In the aftermath of a grand jury’s decision this week not to indict the officer that shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, we have heard from many of our student leaders who want to take action and are looking for guidance. We at the national Secular Student Alliance have several calls to action for our students and student groups who are frustrated, angry, hurt, and feel compelled to act.
While we have no reason to believe that Michael Brown was secular, or that the behavior of local law enforcement was based on explicitly religious grounds, we know there are people in similar situations who are secular students, and we stand beside them. Due process, freedom of the press, and peaceful protest are values that we, as a secular organization, are passionate about seeing flourish and are critical for humans living together in a free society.
Here are some ways you can get involved:
1. Listen and learn from other organizations
Working with other campus communities can often offer a broader perspective on issues (and you, in turn can offer those campus communities a unique perspective as a secular individual). Finding your local ACLU chapter and other campus groups talking about this situation is a fantastic way to start connecting and get engaged.
2. Host a discussion meeting
Hold a discussion around social justice, its importance, and how it relates to this tragic situation. We have resources on these topics to help get you started. We think it is important to make the connections between the missions of our groups and the social justice issues we choose to engage with. The Unitarian Universalist Association has a media toolkit which offers a fantastic list of topics relevant to the situation in Ferguson that might be a great jumping off point for a discussion meeting (see section 1 of the document).
|Students from the University of Michigan-Flint participate in an event allowing students to express their thoughts on the Ferguson situation and to write letters to politicians and Michael Brown's family.|
3. Participate in responses
Find out what responses are already happening on your campus. You can get involved with and support them as a group or an individual. You can send a note of condolence and support to Michael Brown’s family through the NAACP. We strongly encourage all of our students to take action and join peaceful responses in their area. We hope that you all feel empowered to join these efforts as secular individuals who care about our communities.