LYNCHBURG (WSLS 10) – An article criticizing Donald Trump, written by a Liberty University student for the school newspaper, received national attention Tuesday.
That attention isn’t based as much on the article’s content as it is on the fact that it originally wasn’t allowed to be published at all.
Joel Schmieg writes for a weekly sports column in the Liberty Champion, so when Donald Trump started mentioning “locker room talk”, Schmieg felt Trump had strayed into his area of expertise, but when he tried to make his opinion known, he found his article pulled from publication by the school for the first time ever.
Schmieg says the move by Liberty happened late on press day, so he didn’t initially have time to think through the implications.
“It was afterwards that I kind of thought, I want this to be shared,” said Schmieg.
Schmieg turned to Facebook and Twitter to share his opinion piece, describing his stance against Trump, and his own University President for supporting him.
“I don’t think he represents our conservative values. I don’t think he represents us well as evangelical Christians, and as for President Falwell, he says he makes the endorsement separate from the school, but whether he really likes it or not, being the president of Liberty, when he speaks it’s associated with Liberty automatically,” said Schmieg.
Schmieg says he never expected the reaction and support his article would recieve.
“I’ve had victims of sexual assault thank me, I had a veteran on Twitter thank me,” said Schmieg.
In response, President Jerry Fallwel Jr. explained why Schmieg’s story was pulled in a statement, saying “The paper already had a letter that was very similar in content supporting Hillary Clinton and condemning Donald Trump for the 2005 video. The two letters were redundant so an editorial decision was made to go with the other letter.”
Schmieg says he has problems with that explanation.
“That was in the Opinion Section, mine was in the Sports Section. It was a column I wrote every week, so I didn’t feel like it was a very justified reason,” said Schmieg.
Even though it wasn’t published in the Champion, Schmieg says the thousands of people who have now read his article is a pretty good trade-off.
“It was just cool to just kind of make a difference,” said Schmieg.
Schmieg’s article has now been shared more than 100 times on his Facebook page, and has been reported on in national media outlets like Politico.
Schmieg was clear, however, that he doesn’t intend for this to reflect poorly on his school, saying the incident has inspired good-natured discussion between him and his peers.