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Yes, it’s on the books. No, it doesn’t have to be :: This Week

For 64 years, the National Day of Prayer has been codified for the President to declare a special day for people to “turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.” Bullshit, amiright? Unfortunately, it can’t be fought in court anymore, but we can keep working to shift the political landscape. Your group can be part of that change by participating in the National Day of Reason on May 5. A simple but effective activity your group can do is letter-writing campaign urging your elected officials to support the separation of church and state.
“WHY AM I GETTING THIS EMAIL?” you might be calmly asking yourself. The answer: if you’re a brand new leader or advisor to your group, this is your first This Week email! Hurray! This is the SSA’s most reliable way to get information out to you, our leaders, about upcoming events, new materials, or national opportunities! It’s a good thing! You’ll only get them once a week (hence the name), so don’t unsubscribe unless you’re no longer in your group. Even then, make sure to submit a leadership update first so that they go to the right people. Check out past This Week’s on our website at any time!
We keep saying it: SSA Con is June 8-10 in Columbus, OH. That’s really not too far away, so have you registered for it? If not, what are you waiting for?! Some kind of magical list of diverse and incredible speakers from a variety of experiences that can grow you not only as a leader but a secular individual? Oh, well what do you know, we have that right here on our lineup of SSA Con Speakers this year.

Secular Student Alliance at Jacksonville State University!

"We called it "The Marketplace" because we believe that a university is metaphorically a marketplace of ideas, beliefs, attitudes, and cultures, where a student should be exposed to as many of these as possible."

Ben Williams, President

The SSA at JSU hosted a student interfaith panel called "The Marketplace" in celebration of Better Together Day. 2 Baptists, a United Methodist, a Muslim, and the group's own atheist representative got time to offer an overview of their beliefs before answering questions from a moderator, followed by an open Q&A. The Muslim representative from Morocco was particularly grateful for the event so that he could speak openly about his beliefs, as his American experience so far has been nothing short of judgemental. It took weeks of planning by the group to ensure they had a room with adequate space, that they promoted the event, and that the time and cost was accommodating to the mostly student audience. Next year, the group hopes to bring in faculty or guest speakers to increase the depth of answers both between the presenters and audience.

Procrastinate while you donate :: This Week

Fact: students don’t have money. But every once in a while, you scrape and save up enough to make an important choice: support a nonprofit you love or buy an awesome new video game. Hard choice, right? But why not both!? Select the SSA on the Humble Bundle Store whenever you purchase a game to automatically give 10% of your purchase to the SSA! The best part is, it doesn’t cost you anything extra.
It’s SSA Affiliation Renewal season! Every SSA Affiliate is required to fill one out for their group by May 1. That way, we'll know which groups are still around, and we'll have accurate contact information to keep you informed about local and national opportunities. If your leadership is about to change shortly after the renewal deadline, put the new leaders information there! You can update your leader information at any time, but it’ll be easier for everyone so that we can start talking to the right people right away.
It’s almost the end of the year. For your group members, that means paper deadlines, final exams, and graduation plans. Talk about stressful! The SSA has one important rule that we want you to remember, from LGBT activist and author Greta Christina: SELF CARE ISN’T SELFISH. Unwind with your group by throwing a party, having a picnic, or even holding a Flying Spaghetti Monster Feast! Not only can a party be a super fun way to end the year, but they can also be a nice little fundraiser to get some pizza money for that important first meeting in Fall.

La Verne Secular Student Alliance!

"Taking the time to welcome questions about your worldview and processing your personal answer to them is a beautiful process of self discovery. Regardless of hosting an Ask an Atheist Day booth, asking these types of questions should be an ongoing process."

Mariela Martinez, President

The University of La Verne SSA went above and beyond the normal scope of Ask an Atheist Day by joining in their school's Better Together Week! Not only did they host their own booth, but they cooperated alongside students from other worldviews such as Bahai, Progressive Christian, Catholic, Mormon, Buddhist, and Islam throughout the week. They gave free Interfaith Youth Core t-shirts to each passing person who asked even just one question. However, often entire conversations sprung from the open and welcoming environment at the booth! They used online resources, like the SSA Ask an Atheist Guide, to prepare informative and positive answers to common questions, even in the face of potential hostility. Their work to make an SSA event open to religious and philosophical diversity has earned them an Award for Outstanding Activism!

