Four Focus Areas: The CASE for Secular Students
There are four major areas that SSA affiliates tend to engage with. We call these our four focus areas, with the acronym CASE – we're making the CASE for secular students! Each focus area has an internal aspect (within the group itself) and an external aspect (beyond the group, within the campus and broader communities).
One of the most important purposes of an SSA affiliate group is to be a safe space for non-theists. The broader community is not always welcoming to nontheists, and the process of “coming out” can be very difficult, especially if families, romantic partners, or close friends are very religious. Therefore, it’s important to us that non-theists—and theists with doubts—have a community where they can feel safe and free from judgment, and know they can express their doubts and ask questions. While this part of the focus area is internal, there is also an external aspect of this focus area: engaging with the larger community. This is done through cooperating with other organizations, participating in interfaith programs, getting involved in student government, and so on. It may even take place on a larger scale, including cooperation with nearby SSA affiliate groups or the national secular movement.
Students from the Smithson Valley High School Secular Student Alliance gather to celebrate Mardi Gras and Darwin Day.
Students are famous for being great advocates, and this is where SSA affiliates really shine. Groups can participate in all sorts of activities like letters-to-the-editor, rallies, demonstrations, protests, tabling events, and lots of other stuff. These are all external to the group; an internal aspect of advocacy would be becoming a dues-paying member and voting, or running for an officer position in your group.
Part of being a secular person means understanding that this life is the only life we have, and that this Earth has to last us a very long time. Engaging in volunteering activities kills three birds with one stone: first and foremost, it makes the world a better place. Secondly, it helps tear down stigma against non-theists and helps people to see us as contributing, caring citizens of the world. And thirdly, it provides student groups with a regular series of activities that are fun and provide an opportunity for members to become friends in a way that a classroom setting doesn’t always provide. The internal aspect of service includes things like helping one's affiliate group plan events, flyering for the group, providing transportation to other students, and so on.
SSA affiliates focus a great deal on educating both their membership AND their communities about our world, correcting misinformation about secular worldviews, and discussing issues that affect secular people. They do this by hosting guest speakers and conferences, tabling, hosting debates and cooperative events with other groups, outreach activities and awareness campaigns, and more.