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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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HO HO HO MERRY SOLSTICE! :: This Week

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This Week for Student Activists
Axial tilt is the reason for the season, and that means something is coming up: Winter Solstice. While the real one is on December 21 this year, you can still celebrate it early with your group before winter break. Find out about various secular holiday traditions with our Secular Solstice Event Guide!
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On Wednesday, December 30, your campus organizers, Gordon and Pete, will be doing a Facebook Live to go over your questions about group running. Can’t catch it at 1:00 pm EST? Email your questions ahead of time at organizer@secularstudents.org and you can watch us answer them later!
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Are these questions keeping you up at night about next semester: Do you know what your group will be doing? When is Darwin Day? When is Ask an Atheist Day? When is the next Affiliation Renewal? To find out, use our Academic Year Planning Calendar to plan your Spring Semester!
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It's Next Week :: This Week

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This Week for Student Activists

Announcing the Secular Student Alliance’s first Facebook Live event! On Wednesday, November 30 at 1:00 pm EST, Campus Organizers Gordon Maples and Pete Zupan will be on to answer YOUR questions about running a group.

Don’t miss out! Go like our Facebook page so you can ask your questions live to our experienced staff!

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The Elephant in the Room :: This Week

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This Week for Student Activists

We all know what happened this November 8, and have all seen reactions to it. In light of that, Jonathan Hay, founder of the SSA at Texas State University, shared this letter to his old group and us. We share it with you in its entirety, as it reflects the feelings and values we at SSA National have as we move forward into a contentious period of American history:

In early 2011, during my first semester at Texas State, I walked from a class at ELA to Supple. Along the way, I passed tables for several religion-based student orgs. I remember thinking, "There should be a group for me", and got to work. I reached out to SSA, found supportive faculty, and, with faculty assistance, started a campaign to find members. Within a few weeks, we found the necessary members to make the student organization official. The day classes let out for Spring Break, we held our first official meeting.

The first few semesters weren't easy. We lost as many members as we gained, and growth stalled. One student emailed me to explain why she could not support the group. It was over the messaging, and the fact that we came across as too aggressive. I, being new to student orgs, and frankly the secular movement as a whole, didn't understand right away. I was angry and confrontational, and that's the tone I set for the group.

Reflecting on last night's election, I feel angry again. I assume many of you do as well. With that, I'd like to share what happened next and offer you some lessons I took from those early years.

The group was shrinking, so we got to work. We reached out to our fellow student organizations, and built a network. We didn't agree with everything, but we agreed on one key principle: people need support, they need to belong, and they want understanding. We shared members, and our group grew tremendously. You have all of those things, and you should share them.

Do what we did. Reach out!

Reach out to Feminists United. Reach out to Lambda. Reach out to everyone. Let them know that they have allies, and don't be afraid to ask for support as well.

I'm afraid right now. I don't know what the future will bring. I assume you're afraid too, and I can promise you other students and organizations are afraid. It's okay to be afraid, and it's okay to be angry, but please, please, please don't let that set the tone of what the group becomes, not that I think that's what you'd do.

Texas State will need progressive organizations now more than ever. I am so happy that the new leadership has stepped up and saved the group from being dismantled. I hope that the group continues to grow, and serves as a safe and welcoming environment. Mostly, I hope you find solidarity with other organizations, and their members who need support.

SSA National encourages all our groups' to work together with those that share our values, to create lasting relationships, and to build a network of ideologies that cannot break against the oncoming tide. We remind everyone of your groups Minimum Standards agreement with the SSA, and hope to see your work in creating a humanistic and inclusive community.

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No one should have to fear sexual assault on their campus. Unfortunately, it does happen, and victims are increasingly unaware of their rights or how they can push back at campus resistance to validating their claims. Know Your IX has published a 145-page document made by and for students to combat sexual assault on campus and the culture that enables it. Download the guide to find out how you can stop this national epidemic on your campus.
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You, the students, are what make the SSA great, and each year we award students who exemplify that greatness with our SSA Student Activist Scholarships. There were so many great entries, but it all had to come down to 10 winners. Find out about what the $1,000 scholarship winners did to earn their awards, and inspire yourself to get ready for 2017!
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We're Proud Of

Murray State University Secular Student Alliance!

"The kittens have helped attract a lot more people to our tabling events and have enabled us to converse with many people who may not have stopped at our table otherwise."

Stef Stephans, Vice President

Many groups table, as it is one of the most reliable ways to get new prospective members and combat the negative stigma against secular identities. Murray State SSA has upped their tabling game by adding one extra feature: their president's kittens, Tuvok and Seska! The first day tabling with the kittens, they quadrupled the total number of students that had previously subscribed to their email list! Many students stopped to pet the kittens, but stayed to engage in conversation and find out a secular community exists for them. Other groups should feel just as empowered to add that bit of creativity and cuteness in their tabling efforts, and make sure to send us pictures when you do!

He had a dream. You can make it reality :: This Week

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This Week for Student Activists
Countless local governments and schools use Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service as their primary day of service. It is an opportunity to use this coming January 16th to create the better world King dreamed of. Because it is the most celebrated service day of the year, opportunities should abound in your community to participate. If nothing seems to be around, don’t just sleep in! Use our Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service Guide to plan an event for your group!
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December is almost here, and that means it’s time to DECLARE WAR ON CHRISTMAS! LOL-- not really. However, it does mean many government facilities may begin to put up holiday displays, and some of them might be breaking the law by favoring one religion over others, or religion over secularism. While you should consult with legal counsel to be sure, the general rule that must be applied is “all or none.” This means if they won’t take the unconstitutional displays down, YOU can join in with your own secular display! Find out more about holiday displays with the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
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Holidays should be a time of love and cheer, but some secular students go back to their families with feelings of dread instead. It can be hard to be a secular person with a religious family, especially if you’re not yet open about your identity. Openly Secular has published a guide intended for secular people who are having questions or problems balancing their secular life with their non-secular families or traditions. Share their guide with your group so you can help your members going through this struggle.
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We're Proud Of

Truman State University Secular Student Fellowship!

"No one seemed offended by our Graveyard of the Gods, and the display drew people in. Mostly it gave us the chance to smile, say hello, and introduce ourselves!"

Patricia Flanagan, President

The Truman group put a Graveyard of the Gods display on their campus. They saw it as a celebration of finally being able to reserve space and hand out information now that they were chartered! The group sat in Patricia’s living room for hours talking about things to do over the year while making the tombstones, which really brought the group together as a community. The public really seemed to enjoy the event, especially the tombstone brownies the group gave out!

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