College Democrats Weigh Liberty Offer

A few weeks back, Liberty University, a Christian school in Southern Virginia, said it would no longer recognize the College Democrats as a campus club because it supported politicians who favored abortion rights. Last week, the school told the group it could get its recognition back if it became a chapter of the Virginia Democrats for Life. Jan Dervish, the club's secretary, talks with Jacki Lyden about where things stand.

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JACKI LYDEN, host:

So how is the book being received at Liberty?

We have a student on the line. Jan Dervish, what's been the reaction to the book on campus?

Mr. JAN DERVISH (Secretary, Virginia Democrats for Life): I think it's been very positive. You know, I know my friends have been pestering me to get their hands on it after I'm done with it. I know a lot of people are picking it up in the bookstore from what I've seen. Every time I stop by, it looks like someone's paging through it.

LYDEN: Jan Dervish is the secretary of the College Democrats at Liberty University.

You might remember that we reported on Liberty last week. The school recently withdrew official recognition of the College Democrats club on campus. The ticking point, the student's support of Democratic candidates who defend abortion rights.

We got a lot of response to that story. This week, the College Dems met with school president Jerry Falwell Jr. He had proposed that they affiliate with Virginia Democrats for Life.

So, Jan Dervish, what did you think of that idea?

Mr. DERVISH: Well, we did certainly take a good look at it. Unfortunately, what seems to be the Virginia Democrats for Life, they take absolutely no position on any other issues besides abortion. For example, foreign policy, any kind of social issues, you know we're not really trying to be a single issue group on campus.

LYDEN: Why is important for you to be recognized officially? What do you get out of recognition?

Mr. DERVISH: We just get the ability to hold events on campus. We get the ability to advertise events on campus. Three times a week, we have convocations. We get the ability to submit announcements to be made. The ability basically to hold events and to educate others would be greatly hampered if we weren't officially recognized.

LYDEN: Chancellor Falwell pointed to abortion rights and gay marriage. And I'm wondering if you've personally had to struggle with those issues and reconcile them as a Christian and an active Democrat.

Mr. DERVISH: Absolutely. Well, first and foremost, before anything I'm, of course, a Christian. That comes before Republican. It comes before Democrat. It comes before any political affiliation or any political belief. That being said, I think that we're trying to carve out a place in the party for conservative Christians that believe conservatively on issues of life and marriage, yet are fairly liberal when it comes to other issues such as economic issues, health care, foreign policy issues as well.

LYDEN: We also talked to Mr. Falwell today about the meetings you had this week.

Mr. JERRY FALWELL JR. (Founder, Liberty University): We started looking for ways that they could support the Democratic issues that they believe in without supporting the abortion and marriage planks that are contrary to the university's mission and religious beliefs. One proposal was that we could operate as a club, but as a club, not support candidates who held those positions.

LYDEN: So Jan, what do the College Dems think of this?

Mr. DERVISH: Well, it'd be really premature of me to comment on, you know, what we might come up with. But, yes, I think that, you know, it's definitely a viable option. You know, that we would, as a club, just not necessarily endorse any candidates, but still provide opportunities for our members to get involved with different campaigns no matter what they believe.

LYDEN: One final question, Jan, when do you expect this to be resolved?

Mr. DERVISH: Hopefully, we can get this resolved as soon as possible. We're still working on the proposal, and we are probably going to get it delivered through the chancellor by Monday for them to take a look at.

LYDEN: Jan Dervish is the secretary of the College Democrats at Liberty University. The group is fighting to keep official recognition as a campus group.

Thanks, Jan.

Mr. DERVISH: Thank you.

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