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This Week

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

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Would they be any different without us? :: This Week

Some of your group is probably graduating. Maybe they were former leaders, maybe they were great members, and eventually, it’ll be you. Ask them: what did they get out of this group? What are the times you shared, the personal growth they had, and the skills they gained? If they could do it all over again, would they? If they would, then they know the value of the SSA. Our organization can only survive if the people who got something out of it put just a little back in for the future. Support the SSA by asking past alumni and new graduates to pay their experiences forward by becoming an SSA Alumni Member.
You’ve applied for SSA Leadership Travel Aid, but even that hasn’t covered everything that you need to get out to SSA Con this year 2016, July 8-10 in Columbus, OH. What is a poor student group to do? Many students forget that their school probably offers travel funding to conferences that include leadership and skill development. Yes, they will give you money to come to a super awesome conference, you just have to ask! Find out what else you can do to get some quick funds for SSA Con this year!
Spring semester is coming to an end in a few short months. Does your group have any plans for the summer (besides going to SSA Con, obviously)? The months between semesters can be an excellent time to go on adventures, put on service projects, or other day-long activities without the interruptions of classes. Start planning your group's summer break by finding out how you can stay active.

Morehead State University!

"This was our way of getting ourselves known to our university. Since we're fairly new on a campus deep within the bible belt, not many people knew about the organization. By doing this, we were able to show people that we're here to bring a new level of diversity to the university."

Kayla Bowen, President

MSU SSA hosted an Ask-an-Atheist panel in the middle of their university center lobby right when it was most busy! The panel addressed a variety of topics including, but not limited to, the role of feminism in atheism, atheist morality, Pascal's Wager, works of Nietzsche, and some even shared their stories of how they came to atheism. Many audience members were very engaged with the conversation, including a passing professor, while many of the rest of the student body listened from a distance. They did such an awesome job promoting the event with SSA flyer templates and a customized banner that they were covered by their local radio station and the university newspaper! Their consciousness raising event and thoughtful planning have earned their group an SSA Award for Outstanding Activism!

Yes, it’s on the books. No, it doesn’t have to be :: This Week

For 64 years, the National Day of Prayer has been codified for the President to declare a special day for people to “turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.” Bullshit, amiright? Unfortunately, it can’t be fought in court anymore, but we can keep working to shift the political landscape. Your group can be part of that change by participating in the National Day of Reason on May 5. A simple but effective activity your group can do is letter-writing campaign urging your elected officials to support the separation of church and state.
“WHY AM I GETTING THIS EMAIL?” you might be calmly asking yourself. The answer: if you’re a brand new leader or advisor to your group, this is your first This Week email! Hurray! This is the SSA’s most reliable way to get information out to you, our leaders, about upcoming events, new materials, or national opportunities! It’s a good thing! You’ll only get them once a week (hence the name), so don’t unsubscribe unless you’re no longer in your group. Even then, make sure to submit a leadership update first so that they go to the right people. Check out past This Week’s on our website at any time!
We keep saying it: SSA Con is June 8-10 in Columbus, OH. That’s really not too far away, so have you registered for it? If not, what are you waiting for?! Some kind of magical list of diverse and incredible speakers from a variety of experiences that can grow you not only as a leader but a secular individual? Oh, well what do you know, we have that right here on our lineup of SSA Con Speakers this year.

Secular Student Alliance at Jacksonville State University!

"We called it "The Marketplace" because we believe that a university is metaphorically a marketplace of ideas, beliefs, attitudes, and cultures, where a student should be exposed to as many of these as possible."

Ben Williams, President

The SSA at JSU hosted a student interfaith panel called "The Marketplace" in celebration of Better Together Day. 2 Baptists, a United Methodist, a Muslim, and the group's own atheist representative got time to offer an overview of their beliefs before answering questions from a moderator, followed by an open Q&A. The Muslim representative from Morocco was particularly grateful for the event so that he could speak openly about his beliefs, as his American experience so far has been nothing short of judgemental. It took weeks of planning by the group to ensure they had a room with adequate space, that they promoted the event, and that the time and cost was accommodating to the mostly student audience. Next year, the group hopes to bring in faculty or guest speakers to increase the depth of answers both between the presenters and audience.