SSA Affiliation Renewal is LIVE :: This Week

In preparation for the Spring SSA Affiliation Renewal, group leaders are encouraged to take a good, hard look at the year you just had before filling the form out. Were there events you might have forgotten about that your group participated in? Are there pictures you wanted to send to the SSA but never got around to it? What SSA Services did you take advantage of? These are all critical pieces of information to not just see how you’re doing, but how we’re doing! Got all that information? Good. Fill out your group's Affiliation Renewal by May 1 to continue to be affiliated with the SSA and receive all the services that go with it!
Have you been waiting to register for SSA Con because you weren’t sure what was going down? Well that excuse is no longer valid, because the entire SSA Con 2016 schedule is live! Yes, every workshop, TED slot, meal, and break is now available for you to browse on our website or on GuideBook.com! GuideBook even has an app so you can view it on that fancy smartphone of yours.
Need to fill your “good without god” quota for the summer? Well there’s a perfect opportunity to do that when you come to SSA Con. Register for the Red Cross blood drive on Friday, July 8! Don’t like needles? That’s totally fine! You can sign up as a volunteer, or avoid it entirely by sticking to the first floor. Just make sure you indicate your interest during your Con registration so you can get an appointment.

Campus Atheists, Skeptics, & Humanists at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities!

"We hoped to promote tolerance for a secular worldview, and the attendance at the subsequent follow-up discussions has allowed for various people of different worldviews to come together and discuss those differences respectfully."

David Schlosser, Activities Director

Campus Atheists, Skeptics, & Humanists and MacLaurin Christian Student Fellowship, with the support of several other groups on campus, hosted the Foundations Forum: Christian and Secular Perspectives on Morality in the Modern World. The event consisted of moral philosophers Andy Norman and Tim O'Connor, Humanist and Christian respectively, speaking on how their worldviews promoted moral behavior. Though the feedback was overwhelmingly positive based on the audience survey, the event ended up being closer to a debate than the organizers had intended. In response, CASH prepared a letter to their co-sponsor discussing the variety of secular perspectives and emphasizing that, while there is a broad spectrum of perspectives, each is valid. The lively discussion between the groups has prompted them to continue the series together, and created bonds across worldviews so that each could better understand the other. While not everything went as CASH had planned, the event gave them valuable insight into promotion, team work, and the importance of interfaith cooperation.

This’ll go perfectly with that stole :: This Week

A reality of being in a student group is that, at some point, your members are going to graduate. But their group pride doesn’t have to end when they receive their diplomas. Until April 15, we’re proud to offer at-cost SSA Graduation Cords to branded affiliates! These are perfect for all your affiliate's leaders and members who are going to take the values, lessons, and memories of your group with them into the world.
Ask an Atheist Day is coming up fast! We know your group is planning something awesome for it, but what are your group members doing on their own? We’re challenging every open secular student to change their Facebook or Twitter banner on April 21! The more people who know a nonreligious person, the less stigma we will face as a whole. Download the Ask an Atheist Day banner image, and open yourself up to questions about your identity.
That’s right! As part of your SSA Affiliation, and all the benefits that come with it, we require groups to renew their affiliation twice a year. It’s not scary, just a way to make sure we have all the correct information. Here are some important things to have before you start:

  • Your group's leadership and advisor contact info
  • Stories about your group’s year
  • Your group’s demographics
  • A group roster for the chance to win a $50 pizza gift card!

Find out what else you need to have prepared for this semester's Affiliation Renewal!

"With the help of the Secular Student Alliance's project grant, Mobile Equality was able to greatly increase our public visibility and social media presence, far exceeding our original expectations from when we applied for the grant. Thank you!"

Amanda Scott, SSA Scholarship Winner

Amanda Scott successfully lobbied against Alabama HB 56, the Alabama Freedom of Religion in Marriage Protection Act. This bill would have allowed state probate judges to refuse solemnizing marriages if they had a personal religious objection, and could potentially have harmed same-sex, interracial, and interfaith marriages. Amanda was able to increase the outreach of the LGBT advocacy non-profit she founded, Mobile Equality, by applying for an SSA Individual Project Grant. This funding enabled her to attend the Human Rights Campaign - Alabama Equality Summit in Birmingham. There, she met with community leaders and the Mobile United Church of Christ, organizing them to work together for their common cause. Working together in their lobbying efforts, the bill was successfully defeated, a huge victory for Mobile Equality!


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