more and shows that (Liberty) wants them to be informed,” she said. “It’s incredibly important.”