Liberty University President Jerry Prevo has apologized for violating COVID-19 regulations by leading a mass snowball fight with hundreds of students, following sharp criticism of the event.
The snowball fight, which took place Sunday on the front lawn of the campus, was captured in pictures and on video and shared on social media by the school and students. The posts show students and Prevo participating in the event, unmasked and packed close together.
That post sparked strong reaction from those who viewed the event as unsafe.
“So when we click over to half a million dead of COVID we can thank you morons,” someone named Clint commented. “Congratulations on becoming an international embarrassment L.U.,” wrote Adam J. Barlow.
Prevo now says he’s sorry for the event and that he simply got “caught up in the moment of the day.” In a statement posted to Liberty’s website, Prevo wrote:
I donned my gloves and coat and headed outside and immediately engaged in some snowball fights with a few students. From that small beginning, I invited them to meet on the front lawn to continue the fun with more students. The student body took to the idea, they showed up in large numbers and had the snowball fight. I stood front and center and led this event.
I messed up. We did not think through or communicate the need to wear facial coverings and remain 6 feet apart in compliance with Virginia Governor’s Executive Orders for the suppression of the spread of COVID-19 or even our own COVID-19 Operations Plan. And the size of the group was not in compliance either.
Liberty already has a strained relationship with the Lynchburg community because of the way it has handled the coronavirus pandemic. Last spring, the university sparked controversy when it welcomed students back on campus, despite most other Virginia colleges and universities moving classes online.
At the time, Lynchburg Mayor Treney Tweedy called the decision “reckless.”
Give a gift of $25 or more to The Roys Report this month, and you will receive a copy of “Is it Me? Making Sense of Your Confusing Marriage” To donate,.
However, former Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr., who resigned in August amid scandal, said he believed Liberty’s practices would “become the model for all colleges to follow in the fall.”
Prevo said in his recent statement that Liberty has a “strong record of compliance and containment of COVID-19 from the start, and we want our community to know that Sunday’s snowball event was not done with a heart of defiance.”
Prevo added that he and the school pledge to “rededicate ourselves to communicating and reinforcing to students, faculty, and staff the mandate to comply with all COVID-19 policies, including physical distancing and the wearing of facial coverings.”
Liberty has removed all of its social media posts about the event because the school said they could “undermine a culture of compliance.”
Videos shot by students, however, remain online. The video below is from a post on TikTok.