“Liberty Students Would Have Been Fined If They Skipped Ted Cruz’s Speech.” That’s the headline from Huffington Post on Cruz’s appearance Monday at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, where he launched his 2016 presidential campaign. From the headline, you’d think students were bound and dragged to the convocation and forced to cheer and clap on cue.
While it’s true that the students would have been fined for skipping the event, that’s the case with any convocation at Liberty, no matter who’s speaking—something the article mentions only in passing. Hardly newsworthy stuff, and it certainly doesn’t merit the headline or the lede. Considering that 6 in 10 people only read headlines, it’s more than manipulative. But, that’s the liberal media for you.
The article also makes it sound like students who attended were either Senator Rand Paul fans (there were 12 of them) or forced participants, chomping at the bit to get to class—or back to bed (it’s college, after all).
That’s just not the case. Hunter Cerny, a sophomore from West Chicago, says students were excited to be there. “The clapping, cheering, and standing ovation from the students showed the support that there was from the student body, and that support for Cruz was almost unanimous.”
Anna Dunn, a junior from Virginia Beach, was one of those cheering for Cruz. “I’m glad he came for our convocation because otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to be involved. Nobody forced me to support him. Nobody forced me to clap. But I’m thankful I had the opportunity to take part in the event.”
Cerny said he doesn’t appreciate the media making it sound like Liberty students can’t think for themselves or focusing on just a few Paul supporters who expressed their frustrations with being required to attend the event and being “discontent with the speech.”
“It was easy to see most wanted to be there,” Cerny said. As for being required to attend convocations under threat of fines, “Students are here because they want to be here. Nothing is being forced on them, because we all agreed to the requirements when we came here—including mandatory convocations. Sure, every once in a while, there’s a convocation people don’t necessarily want to attend, but it isn’t as big a deal as many liberal news sources make it out to be.”
As for Cruz, Dunn says most students liked what he had to say. “I think what he wants to strive for are good things that would drastically improve the United States,” she said. “The crowd was very much in support of him, and probably most kids would’ve shown up even if it wasn’t mandatory.”