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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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The Elephant in the Room :: This Week

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

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!

Get Your Rear In Gear :: This Week

This Week for Student Activists
Service is the #1 way to show your community not only that secular people do exist in their neighborhoods, but that they are good, moral people as well. Our secular values place importance on the one life we have to live, and the one planet we have to live it on. When we do service, we live out those values by working to make this world of ours a better place for ourselves and others. Not only that, but it’s a tremendous bonding experience for your entire group! Learn about all the different service projects your group can do to live out your secular values.
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On November 17, join us in celebrating Openly Secular Day! Openly Secular Day is a celebration of secular people opening up about their secular worldview, and an opportunity for theistic allies to show their support for secular friends and family. This is a day to help others understand our values and how we think. Download our Openly Secular Day Guide and order supplies so you can join in the celebration!
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If you want to be eligible for unlimited tabling supplies and hands-on support with media training, ensure that your members are eligible for scholarships, and even more, then you should upgrade your group's status to be an SSA Chapter. The only thing your college group has to do to be a Chapter, other than renewing your affiliation twice a year, is to send us your roster. This can be done easily by having a sign-up sheet at your next meeting and including it in the upcoming Fall Affiliation Renewal. Learn more about how SSA supports you as an affiliate.
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We're Proud Of

University of Northern Iowa Freethinkers & Inquirers!!

"It was stressful but it was worth it. Even though the organizing of the event wasn't entirely smooth sailing, the fact that we could raise so much on our own bodes well for our organization."

Oliverio Covarrubias, Vice President

UNIFI held their annual Flying Spaghetti Monster Dinner, at which they provide free spaghetti and raffle off donations to local and area businesses. Despite setbacks, including changing from their regular venue and members being busy with other obligations, the group still managed to raise $430 from raffle tickets sales and student donations! These proceeds benefited the North East Iowa Food Bank, who were very receptive to the donation. It just goes to show that when groups work together as a team, they can overcome any obstacle to the benefit of the event and hungry Iowans!

Important message for SSA groups :: This Week


Affiliation renewals are over, and your group is still part of the Secular Student Alliance! Hurray!

But is your group an SSA Affiliate, or an SSA Chapter?

If you gave us a group roster during your Affiliation Renewal, you’re now a Chapter! If not, you’re group is still an Affiliate. What’s the difference?

SSA Chapters are entitled to new and exciting benefits such as access to extra SSA supplies, grants, and other services, as well as exclusive access to others. Here’s the whole breakdown:

  • Access to all SSA services, such as tabling supplies, the Speakers Bureau, business cards
  • Access to additional financial support in Speakers Bureau Funding and Project Grants
  • Unlimited use of tabling supplies as your group needs them
  • Access to additional SSA Con Travel Aid
  • Hands-on help and support from your dedicated SSA Campus Organizers
  • Hands-on support with media, such as writing press releases or letters to the editor
  • Eligible to request a physical copy of our Group Running Guide
  • Access to the growing SSA Film Lending Library
  • Eligible to share SSA National's 501c.3 tax-exempt status (with application)
  • All group members listed in your group’s roster will be automatically given an SSA Student Membership (including eligibility for scholarships, the SSA web store, and more)

The only new thing a group has to do to gain Chapter status is send us a membership roster. That’s it!

Forgot to send in a roster? Want to become an SSA Chapter? Just send in a spreadsheet with your group members' names and emails to organizers@secularstudents.org or email it to your campus organizer! Easy peezy.

We look forward to adding your group as an SSA Chapter!

PS - If your group still hasn’t filled out an Affiliation Renewal for this Fall, you can get on that here. You need to do that ASAP if your group is active and wants to retain access to all SSA services and resources!

Jacksonville State University Secular Student Alliance!

"Seeing the LGBT community have more freedom to express and celebrate themselves gives me hope, and it encourages me to be an even stronger ally."

Alison Cline, Vice President

The SSA at JSU raised $2,200 in a fundraiser for the LGBT Technology Partnership & Institute! The funds will benefit the PowerOn program, which gets solar-powered chargers in the hands of homeless LGBT youth who have been rejected by their families. Some people from the local adult LGBT community attended the event, and asked the group to hold one again next year. The audience seemed to thoroughly enjoy the performances, and the queens were tipped very generously. One particularly memorable moment was when an audience member proposed to her partner on stage before the show started, and she said “Yes!”


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