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This Week

Weekly news, emails, and group-running articles for student leaders. Check in every week for new postings!

Subscribe to receive "This Week" emails in your inbox here.  Leaders and members of affiliate groups, off-campus supporters, and others are welcome!

This Week :: What is your group's New Year resolution?

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At the National SSA, we recognize a difference between goals and tasks. Goals are the overall outcomes you want to see after a period of time; tasks are the individual things you do to accomplish that. However, many groups confuse the two, then wonder why their accomplishments didn't have the outcome they were hoping for.

When planning for next year, we hope you'll use our Goal Setting tools to help you set real goals. This will also help you discover the tasks and activities you need to do throughout the year to help you reach them.

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Service projects are one of the most beneficial things a group can do for your community, both for its local beautification and for letting people know that the secular worldview exists and does good. Road and river cleanups are great for combining community visibility and team building within your group, and can even fulfill some service requirements some courses might require.

We've looked into each state's Department of Transportation Adopt A Highway program to find the common steps to help your group run one. The requirements vary by state, so we have included a directory to instantly take you to yours without needing to wade through government websites. We've even included resources by American Rivers for river cleanups as well!

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Pete says:

2016 is coming! That means a new year of projects, meetings, outings, and activism for your group! But did you remember to do one of the most important parts of running an event? PICTURES!

Photos are great tools for creating institutional memory for your group, and can be used for future promotion. Additionally, it's how SSA National shares your stories after submitting funding reports or a Brag it Up! If your phone is up to date with the 21st Century, it probably has a camera, so let out the photographer in you at your next event!

Click my face for more info about picture taking!

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

"A lot of blood, sweat, & tears went into baking for this event, but we kept motivation by remembering the reason for our participation. We wanted to show the children that you didn't need religion to have a fun & festive holiday!"

Kayla Bowen, President

The SSA at Morehead State University attended the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, an event where children of all ages gather around to make holiday crafts and eat festive pastries, courtesy of all the different campus organizations. This was their first holiday outing as a group, and some dedicated members spent the night tabling right next to the tree. Passersby were intrigued after seeing their SSA banner that they ordered to find out more about the group and what they stood for. They were even complimented about their many baked goods!



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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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