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Recap: Cara's Experience at IFYC's Interfaith Leadership Institute

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Cara Zelaya is the Southeastern Regional Campus Organizer for the Secular Student Alliance. She is currently based out of Atlanta, Georgia. At the end of January, Cara attended the Interfaith Youth Core's Interfaith Leadership Institute in Atlanta. The Interfaith Youth Core is a Chicago-based non-profit founded by Eboo Patel whose mission is to make interfaith cooperation a societal norm. The Secular Student Alliance has paired with them on a myriad of projects, including an upcoming webinar!

I am delighted to report back from the Atlanta Interfaith Leadership Institute, hosted by Interfaith Youth Core. The Secular Student Alliance was able to table at the event and engage in several conversations about the role that secular people can play in interfaith cooperation. Throughout the span of the three day conference, over 200 attendees were able to gain better understandings of prominent world views, as well as discover and strengthen best practices on how to successfully work together to form a more peaceful and cooperative future.ili

Throughout the event, diverse people of faith showed a key interest in learning how to be more inclusive of the secular community. Significant time was spent discussing the strength and courage of interfaith leaders of years past. Among the interfaith leaders discussed, prominent atheist A. Philip Randolph was acknowledged and praised for the role that he played in the American Civil Rights Movement. 

The general demeanor of the organizers and attendees was one of warmth and welcoming. Several students from Secular Student Alliance groups were at the Interfaith Leadership Institute, including members from Stetson University, Colgate University, and the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Our students gained valuable skills and made friendly connections to bolster their organizational prowess back on their campuses. 

The Interfaith Leadership Institute was particularly special for me personally as it spent a significant portion of time celebrating the city of Atlanta. During the opening ceremonies various talks centered on the strength of Atlanta as a city, and the interfaith power and organization prowess displayed in Georgia's favorite son Martin Luther King, Jr. This celebration of progressive southern identity is often overlooked, and to see that at the forefront of a conference that was not exclusively, or even largely, catering to Southern peoples was wildly important. 

Secular Start Up: March 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.

A New Vision for the Secular Student Alliance

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We here at the Secular Student Alliance are thrilled to announce our new Mission, Vision, Core Values, and Strategic Priorities, which has been the result of a lot of hard work from our tireless staff and Board Members. We are proud of the work that our affiliate groups have been doing over the last few years, and their shift to more civil rights and social justice-focused activism. Our new Mission, Vision, Core Values and Strategic Plan reflect those priorities. 

As you’ll see, there are three big new areas of engagement: 

  • An explicit focus on increasing diversity
  • An explicit focus on making our work richer by working with intersectional causes
  • Helping more people use secular values to find meaning and purpose in their lives 

Without further ado, we present the new Mission, Vision, Core Values, and Strategic Priorities of the Secular Student Alliance.

Mission & Vision

The Secular Student Alliance empowers secular students to proudly express their identity, build welcoming communities, promote secular values, and set a course for lifelong activism.

We envision a future in which secular students lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, thrive as valued members of society, and provide visionary leadership committed to humanistic ideals and critical inquiry.

Secular Student Movement Update 3/5/2015

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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

As stated last week, ACPA—College Student Educators International's conference—is next weekend, March 5th-8th, in Tampa, Florida. This is the Secular Student Alliance's third year at ACPA. Our presence at ACPA allows us to meet the growing demand of college administrators to know how to make their campuses welcoming to the growing body of students without religion.

Lyz Liddell, Director of Campus Organizing, will be attending and providing two presentations. There will be a Secular Safe Zone Facilitator training and a workshop on religious privilege. For more information on the Secular Safe Zone and information on becoming an Ally, please visit http://secularsafezone.org.

sccAs a result of their Sex-Positive Week last February, the SSA at Sacramento City College, along with allied organizations, raised an official Campus Issue with the administration regarding the need for gender-neutral restrooms on campus. They asked that all single-stall restrooms be converted to gender neutral and that all new buildings include them as well. The purpose of this initiative is to make Sac City's campus more inclusive of transgender students. SCC President Kathryn Jeffery signed a letter directing the Campus Development Committee and Facilities Office to do exactly that. For their efforts, we have awarded SSA at Sac City College an Award for Outstanding Activism. Check it out!

The Secular Student Alliance has awarded an individual student project grant to Amanda Scott in Alabama. She plans to use the project grant to become a Humanist Celebrant and to officiate same-sex marriages in Alabama. We are very excited about this project and hope to be able to award more individual project grants in the future! 

That's all for this week! For more information, questions, comments or additions to student-led efforts in the secular movement, contact ssa@secularstudents.org.

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