A sigh of relief—it has been almost four years since our founding. With 100 articles published; nearly $40,000 fundraised; and a legacy of successfully trained student leaders now thriving in careers in policy, business, nonprofits, and graduate schools; I look back at the Beacon’s progress so far. Our students have been valedictorians. They have served on student government, as Resident Advisors, and in Spiritual Life roles. They lead in Greek Life, travel in International Programs, and have engaged with some of the most impressive thought leaders nationally in culture, politics, and education today. In every metric possible our students have been servant leaders who have gone and impacted every level of our community and beyond.
Our board of nationally recognized scholars and alumni has expanded from the original six professors. Our students have learned valuable lessons from them: lessons of courage, prudence, grace, and strategy. I wish Dr. Ted McAllister was here to see all the work accomplished since his passing in 2023. I hope he would be proud of where we started and how far we have come.
In the chaos of 2020, my partners and I held many concerns—concerns we soon realized many others shared regarding the state of our nation and the state of free and open discourse. As a microcosm, Pepperdine was affected by some of these realities.
Who do we: students, faculty, and alumni want to be as a people? How do we want the world to know us? How do we want the world to know us as individuals? We decided these questions were important—and needed answering.
We began this enterprise very much in the spirit of Edmund Burke, the statesman, who thought prudence was the highest virtue of society. None of us sought to radically restructure our community. We believed in incremental progress, slowly building an institution that could stand the test of time and serve generations of students to come. It has lasted thus far, and the foundations are here for generations to come. It has successfully united together a community of truth—calling our university back to a revival of the good mission and values that make our community distinct.
With “Truth without Fear” as our motto (a reworking of the University Affirmation Statement), we stubbornly pressed forward into the unknown. Years ago, I knew what we could become and we still have far to go. But we have accomplished nearly everything I hoped for in my time here.
I wholeheartedly believe this endeavor would not have succeeded without what seemed like divine intervention. So many circumstances needed to be just right for us to have the right founding team, the right time, the right community support, and the right institutional innovations for this to succeed.
With God, all things are possible. Our community saw what happens when determined, mission-filled students, faculty, and alumni unite to create something rarely seen in our world today. We planted a flag for the things that matter—for better conversations surrounding the great questions of our past and present, for a unifying body for all five schools…
And for “Truth without Fear.”
It was not easy, but “the good is better when it is harder” as Aristotle said. I have had many sleepless nights, doubts, and fears. At times the obstacles seemed too insurmountable, the risks too high, the journey too long. But when our future seemed unsure, somehow, we received the right support at the right time or a new boost of motivation that kept us moving forward with flags high, trumpets sounding, shields locked, resolutely and unshakably committed to our cause.
Our country is in desperate need of help. But change doesn’t happen from the top down. It happens from the bottom up.
How we fix our country can begin at our “city on a hill” in Malibu. It can begin when individuals decide to take personal responsibility for themselves and their community. It requires standing up and taking action when we see the roots of chaos begin to take hold. It requires sacrifice. But it also requires belief. I believe in our community. I believe we can make things better for tomorrow while preserving the good values and institutions of the past. I believe that we can train the next generation of servant leaders to go and have an impact, living in “Truth without Fear.”
I believe this because I have seen it. And I see those people going into impact careers. I see a campus discourse dramatically shifted towards viewpoint diversity, empathy, and supportive of our Christian mission. I do not believe the Beacon alone accomplished these realities. But I do believe our campus would be quite different without this group. Because this group is Pepperdine.
It would be impossible to say thank you to everyone who made the Beacon possible. In short, we could not have come this far without the vocal support of all of the professors, administrators, staffers, students, parents, and alumni who care about free speech, our university, and the state of our country today. Thank you especially to the gifted professors who teach us, the dedicated and passionate administrators and staffers who hold our students at the heart of what they do, and the parents and alumni who are supporting the “next generation.”
Those questions we asked in our founding we have answered. We want to be known as a community that pursues “Truth without Fear” in all we do, aspires to excellence in all we do, and seeks to honor God in all we do.
With “Truth without Fear” ringing across our campus and through our halls and into our national community, I once again thank you for nearly four years of support, prayers, and love. And I lastly ask you to “not love in word or deed, but in action and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
Caden Benedict (‘23, MPP ‘25)
Founder & Editor-in-Chief Emeritus