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SSA Minimum Standards for Affiliation


We invite campus groups to affiliate with us if they share our values of naturalism, reason and compassion in the service of making the world a better place for all humanity. They must share a philosophical worldview informed by the methods of science, recognize the evolution of our knowledge, and be free from dogma and open to revision as new evidence and more compelling reasons are presented.

We embrace the common goals and shared aspects of all naturalistic, secular worldviews. Secular Student Alliance affiliates include, but are not limited to, atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers, skeptics, naturalists, brights, Pastafarians, and many others.

For more information on affiliation and to apply, visit our affiliate application.

Specifically, we are interested in affiliating with groups that are:

We hold that natural things are the only things about which humans can coherently communicate or think. Most of us believe that all things that exist are natural things. We also believe that critical inquiry, combined with empirical investigation where possible, leads to a more accurate understanding of the world in which we live than revelation, faith, or authority.

The vast majority of our affiliated campus groups are specifically organized around advancing and exploring naturalistic ideals.  Groups that advance these ideas in a whimsical fashion are also perfectly appropriate for affiliation—for example a Pastafarian group with a focus on promoting the teaching and acceptance of evolution would likely meet this clause.  However, nontheistic groups that advocate supernatural phenomena (such as homeopathy or astrology) are not appropriate for affiliation.  Groups that take a neutral stance on naturalism (as many philosophy clubs do) are also not appropriate for affiliation.

Economically Neutral
We share many common concerns with organizations that advocate specific economic principles, including Libertarians, Objectivists, Greens, and others. However, we cannot affiliate with groups that pursue an active economic agenda, be it on the left or right. We do acknowledge that the study of economics and sound economic policy is vital to the betterment of humanity. However, we have no interest in endorsing one economic view over others.

We strive to see naturalism, reason, and compassion take center stage in economic discussions and encourage our affiliates to promote and engage in discussion of economic issues and policies.  However, a specific economic agenda cannot be the primary focus of a group.  Therefore, an affiliate group that regularly holds discussions of economic policy, religious tax exemptions, correlations between social safety nets and religiosity, etc. is acceptable.  For example, hosting or sponsoring events focused on economic areas (such as a speaker presenting on modern Communism, or modern Objectivism) is welcome and encouraged.  But a group which actively embraces Communism, Objectivism or another economic agenda in its mission or constitution would not be appropriate for affiliation with SSA.

Civil Rights-Minded
We cannot support groups that promote denial of liberties in areas such as religion, speech, or equality under the law.

Advocacy is an area in which many SSA affiliates are active.  We encourage our groups to discuss civil rights issues and encourage the promotion of civil liberties.  Active engagement in these areas is not a requirement of affiliation, but it certainly is not prohibited.  However, groups that actively oppose civil liberties (by, for example, attempting to restrict the speech of any individuals—including religious ones) are not eligible for SSA affiliation. 

We cannot affiliate with groups that bar members from joining on the basis of their creed or worldview. We also cannot affiliate with groups that discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

We feel that discrimination against people based on their identity is unacceptable, and we do not permit our affiliates to discriminate in this manner.  Under this clause, an affiliate may not deny membership to individuals based on their identity in the above protected classes.  However, groups may always set acceptable limits of behavior within the group: for example, a group may ask a member to refrain from proselytizing during meetings, or even to refrain from attending meetings unless s/he can participate in a respectful manner according to the group guidelines.  In such situations, action must only be taken on the basis of behavior, not on identity.

Secular Student Alliance Affiliates & Political Activity

Because the national Secular Student Alliance is a 501(c)(3) organization, we are prohibited from engaging in certain political activities - namely, political campaigning.  However, that restriction does not extend to your affiliate group: your campus group may engage in a wide variety of political activities.  For example, you may bring in speakers to educate your members on an upcoming election issue.  You can bring in elected officials to speak to your group, even in a campaign sense during election season.  These elected officials may include economic material in their presentations, and that is just fine.

The restriction on the national organization does mean that we may interact with your group somewhat differently on political issues.  Your group is welcome to organize events supporting or opposing political candidates.  You can publicize them widely and interact with them as you see fit.  However, the national SSA cannot assist you with promotion or writing press releases, and we cannot feature those events on our website or in other materials.  We also cannot provide funding or other support (project grants, speakers bureau funding, tabling supplies, etc.) for those events.

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