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Jerry Falwell Jr. on VA Talk Radio and talks about Northam mask tweet & reopening LU for the fall semester

President of Liberty University Jerry Falwell Jr. joined VA Talk Radio to discuss the Twitter post that sparked outrage over a mask that depicted the governor in a racist yearbook photo. He also talked about reopening the school for the fall semester.

You can listen to the show here and read the transcript here:

Brian Wiegand
And right now we are going to speak with Jerry Falwell Jr. He is of course the president of Liberty University. Couple things to talk about with him Twitter and reopening school. So a nice mix there. Jerry. Good morning. Welcome back to the program.

Jerry Fallwell Jr.
Good morning, Brian. How many years we’ve been doing this?

Brian Wiegand
Oh, gosh. Going back to the previous radio station, I would say

Jerry Fallwell Jr.
you and me interview

Brian Wiegand
Oh, just like this. Oh, it goes back. At least to Windows when we came over here. So you know, I mean, before I was on my own, it’s been, what, six years and a six and a half years.

Jerry Fallwell Jr.
Yeah, but there was years before that. Yeah. So

Brian Wiegand
I would say it’s probably at least twice that long.

Jerry Fallwell Jr.
Yeah, we’re getting up there.

Brian Wiegand
That’s the truth. Yeah, there’s no there’s there’s no no argue with that, unfortunately. But it beats the alternative. Certainly. So before we start here, a little throat clearing and people listen the program know that I like Twitter. As far as social media goes. It’s good for two things and two things only breaking news and Stark and you put too much importance on it. I think that is foolish. That said, it’s still what we’re going to talk about you about two weeks ago, put up a tweet, where you essentially said that if governor Northam was going to make everyone wear a mascot in public, you were going to wear one that had his infamous racist yearbook picture where the governor is in a Ku Klux Klan outfit, as best we know. And someone else is in blackface. And the governor initially said, Oh, yeah, that’s me. And then he said, Oh, no, I don’t think so. And has been, you’ll pardon me for saying it lying about it ever since. So, right off the bat, what made you post that tweet

Jerry Fallwell Jr.
two reasons why he has new budget. You know, first of all, I was the first one who conservative who, who forgave him and called him on the phone and told him that he should not resign, when that came out, because everybody has happened in their past and if everybody had to resign when somebody dug up something bad about their past, then we’d have anarchy. And first thing he does when he gets to control the legislature is he terminates Tuition Assistance Grants, which is 30 $400 a year for every Virginia college student. And he happened only to terminate it for online students. online students are at Liberty 27% African American, we have lots of military, we have lots of first responders. We have and it’s only 2000 of our hundred thousand online students. So it’s not a big impact to us, but there are some small schools in Virginia, and he likely will be putting out of business because of his spiteful action towards liberty, because he doesn’t like my politics. And so that was that was the main reason and, you know, I just felt like people needed to be reminded who he was, and, and in the process, I think got an outpouring of love and support from Liberty’s app athletic community. I think Rashad Jennings said it best. He came over to my house the other day and we met at the office a couple days ago. He said, Jerry, when you took a swing at the governor, we all knew who you were aiming at. But you inadvertently punched puts your African American community in the face in the process. And as he said, we all have history. We all have pasts where our ancestors, our grandfathers and great grandfather’s were, were abused by racist and he said, You it’s just so hurtful for us to see that image. And so when I heard all that after about a week, lots of meetings and time discussions, Borden, African American board members and I said, Okay, I understand now. I took it down. I put up some apology to And that everybody, I think they all understood that the attack was because the governor was, you know, he was going after my students. And so it’s my job to protect everybody’s students, and it’s, you know, it’s gonna put some smaller schools out of business can’t afford to exist without their online programs in Virginia.

Brian Wiegand
Let me ask you this. Why did it take hearing from Rashad Jennings a statement from black Liberty alumni to get you to change your mind you couldn’t see that? immediately.

Jerry Fallwell Jr.
That letter was written by 35 alumni, I have 360,000 alumni. And the vast majority never said a word. But I still wanted to listen. So I did. I spent a whole week listening and when I heard their side of it, which I understand because I was just attacking the governor because he’s I think he’s trying destroys my business in Virginia with this with all these restrictions, but it’s no I had to hear from people who I love and who love me, and he loved liberty. And once I heard their voice, and I responded,

Brian Wiegand
speaking with Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr, here on the morning show. Now, let me ask you a question here this during the Washington Post, they spoke with laquan McClaren, who was a member of the diversity office there at Liberty former graduate, he resigned in an email. He said that, essentially the way you run the school is responsible for a drop in the African American population from 10% to 4%. between 2007 and 2018, quoting him directly, some draw a line between the sort of President Falwell’s divisive insensitive and unapologetic approach to politics and that drop. I will take it you disagree with his assessment,

Jerry Fallwell Jr.
percentage 27% I don’t know many universities These who have that money but but you know, it’s funny. The Washington Post called and interviewed my chief diversity officer, Greg Tao. And me. Greg was a dean of students back in the 80s. He was a local pastor, he, you know, he’s Liberty’s chief diversity officer that reports to me right now. And she started she named off these three young employees who resigned. And he couldn’t, he didn’t know who they were. He said, they don’t work for me. And we have about 29,000 employees, Brian 20, about 20 resigned every week, about 20 are hired every week. And so I don’t know who I mean, one of them I know, but he was not in the diversity office and he’s a good friend. I can’t talk to him. And he he resigned before he saw my apology. But three, three young men and my chief diversity officer once Wasn’t didn’t even know. He said they didn’t work for him. All right,

Brian Wiegand
let me get a clarification because you said 27%. And that’s the online,

Jerry Fallwell Jr.
whole university.

