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What a Turnaround for SSA at UNR!

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Hello friends,

At the beginning of the Fall semester in 2013, the Secular Student Alliance group at the University of Nevada, Reno (SSA at UNR) was in trouble. They had a few scattered members, no planned events, and no recognition from the national office or their campus.

Fast forward just eight short months. Now the SSA at UNR has over 130 members and hosts at least one event on campus every week! In fact, last month they were able to host Speakers Bureau member Dan Barker at an event attended by over 160 people.

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Students from SSA at University of Nevada, Reno with Dan Barker after their amazing event!

Several leaders of the group spent time peppering downtown Reno with flyers about the event, as well as leaving flyers in bookstores, coffee shops, libraries, and restaurants. And, everywhere you looked on campus you saw details about the upcoming lecture. SSA at UNR even used Ask An Atheist Day to further promote the event by tabling for several hours and reaching out to students and faculty!

SSA Joins "Openly Secular" Coalition With Goal of Fighting Discrimination

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New Coalition Formed to Highlight and Overcome Discrimination Against Nonreligious & Atheists

                                            Group Calls Itself “Openly Secular”;

                            Makes Call To Action for Victims to Share Their Stories


Columbus, Ohio – The Secular Student Alliance has partnered with a coalition of secular groups to form a new organization called Openly Secular. The goal is to highlight and overcome discrimination in America.

Atheists and other nonreligious people not only face discrimination on a regular basis, but the prejudice often goes unrecognized because it can be socially acceptable to distrust those outside the majority religious faith. A Gallup poll in 2012 found almost half of Americans would vote against a well-qualified presidential candidate from their party, if that person was an atheist.

“Our mission is to is to eliminate discrimination and increase acceptance by getting atheists, freethinkers, agnostics, humanists and all nonreligious people to be open about their beliefs,” said Todd Stiefel, Chair for the Openly Secular coalition and founder of the Stiefel Freethought Foundation. “By being open about our beliefs and values, we can show that we, like all people, are worthy of love and kindness undeterred by religious differences.”

Secular Student Alliance Election Results

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The Secular Student Alliance Board of Directors is excited to announce that Seráh Blain, Ashley Carter, Mark Hatcher, and Brendan Murphy were all elected to serve two more years on our Board of Directors starting on May 1st, 2014.  Joining the Board for the first time are Nicholas Freeman, Bridget Gaudette, Dr. Barry Markovsky, and Ashley F. Miller.

"We are thrilled with the election results," said Board Chair Evan Clark.  "We are building an ever more diverse Board with undergraduate leaders, graduate students, community organizers, and faculty advisors."

August Brunsman, executive director of the Secular Student Alliance, remarked "this is exactly the kind of leadership we need to normalize secular identity and spread secular values with students today.

Everyone is encouraged to read about the new board members.

Edwin Kagin, 1940-2014

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We at the Secular Student Alliance are saddened by the death of Edwin Kagin.  Kagin was a longtime secular activist who championed the separation of State and church, human rights, and the need for evidence-based education.  We were fortunate to enjoy his counsel as a member of the SSA's Advisory Board. 

Edwin Kagin was one of the founders of Camp Quest, and in his role as National Legal Director for American Atheists, had recently argued cases against the IRS and against the inclusion of a cross beam, found in the rubble at the site of the terror attack, in the 9/11 museum.

SSA Board member, Hemant Mehta, and SSA Executive Director, August Brunsman, offer these thoughts.

"Edwin Kagin dedicated his life to an important cause -- spreading rational thinking -- when he could easily have made more money or acquired more goodwill doing something different. He was never content being an armchair activist; instead, he wanted to get down in the trenches and create change, whether it was through writing legal briefs (which often swayed judges) or through starting, with his wife Helen, a summer camp that is still thriving today. Even the Secular Student Alliance has benefitted tremendously from his support and advice over the years. He has influenced generations of non-religious Americans, including many so young they may not know his name, and the legacy he's left behind will be felt for many years to come." - Hemant Mehta

"Edwin was an honest friend, a creative activist, a skilled lawyer, a passionate poet, a peerless wartime consigliere, a planter of trees whose shade he knew he would never sit in, and above all a troublemaker. I know for the rest of my life I’ll be asking myself 'What would Edwin do?'  From time to time, I'll even do it." - August Brunsman

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