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February 26, 2015 3:32 pm

Liberty University Student Government Disavows Anti-Israel BDS Legislation

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The Liberty University student union building. Photo: Billy Hathorn via Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.org – The student government at Virginia’s Liberty University on Tuesday passed an amendment to its constitution that forbids legislation supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

The amendment to the constitution declared that Liberty’s student government “will not entertain BDS legislation targeted at the Israeli state, or its people, or legislation of similar intent.”

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Liberty University senior Chelsea Andrews—a pro-Israel student activist with CUFI on Campus, the school’s division of the Christian Zionist organization Christians United for Israel—led the effort to pass the anti-BDS amendment.

“At Liberty University we stand with Israel, because as Christians, as Americans, and as individuals focused on freedom and human rights, there is no alternative,” Andrews said after the amendment passed. “I hope that other students will see what LU has done and follow suit. Across the country we’ve seen BDS repeatedly rear its ugly head. That stops now.”

The move to disavow the BDS movement at Liberty University, a predominately Evangelical Christian school, stands in contrast with some recently passed Israel divestment resolutions in other student governments, particularly in California.

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  • Rodolfo Plata Lopez

    ES BUENO QUE SE LEGISLE PARA CRIMINALIZAR A LOS QUE CRITICAN LA CONDUCTA CRIMINAL Y GENOCIDA DEL ESTADO TERRORISTA DE ISRAEL, YA QUE DE NADA SIRVE LA CRITICA SIN LA ACCIÓN; O SEA, BASTA DE CRITICA, ES HORA DE LEVANTARSE EN ARMAS Y COMBATIR AL LOBBY JUDÍO Y EN JUICIAR POR CRIMEN DE LESA PATRIA, A LOS SENADORES Y REPRESENTANTES QUE HA SAQUEADO, SOMETIDO Y TRAICIONADO A EEUU A CAMBIO DEL VOTO JUDÍO Y EL FINANCIAMIENTO DE SUS CAMPAÑAS ELECTORALES, ABROGANDO LA SOBERANIA DE EEUU, Y CONVIRTIENDO A NORTEAMÉRICA EN UNA COLONIA DEL GOBIERNO MUNDIAL SIONISTA

  • Mother Nature

    So Luke, is discriminating against racist Nazis worse than their racism against Jews? Germany passed a law against racist speech after they were burned by Nazi brainwashing. They also have a law of return for ethnic Germans, and nobody calls that racist.

    • Luke C.

      I agree that groups that are racist should be punished and tried just like the anti-Semitic Nazi were during the Nuremberg Trails, but what I don’t support is the limiting of rights of people who are innocent and are not racist. This amendment to the Liberty University SGA Constitution limits the rights of all people who support a BDS political opinion, not just the anti-Semitic BDS groups. That is the reason why I don’t support this amendment. Also I have no authority over laws in Germany, whether or not they are moral and right, but I do have authority over my own university to prevent what I believe to be wrong.

  • Randy

    Actually it only prevents any student group from receiving school support. This is similar to the situation a few years ago where College Democrats created a controversy on the campus. BDS and College Democrats are not banned from campus. They just won’t receive funds form the school as some student organizations do. Liberty is a private school and well within its rights. Dissent is allowed but not funded.

    • Luke C.

      This is not exactly true because in the new Club Handbook Policy guide it states that “Unfunded clubs are politically partisan in nature.” This means that the only requirements to be a funded club is that you follow the Liberty Way and that you don’t support a political party or candidate. This does not mean that you can’t take a political stance but rather you can’t specifically support a candidate running for office or his or her party. For example with the old policy of clubs not receiving funding if they were political nature made the Young American chapter at Liberty could not receive SGA funds, but with this new policy expressed in the handbook it allows for them to apply for funding since they and their parent organization support conservative ideas, not the Republican Party. This is why their parent organization is considered by the United States IRS to be a 501c(3) organization (meaning a non-profit and non-partisan organization), thus they can receive SGA funding. So this amendment will prevent BDS clubs from applying since the approval of a club is a legislative process which you can read my response to Joshua M’s reply and why this is legislation. Yes the College Democrats can form a club on campus and can’t receive funding yet this amendment will ban BDS clubs from forming on campus. Also even though Liberty University is a private organization they are also are a non-profit organization and still can not have unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination and could thus lose their tax exemption non-profit status, like Bob Jones University had to face when “In 1976, the Internal Revenue Service revoked the university’s [BJU] tax exemption retroactively to December 1, 1970 on grounds that it was practicing racial discrimination.” So essentially this new amendment could cause Liberty University to lose its non-profit status meaning student tuition would increase. Also on a side note most BDS clubs could receive funding from Liberty University on the grounds that they follow the Liberty Way and are non-partisan (which there are a good amount of BDS clubs that are sponsored by a 501c(3) organizations).

