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Don’t just take our word for it!

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You hear us at SSA National touting SSA Con as the event of the season and a can’t-miss place to be. But we don’t want you to just take our word for it!

MJ Aiken, a member of Jacksonville State University’s SSA group, first attended SSA Con last year. She would like to share how fun, useful, and exciting that SSA Con was for her. We hope that you can make it this year and enjoy similar experiences! - Nick


Attending SSA Con last year was one of the most edifying experiences of my college career.

It was a game-changing experience for me—the first time I had ever interacted with students and others who openly identified as non-believers and non-heteronormative. I’ll always remember the first day of 2016’s SSA Con as my first experience asking someone, “What are your preferred pronouns?” The variety of panels and workshops—including church/state activism, sexuality, feminism, and group leadership—created space for us to delve into topics in a meaningful way with our peers—as well as with nationally recognized secular activists and fellow student leaders from across the country.

Before attending SSA Con in 2016, I thought secularism was its own issue, and that the injustices others experience was a battle to be fought only by those directly affected by it. My worldview on intersectional secular activism shifted dramatically after SSA Con. I heard so many people who are experts, or current students, in these fields, that it became clear how interconnected our progressive ideas and goals are.

Meeting fellow secular activists who share this progressive passion really bridged the gaps I had created between the various campaigns for human rights we see around us. Today, I see clearly how connected our struggles are—and how aligned we must be in order to create a positive change in the world.

As a soon-to-be-college graduate, I am excited to be returning to Columbus, Ohio this summer as a speaker and an advocate for positive change. Gaining insight into my own passions and developing better informed opinions has enabled me to build knowledge on topics that I share a passion for.

Serving as a speaker at the conference has energized me to inspire a new group of secular students, and to help provide attendees with the same kind of engaging session that caused me to reevaluate myself and my community last year. It has inspired me to motivate others to spark change on their own campuses. I believe this is how sustainable, meaningful change happens, and it is the greatest lesson I have gained from attending SSA Con.

MJ Aiken
SSA at Jacksonville State University

Science makes America great

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The March for Science is this weekend, and I'm hyped!

I'll be attending our local march here Columbus. I've heard from dozens of SSA members and supporters, and I'm happy to say we have participants across the country, including at the flagship march in DC.

I wanted to take a moment and share why I believe the March is so important.

In a Religion News Service op-ed published today, I write:

Despite its unifying potential, some scientists have pushed back against the march, arguing that science is too pure to become political. Other scientists, like astrophysicist Adam Frank, have reluctantly decided to participate in the march, even though he'd rather be “figuring out what's wrong with that vacuum pump on the ion-trap.”

In writing about what he'd rather be doing than marching, he suggests most scientists see communicating with the public as an afterthought. We all lose out because of this.

The real power of science is in allowing all of us to communicate about our world more accurately. And that dialogue must begin with a connection between the public and the scientific community.

Take a moment to read my full op-ed in RNS, and if you share my love of science, please share it with your friends and family.

I hope you'll join me in attending your local March this weekend. Check out the March for Science website for details about your local event.

Because the real power of science is to create common ground among us all.

August

March for Science

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The March for Science is just around the corner, and SSA groups across the country are planning to participate. Many are planning to attend their local march, while others are heading to DC. Some groups are making their own march signs and others are using ours.

Now we want to hear from you! How are you planning to participate in the March for Science?

March for Science

Are you going to your local march, or heading to the national march? Going to make a sign?

The march is going to be an awesome show of force by all those who think facts and science must go before politics and dogma. Check out the March for Science website for the full details. Find your own local march to put your love of science into action!

Let us know your plans! We’ll see you at the march!

Welcome New 2017 SSA Board Members

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I'm pleased to introduce the newest members of the Secular Student Alliance board!

Kayla BowenKayla Bowen is an undergraduate at Morehead State University studying Psychology and Philosophy. She works as an undergraduate fellow researching ADHD, and visual complexity. Her plans are to attend graduate school, earn a PhD, and become a professor. She founded the MSU Secular Student Alliance chapter her freshmen year in order to fight back against Kim Davis, the local county clerk who was refusing marriage licenses to gay couples. She also volunteers for the newly founded Morehead Pride Festival, and DOVES, a local domestic violence shelter.

Alice DavenportAlice Davenport, JD, MPA is a Senior Client Advisor for Bessemer Trust. She's worked in private wealth management since 2002 and previously practiced as a trusts and estates attorney. She has enjoyed helping wealthy individuals and families identify and accomplish their charitable goals through current and planned gifts. Alice believes the secular movement is the foundation for all the issues she cares deeply about, and is excited to be involved in nurturing its growth and organization. Alice graduated from Yale Law School in 1997; she earned an MPA concentrating in environmental policy in 1994 and a BA in 1991, both from Cornell University. Alice was a board member of the Reading Team, which dramatically improves reading readiness for disadvantaged children in Harlem, and a member of the Yale Law School Fund Board. She lives with her family in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, a wonderful place to be an activist.

Mai-Lynne DiebelMai-Lynne Deibel is a political science graduate of North Park University in Chicago. She has studied political science in the US, Norway and the United Arab Emirates. She has also interned for Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois and worked on Senator Tammy Duckworth's election campaign. Interests include secularism, gender equality, civil rights, and feminism.

Lincoln DowLincoln Dow is a current student at St. John's School in Houston, Texas, and the co-founder of their Secular Student Alliance Affiliate. Lincoln is a lifelong activist who has previously served as an advisor for PETA and is active in local and state politics as a staffer for candidates; he is the director of Texas Students United, a political action committee. Lincoln is passionate about secularism, civil and LGBTQ rights, animal rights, and environmental protection.

Claire VinyardClaire Vinyard, JD is an attorney in New York. She previously served as the Social Media Coordinator for Foundation Beyond Belief. She grew up in a secular household but did not self-identify as an atheist and humanist until she was introduced to the terms in 2008.

Kayley WhalenKayley Whalen is an atheist and secular humanist who is a transgender Latinx woman. She tells us she often doesn't find that her non-religious identity is treated with respect even with people who are well-informed on LGBTQ issues and racial justice. She believes we need more intersectionality in our movements, and secular students have a huge role to play in transforming our movements as the next generation, and as people who can model our vision of a more just world on their campuses.

Help us welcome these new board members with a donation!

We also want to take a moment to thank the individuals that are retiring from our board. Nancy Martin, Miri Mogilevsky, and Jessica Kirsner, the Secular Student Alliance would not be where it is today without your support!

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