Brian Wiegand
So you

Jerry Fallwell Jr.
don’t treat we don’t treat resident and online students as two different groups we treat you union accreditation agency requires that we treat all students the same. The academic programs are the same for everybody. Everybody’s equally a student.

Brian Wiegand
I understand that. But what I’m saying what I’m questioning is what’s the percentage of black students who are residents, you know, undergraduate residential population at school?

Jerry Fallwell Jr.
Number 27% overall?

Brian Wiegand
Alright. And then, one more thing is when in the tweets there, you went on and you talked about, you realize the infection, the trauma, and how many you defended people over that. But you talked about the board and you said based on our long relationships that uniformly on It was not my intent. But because it was it was the result. I’ve deleted the tweet and I apologize. It’s kind of some waffling. Couldn’t you just come out and said, Look, I shouldn’t have done that. I’m sorry, I hurt anybody. I’m sorry I hurt anybody with it offended anybody, you know, caused any trouble, whatever it is and

Jerry Fallwell Jr.
learn from them why it was offensive because it was the governor’s tweet. And I mean, it was this Governor’s yearbook page. So I was educated by by the community and liberty that I love and you know that that’s something I didn’t understand before. And it’s just it was so so good for them. I had no idea how much how much affection and love was there and how much they love liberty and how much how close we words with so many and it they came out of the woodwork and Mike Anderson and he’s a PhD a 53 year old graduate from Liberty. He played a key role and I already mentioned Rashad and Alan MacFarlane, the pastor from Portsmouth has been on board for 25 years. I met with him and his wife the other day, I said, the first time I felt like I’ve had parents since my parents died. And so that’s the kind of relationship that we have and those the people that I care about and I listen to,

Brian Wiegand
alright, let’s turn our attention to reopening the school. In the fall, we see a lot of colleges, a lot of different plans. Some of them are doing it. Some classes online for students who want that some classes in person, some students on campus we’ve seen, I think it’s Notre Dame is going to start early and finish up first semester before Thanksgiving. Broadly, what are Liberty’s plans to reopen for fall so

Jerry Fallwell Jr.
it’s very similar We, of course, it’s up to the NCAA, whether or not football can be back like back to normal. It’s up to the governor, whatever draconian rules he comes up with when he wakes up every morning but We have to abide by the rules. But the bottom line is we want to operate as close to normal as possible. But I do like what Notre Dame has done. By not having a fall break, we send everybody home and bring them back. I think it’s better to bring them in, keep compared to the semesters over and try to end right before Thanksgiving and maybe have them do their exams online after, after Thanksgiving. Or we’re looking at all kinds of ideas like putting Plexiglas in front of the older professors in between to separate them from students. That was an idea Purdue University came up with and and i think that the risk to young people is low, but we do have to protect our older staff and, and faculty members. And that’s going to be our main effort.

Brian Wiegand
Do you have any plans As far as as far as the dorms go, I’ve seen some schools who are not going to have to two people in a dorm anymore. It’s everybody’s gonna get a single which I have to say, kids, if you got a single room in your first year at college, you better enjoy that.

Jerry Fallwell Jr.
We haven’t decided that yet. That’s all still to be discussed over the summer and depends on depends on what the rules are. And the orders and from the governor. And, and a lot of that’s not in our control.

Brian Wiegand
And so then I guess you don’t know about classrooms, any kind of distancing any kind of screens between students there yet.

Jerry Fallwell Jr.
You know, it’s still too early than a what the situation’s gonna be in the fall. So we, we’ve had to sort of adapt as we, as we learn like everybody else, and but we do agree with the Purdue president that the risk of fatality to college age young people is almost zero. I think he’s right about Mitch Daniels. So we’ll see. We just got to find the way to protect the ones who are not college age.

Brian Wiegand
And so then let me ask you to how much more communication Do you have to have with the students who’ve accepted admission to liberty and you know, their, their families as you get closer and closer to opening the school?

Jerry Fallwell Jr.
Well, you know, we’re in constant communication through our IRAs, or these are with the students and, you know, their families have to get the information from the students because the federal laws we, you know, the students are technically adults, and they’re protect and so we talked to them. And then the parents have to decide based on what their what their children tell them and so it’s since their children but what their young young adults tell them and so we, we were in constant contact

Brian Wiegand
and then you You mentioned briefly there football before big deal at the school. Right now, especially given the success of the last two seasons. If you are generally given the you know, free rein to do what you want you expect full stadiums. Are you going to have them? You know, have Williams stadium half full for social distancing? Any idea what you might do?

Jerry Fallwell Jr.
We’re going to do what the law says we have to do. And if the law says you can put everybody together, and this thing is the virus is not around anymore. That would be our first preference. And if the law says something differently, unfortunately, we you know, we live in a state with a governor who’s Well, I’m not gonna say anything else. Fair enough.

Brian Wiegand
I can’t say that. I blame you at this point. And then one last thing. Are you having the spring and summer workouts for football as normal? Yes. All right. Very good. All right. Jerry Falwell, Jr. President

Jerry Fallwell Jr.
about spring this summer for sure.

Brian Wiegand
All right, very good. All right. Jerry Falwell, president of liberty University. Thanks for joining us this morning.

Jerry Fallwell Jr.
Great to be with you Brian. Thank you

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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