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Media & Press Information

To reach the Secular Student Alliance office, please call 614-441-9588 x 101 to reach Kelley Freeman, our Communications Associate. We receive a high volume of emails and do not want to miss your inquiry, particularly if you are on a deadline. We would be happy to answer your questions or accommodate your request.

Love Trumps Hate: Secular Student Convening Mobilizes Students for Social Activism


Columbus, Ohio – The Secular Student Alliance (SSA) will host its 2017 annual conference from July 7-9, at Ohio State University on the theme Love Trumps Hate. The largest secular student conference in the nation, each year the conference brings together hundreds of students and community leaders to learn leadership development, grassroots organizing skills, and secular activism. This year’s conference will be no different—just better.

SSA organizers envision the convening as a training ground for secular activism, offering practical tools—grassroots organizing and leadership skills--for students to organize their peers around issues of intersectional activism.

The number of college students with no religious affiliation has tripled in the last 30 years, from 10 percent in 1986 to 31 percent just last year. And against the backdrop of today’s tumultuous social and political climate, SSA’s student activists have already been leading social justice movements on their campuses and in their communities across the country. They are more motivated than ever to create positive change, and SSA Con is a pivotal step.

This year’s speakers include:

  • Annie Pearl Avery, a legend of the Civil Rights Movement and self-identified secularist. Miss Avery was one of the first to be arrested in the 1965 attempt to march from Selma to Montgomery, the day now notoriously known as “Bloody Sunday.”
  • David Smalley, founder and CEO of Secular Media Group, the parent company for Dogma Debate Radio, Secular News Network, and Secular Media Network. David is also an author and national speaker on secularism and atheism.
  • Christopher Cameron, Associate Professor of History at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, president of the African American Intellectual History Society, and author whose work includes early religious history and the history of slavery and abolition.
  • Becka Alper, research associate at PEW Research Center and author. Becka contributes to the Center’s domestic religion polls.

And featured panels include:

Political Advocacy: With a focus on church/state separation, LGBTQ rights, women's healthcare, and more, we focus on it’s important for secular activists to make their political voices heard, from the perspective of student and professional activists, including:

  • Matt Enloe, SSA at University of Chicago
  • Lucien Greaves, The Satanic Temple
  • Erin Hagen, Americans United for Separation of Church and State
  • Jim Helton, Tri-State Freethinkers

Racial Justice: Black Lives Matter! How can we, as secular activists, work to advance these intersectional causes? This panel will reinforce the importance of tackling racial justice causes alongside secular causes, and explore how they are related from experienced student and professional activists. This panel will be moderated by Mandisa Thomas, President of Black Nonbelievers.

Panelists Include:

  • Diane Burkholder, One-Struggle Kansas City & LGBTQ Humanist Alliance
  • Sean Rivera, SSA at University of Texas, San Antonio
  • Sam Farooqui, alum of SSA at Florida State University
  • Annie Pearl Avery

Reproductive Justice: Why is it important for secular activists to be involved in fighting for reproductive rights, and combat the toxic influence of the Religious Right? We’ll hear from student activists as well as professional activists on why this is so important, how to be involved, and how we can fight for these rights!

  • Erin Carhart, Planned Parenthood
  • Jennie Frischtick, SSA alumni
  • Kayla Bowen, Morehead St SSA

Statement from Secular Student Alliance at North Carolina State University


The Secular Student Alliance at North Carolina State University is an autonomous affiliate of the Secular Student Alliance. This is their statement regarding the recent triple homocide in Chapel Hill. To read the statement by our national office, you can find it here.

The members of the Secular Student Alliance at NC State grieve the murders of Yusor Abu-Salha, Deah Barakat, and Razan Abu-Salha in Chapel Hill yesterday. We are dismayed and saddened by the loss of these members of our community and the trauma it has caused. The SSA at NC State condemns these killings without reservation, and offers our deepest sympathies and condolences to the victims’ families and friends.

The SSA at NC State’s leadership has spoken out about this tragedy. 

"I am deeply saddened by the loss of my fellow students, and angered by this act of cruelty. It is unthinkable to me that lives can be taken so senselessly,” says Nick Freeman, undergraduate advisor of the SSA at NC State. “Although I didn't know them personally, it is clear that Deah, Yusor, and Razan cared about their community and had hearts for service and good works. My thoughts go out to their friends and families."

