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The president of Liberty University on Monday defended the Christian institution’s decision to require all students to attend a rally on campus that kicked off Senator Ted Cruz’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

Some students took to social media to criticize the mandatory attendance policy as giving the mistaken impression that all students had chosen to come support Cruz’s announcement.

President Jerry Falwell Jr. said in a statement that the Cruz event was part of the university's convocation, an education forum held three times each week at which attendance is mandated, “just like class is required for students."

"A fundamental part of the college experience is being exposed to a variety of viewpoints so students can better understand why they hold their own beliefs and be better prepared to defend them," Falwell wrote. "Liberty intentionally gives every student this opportunity to become well-rounded on important matters of faith and culture."

He added that students were not obligated to participate in any standing ovations and were "free to cheer or boo as they see fit."

Students faced a $10 fine for not attending convocation, according to university policy. 

Some students showed up to the event wearing “Stand with Rand” shirts in support of Senator Rand Paul, a likely opponent of Cruz in the Republican primary.