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Statement from Secular Student Alliance at North Carolina State University

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The Secular Student Alliance at North Carolina State University is an autonomous affiliate of the Secular Student Alliance. This is their statement regarding the recent triple homocide in Chapel Hill. To read the statement by our national office, you can find it here.

The members of the Secular Student Alliance at NC State grieve the murders of Yusor Abu-Salha, Deah Barakat, and Razan Abu-Salha in Chapel Hill yesterday. We are dismayed and saddened by the loss of these members of our community and the trauma it has caused. The SSA at NC State condemns these killings without reservation, and offers our deepest sympathies and condolences to the victims’ families and friends.

The SSA at NC State’s leadership has spoken out about this tragedy. 

"I am deeply saddened by the loss of my fellow students, and angered by this act of cruelty. It is unthinkable to me that lives can be taken so senselessly,” says Nick Freeman, undergraduate advisor of the SSA at NC State. “Although I didn't know them personally, it is clear that Deah, Yusor, and Razan cared about their community and had hearts for service and good works. My thoughts go out to their friends and families."

“These senseless murders are horrifying,” says Jonathan Otten, president of the SSA at NC State. “The loss of fellow students, especially ones with whom I attended both high school and college, hurts deeply. They cared deeply about service and improving our world. We offer our solidarity and support, and my thoughts are with their families, friends, and community. Violence like this is never a solution to anything, and there is profound need for dialogue, deeper understanding, and acknowledgement that, because we’re all valued parts of the same world, hate and intolerance can’t be options.”

We recognize that intolerance is a problem affecting many communities, and this tragedy is a reminder that there are some who do not feel that all people can coexist. We strive to combat this view, and we offer our solidarity to those affected by this terrible act of violence. The SSA at NC State strives to work with all students to foster a community in which all voices are heard and respected, and in which all people are safe, regardless of religious differences. 

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Secular Student Movement Update 2/12/2015

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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

Today is Darwin Day! This is one of the biggest events throughout the country for our affiliate groups, and we are seeing such events as tabling, speakers, birthday parties, and creationist bingo! Over 50 groups ordered packets of supplies for Darwin Day, and we'll hopefully have a recap with photos of events next week! 

Information about our annual conference is up on our website! This year's Secular Student Alliance Annual Conference will be in Columbus, Ohio July 10-12th! We are currently accepting applications for student speakers as well as leadership travel aid. There is also a list of speakers we have thus far, which includes representatives from the Southern Poverty Law Center, Think Progress, and the National LGBTQ Task Force. Information about our awesome annual conference so you can be as excited as we are can be found at secularstudents.org/2015con

We have released a statement regarding the murders in Chapel Hill yesterday. Everyone at the Secular Student Alliance is appalled by the events, and we encourage students to work with each other to understand one another and make the world a better place. Our statement includes statements from students in the area as well. For the full statement, please visit secularstudents.org/statements/chapelhill.

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.

Statement on the murders in Chapel Hill: "We hope that dialogues can happen, and bridges are built, not burned"

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Everyone at the Secular Student Alliance is appalled by the murders of Deah Bakurat, Yusor Mohammed, and Razan Mohammed Abu-Salha in Chapel Hill, North Carolina yesterday.  We are further appalled by the trauma and terror caused by these murders and offer our condolences to the victims, their family, and the greater Chapel Hill community. The Secular Student Alliance encourages students to work with each other to understand one another and make the world a better place. These killings work in the exact opposite of that cause.  

“We are horrified by the violence in Chapel Hill against these three young people who seem to have so profoundly dedicated themselves to helping their fellow human beings,” says August E. Brunsman IV, Executive Director of the Secular Student Alliance. “We mourn the loss of these three young people who were working so hard to make the world a better place.”

Secular students from the Chapel Hill and surrounding areas also expressed their concern over what has happened.

"We at the University of North Carolina Secular Student Alliance absolutely condemn these murders, and we stand in solidarity with the Muslim community," says Samantha Jackson, UNC SSA Board Member. "It is hard to express the grief we feel as classmates, as Tar Heels, as members of the greater Chapel Hill community. Lives will never be the same, and we are trying to figure out how to move forward emotionally after this."

"I am deeply saddened by the loss of my fellow students, and angered by this act of cruelty. It is unthinkable to me that lives can be taken so senselessly,” says Nick Freeman, Secular Student Alliance Board Member and North Carolina State University student. “Although I didn't know them personally, it is clear that Deah, Yusor, and Razan cared about their community and had hearts for service and good works. My thoughts go out to their friends and families."

The Secular Student Alliance promotes pluralism and secularism. We work alongside people of faith, and work to spread the understanding that both people with and without faith have the capacity to do good. Nothing about the lack of a belief in a god supports the murder of innocent people, and we absolutely condemn what has happened. We hope that dialogues can happen, and bridges are built, not burned, in the wake of this.

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Executive Corner Piece: A Humanist Invitation

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August E. Brunsman IV is the Executive Director of the Secular Student Alliance. This essay is part of a series we called our Executive Corner Pieces. These are generally published the second Tuesday of each month and give you a little insight to the thoughts of our Executive Director. 

augSave for about a week in my junior year of high school when I became enchanted by deism, I’ve never thought of myself as at all religious. I’ve used all kinds of different labels that get at my godlessness in all kinds of different ways, but I believe that tension in our fledgling movement over the “right label” has diminished. I know that I personally care very little about what label different people who lack a god belief use. 

I try very hard to welcome everyone regardless of the secular label they use. We are stronger together. That said, I’m always disappointed when I hear other secular folks saying that humanism sounds uninviting to them. The critiques have lots of important details, but often seem to boil down to “humanism feels like dogma.” Humanism is not a dogma, but a conversation. I concede that it took a very special set of accidents for humanism to start feeling like a conversation instead of dogma to me.

I don’t want to change the labels you use. Maybe “humanism” doesn’t flood your synapses with joy. I’m not trying to alter that about you, but I do want to connect with you and let you know why the label “humanist” makes me feel like I’m part of building something bigger than myself. All of our labels notwithstanding, I want your help in making it bigger still.

My parents raised me at the knee of reason and compassion. Other people did religion, but not my family. While my parents and I had plenty of friends, we didn’t have any kind of values based community. I bet the word “humanist” tickled my young cochlea; however, I don’t really remember it being more important than other words, like “atheist.” If you’d asked me what I was when I was ten, I probably would have said “nothing.” I might have said “atheist.”

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