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Pisgah High School Update

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Hello Friends,

We wanted to take a minute and share with you an update on what is happening with Kalei Wilson and Pisgah High School. As you know from our last update, the administrators agreed to let Kalei build a secular community on Pisgah’s campus a few weeks ago.

KaleiSince that time, as others have reported, Kalei and her family have had to deal with bullying and threats beyond what any person should have to face. No student should have to choose to either have a community and endure harassment and threats, or give up on community with the hope of bringing the firestorm to an end, but that is the unfortunate situation in which Kalei has found herself.

As many of you know, because of the bullying and harassment, Kalei has decided not to go through with creating a secular group at her school. The Secular Student Alliance has stayed in communication with Kalei and her family, and have been supporting them behind the scenes while so many others have been supporting them publicly. Thank you to everyone who has voiced, and continues to voice, their support for Kalei and her family.

Although creating and supporting groups is a big part of what we do, the Secular Student Alliance also empowers students who either lack that local community, or choose to be activists in a more individual capacity. Even without moving forward with a group, Kalei is still excited to be a part of the Secular Student Alliance and of the national community we have built and continue to build. Kalei is even planning to speak at our upcoming Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio July 11-13!

Call to Action – Report Bibles in Public University Hotels!

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The sight of a bible in a hotel room is all too familiar to many secularists. Surprisingly, some publicly-funded hotels still choose to engage in these outdated displays of religiosity.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is celebrating a recent victory at the Memorial Union at Iowa State University-Ames. An FFRF member reported finding religious propaganda there (on state property!), and the FFRF voiced this concern to the hotel’s director, Richard S. Reynolds. As a result of FFRF’s work, all bibles are slated to be removed by March 1st, 2014! This is FFRF’s second victory of this nature; last year they successfully swayed the University of Wisconsin-Madison to remove bibles from its campus inn, the Lowell Center. Read the full article about Iowa State University-Ames here.

Providing bibles in the hotel rooms of publicly funded universities disrespects a diverse range of beliefs and worldviews, and is flagrantly illegal! Students and other secular activists can help the FFRF to continue their work against these violations by checking out their local university’s hotels and reporting what they find. If you find bibles in publicly-funded university hotel rooms, take a picture and email it along with the university and hotel name to Liz Cavell.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us or the FFRF for more information.

The photo above was originally posted on the blog of John Emerson, who wrote a post about leaving atheist literature in bibles at privately owned hotels. He offers a pdf of atheist quotations that would work nicely.

The Secular Legal Society at UNLV is Helping Out Their Community!

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SSA affiliates and members are doing awesome stuff on their campus all the time. We brag about their work here on our website through the Brag It Up series. If you or your affiliate group has done something awesome, Brag It Up!

Secular Student Alliance affiliate groups aren't just at high schools and college campuses—they are at graduate schools too! One of these groups is the Secular Legal Society at the University of Nevada Las Vegas Boyd School of Law.

SLSAt UNLV’s Boyd School of Law, students have the opportunity to participate in a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. This program allows them to volunteer hundreds of hours in order to help prepare taxes for local people who might not otherwise be able to afford any assistance in preparing their taxes. The VITA program trains and IRS certifies Boyd Law School students in income tax assistance

Several Secular Legal Society members have completed their training, and will be helping out with the program! Like many of our affiliate groups, part of what the Secular Legal Society at UNLV Boyd Law strives to accomplish is to support the local community whenever possible through programs like these. We are thrilled to see members of this affiliate group using their expertise to make their community stronger with their unique expertise.

Thank you for sharing your story, and for all of your hard work improving your community SLS at UNLV! Volunteering in situations like these as secular students shows community members that secular people aren’t evil, or bad: we just want to help make the world better.

Congratulations Illini SSA!

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Every year, the national Secular Student Alliance hears about the amazing things our affiliate groups are doing. When we hear of a group doing something especially awesome, we give out an Award for Outstanding Activism for their exemplary work. Here is an article from the Illini Secular Student Alliance about their incredible success fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which has earned them an Award for Outstanding Activism!

Two years ago, at the annual SSA summer conference, the outreach coordinator for the Illini Secular Student Alliance sat down at a talk about the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). The Foundation Beyond Belief was spearheading a nationwide fundraising movement for the LLS, and the Illini Secular Student Alliance (ISSA) wanted to get involved. That fall, we hosted a walk to benefit Light the Night, and raised over a thousand dollars to fight cancer. This year, we wanted to give even more to the LLS, and our current outreach coordinator planned a full semester of fundraising events.

ISSA AwardWe started with “Hug an Atheist” and sold hugs on the quad for a dollar and group hugs for five dollars. We were on the quad all day for a nearly a week and raised nearly a hundred dollars each day. Our members came by to give hugs whenever they had a break in their schedules, and one student even visited his old high school and charged any friends that wanted to give him a hug. He was able to donate over $20. We did run into some belligerent people who were outraged at the very idea of atheists on the quad, but after being screamed at by a man that “cancer was a lack of wisdom in the body” and he would never give money to “people like us” another 10 people donated because they were impressed with our calmness in the face of angry insanity.

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