Ruling Liberty: How the rules have changed since 1971
Although students sometimes gawk and gripe about the rules at Liberty University, policies here have evolved considerably since the school’s formation—to make life easier for everyone.
The first statement of the first Liberty rule book was: “Attending Lynchburg Baptist College is a privilege, and there are policies, and you will want to keep the policies and rules at the college to reflect the spiritual life that we expect of all students and the type of lifestyle that you will live after you graduate from Lynchburg Baptist College,” Towns said.
The set of policies was not dubbed “The Liberty Way” until 1974 when the University changed its name to Liberty Baptist College, according to Co-Founder and Vice President Elmer Towns.
Originally, the reprimands of today were called demerits. After 50 demerits, Towns would stand up in chapel and read the delinquent student’s name.
“After I read that name, I would also say to the student, ‘If you don’t have a place to sleep tonight, you can sleep on my front room couch,’” Towns said.
One student who ended up on Towns’ couch was Kirk Nowery who is now the director of Samaritans Purse.
One Liberty policy that produces groans and sighs for students is dress code.
President for Student Affairs since April 1994, Dr. Mark Hine chimes in from the administrative standpoint to put the issue of dress code into perspective for those who have qualms with it.
“There are far larger issues in life on which to dwell. There will be many instances in life where we are asked to do things we would perhaps not prefer doing, but as long as they are not illegal/immoral, the more important question is, how do I handle this?” Hine said.
Students should also realize where the Liberty Way came from to truly appreciate where it is now.
According to the 1974 to 1975 edition of the Liberty Way, men were required to wear a tie and professional clothing from before breakfast until the end of classes every day and no long hair or facial hair was allowed.
Women were to wear dresses to class and church, and the dresses had to fall below two inches above the middle of the knee.
Today attendance for Convocation is required three days a week. However the Liberty Way for the 1974 to 1975 school year reads, “Students are required to attend Sunday morning and evening services at Thomas Road Baptist Church and Wednesday evening services. Students must also attend all chapel sessions.”
This mandatory church attendance continued through the 70s, 80s and 90s. In the 1982 to 1984 Liberty Way, students were prohibited from missing more than two TRBC services each semester, even when they were signed out for the weekend.
Another major change came when administration changed the rule that discouraged students from marrying during the school year or over breaks. If the couple chose to marry, however, written approval from both parents and a consultation with the dean of students was required.
Although many things about Liberty have changed over the years, one thing that will not be compromised is its unwavering commitment to a biblical foundation.
“Some of the preferential or ‘house rules,’ have changed, but not the rules dealing with biblical or ethical offenses,” Vice President for Executive Projects and Media Relations and Campus Pastor Johnnie Moore said.
HEAVNER and Stockslager are news reporters