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This Week

Weekly news, emails, and group-running articles for student leaders. Check in every week for new postings!

Subscribe to receive "This Week" emails in your inbox here.  Leaders and members of affiliate groups, off-campus supporters, and others are welcome!

This Week :: How to be Openly Secular for the holidays




Holidays can be tough for secular people, especially those who can't yet be open about their true identity. Many holiday gatherings involve being around religious family members who insist on bringing their faith into the celebration somehow, and it can be hard to know what to do.

Openly Secular has developed a resource guide about just this problem. Learn about how to positively approach family members, talking points, and more to make your holiday season more enjoyable for everyone. Above all, remember that self-care isn't selfish, and do what you feel will suit your own situation best.


Beirut, Syria, Baghdad, and Paris have all been attacked by the radical Islamic group ISIL this past week. But like in the aftermath of 9/11, those who have felt the most backlash have been peaceful Muslims. We cannot let an extremist group win by falling prey to the fear they hoped to instill.

We can fight that fear with understanding and cooperation. The Interfaith Youth Core developed a discussion guide in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks to facilitate that. It may help give your group ideas about what you can do with religious student organizations to create positive change in the face of this tragedy. (Note: If you haven't downloaded an IFYC resource before, click the blue "download" button first to log in.)


EvolveFISH.com is offering 25% off all partner products until November 30, and that includes SSA products!

However, you won't see any of our heavily discounted SSA t-shirts on the main page. Those can only be purchased by logging in with your free student membership and following the special link from our website (if the link looks broken, it's because you aren't logged in). If you don't have a free student membership yet, you should get one, because they're FREE!

We're proud of the Freethinkers and Skeptics at Missouri State University!

"This experience really moved me. It was absolutely incredible to see the students come together and stand as one. I believe that this really helped me see my calling as a social activist."

Kat Hartwig, participant

The Planned Parenthood on-campus action fund, Generation Action, originally posted about gathering counter-protesters for a display put on by the anti-choice group "Bears for Life." Upon learning about the counter protest, many FSMSU members worked together on short notice in order to participate. This was the first time FSMSU has worked together with Generation Action, and they hope to ally again in the future. Their intersectional activism has earned the group an SSA Award for Outstanding Activism

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This Week :: We've got your Secular Solstice covered




With finals, papers, and a big ol' holiday break coming, many groups are winding down their activities. That's understandable, but you can still end this semester with a BANG!

Thanks to the experience of Brighter Than Today founder Raymond Arnold and sociologist Lori Fazzino, we've developed our first Secular Solstice Group Organizing Guide! It highlights the importance of having nonreligious rituals with your group, and gives you a step-by-step plan on how to create your own. Download your copy and start making plans for your last meeting to be one to remember!


2015 is almost over, and we know you've done all kinds of awesome activities, probably taking plenty of selfies and group shots on the way. The problem is, we at SSA National don't know what you did unless you tell us about it! Your stories are how we, as an organization, talk about how we are doing. They encourage other student groups on activities they can do in the future, and show members exactly who they are supporting.

Take this time to tell us about your 2015 events by submitting a Brag It Up! You can also email us your individual pictures at photos@secularstudents.org if you have a cool shot, but just a little backstory for it. You'll probably see your group on our Facebook, This Week emails, Group Running Guides, or anywhere else that we can show off your accomplishments!


Nick "the Iron Thumb" says:

You might have seen the recent PEW survey about the rise of the Nones, or that secular children are more charitable than religious ones. Research on secular people is booming, and you can help advance it.

Dr. Sean Moore, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Alberta, is interested in recruiting a broad sample of non-religious respondents for his research. By taking this 25 minute survey, you can help advance understanding about your attitudes, beliefs, values and experiences with religious and secular worldviews.

Click my face to take the survey and advance secular research!.

We're proud of A.T. Still University Secular Student Alliance!

"We received a number of respectful questions regarding how to approach secular patients in a medical setting, as well as questions about how we have been adversely treated because we identify as secular. Additionally, the Mormon student panel that presented after us thanked us for our presentation, and earnestly stated that they learned a lot from us."

