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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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Join a Proud Line of Speakers :: This Week

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SSA Con is renowned for its programming for students, by students. Every year, we let dozens of students speak about their areas of expertise, from effective tabling and event planning, to intersectionality and political engagement. If you have something you're passionate about sharing with the rest of the secular student community, you, yes YOU, should apply to be a speaker at SSA Con! Not only will you get to spread your ideas across the country, your registration fee for the conference will be waived! But you have to apply by March 31 to be considered! Join the pantheon of awesome student activists from 17 years of SSA Con by registering to be a speaker!

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If you’re like us, you’ve been mad as hell at the many injustices going on with this current administration. Maybe you’re content to complain on Facebook, or maybe you’re mad enough to do something about it! The Secular Coalition for America has Action Alerts to tell you how you can get politically involved in your area. You’ll get information about who to contact, where to show up, and many more practical solutions to these very real problems. Sign up for SCA Action Alerts so you can stay informed and be the change you want to see in the world.

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We're Proud Of

Jacksonville State University Secular Student Alliance!

"Members were very surprised to hear that the idea of a black nonbeliever could be interpreted as a ‘slave mentality’ or an attempt to be white. It highlighted the work needed to approach this issue and change the perception of secularism."

Anh Nguyen, Member

JSU SSA hosted Mandisa Thomas, president of Black Nonbelievers, for one of their meetings. For a good number of people attending the meeting, Mandisa was only the first or second black nonbeliever that they had ever met. She explained the important issues of recognizing and celebrating black secularism in history and in current events. She also gave a brief explanation to the (mostly white) audience on how religion can be a huge identifying factor for black communities, and cited as an example religious black people rejecting Mandisa's own blackness for not being religious. This was a great meeting and speaker to having during Black History Month!

Secret Sagan and a Festivus Pole :: This Week

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One of the most requested things that you, the students, wanted to see at SSA Con was a resource about running a winter celebration. Well, we listened, but rather than a twenty minute session about it, we thought we could do one better. For the first year ever, we’ll be running Solstice in July at SSA Con! Right after the closing session on Sunday, July 9th, we’ll be hosting a festive lunch, Secret Sagan gift giving, and a special Solstice ritual. Sign up for it when you register yourself or your group for SSA Con. You won’t won’t want to miss the first ever Solstice in July!

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April is coming up, and there are lots of special days worth celebrating in it. But if there’s one day you should mark off, it’s April 20th: National Ask an Atheist Day! On this day, groups around the country set up extra special tables on campus with games, food, art, and activities to make people aware of the secular presence on campus. Not only is it a great day for members, but it's a fantastic opportunity to get new ones and to build bridges with persons of faith. Find out what you can do to start prepping for your group’s Ask an Atheist Day!

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Summer will be here before you know it, and many of your group leaders might be graduating. That’s why you need to start thinking about your next round of leadership NOW! Far too many groups run an election the last few weeks before graduation, and bring in rookie leaders with no mentors. In our 17 years of existence, that’s always been a recipe for disaster. Look at our Leadership Transition resource to keep your group going strong!

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We're Proud Of

"When you stand up for right, right will prevail. I was on the Edmund Pettus Bridge during Bloody Sunday in 1965, and I am still standing up for right today." Mrs. Avery, after being arrested for protesting Alabama state legislature's refusal to expand Medicaid in October, 2014.

Annie Pearl Avery!

Born in Birmingham, AL in 1943, Mrs. Avery's roots in the Civil Rights Movement began as a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). She was one of the first to be arrested in the 1965 attempt to march from Selma to Montgomery, now notoriously known as "Bloody Sunday". She was honored at the 2015 50th anniversary of this tragic event. Mrs. Avery’s work in the Civil Rights Movement has been chronicled in various publications, including the October 2013 issue of Essence magazine, and Hands On the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in the SNCC. She currently gives personal tours of the Slavery and Civil War Museum in Selma, AL. Mrs. Avery will be receiving the 2017 Backbone Award at SSA Con for having lived a life of activism motivated by secular values.

We Can’t Afford a T-shirt Cannon :: This Week

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We’ve got a special deal just for you! Until March 15, all paid SSA Con registrations include a t-shirt for FREE! That’s right, we said free! As in, you pay no money for the official SSA Con t-shirt, specifically, the usual $10 with pre-registration or $15 at the door. This even includes group registration, which could save your group $50! Get yourself registered for SSA Con and secure your free t-shirt today!

