Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Liberty Caves on Democratic Club

Well, kind of. Rob Boston of Americans United reports at Talk2Action that Liberty University has changed their policy after much controversy greeted their decision to pull official recognition from the College Democrats club at the school. Their solution: No official recognition for either club:

Falwell has announced a new policy at Liberty. Under its terms, both the Republican and Democratic clubs will be considered “unofficial.” Such clubs can use the university’s name but won’t receive any funding.

The students who run Liberty’s Democratic club say they think the compromise could work. Americans United considers the new policy a big step in the right direction but intends to keep an eye on the situation.

No one knows if this was done because they feared losing a fight with the IRS over their tax exemption. After the university withdrew recognition, AU filed a complaint with the IRS arguing that the decision violates IRS rules on non-profit entities making contributions to political parties. The argument was that recognition means funding and Liberty’s decision meant that the College Republicans got university funding while the College Democrats did not.

The problem with this is that such student clubs often do political campaign work, bringing in candidates and helping support them during elections. And by pulling the funding from the Democratic club, Liberty was in effect giving an in-kind contribution to the Republican party, something clearly forbidden by IRS rules governing non-profit institutions. It could be that this reversal is taking place because Liberty was advised that it would lose that fight.