While Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) received a very warm welcome from most of the 10,000 Liberty University students present at his presidential campaign kickoff, not all were happy that they had to attend the event or face a fine.
One of those annoyed students was junior Eli McGowan, who runs the Students for Rand club in support of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). "We were upset about it," he told BuzzFeed. "We know that Ted Cruz knows this and it's a smart idea to have a captive audience to announce your campaign. To have 10,000 people show up. Most students take this as a tacit endorsement. People on Facebook have been saying, oh the board wouldn't have allowed him to come if they didn't think he was the right candidate."
Convocations are held three times a week, and all students who live on campus — there are more than 7,000, according to McGowan — are required to attend; those who don't have to pay $10. The school's president, Jerry Falwell Jr., said that just because Cruz was making his declaration at Liberty University during a convocation, it should not be viewed as an endorsement. One student, who asked not to be identified because she is a Democrat, told BuzzFeed she viewed this as a seal of approval for Cruz regardless of what Falwell had to say. "At our school everyone is a Republican," she said. "You aren't allowed to have any Democratic groups. That's why I'm doing this anonymously because people will come after you. He told people what they wanted to hear and they are endorsing him, that’s what they are doing."