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Keep this email handy for SSA Con! :: This Week

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What separates SSA Con is that we’re all about personal development. Every workshop and speaker slot is there so that attendees can hone their leadership abilities for use both within their groups and in the world at large. If you think you are one of those students who can pass on their own experiences, ideas, and lessons learned, we encourage you to apply to be a Student Speaker at SSA Con. We look for candidates to speak on topics such as group promotion, participating in service events, setting goals, social justice involvement, interfaith cooperation, and more!
SSA Con can be pretty far for some students to travel. That’s why the SSA offers Leadership Travel Aid for SSA Student Members. Typical individual Leadership Travel Aid funding awards range from $100-$400, and $100-$600 for groups. Funding recipients will receive their check on Sunday of the conference, but you have to apply by May 31, 2016 to qualify, so sign up before it runs out!
SSA Con is being held July 8-10 at The Ohio State University Student Union in Columbus, Ohio. We offer reduced registration rates for our student members, provide vegan meal options, and, for students who need it, will take steps to make sure your identity is protected. There’s so much information about SSA Con that we can’t fit it all in this email, so check out our SSA Con frequently asked questions page to get all your questions answered.

Secular Sun Devils at Arizona State University!

"I'm really grateful for the opportunities I get with the SSA. Working with speakers and authors is priceless and really motivates students to stay actively engaged."

Amy Frank, President

The Secular Sun Devils and the Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix brought David Silverman, President of American Atheists, to talk about his newest book: “Fighting God.” The Secular Sun Devils worked closely with the community group to organize the venue and do online promotion.Many group members volunteered to help with the book sales. They used the SSA Speakers Bureau guide to help make the event as successful as possible. It was a nice break from their regular meetings, and James Woods, an atheist congressional candidate, stopped by as well. As an extra bonus, American Atheists donated 100% of the book sales from that night to the Secular Sun Devils!

Protection for Valentine’s Day and Street Preachers :: This Week

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Event reflection exercises are meant to create meaning for whatever special event you just had. These are the things that happen outside your normal group meetings, like large social gatherings, advocacy engagements, service projects, or even educational seminars. Our reflection guide will teach you about how to run Pre-Event and Post-Event reflection exercises, and features 11 major SSA events. The information in this guide is based off scholarship regarding the importance of reflection, research from sociologist Lori Fazzino, and the advice of noted speakers Raymond Arnold, Bart Campolo, and Andrew Norman.
Whether you celebrate Lupercalia for cleansing and fertility, or Geoffrey Chaucer’s romanticized Valentine’s Day, make sure you do it safely! Holding a condom distribution on your campus the week of February 14 can be used to educate the student body on important issues of sexual ethics, disease prevention, and public health, and also offers an opportunity for the group to give back to the community. If you have never run a condom distribution before, our downloadable resource provides some useful tips, tricks, and advice to help you plan, and successfully run, the activity.
Street preachers got you down? Is there a message being loudly shouted on your campus and you're just not feeling it? Consider a counter protest! Nothing brings more immediate attention to your group quite like loudly telling other people that their message doesn't resonate with you. Look at our protest sign resource that pulls from the most successful SSA counter-protests stories to make your voice heard!

Secular Student Alliance at Sam Houston State University!!

"Bringing speakers like Darrel Ray to the conservative and religious area around my college feels important.Even if someone just sees the flyer it brings attention to that fact that there are other opinions and ideas out there, which many students forget."

London Sneden, President

Darrel Ray gave a presentation to the SSA At Sam Houston on the evolution of sex organs to highlight that sexuality is natural. He also discussed the negative and often shameful effects of religion on human sexuality. The SSA helped the group get him there by covering gas and hotel with a Speakers Bureau Grant, which saved the group from digging into their own funds. This was the group’s first guest speaker, and they got over 40 audience members to attend, some of which came from the local Universal Unitarian church. Not only did they get to have dinner with Darrel afterward, but the event gained them a new member!

This Week :: 32 Days Left

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Darwin Day is February 12, giving you 32 days left to plan! Have you ordered your Darwin Day tabling supplies yet? We offer free stickers, brochures, and posters for our affiliates, but you have to request them. Supplies take about a week to arrive, so the sooner you place your order, the better!

Homeopathy, anti-vaccination, chemtrails, astrology: if you know what those things are, you also know that they are problematic beliefs prevalent in our society. If you didn't, there is a chance members of your group don't know about them either. Mix your meetings up with some skepticism by delving into the paranormal, supernatural, and pseudoscientific.

There's lots of reasons to tell us about your group's accomplishments through submitting a Brag It Up! There's the free swag and chance to be featured in our social media, plus knowing that your actions may inspire present and future leaders to do the same activities. But the most prestigious benefit is the chance to earn an Award for Outstanding Activism! These awards go to groups that exemplify the Secular Student Alliance's mission, vision, and values in either their service, activism, or community outreach.

Secular Student Alliance at the University of Texas at Austin!

"The relationship between your group and religious groups need not and should not be adversarial or filled with distrust. Establish yourselves well in the community and maintain relationships with religious people. They will either be your greatest enemies or your greatest allies."

Brian Lisco, President

​The SSA at UT Austin has been holding social events with a Christian student group called Longhorns for Christ in order to gain some visibility and also to expose members of the two groups to each other in an informal setting. The last social they had was an atheists vs. theists soccer match! They combined it with a visit by the SSA of the University of Texas at San Antonio and had about twenty atheists show up in total. This was compared about seven theists, who laughed with them about finally being in the minority. They ended up playing simultaneous games of soccer and Ultimate Frisbee, each with mixed teams of theists and atheists. All groups agreed that it was nice to speak casually to each other without discussing the merits of the two worldviews, and they all had a great time.

Graduating group leader David Gormley explains why we do what we do

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David Gormley, who has been in the leadership of our affiliate at the University of North Georgia for many years, wrote a farewell address for his last meeting with the group. It is refreshing to see one of our leaders reflect on their time with an affiliate so positively, and share it with the membership. The whole document is below, but we wanted to share a small excerpt:

I've been humbled and honored to have been able to lead that charge as President for two years... Skeptics' for me has truly been a life changing experience as I've found myself gaining some of my best friends through this group and watched my own opinions grow and shift through the discourse we've had with people of all different opinions and belief systems. Not only has this group served as a method of relief from stress and a group therapy on some occasions, but it has also become what I'd consider to be my family. 

Skeptics' Society finds itself in the unique position of having the ability to foster friendship and camaraderie between people of different faiths, political systems, economic policies, backgrounds, and many other categories and that's not something found a lot in this world, much less North Georgia...That's why I consider Skeptics' to be of such great importance to the school. We need – in every sense of the word need – a group to challenge the status quo and to force, on some level, people to constantly seek new evidence and reevaluate their ingrained positions and ideals on life. 

Wow. This is why the Secular Student Alliance does this kind of work. We look forward to seeing the future work of UNG Skeptics' Society, and wish David Gormley the best. 

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