- The Washington Times - Monday, June 22, 2009

RICHMOND (AP) | The president of a student-run Democratic club at Liberty University has resigned and will leave the Christian school, which ordered the suspended club to find a new adviser.

Brian Diaz submitted his resignation from the College Democrats on Friday night and says he plans to transfer to another school.

Earlier that day, Liberty Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. said club sponsor Maria Childress could no longer work directly with students.

Mr. Falwell cited Mrs. Childress’ May 20 conviction in Lynchburg General District Court of misdemeanor assault, disorderly conduct and trespassing. Mrs. Childress said the charges stemmed from a domestic dispute with her ex-father-in-law over visitation with her daughter.

“I don’t think we could have her serving as an adviser and working with [students] on a day-to-day basis,” Mr. Falwell said. “I think it would raise concerns with parents if people with violent criminal convictions in the last year were working with students. So, I don’t think we could do that.”

Mrs. Childress said she thinks Liberty was using the misdemeanors as an excuse to remove her.

“This is a direct attack to my character, not having anything to do with the club,” she said. “It’s a tactic for them to do whatever they wish.”

Last month, the school founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who died in May 2007, withdrew its official recognition of the club because it supported the Democratic Party’s pro-choice platform and candidates.

The club later sent a proposal to school officials that included statements that the group wouldn’t endorse any candidate and would explicitly state its opposition to abortion.

The club initially declined to get rid of Mrs. Childress at the administration’s earlier suggestion.

Mr. Diaz said his decision to transfer comes from his desire to be part of “an institution that fosters diversity within its student body.”

“I wish all the best to the Liberty University College Democrats, and I hope that this situation will not hinder anyone but will encourage political involvement and standing up to what youth believe in,” Mr. Diaz said.

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