Liberty VP Hine Speaks Out Against Liberty Way Changes
As controversial legislation floats around Liberty’s Student Government Association, many debates have arisen, but Vice President of Student Affairs Mark Hine is confident in the firm foundation of Liberty University.
Recently, SGA has proposed resolutions to the Liberty Way that would allow off-campus responsible drinking, foul language in moderation and usage of tobacco products. Hine, who believes any of these changes would have a negative effect on the core of the university, said these changes will never happen.
“For me, for students to think that they can show up here and propose that some of the core of Liberty is not for them, and therefore want to change it, I say, respectfully, there is no way that is ever going to happen as far as I’m concerned,” Hine said. “Leadership at Liberty has listened to students, and where we felt like we could make this a place that was inviting and didn’t hurt the academic mission of the university or the spiritual mission of the university, we’ve made change after change after change. What I think needs to be understood is that there are some changes that, if allowed to be made, would change the core of what Liberty is about and the special place that it is.”
Hine said trying to change these touchy aspects of the Liberty Way is never going to be effective, and discouraged students from wasting their time.
“To (paraphrase) Jim Croce — ‘You just don’t spit in the wind, you don’t tug on Superman’s cape,’ you’re on a fool’s errand if you believe that we’re somehow going to allow smoking and drinking and cussing,” Hine said. “You’re really wasting a bunch of time even proposing that at a place like Liberty University.”
Hine said they would not allow the changes more on a matter of principle.
“People have different opinions about alcohol and the consumption of alcohol, I get that,” Hine said. “Christians are all over the map on that one. But for Liberty University we’ve decided ‘this is not a good idea, this is not something we’re going to sanction, period. It’s one thing to have a conversation, it’s another thing to have a conversation and say this is what we really want.”
Matthew Lofgren, Addyson Garner and AJ Strom, the three members of the House of Delegates that proposed the off-campus drinking bill for legal students, believe they had placed enough safeguards that the bill would do more good than harm.
“Students who are 21 who live off campus is the only group in that resolution that would be allowed to drink,” Strom said. “Twenty-one-year-old students who lived on-campus would not be able to participate in that, and the reason that we decided to do that was so the university would have full and complete control of the environment on campus.”
The bill had penalties for abuse of the privilege like a fine for drunkenness. Lofgren proposed the idea when he was reviewing the Liberty Way and thought it was unclear of how it handled subjects like drinking.
According to Lofgren, with the wording of the Liberty Way, whenever his parents pull out a glass of wine at dinner, he is essentially participating in a social gathering where alcohol is served and could be fined for being there.
“That’s my main concern with how the Liberty Way is right now,” Lofgren said. “It doesn’t actually express what the administration wants punished, it just says it will punish anything that could be remotely conceived as that. So, we need to actually punish what is bad and allow for students’ discretion when they are not causing a notable disruption.”
The same concept applied to when Lofgren proposed the freedom of speech bill, which would decrease the punishment for foul language and would create new sanctions around the subject.
“It is a grey issue in Christian circles, so I felt that was something that probably should be changed because I felt the root of this issue wasn’t the words themselves, but the attitude,” Lofgren said. “If someone simply said an obscene word, they probably wouldn’t get fined, but if they said an obscene word in an abusive manner to someone, that would be worth punishing because that would disrupt peaceable order.”
The delegates said the proposed bills are in line with the subject of Christian liberties, or topics that believers are told to use their discretion on, as it was taught in a required biblical worldview class.
“I understand administration’s perspective,” Strom said. “I understand why they didn’t like the resolution, but I think they need to have trust in their students, and I’m not exactly sure how anything more that the students could be doing to show trust, to ensure trust with administration. I think the student body at Liberty is great, and I think on principle this is something that should be approved because I think that is what’s taught at the university, and I think on that principle alone, what’s taught should be reflected in policy.”