Is the United States Department of Education On a Vendetta Against Conservative Christian Colleges?

Is the United States Department of Education On a Vendetta Against Conservative Christian Colleges?
Is the United States Department of Education On a Vendetta Against Conservative Christian Colleges?

The liberal-dominated world of higher education is in freefall. Colleges and universities have abandoned the standards that once defined them.

When Christopher Rufo proved that the President of Harvard had plagiarized the work that led her to that position, the trustees tried to defend her. When that failed, she stepped down but remains a tenured faculty member. There seem to be no rules—except for conservative universities.

Targeting Christians?

Consider the U.S. Department of Education’s (DOE) penalties against two colleges claiming to promote Christian principles. In October 2023, the DOE fined Grand Canyon University (GCU) $37.7 million. Less than six months earlier, the same bureaucracy fined Liberty University (LU) $37.5 million.

Help Remove Jesus Bath Mat on Amazon

The Arizona Southern Baptist Convention founded Grand Canyon University (GCU) in 1949. That connection ended in 2000. Today, GCU claims to be a “non-denominational” Christian institution. Suffering severe financial difficulties, the school adopted a “for profit” status in 2004. The school grew and prospered. In 2016, it reversed course and reclaimed non-profit status. By 2018, the federal Internal Revenue Service, the State of Arizona, its accrediting body and the NCAA acknowledged GCU’s status change.

Non-Profit or For Profit?

However, the U.S. Department of Education insists that GCU is still a for-profit institution. The school tried to resolve the impasse, but the DOE was adamant. In February 2021, GCU brought suit against the DOE over the issue. Three years later, that suit is unresolved.

While for-profit educational institutions have a long history, the non-profit university system looks down on them. The state and federal education bureaucracies agree. The Obama Administration increased scrutiny of for-profit schools. The Trump Administration revoked many of these rules, but President Biden restored them.

The specific charge against GCU concerns a relatively small number of its students. The DOE charges that doctoral students were forced to pay for “continuation courses” as they wrote their dissertations. The school did not include these costs in the estimates provided to those students when they entered the program. Seventy-eight percent of these students, the DOE claims, had to pay anywhere from $10,000 to $12,000 extra. GCU claims that this is a “common practice.” Indeed, this author paid for similar courses at the University of Maryland. In this case, there do not appear to be any specific students who have filed complaints against the school.

Satanic Christ Porn-blasphemy at Walmart — Sign Petition

GCU sees the DOE’s attitude as an attempt to gain power over a successful Christian institution with a conservative outlook. GCU claims “roughly 30,000 graduates annually” from its 25,800 on-campus and 92,000 online students. A press release in the GCU News states the University’s position.

Two Perspectives

“By intentionally mis-classifying GCU as a for-profit institution for purposes of federal student aid, [DOE] is now able to target the university as part of a coordinated effort…to ‘pursue the full range of sanctions’ against for-profit institutions…due to the disproportionate number of Americans who attended those schools and then defaulted on federal student loans.”

GCU claims, “We know of no other traditional university that has received this level of scrutiny.” Of course, the DOE spins a very different picture.

“‘GCU lied about the cost of its doctoral programs to attract students to enroll,’ said FSA [Federal Student Aid] Chief Operating Officer Richard Cordray. ‘FSA takes its oversight responsibilities seriously. GCU’s lies harmed students, broke their trust, and led to unexpectedly high levels of student debt. Today, we are holding GCU accountable for its actions, protecting students and taxpayers, and upholding the integrity of the federal student aid programs.’”

How Panera’s Socialist Bread Ruined Company

Other than the fact that they are both Christian Universities and the curious similarity in the amount of the fines, the DOE case against Liberty University is very different.

The Liberty Way

The DOE charged Liberty with breaking the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations at 34 CFR §668.46, sometimes known as the Clery Act. It requires universities that receive federal aid to keep records about crime on or near their campuses. That information is to be made available to both current and prospective students. It is named after Jeanne Clery, who was raped and murdered at Lehigh University in 1986.