“These senseless murders are horrifying,” says Jonathan Otten, president of the SSA at NC State. “The loss of fellow students, especially ones with whom I attended both high school and college, hurts deeply. They cared deeply about service and improving our world. We offer our solidarity and support, and my thoughts are with their families, friends, and community. Violence like this is never a solution to anything, and there is profound need for dialogue, deeper understanding, and acknowledgement that, because we’re all valued parts of the same world, hate and intolerance can’t be options.”

We recognize that intolerance is a problem affecting many communities, and this tragedy is a reminder that there are some who do not feel that all people can coexist. We strive to combat this view, and we offer our solidarity to those affected by this terrible act of violence. The SSA at NC State strives to work with all students to foster a community in which all voices are heard and respected, and in which all people are safe, regardless of religious differences. 


Statement on the murders in Chapel Hill: "We hope that dialogues can happen, and bridges are built, not burned"


Everyone at the Secular Student Alliance is appalled by the murders of Deah Bakurat, Yusor Mohammed, and Razan Mohammed Abu-Salha in Chapel Hill, North Carolina yesterday.  We are further appalled by the trauma and terror caused by these murders and offer our condolences to the victims, their family, and the greater Chapel Hill community. The Secular Student Alliance encourages students to work with each other to understand one another and make the world a better place. These killings work in the exact opposite of that cause.  

“We are horrified by the violence in Chapel Hill against these three young people who seem to have so profoundly dedicated themselves to helping their fellow human beings,” says August E. Brunsman IV, Executive Director of the Secular Student Alliance. “We mourn the loss of these three young people who were working so hard to make the world a better place.”

Secular students from the Chapel Hill and surrounding areas also expressed their concern over what has happened.

"We at the University of North Carolina Secular Student Alliance absolutely condemn these murders, and we stand in solidarity with the Muslim community," says Samantha Jackson, UNC SSA Board Member. "It is hard to express the grief we feel as classmates, as Tar Heels, as members of the greater Chapel Hill community. Lives will never be the same, and we are trying to figure out how to move forward emotionally after this."

"I am deeply saddened by the loss of my fellow students, and angered by this act of cruelty. It is unthinkable to me that lives can be taken so senselessly,” says Nick Freeman, Secular Student Alliance Board Member and North Carolina State University student. “Although I didn't know them personally, it is clear that Deah, Yusor, and Razan cared about their community and had hearts for service and good works. My thoughts go out to their friends and families."

The Secular Student Alliance promotes pluralism and secularism. We work alongside people of faith, and work to spread the understanding that both people with and without faith have the capacity to do good. Nothing about the lack of a belief in a god supports the murder of innocent people, and we absolutely condemn what has happened. We hope that dialogues can happen, and bridges are built, not burned, in the wake of this.


RELEASE: New Hire for Focus on Individual Secular Activists


Secular Student Alliance

Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Contact: Kelley Freeman (614)441-9588 x101

Secular Student Alliance Appoints New Position to Focus on Individual Secular Activists

COLUMBUS, OH - The Secular Student Alliance announced today that Pete Zupan of Boulder, Colorado has joined the organization as their new Student Program Specialist, a position to further develop individual programs and activism. The position will also focus on strengthening existing normalization programs such as the Secular Safe Zone and Openly Secular as well. 

"We're very excited about hiring a Student Program Specialist," says Lyz Liddell, Director of Campus Organizing, "It's going to give us a much stronger ability to improve our services for our individual members, as well as our alumni. We are committed to supporting secular students all over the country, regardless of their involvement in an affiliate group."

Zupan’s work will primarily focus on individual students, rather than affiliate groups. He will be the primary facilitator for the Secular Safe Zone, a program that trains Allies and Facilitators to create safe spaces for non-theists and encourage acceptance, understanding, and tolerance. Allies are also trained to recognize and respond to issues of discrimination, harassment, and bullying that non-theists may come up against. He will also be working on expanding and improving the Secular Student Alliance’s alumni program.

“Too many secular students have to live in fear of ostracization from their families, peers, and teachers for being who they are,” says Zupan, “It is my hope to alleviate some of that fear by providing students with safe spaces to be themselves and the opportunity to express their beliefs without repercussions.”

Before his hire by the Secular Student Alliance, Zupan was an intern with the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and was Vice-President of the University of Colorado-Boulder Secular Student Alliance affiliate, the Secular Students and Skeptics Society. He was also  a long-time volunteer of the Secular Student Alliance. 

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