The Association of Faith-Based Institutions (AFBI) recently learned from Kristen F. Soares, president of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU), that Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Garden), author of Senate Bill SB 1146, intends to amend the proposed legislation to only include disclosure requirements and a new provision to disclose reasons for student expulsions to the California Student Aid Commission. Sen. Lara will inform the Assembly Appropriations Committee of this important development. Pending review of this new language, the member college presidents of AFBI will change their position on this legislation from “oppose unless amended” to “support.”
In expressing their appreciation for Sen. Lara’s recommendation, six of the largest Christian colleges, including Azusa Pacific University, Biola University, Cal Baptist University, Point Nazarene Loma University, Westmont University, and William Jessup University also reaffirmed that their campuses are safe, loving communities for those who attend, and their agreement with the author that student safety and transparency for students, including those who are members of the LGBT community, is a priority.
“We share the senator’s care and concern for LGBT students and believe that the disclosure requirements contained in the newly amended bill will further ensure that students select a campus community that is right for them,” said Jon R. Wallace, DBA, president of AFBI and Azusa Pacific University. “AFBI also recognizes the diligent effort of the AICCU team to represent and advocate on behalf of its private faith-based members, which contributed to this positive outcome.”
All participating AFBI college and university presidents share Lara’s concern that students are treated fairly and appreciate the thinking behind the new provision that would require disclosure of student dismissals to an appropriate state agency, consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and other privacy regulations.
AFBI remains grateful to Sen. Lara for seeking to amend this bill so that Cal Grant eligibility is preserved. Of the 22,078 undergraduate students represented by six of the largest Christian colleges, 5,156 are enrolled in the Cal Grant Program and can continue to pursue their dream of higher education at institutions that align with their values given these amendments introduced by Sen. Lara.
“Throughout this process, Sen. Lara demonstrated a desire to protect Cal Grant funds for students who choose to use their state aid to attend a faith-based college or university. This vital state aid, when combined with institutional scholarships, make it possible for the most socioeconomically disadvantaged students to attend and graduate from college,” said Wallace. “Faith-based institutions retain and graduate underrepresented and first generation students at a much higher rate than public institutions. Sen. Lara’s consistent advocacy for these students not only validates their decision to attend faith-based institutions, but it also helps to ensure their continued ability to attend a college that best meets their needs.”
For more than 100 years, California's faith-based colleges and universities have been valued partners in California's pluralistic system of higher education. AFBI believes Sen. Lara’s current efforts will not only protect LGBT students, but also sustain this partnership. The hundreds of thousands of AFBI alumni care deeply about their communities and the well-being of their neighbors, and seek to contribute to California’s economy and society in meaningful ways that underscore the collective significance of our AFBI member institutions’ missions.
“Moving ahead, we look forward to working with Sen. Lara and other members of the California Legislature to strengthen this partnership, ensuring that students are educated, supported, and equipped for years to come,” said Wallace.
The newly formed and expanding AFBI exists to strengthen and promote collectives of faith by building understanding and respect–throughout society, culture, politics and the law–for the vital contributions that communities and institutions of faith make to the nation and the world. To date, more than a dozen colleges and universities have joined with many more faith-based entities considering membership.
Jill Monroe, Director of Public Affairs
Cell: (619) 813-0679
Associate Director of Public Relations
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