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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.

Ask an Atheist Day 2015 Round Up

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April 16th was Ask an Atheist Day, an opportunity for secular groups across the country to work together to defeat stereotypes about atheism and encourage courteous dialogue between believers and nonbelievers alike. The event is intended to be an opportunity for the general public - particularly people of faith - to approach nontheists and ask questions about secular life. There are many ways you can do an Ask an Atheist event. In the past, our affiliates have held Ask an Atheist tables on their quad or in their student union, Ask an Atheist panels, Ask an Atheist Day speakers, Ask an Atheist fundraisers, and more. Did you do you anything for Ask an Atheist Day? We'd love to hear about it!

Some of our groups had their local media cover their event, like the Campus Atheists and Agnostics at Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort Wayne

“We’re trying to build up momentum, which has been a challenge for the group,” [Micah] Rapp said, Vice President of Campus Atheists and Agnostics. “We’ve been having regular meetings every other week. The meetings revolve around a discussion topic. It becomes free form and open, and it always ends up being pretty lively.” 

Here is the Secular Society at Bowling Green State University for their Ask an Atheist event!

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