The liberal Washington Post summarizes the story. “The initial report on the school’s Clery Act compliance—which the University can respond to and dispute before the department makes a final determination—paints a picture of a university that discouraged people from reporting crimes, underreported the claims it received and, meanwhile, marketed its Virginia campus as one of the safest in the country.

“Liberty failed to warn the campus community about gas leaks, bomb threats and people credibly accused of repeated acts of sexual violence—including a senior administrator and an athlete—according to the report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post.”

What Does Saint Thomas Aquinas Say About Marriage?

However, one factor significantly complicates the picture. Liberty’s student conduct code varies sharply with those of most American colleges. Unlike the lax behavior codes that rule other campuses, Liberty’s rules—sometimes called The Liberty Way—forbids alcohol consumption and premarital sexual relations by students.

A Compromised Situation

The Liberty Way creates difficult situations for students who become crime victims while, or as a result of, consuming alcoholic beverages. Do they disregard the reprimand for drunkenness and report the crime to the University or keep quiet about the incident?

In a November 2021 article for The Dispatch, David French related the story of Elizabeth Axley. Miss Axley attended a party and drank so much that she lost consciousness. When she came to, another Liberty student was attacking her. She went to the local hospital. A nurse reported fifteen bruises and lacerations on her arms, face and torso.

Mr. French continues, “When Axley told her [Resident Assistant] about the alleged attacks, she said the RA urged her not to report the incident. Axley had been violating the Liberty code of conduct—the “Liberty Way”—in part by drinking. But Axley reported it anyway. She had text messages supporting her claim. She had pictures taken at the hospital showing her injuries.”

Assessing Responsibility

Eventually, Liberty’s officials ruled that Miss Axley’s actions at the party contributed to the attack. Had she not passed out due to her excessive (and forbidden) alcohol consumption, the attack would not have taken place.

Is It Immodest to Wear Deliberately Ripped Clothes?

Such an attitude is uncommon today. In today’s feminist environment, no responsibility in such a situation can be attached to the woman’s state of mind, dress, or conduct. Such attacks are always the man’s fault. There is no reason to believe that anyone at the DOE disagrees with that assessment.

Whether or not Miss Axley’s case is part of the DOE complaint is uncertain. The document has not been released to the general public, although the Washington Post claims to have seen a leaked copy.

Violating Due Process

The GCU situation awaits a final determination by an appeals court. On March 5, the New York Times reported that Liberty agreed to pay an adjusted fine of $14 million and to spend an additional two million over two years to fund a “compliance committee” and make other “campus safety improvements.”

The Times said the substantially reduced settlement “dwarfed every previous fine the department had levied for such violations.” Indeed, it is more than triple the fine paid by the secular Michigan State University in 2019 after a university employee there was found guilty of molesting at least “265 young women and girls” as an athletic trainer and physician. At the time of the conviction, the Times said that some of the victims were “as young as 6.” Even if everything in the DOE’s report is accurate, LU’s violation concerns record-keeping. Can that possibly be three times worse than the molestation of hundreds in university facilities?

Clearly, both cases raise questions about the power of the U.S. Department of Education.

The United States has a justice system. Legislatures make laws. If a violation occurs, the police (or someone invested with police power) investigate. If the investigators are convinced, a prosecutor receives the collected evidence. If the evidence appears sufficient, the prosecutor presents it to a grand jury. If the grand jury agrees, it indicts the suspected criminal. A trial with a different judge and a different jury then takes place. At that trial, the accused has the opportunity to present a defense. The jury decides whether the accused is guilty. If the verdict is guilty, the judge or the jury determines the punishment.

Help Remove Jesus Bath Mat on Amazon

This “due process” may be tiresome, but each step is crucial. The goal is not punishment but justice. When the system works as it should, no one is punished because of whims or musings about what the law should be.

The DOE operates under “administrative law.” It acts as the legislator, investigator, prosecutor, grand jury, judge and trial jury. This process is rapid, but is tailor-made for abuse. Each step can be decided according to the prevailing mood of the bureaucrats and what appears to be the political leanings of the administration.

Photo Credit:  © othman –