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Letting Go!

A Message from the Executive Director
Monday, September 19, 2016

Dear Friends,

I remember the first time I let go of my daughter’s hand so she could cross the street by herself. She was 6 years old. She had asked if she could go play with her neighbor. By herself, she emphasized in her little voice. I knew it was time to let go. So, I squeezed her hand, looked into her eyes, fixed her pig tails and said: “You remember what you have been taught, okay?” Then, I let go. I turned my back and walked into the small townhouse where we lived while my husband was deployed to Iraq. After I closed the door behind me, I ran upstairs to the upper kitchen level bay window to watch her. I bit my lip while she looked both ways, waited for a car to pass and then ran into her friend’s house.

Just last week I dropped her off at her college dorm to start her Sophomore year. I made that day last a little longer by carrying some of her boxes into her room and helping her make the bed. I also reminded her she needed more clothes hangers. As I left, perhaps a little later than she would have wished, I kissed her on the forehead, held her tight in my arms and whispered in her ear: “You remember what you have been taught, okay?”

Life is a constant letting go. Letting go of our youth, our children, our parents, our health, and even the crazy idea that one can once again fit into those skinny jeans kept in the back of the closet. What carries us through all this letting go is remembering what we’ve been taught by our parents, our pastors and ministers, our elders. We carry those lessons in our hearts and minds, forging a faith compass that guides how we face each day—both the good ones and the bad ones.

In this great country of ours, we have the right to live according to that inner faith compass. We have a right to associate with those who think the same way and can help us sustain that resolve.

This right is protected by our Constitution. We at Becket exist to protect it.

Last month we helped the students of Fresno Pacific University stay where they want to be, surrounded by people who help them sustain their resolve to live a certain way.

The students most at risk were low-income minority students who depend on state assistance through Cal Grants to attend college. Shouldn’t they have the right—the same as any other Californian student has—to attend a college of their choosing and receive the same aid? And why should they be forced out of Fresno Pacific—which graduates minorities at ten times the rate of comparable state schools—and into state schools that just can’t meet their needs?

This should be entirely uncontroversial. Regrettably, Senator Lara, a California legislator, introduced a bill that would have ended these students’ time at Fresno Pacific. Just because Fresno Pacific is a religious school built on pacifist Mennonite beliefs that Lara finds “appalling.” That type of anti-minority, anti-Mennonite discrimination is unfair and unconstitutional.

At the time he pushed this bill—SB 1146—we emailed 15 million Californians to ask what they thought about this bill that discriminates against poor minorities. Over the course of a week, more than 100,000 Californians spoke out to say that they objected to it.

Faced with a statewide and nationwide outcry, Senator Lara backed down. However, he still pushed for a heavily amended version of SB 1146. It’s not as ugly as the first one, but it still targets students who attend religious schools and sets a dangerous precedent of letting politicians control speech at private colleges. Worse, Lara has promised that he’s coming back next year with an even uglier version of SB 1146.

These kids deserve better. Meet some of them in these individual videos and, after you watch them, imagine what it was like for the parents of those kids, many of them unable to speak English and many having never gone to college themselves, to say goodbye. I imagine that these parents, as they let go, told them the same exact thing I told my daughter last week. They told them: Remember what you’ve been taught.

Don’t these students deserve the ability to live according to their own inner faith compass? We at Becket will continue to work to protect their rights. Thanks for your continued support for our work.


Kristina Arriaga
Executive Director

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