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Secular Student Movement Update 11/13/2014

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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.

case statementThis week, the Secular Student Alliance is excited to share our 2014 Case Statement with you. Our Case Statement is a detailed look at the different ways we empower students to be more effective secular activists. In it you will find information about programs like our Annual Conference, the Secular Safe Zone, Openly Secular, our Regional Program, and more! Plus you will find out how you can become more involved with the Secular Student Alliance even if you aren't a student. If you are interested in taking a look, a downloadable version of our 2014 Case Statement is available at secularstudents.org/casestatement

Our affiliate groups are gearing up for winter celebrations by starting a lot of service projects! The Illini Secular Student Alliance has begun to raise money for Coats for Kids, and UM Flint joined Feminists for Global Equality on their campus for a Prom Dress Flag Football fundraiser. Lots of groups held exciting Carl Sagan Day events, and Northern Illinois University hosted a talk titled "Beyond Belief: Faith and Rationality from a Secular Perspective" which drew twice their anticipated attendance, their biggest event yet! Our Mideast Regional Campus Organizer, Jessika Griffin, is currently on a tour meeting with affiliate groups, and spoke at UM-Dearborn about secular students and political activism. 

Resisting Theocracy: Follow up from the University of Montevallo Secular Student Alliance

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Affiliate groups of the Secular Student Alliance can request funding from us to host a speaker at their campus. Learn more at our Speaker's Bureau Funding page!

Just in time for Election Day, the University of Montevallo’s Secular Student Alliance hosted Chuck Miller, regional director of American Atheists’ Alabama chapter and founder of the Secular Coalition for Alabama! 

On October 23rd, Miller’s talk, “Resisting Theocracy” spoke to the importance of the separation of church and state and how it affects everyone whether they are religious or not. He talked about how secularists and their allies can improve the political landscape by banding together to bring about the positive change we all want to achieve.ChuckMiller

Hannah Martin, secretary of the University of Montevallo’s Secular Student Alliance, says, “He was very engaging and gave a lot of good advice. The audience seemed to really enjoy the lecture as there was a constant stream of questions from people at the end, all of whom seemed inspired and ready to work for that change.”

Officers of UM’s SSA were also able to meet with Miller beforehand at a local restaurant as a chance to introduce him to the group and campus, as well as to get to know him better and discuss ideas and current events. They were also able to make some connections for more possible events in the future.

In addition to having an awesome event, UM’s SSA was also able to get their presence known around campus with flyers in every building and a digital flyer on their local channel. They were also mentioned on a university-wide broadcast email for upcoming events at their university. Their event had a lot of people show up who had never been to an SSA meeting before! 

Their audience was diverse as well - questions came from religious standpoints as well as a non-religious standpoint. UM’s SSA also noticed many audience members taking the tabling supplies that the Secular Student Alliance provided. 

Secular Start Up: November 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.

RELEASE: North Georgia secular cadets' religious rights violated

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4 November 2014
For Immediate Release
Contact: Gordon Maples (614)441-9588 x 113
gordon.maples@secularstudents.org

Secular cadets at the University of North Georgia blow whistle on religious rights violations by administration

DAHLONEGA, GA – Cadet students at the University of North Georgia are spearheading activism on their campus following the breach of their religious rights.

“University of North Georgia students are standing up for the separation of church and state on their campus, something that we encourage among our student activists,” says Gordon Maples, Regional Program Manager of the Secular Student Alliance, “Students have a lot more power and influence than they may think, and we want to help them advocate for their rights.”

Beginning in October 2012, the University of North Georgia Dahlonega campus has received numerous complaints about its violations of the religious rights of non-religious cadets. There have been several instances of explicitly Christian prayers at mandatory events for cadets, most recently a 9/11 memorial event. The event was put together by the Student Government Association at the behest of the administration, and there were several prayers throughout the event.

UNG administration claims that this event was not required, but there are sworn affidavits from UNG Skeptics Society members stating it was, in fact, mandatory. The students are choosing to remain anonymous because they are concerned going public could jeopardize their future at the school.

“The memorial was in no way demonstrably separate from the University in its sponsorship,” one student stated, “It took place on university grounds and was presided over by the University chaplain and student leadership.”

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