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Do you love science? Do you have mad graphic design skills? Then help us design March for Science posters! We want to distribute a file groups can use to encourage their campus to participate in sister marches around the country. Make an 8.5" x 11" poster with the March for Science logo, SSA logo, April 22, 2017, and #marchforscience! Leave space for groups to add their contact information, or even better, create an editable file where they can add their info and keep your style. Send your design files to organizer@secularstudents.org by March 31! Go to our March for Science get your files page to submit your designs, and find out how you can participate in the historic event!

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Our Speakers Bureau is the SSA’s most used service. We have a huge selection of speakers who will come to your campus for cheap or free to talk to your group about a topic of your choice! They can be in debates, sing songs, do a comedy show, or talk about topics from science and feminism to death and politics. Heck, maybe they’ll do all those things at once! We can even help bring them out with SSA Speaker Bureau grants, and will always be here to assist you with setting your event up. Check out our Speakers Bureau to see who you want to bring to your campus!

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We're Proud Of

"Why fear? The stuff of my being is matter, ever changing, ever moving, but never lost; so what need of denominations and creeds to deny myself the comfort of all my fellow men? The wide belt of the universe has no need for finger-rings. I am one with the infinite and need no other assurance."

Zora Neale Hurston

African Americans for Humanism says this about Zora Neale Hurston: she was an extremely influential writer and folklorist of the Harlem Renaissance; in addition to her four novels, including her 1937 masterpiece Their Eyes Were Watching God, she published more than fifty short stories, plays, and essays. Hurston was also a respected anthropologist whose research on oral cultures and folk traditions in the Caribbean informed much of her writing. Hurston’s short story “Religion,” from the 1942 collection Dust Tracks on a Road, recalls her earliest encounters with humanist thought; as a child raised in the Baptist Church, she found herself “questing” for answers and doubting the certainty and dogma around her. Today, she is lauded for her contributions to academic understanding of African American folklore, and for her representations of language and oral tradition in her work. You can read more about Zora Neale Hurston at African Americans for Humanism!

Better Than Hitchhiking :: This Week

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What did you do for Darwin Day? It’s one of the most celebrated events in the secular calendar, and everything we know about how to celebrate it came from you students! Tell us about what you did for Darwin Day and how you did it in a Brag It Up! We’ll feature your stories and pictures on social media and here in the This Week email to all student leaders!

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Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that your school doesn’t provide you funding to get to SSA Con. Somehow they overlooked the professional development and skill building we emphasize, or the fact that they routinely provide travel funding for groups. What are you to do? Why fundraise of course! Fundraising can seem daunting, but there are ways to do it that cost your group little to nothing, and can generate revenue for all sorts of purposes. Find out about fundraising on our Fundraising Resource page!

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Your group was able to get costs for SSA Con registration and lodging, but darnit, the flight is just outside your budget! Scrap the whole thing, right? WRONG! The SSA offers student leaders travel aid up to $400 for individuals or $600 for a group! The only thing you have to do is ask for it. We’ll be accepting applications until May 31, 2017, but apply sooner, because it’s always very high in demand, and we only have so much to give out. Apply for SSA Leadership Travel Aid today!

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We're Proud Of

"In the American imagination, black women are the poster children for disreputable, irresponsible motherhood and Latina 'illegals' are a close second. From birth to adolescence, every girl of color must navigate a political climate in which Ronald Reagan's racist welfare queen caricature casts long shadows."

Sikivu Hutchinson

Sikivu Hutchinson, PhD, is an educator, writer and senior member at the LA County Human Relations Commission. As coordinator of the Women's Leadership Project and Young Male Scholars' youth programs, she has successfully assisted first-generation, foster care, undocumented, homeless, and LGBTQ students of color go on to college and careers. She is a contributing editor for The Feminist Wire, and her articles have been published in the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, Religion Dispatches, and The Humanist Magazine. She is also the author of several books. At SSA Con 2016, Dr. Hutchinson was presented with the SSA Backbone Award in recognition of her role as an individual within the secular movement who is a guide and inspiration to secular students and student groups. Watch her acceptance speech!

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