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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 :: No really, what are you thankful for?




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.


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!


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




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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