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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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This Week :: Don't let your Darwin Day go extinct

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DARWIN DAY IS COMING UP FAST! Is your group starting to plan out what you need to do? Do you even know where to start?

Lucky for you, we have you covered. Our speaker checklist can help you figure out what general duties you should be planning and when. It lists out everything to the smallest minutiae to make sure that nothing catches you off guard and that you're always prepared. Darwin Day is on February 12, 2016, which gives you 59 days to get your speakers, venue, and promotion underway. Get going!

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The Solstice is almost here! There are lots of fun ways to celebrate our planet's axial tilt, and we hope that you'll find one that suits you. Whatever you do, have fun, be safe, and stay warm!

Fun fact: Isaac Newton's birthday depends on the calendar you use. Newton was born on December 25, 1642 by the Julian calendar, a remnant of Roman rule that England was using at the time. However, the English were also adopting the Gregorian calendar that the rest of Europe was already using and that we still use today. There's a 10 day difference between the Julian and Gregorian calendars, technically placing his modern birthday on January 4, 1643. Maybe we should just have two holidays?

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Nick says:

This year, we're going to try to keep This Week concentrated on getting news about resources and services out to you, the student leaders. That means that we'll be cutting back on all but the biggest 2016 SSA Con announcements on here to make room.

However, we have a special email list set up so that you can be the first to learn about speakers, workshops, and special offers! All you have to do is sign up for the 2016 Con Updates, which you can at any time do on that new orange button.

Click my face or the button below to sign up for special SSA Con 2016 announcements!.

We're proud of the Secular Student Alliance at Jacksonville State University!

"I want everyone to know that they CAN make an impact on their local community! You will meet many people that you didn't even know would be your closest friends."

Ben Williams, President

The SSA at Jacksonville State held a toy drive event to support the Jacksonville Regional Medical Center. As a result, this RMC will open a toy closet so other organizations can donate toys for children that celebrate a holiday or their birthday in a hospital bed. It took a lot of planning, commitment, and running around from the officers and members to organize it in time for the town Christmas parade, but they still managed to have a successful night. They learned how to communicate better through social media in attempt to reach out to more people, and used the official SSA logo as a foundation to gain momentum on campus. People who donated were very impressed, and the town had to recognize that secular people exist and have a positive impact on the community!



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This Week :: THE END OF THE WORLD (*school*) IS NIGH

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For some of your members and leadership, the end of their time at school may be coming up. This can be sad, especially because that means their involvement with the group is coming to a close, but it can also be fun!

There's lots of fun ways to send off your graduating members to become SSA Alumni! Obviously, you're going to have a party, that's a given. But you can also combine that with decorating your cap's mortar board! If you apply for an SSA project grant, you can even get a customized stole with your group on it! Find out more with our SSA Graduation ideas.

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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 so your last meeting is one to remember!

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Gordon says:

Whether your school has quarters or semesters, you probably have winter break coming up. Obviously, you don't want to have to do anything except drink eggnog and eat gingerbread humans for those few weeks. That's why you should start planning your next semester now!

Lots of events, particularly Darwin Day, will be coming at you before you can even get settled back on campus. Use our Sample Year Calendar to get a head start on your next year. It shows you all the major secular events, and when you should be working on them.

Click my face to start planning your spring semester!

We're proud of the Secular Student Alliance at University of Texas at San Antonio!

"The panelists had great understanding of their beliefs and articulated themselves brilliantly. This made the event go extremely well."

Jesse Silva, President

SSA at UTSA hosted their 2nd Annual Religious Forum on the topic of Morality. They had to network with religious clubs on campus to make it a success, and used advertising skills they learned from the SSA to table and entice people with refreshments. The forum was an interfaith panel consisting of representatives from several of the religious clubs on campus, and included questions, panelist cross-examination, and Q&A from the audience. The purpose of the forum was to represent the different perspectives that exist on moral topics, and for the audience and panelists to question and better understand each other's viewpoints on morality.



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This Week :: No really, what are you thankful for?

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Last week was Thanksgiving for many of us, and if you had it with family, you were probably asked what you were thankful for. But do you ever ask that question after a group meeting, speaker event, or service project? Probably not, and we hope to change that.

Try out our Personal Event Reflection Exercise after your next event. It was developed to help you create a lasting impact for holidays that often leave out the secular perspective, or events that don't seem to be particularly meaningful on the surface. In fact, most things we do affect us in ways we don't expect or notice, and this exercise will help you realize how something you took part in has impacted you.

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Finals and class papers suck, am I right? No one likes to study for them, or do them, or acknowledge that they even exist until the night before. So when you finally are done, you and your group might be burned out.

This is where the community aspect of your group has the most impact. Find some way to celebrate that classes are over, and even if some members still have work to do, it might be a welcome break. Some quick-to-organize ideas might be: board game night, bad movie night, video game tournament, ugly sweater party, or volunteering with an animal shelter (kittens and puppies make happiness, right?). Of course if you start now, you can get started on something big, like Secular Solstice!

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Amber says:

Did you know you can support the SSA without any extra cost to yourself? All you have to do is add us on Amazon Smile! It's easy, and adds nothing extra to the cost of your purchases. Here's how:

1) Log in to Amazon Smile with your Amazon account.

2) Search for "Secular Student Alliance" while selecting your charity and pick us.

3) That's it! Whenever you log into Amazon, it will prompt you to shop through Amazon Smile instead.

Click my face to put the SSA on your Amazon Smile account!.

We're proud of Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics at the University of Wisconsin - Madison

"This was a really fun way to spice up a plain old bake sale, and it gives you an excuse to shout profanities in the street!"

Cassidy Slinger, Volunteering Chair

AHA held a "Blasphemy Bake Sale," where they sold $1 cupcakes and brownies to raise funds for the Women's Medical Fund. What set this bake sale apart were the little flags with swear words, sexual slang terms, or sex acts placed on each. Officers and members who helped sell them loved shouting out the provocative words, and passing students loved finding a cupcake with their favorite offense on it. Some of the officers attended SSA Con and learned how to approach strangers, which helped gain new customers and more donations. AHA has done this event a few times before, but their most recent one has been the most successful, raising $120 (that's 120 pastries if you're doing the math)!



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

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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.

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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.)

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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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