  • Perhaps we are now hearing the voice of the Christian silent majority of Americans, those who have seen the fulfilment of the words of the Prophets, the rebuilding of the Israelite state.

  • Luke C.

    The one thing that this article fails to mention is that with the passage of this amendment to the Liberty Constitution it will prevent any BDS-based clubs from forming on campus. Though I support Israel and stand with it, I however did not stand with this amendment, because of the limiting voice and unequality it would bring on campus and its students. By not allowing freedom of its students to have a political view different to that of the school, Liberty University fails to live up to its namesake with the passage of this amendment essentially by deciding to only look at one side of the equation and follow it blindly. Also during the Senate meeting a lot of illogical fallacies were brought up such as the idea that BDS isn’t a political opinion but rather a completely Anti-Semitic agenda, and that anyone who supports it is Anti-Semitic, hater of Jews, and racist. I think that making a stand against the BDS movement is a great idea, but not at the cost of discriminating against its students who want to form a club contrary to the University’s stance on Israel. This was why me and a fourth of Liberty’s SGA Senate did not vote yes on this amendment, simply because we did not agree with discriminating one group over another.

    • Luke C. is factually incorrect on two counts.

      First, the amendment to the constitution has only passed the Senate. It still needs to pass the Executive Council, the President, and the school administration before it will go into effect.

      Second, the amendment refers specifically to ‘legislation.’ There was some confusion over this on the Senate floor during debate. Legislation refers exclusively to bills and resolutions that come before the Senate or its committees. No bills or resolutions are involved in the club approval process.

      Furthermore, the amendment should not have been phrased as an amendment. It ought to have been a bill or resolution. As a bill, it would have had force of law; as a resolution, it would have been a statement of the opinion of the Senate. Either would be sufficient to achieve what Ms. Andrews wanted to achieve.

      • Luke C.

        Hey Joshua, there are inaccuracies in what you have replied with.

        One, even though the amendment has currently to my knowledge passed only in the Senate, it is most likely to pass Executive Council, the SGA President, and Administration due to the fact that it would look bad to deny such an amendment. The only people that I can see denying this is Administration which would most likely be due to the amendment being too vague. I do admit that in my original post I may have wrongly conveyed that this amendment is already law and in effect, and rather meant what this bill could do if it goes into effect as law.

        Two, actually it would be considered legislation because the SGA Constitution does not state that all legislation has to be in the form of a bill, resolution, or amendment. The only mentioning of what legislation is defined as is “All legislation must originate from a Senator in the Student Senate.” This then states that legislation is determined as any form of an idea (formatted and written of course) that is brought to the floor of a Committee or the Senate Floor, which would include club approval as legislation because the Clubs Committee Chair or the Pro-Temp brings club applications and their Club Constitutions before the committee’s floor to vote on it. Plus Clubs Committee can do the same thing to a clubs application and club constitution as they can a bill such as approving it, denying it, and tabling it, with the exception of amending it (unless we get the approval of the club) which even happens in the Federal Government on certain bills. And before you mention how it doesn’t follow the legislative process outlined in the SGA Constitution, there are a lot of times where bills have not followed the route outlined in the Constitution. Also it had been determined in the past how this approval process would go which is why Senate was taken out of the approval process because it was deemed unnecessary for them to review the information. The club’s application and constitution also still have to be approved by the SGA President and the Liberty University Administration in order for them to be completely approved, which means it still goes through most of the legislative process.

        Furthermore, I do agree to the fact that it should have been a bill or a resolution rather than an amendment to SGA’s Constitution, since the Constitution is more focused on how SGA is run rather than policies about legislation.

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