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Our 2014 Scholarship Recipients!

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Throughout the month of September, secular student activists shared their stories with us in hopes of winning one of the SSA’s first ever Scholarships for Student Activists. We sorted through many fantastic stories of activism, with students sharing their stories of everything from interfaith and intersectional work to phenomenal stories of group running success.

Today, we are thrilled to announce our five recipients! A big congratulations to Candace Banks, Sam Erickson, Kendall Lovely, Jeremy Sanchez, and Frank Skiff on their awards! Below is a short summary of their stories: be on the lookout next week for more in-depth stories.

Thank you so much to all of the students who applied for this award: choosing only five winners was tough for everyone involved. We are excited to see this program grow in the future!

Hundreds of students to pay homage to dead gods this week

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CincinnatiCampuses all over the United States are looking a little extra spooky this week and it's not just because of Halloween — Secular Student Alliance affiliate groups are setting up their own Graveyards of the Gods! These displays are homages to lost and forgotten gods worshipped in past civilizations. 

Graveyard of the Gods is an opportunity to demonstrate that there are thousands upon thousands of gods out there, and most of them are no longer worshipped, essentially debunking a common argument used against atheists: Pascal's Wager. 

Blaise Pascal's Wager offers two options; believe in a god, or don't. If one chooses not to believe in a god and is incorrect, then they have the most to lose. Those who choose to believe in a god and are correct have the most to gain and the least to lose. However, Pascal's Wager doesn't account for which god one should worship - it otherassumes only one possible god (out of thousands) to bet on. 

Ultimately, Graveyard of the Gods points to the past to question how long the gods of the present will last. There are gods of yesteryear that many people have never even heard of — will that be the case for today's gods in 1000 years? 

Some groups have had their displays vandalized, such as the Individuals for Freethought at Texas A&M University, where the signs had 'He Reigns Here' written over their signs explaining what the display was, as well as the signs advertising their group. However, despite the ire that this event draws, Graveyards of the Gods has become one of the biggest events affiliate groups participate in.

"This is the most participation we've ever had for a new event," says Nick Stancato, Affiliate Program Manager of the Secular Student Alliance, "It's been really exciting to see how many different campuses are participating and what kinds of stuff they have come up with!" 

Secular Student Movement Update 10/30/14

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Every week, the SSA prepares a summary of what the secular student movement is doing. To hear this update and news from the secular movement, tune into the SCA's National Secular Movement Update every Thursday at 12PM ET.

Presented by Kelley Freeman, Communications Associate at the Secular Student Alliance.

graveyardCampuses all over the country are making their own Graveyard of the Gods, a farewell to all the long forgotten deities. It is an opportunity to demonstrate that there are thousands upon thousands of gods out there, and most of them are no longer worshiped. There are 67 campuses that have planned to participate this week. This controversial event has sparked a lot of conversations on campuses about the concept of dead and dying deities, and our students seem to be really enjoying it. Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter for pictures from this event! 

November 1st marks the kick off for Openly Secular Month, a month in which people are encouraged to come out and be openly secular, supported by a video contest. Openly Secular's video contest encourages participants to Remove their  Mask after Halloween and come out of the closet. The contest begins November 1st and ends November 15th and has both student and non-student categories, with grand prizes up to $1000. For video requirements and more information on the Remove Your Mask campaign, please visit OpenlySecular.org/RemoveYourMask

Checkmate, Atheists! Great job, University of Alabama at Birmingham!

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chessSSA affiliates and members are doing awesome stuff on their campus all the time. We brag about their work here on our website through the Brag It Up series. If you or your affiliate group has done something awesome, Brag It Up!

At the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Secular Student Alliance at UAB had a great idea to spread the word about their group on campus - playing chess! They set up a bunch of chess boards and had their members all play other students on their campus. If the student managed to beat the atheist, they won a piece of candy and had the opportunity to say, "Checkmate, atheists!" chess2

This event is great exposure for their group, encourages positive interaction with their campus community, and it's inclusive and fun!

Michael Adams, Vice President of SSA at UAB, stated, "Without the Secular Student Alliance, the group on our campus wouldn't exist. The SSA was essential in making this event happen."

Great idea, SSA at UAB! It looks like it was a lot of fun! 

Has your group done something worth bragging about? Big or small, we want to hear about it! Brag It Up!

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