Procrastinate while you donate :: This Week

Fact: students don’t have money. But every once in a while, you scrape and save up enough to make an important choice: support a nonprofit you love or buy an awesome new video game. Hard choice, right? But why not both!? Select the SSA on the Humble Bundle Store whenever you purchase a game to automatically give 10% of your purchase to the SSA! The best part is, it doesn’t cost you anything extra.
It’s SSA Affiliation Renewal season! Every SSA Affiliate is required to fill one out for their group by May 1. That way, we'll know which groups are still around, and we'll have accurate contact information to keep you informed about local and national opportunities. If your leadership is about to change shortly after the renewal deadline, put the new leaders information there! You can update your leader information at any time, but it’ll be easier for everyone so that we can start talking to the right people right away.
It’s almost the end of the year. For your group members, that means paper deadlines, final exams, and graduation plans. Talk about stressful! The SSA has one important rule that we want you to remember, from LGBT activist and author Greta Christina: SELF CARE ISN’T SELFISH. Unwind with your group by throwing a party, having a picnic, or even holding a Flying Spaghetti Monster Feast! Not only can a party be a super fun way to end the year, but they can also be a nice little fundraiser to get some pizza money for that important first meeting in Fall.

La Verne Secular Student Alliance!

"Taking the time to welcome questions about your worldview and processing your personal answer to them is a beautiful process of self discovery. Regardless of hosting an Ask an Atheist Day booth, asking these types of questions should be an ongoing process."

Mariela Martinez, President

The University of La Verne SSA went above and beyond the normal scope of Ask an Atheist Day by joining in their school's Better Together Week! Not only did they host their own booth, but they cooperated alongside students from other worldviews such as Bahai, Progressive Christian, Catholic, Mormon, Buddhist, and Islam throughout the week. They gave free Interfaith Youth Core t-shirts to each passing person who asked even just one question. However, often entire conversations sprung from the open and welcoming environment at the booth! They used online resources, like the SSA Ask an Atheist Guide, to prepare informative and positive answers to common questions, even in the face of potential hostility. Their work to make an SSA event open to religious and philosophical diversity has earned them an Award for Outstanding Activism!

SSA Affiliation Renewal is LIVE :: This Week

In preparation for the Spring SSA Affiliation Renewal, group leaders are encouraged to take a good, hard look at the year you just had before filling the form out. Were there events you might have forgotten about that your group participated in? Are there pictures you wanted to send to the SSA but never got around to it? What SSA Services did you take advantage of? These are all critical pieces of information to not just see how you’re doing, but how we’re doing! Got all that information? Good. Fill out your group's Affiliation Renewal by May 1 to continue to be affiliated with the SSA and receive all the services that go with it!
Have you been waiting to register for SSA Con because you weren’t sure what was going down? Well that excuse is no longer valid, because the entire SSA Con 2016 schedule is live! Yes, every workshop, TED slot, meal, and break is now available for you to browse on our website or on GuideBook.com! GuideBook even has an app so you can view it on that fancy smartphone of yours.
Need to fill your “good without god” quota for the summer? Well there’s a perfect opportunity to do that when you come to SSA Con. Register for the Red Cross blood drive on Friday, July 8! Don’t like needles? That’s totally fine! You can sign up as a volunteer, or avoid it entirely by sticking to the first floor. Just make sure you indicate your interest during your Con registration so you can get an appointment.

Campus Atheists, Skeptics, & Humanists at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities!

"We hoped to promote tolerance for a secular worldview, and the attendance at the subsequent follow-up discussions has allowed for various people of different worldviews to come together and discuss those differences respectfully."

David Schlosser, Activities Director

Campus Atheists, Skeptics, & Humanists and MacLaurin Christian Student Fellowship, with the support of several other groups on campus, hosted the Foundations Forum: Christian and Secular Perspectives on Morality in the Modern World. The event consisted of moral philosophers Andy Norman and Tim O'Connor, Humanist and Christian respectively, speaking on how their worldviews promoted moral behavior. Though the feedback was overwhelmingly positive based on the audience survey, the event ended up being closer to a debate than the organizers had intended. In response, CASH prepared a letter to their co-sponsor discussing the variety of secular perspectives and emphasizing that, while there is a broad spectrum of perspectives, each is valid. The lively discussion between the groups has prompted them to continue the series together, and created bonds across worldviews so that each could better understand the other. While not everything went as CASH had planned, the event gave them valuable insight into promotion, team work, and the importance of interfaith cooperation.


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