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Student Voice Interview: Chula Vista High School


This article originally appeared in the SSA eMpirical No. 15 - Student Voice, Part I.

Campus Organizer interviews Chula Vista High School's group about their experiences.

Yours is one of our newest groups. How is starting a campus group going, and how did you hear about the SSA?

We are having a strong start to our club. Although we are not as popularly known as most clubs, we are well-liked among those who have knowledge of us (besides the occasional Fundamentalist). We do plan on tabling - which is exciting because it has probably never been done before in our high school. Though, since we are still nascent, we are still trying to maintain a good foundational base of members who are willing to participate within the club rather than simply attend our meetings. In general, the club is going fantastically and we are making progress, as we have also started to do fundraisers for the club. We are starting out strong, but we are hoping that we will stay strong as well.

During the early stages of the club, late last school year, I was searching for student organizations - the opposite of the Campus Crusade for Christ group, if you will - for our Atheist and Freethinker Club, and I had come across the SSA through Wikipedia, actually. I already had knowledge of national freethought groups but I had not seen any that were specifically devoted to student clubs - until I had found the SSA. SSA's concentrated devotion to student organizations is extraordinarily helpful and welcome; as I am sure every other club who is affiliated with the SSA will attest. Our group, however, is very grateful for that discovery and we show it through our continuous wearing of our beloved SSA pins.

It's been my experience that organizing on a high school campus is particularly difficult because students are only on campus for a limited amount of time during the day, and the faculty usually has a tighter hold on meeting rooms and such. Have these been problems for your group? If so, how did you get around these?

It is extremely difficult, actually - especially when people are dependent upon public transportation or their parents for their transportation, in which case they are not capable of staying due to a time constraint, among other things. Another obstacle related to transportation is that most of our members do not live near the school campus, unlike most post-high school students, and because of such it is difficult to have these students around the campus after the school day. However, there are various Starbucks cafes and a small-time pizza place near our campus, so I am planning on having a get-together at one of these to be able to discuss things freely, without worry of time - since in our meetings we are only allowed about half an hour.

Our school is also going to be hosting a "Winter Wonderland," where classes and clubs compete in decorating entire buildings or parts of buildings for cash prizes. We are planning on staying after school for several days to prepare for this, as we are in charge of an entire building. I hope this will allow members to feel accustomed to staying after school to be with other club members during activities. Hosting films after school is also helpful for keeping the members involved after-hours. The first movie we will show, due to popular demand within the club, shall be The God Who Wasn't There - a movie which, I am sure, will attract even non-members.

You are located pretty close to another high school affiliate: The Secular Student Alliance of Colton High School. Has your group considered hosting a joint event with this group to pool resources?

No, although that is not a bad idea. The only problem with this would be transportation, as some members are not able to drive legally or able to find someone to carpool with - and I assume it would be the same with The Secular Student Alliance of Colton High School's members. It is quite inconvenient that the majority of our group cannot drive legally, since it restricts us from doing things like this. However, I will contact this club and see if they have an idea of how we could overcome this challenge, since it would be very helpful and encouraging to organize and associate our group with another freethinking student club.

What is the most successful meeting that your group has held thus far?

The most successful meeting, where everyone was participating and we had an attendance of over 20 people - including members and non-members - was when we discussed what our ideas were about the universe, the supernatural, spirituality and religion. I began by explaining how I was an atheist and came to this through the study of religion after being a Fundamentalist Christian for fifteen years. I told of how I am now a monist atomist and a moral relativist, which was not common in our club at all, actually. We had ideas ranging from atheism to agnosticism, to literal and liberal Christianity and Buddhism to atheism while holding the Bible as a Guide-To-A-Good-Life, among others. It was a very educational experience for everyone in the club to understand that we are composed of - not only atheists, but many different ideologies concerning the universe and the divine, which is the Freethinking aspect of our group.

Having forums where the members are able to express their ideas is extremely helpful for participation, although there will always be people who have a great affection for the club but are too shy to participate. Other than that, it is great to let the members have an outlet through the club and be able to express their ideas about anything and everything while also accepting others' ideas, even if we do not share them.

This article originally appeared in the SSA eMpirical No. 15 - Student Voice, Part I.

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