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We Think Students for Free-thought at UM-Flint is Outstanding!


Every year, the national Secular Student Alliance hears about the amazing things our affiliate groups are doing. When we hear of a group doing something especially awesome, we give out an Award for Outstanding Activism for their exemplary work. Today, we're spotlighting the Students for Free-thought at the University of Michigan-Flint and all the amazing things they have done this semester, which have earned them an Award for Outstanding Activism!

The Students for Free-thought at UM-Flint kicked off their semester by participating in a Hands Up, Don't Shoot event this past August in response to the situation in Ferguson, standing with the Black Student Union and other groups at a rally against police brutality and racial profiling.

Back in October, we highlighted their campus "Stop the Stigma" chalking campaign to reduce stigma around abortion and pro-choice chalking in response to a pro-life chalk day. On the same day the Students for Life erected their crosses, Students for Free-thought erected a sign which read, “Safe and Legal Abortions Save Lives. Anti-Choice Laws cost the lives of more than 47,000 women every year. Where are the crosses for these women?”dan

Early in November, they joined their campus' Feminists for Global Equality group for a Prom Dress flag football event, which raised money for the local YWCA Safe House for Flint.

A week later, they also hosted FFRF Co-President Dan Barker for a talk entitled "Losing Faith in Faith", which was well-received and a rousing success! 

On Thursday, November 20th, the Students for Free-thought at the University of Michigan-Flint sponsored a dialogue on the American War on Drugs, which discussed, among other things, the militarization of the police and the harm of racial profiling.

Students for Free-thought also raises money every fall with a book sale and other events for the Jeremy James Combs Memorial Scholarship, a yearly scholarship they give out in memory of one of their members who passed away in December 2011.

Welcome Pete Zupan to the SSA Staff!


Yesterday, Pete Zupan started as our Student Program Specialist here at the Secular Student Alliance, the first staff person in such a position at our organization, and we couldn't be more thrilled to have him on board! Pete's job will focus primarily on working with individual students, rather than affiliate groups, and he will be working a lot with our secular normalization programs, including Openly Secular and the Secular Safe Zone. He will also be working on our alumni program. 

petePete is a long-time volunteer with the Secular Student Alliance from Boulder, Colorado. While an undergraduate student at the University of Colorado-Boulder, he was Vice President and Financial Officer for the Secular Students and Skeptics Society (SSASS) at CU-Boulder. He was also our first Volunteer Network Coordinator for the Colorado Regional Secular Student Alliance. While still in Boulder, Pete worked some with the off-campus groups, the Denver Atheists and the Boulder Atheists, and he was on the board of directors for the ACLU of Boulder County, with whom he helped organize a panel on the separation of church and state entitled "A Man and His God". 

"We're very excited about this position," says Lyz Liddell, Director of Campus Organizing (and Pete's supervisor), "It's going to give us the ability to improve our services for our individual members, as well as our alumni."

When not being a juggernaut of secular awesome, Pete walks dogs at Humane Societies, and has a dog of his own named Balto, who is a shepherd-lab mix, and an English Shepherd step-puppy, Walter. He was previously living in Washington, D.C. working as an intern with the Americans United for Separation of Church and State doing research.

$15 for '15 Campaign!


Hello everyone!

We just finished the most active year in the history of the Secular Student Alliance! Our groups held more events and engaged their campuses in new and exciting ways. For the first time ever, we were able to reward individual secular activists with scholarships recognizing their hard work. For the second time, we had our Annual Conference in two locations, which was hugely successful!

We know that 2014 was an awesome year. And we know that 2015 can be even better!

But we need your help to keep this momentum going.

So, throughout all of December, we will be sharing our stories with you. We want you to know the things our staff, board, and volunteers are excited about moving forward! We want to share the amazing stories of our affiliate groups and individual student activists. We want to inspire you to join us in celebrating the incredible year we have had, and the amazing future the SSA has going forward. We want you to be a part of this future!

Keep a lookout on our website, social media, and your inbox over the next weeks for these stories of the incredible work we are doing! We are asking you to give $15 a month for 2015 to help us make this work possible. We know that some people can give less, others more, but wherever you are at, come and join us in making 2015 the best year ever for secular students!

If you cannot give, please help us out and spread the word about this campaign! You probably know someone who is passionate about secularism and has the means to support this campaign and the SSA's work: talk to them about why you support us, and share some of these stories with them.

You can read all of the wonderful stories we have collected here.

Call to Action: Secular Students and Social Justice


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.


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