Elizabeth Perkis, President

A.T. Still Secular Student Alliance participated in a lunch panel discussion that is part of their medical school's annual interfaith week series. There had been some negative push back from other students about the presence of their club on campus, and they wanted to make sure that people were confronted with the assumptions that they were making about their character. They started with some definitions and transitioned to how humanist values are necessary for healthcare. Three of their club members spoke about their personal experiences with discrimination, and it was extremely well received by the school faculty!

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This Week :: What Would Carl Sagan Think?




What sets Carl Sagan apart from other scientists? He didn't just want you to learn facts, but he also wanted you to experience the awe and wonder of the natural world, think about the vastness of space, and admire the beauty of our place in the universe.

Ask big questions, and get big answers this November 9! After your Carl Sagan Day events, use our special reflection guide to bring it all together. This will help your group express thoughts and feelings that may not otherwise be brought up in a very educational event.


Monday, January 18, 2016 is often used as a day off. However, it is also set aside as a special day of service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

Most college campuses have a service project already planned for that date, and we really encourage your group to participate in it. It's a great way to get visibility for your group, as well as an opportunity to do good for the community and network with other organizations that are there. However, if nothing has already been planned, you can use our MLK Day resource to plan your own!


Pete says:

Nick Stancato, Gordon Maples, Tori Rehr and myself are your Campus Organizing team. That's right, if you're a student leader and have a question, comment, or concern about how to make your group more successful, we're here for you.

That means you should feel free to contact us by email at organizer@secularstudents.org (We're also on Facebook if you want to be friends). Your campus organizer will get back to you and personally work with you on your problems or questions. Between the four of us there's a lot of experience, so don't waste it trying to re-invent the wheel!

Click my face for more info about your Campus Organizing team!

We're proud of Ward Melville High School Secular Student Alliance!

"High School students also want to be activists! Even though minors are more limited with their time and receive less trust from administrators, secular Americans can get things done regardless of age."

Thomas Sheedy, President

Ward Melville High School Secular Student Alliance held their first organized tabling session! So many students came by that they ran out of stickers and Secular Coalition for America keychains. By tabling during the majority of the school day they gained new members and spread the word about secular activism. This is a particularly special moment for the group as they had to fight for recognition by their school administration.

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This Week :: Darwin Day will be here before you can say Homo Naledi




Groups sometimes see the date of Darwin Day, February 12, as no big deal. That's months away! Why bother planning now, right?

That's true if you want to make those arrangements during winter break... but you probably don't. So start planning now! Reach out to local professors, request speakers from the speakers bureau, and get started on your promotion plans soon! Go to our Darwin Day page to see what you can do to get started.


You know we have a speakers bureau right? Where you can request a nationally renowned speaker and apply for funding to bring them out to you? Of course you do. Silly question.

So you probably also know that speakers are human beings with lives outside their activism, and many have to schedule around all their engagements. Be courteous by starting to make plans in advance for the speakers you want so that they can make time for your group. Read up on what you need to do to prepare on our Speakers Bureau page.


Gordon says:

I'm going to say something that is a 'bad word' to most SSA leaders: dues. Many groups have mixed feelings on dues, but there are a lot of good reasons to use them.

Members become literally invested in the group, and you will have some extra funding to work with! $5 from each member just once a year can pay for a pizza party. At the very least, you should have a voluntary collection jar out at your meetings.

Click my face for more info about the benefits of dues.

We're proud of Troy University Secular Student Alliance!

"Organizing this event definitely improved my networking skills; there were a lot of people I had to get in contact with and many procedures I had to follow to make it possible to host the concert. I feel much more confident now for any future events we organize."

Courtney Wehrspaun, President

On October 10th 2015, the Troy University Secular Student Alliance hosted Australian singer, songwriter, atheist, and feminist Shelley Segal at Troy University with funding support from the Southeast Alabama Freethought Association (SEAFA). Shelley performed select songs from all of her albums and told them stories of her childhood, including how she became an atheist. After the show, Shelley stayed to take photos, answer questions, and sign autographs with the audience. It really helped her connect on a personal level with the members.

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