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Openly Secular Day 2015 Recap!

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April 23rd was the first ever Openly Secular Day! It's a celebration of secular people opening up about their secular worldview, and an opportunity for theistic allies to show their support for secular friends and family. Why have an Openly Secular Day? When people know a secular person, they are much more likely to hold favorable views of people who identify as atheist, agnostic, humanist, or secular, so this is a day to help others understand our values and how we think.

Openly Secular Day is part of a joint effort between the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, the Secular Coalition for America, the Secular Student Alliance, and the Stiefel Freethought Foundation. Many of our affiliate groups participated in Openly Secular Day by hosting their own local events, but even more individuals participated by attending events, creating videos, posting on social media, and much more! Did you participate in Openly Secular Day this year? Tell us how it went

The Secular Student Alliance at the University of Central Florida was the flagship event for the first Openly Secular Day, and despite the weather working against them, had a really great event! Not only did they host amazing speakers such as Hemant Mehta of Friendly Atheist, Greta Christina of Freethought Blogs, Chris Kluwe, a former NFL punter for the Minnesota Vikings, and Will Gervais, an evolutionary and cultural psychologist, they also had amazing shirts printed up for attendees. Around 175 people came throughout the day to celebrate being openly secular on campus!

UCF

SSAUCF's event was covered in local and national media, including the Columbus Dispatch and the Orlando SentinelGreat work, SSAUCF, for all you do and for putting together a fantastic first Openly Secular Day event on your campus!

Secular Start Up: May Monthly Update!

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Secular Start Up is the finest (and only) official video advice series from the Secular Student Alliance, put on by our Communications Associate, Kelley Freeman, and our Regional Program Manager, Gordon Maples. It originally started in August of 2013, when neither of them even lived in the same state.

May Day, May Day, it's the May Monthly Update! This month, Gordon and Kelley cover our Leadership Travel Aid crowd fundraiser, things you can do with your group over the summer, the National Day of Reason, staying in touch as alumni, our Annual Conference, how to start planning for the fall, and more! 

Announcing our Summer 2015 Interns!

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We want to welcome our 2015 summer interns to the staff! They won't be starting until June, but we extend our congratulations to Nick Farr and Ambra Prescott

NickNick Farr will be our Graphic Design Intern this summer. He is currently a senior at Berea College, where he is majoring in Technology and Applied Design with a minor in Computer Science. Nick helped establish the Secular Students of Berea College a year and a half ago, and has also provided the graphic design for this group. 

"I would love to do professional design work for the people, organizations, and numerous other things in this world that I care about. I feel that from this internship, I would have a great start in getting closer to that goal," Nick said of his expectations about working with the Secular Student Alliance this summer.

ambraAmbra Prescott will be our Writing Intern this summer. She is currently a sophomore at Bowling Green State University, where she is pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in Communications. Ambra is also President of the Secular Student Alliance at BGSU, where her main goals for her affiliate group include providing a safe space for secular students, advocacy, and service. 

When asked why she was interested in working for the SSA, Ambra stated, "My greatest satisfaction has always been found when I am helping people. I want a career that enables me to do that while being openly secular. Nothing would make me happier than to continue helping others in the secular community, and I would love to work with an organization specifically to help secular people."

Together, Nick and Ambra will be revising our Group Running Guide. Since July 2014, we have sent out 77 Group Running Guides, and we're looking forward to improving it so that we can continue to offer high quality advice to our student leaders.

Recap: Lyz's Experience at the ACPA Convention

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Lyz Liddell is the Director of Campus Organizing for the Secular Student Alliance. At the beginning of March, Lyz went to the national ACPA Convention, which is put on by the leading comprehensive student affairs association, that advances student affairs and engages students for a lifetime of learning and discovery. Lyz first attended an ACPA conference in 2013, and then joined their directorate for the ACPA Commission for Spirituality, Faith, Religion and Meaning. This year, she and SSA volunteer Lori Fazzino hosted a Secular Safe Zone training, as well as a session addressing Christian privilege. This is Lyz's recap from this year's ACPA convention.

The Secular Student Alliance is doing some really incredible work in the area of student affairs, most recently demonstrated by our several areas of participation in the recent national ACPA Convention.

But first, a bit of background - what is student affairs about, anyway? On a college campus, you’ve got students (of course), and faculty who provide the academic instruction. But then there are oodles of other staff who work in administration, residence life, student activities, financial aid, and much, much more. These folks are all working in the field known as student affairs.

Each spring, thousands of student affairs professionals gather for the ACPA national Convention, and the Secular Student Alliance has been proud to be a visible presence at this Convention for the past three years. But this year in particular really stood out.

lyzWe hosted a Secular Safe Zone training, providing 10 new facilitators with the tools necessary to create Secular Safe Zone programs at their institutions. We also ran a packed-room session addressing Christian privilege on campus, an issue that student affairs professionals are aware of but uncertain how to address. That interest was raised at this particular convention when keynote speaker Eboo Patel specifically called out the challenges secular students face on campus, and urged participants to raise the level of conversation around worldview identity. We also had the opportunity to hold face-to-face meeting with some of the leading researchers on secular students and the religious campus climate, helping pave the way for better understanding and better support for our students down the road. Finally, our own Director of Campus Organizing (me, Lyz!) continues in her leadership role on the Directorate for the ACPA Commission for Spirituality, Faith, Religion and Meaning, bringing secular students to the table at these discussions.

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