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Student Voice Interview: Texas State's


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

Campus Organizer interviews the Freethought Society of Texas State University in San Marcos.

Tell me about the panel discussion your group held earlier this fall. The topic was on 'Morality Without God?' What were some of the highlights from this discussion?

We decided to have a faculty-led panel discussion to explore questions like: are there any moral absolutes? Is personal morality a matter of cultural conditioning? And, borrowing from Plato, does God approve of an act because it is holy or is it holy because God approves of it? We held this panel because we feel that it is important that we don't take things like our governing morality for granted. We should question why it is that we feel this is right and that is wrong. If we find that the foundation upon which we've written the rules for right behavior is a shaky one, than those rules must be re-evaluated. If we find that the basis of our morality is secure, than we may enjoy new confidence in our way of life.

The University Star, our campus newspaper, has been great about covering our events. You can read about our faculty panel discussion on the connection between morality and religion here: here. Another article covering the event appears here. We also had two articles covering our recent, all-student panel discussion on animal rights: here and here.

FSTS Panel

Pictured, starting from the left is Kelly Skinner, Nicole McNeil, Tim Suto, and John Felger at a student panel discussion on animal rights.

How have your fundraisers gone? Were you able to sell enough popsicles to cover your operations for this year or are there other fundraisers in the pipeline?

We haven't incurred much for costs, so what we sold in that fundraiser and what we already had in our account has been sufficient for this semester. We will probably do 1-2 fundraisers next semester.

Texas is one of our most affiliate-dense states. This reality seems to go counter to the intuitive assumption that the south is largely Christian. Can you tell me some of your experiences as a secular activist in the south?

Well, Texas is certainly "largely Christian." There are over 20 Christian student organizations on campus, compared to our one small secular organization. As for being a secular activist in the south, people are usually polite. We've had a smattering of unpleasant encounters with devoted Christians while doing tabling events on campus, but not often. The Christian organizations have not replied to our repeated invitations to participate in discussions or debate. On the other hand, no one seems to question our right to organize, speak, and host events. Our "morality without god" panel discussion was well-attended.

Do you ever work with these other groups in Texas? There are SSA affiliates in Dallas, 2 in San Antonio, College Station, Houston, Forth Worth, and Frisco, would you ever consider (with the help of SSA of course!) organizing a joint event or a speakers tour with these other freethought groups?

We have not been in contact with any other SSA affiliates, but we would certainly be open to collaborating in the future - particularly if they were interested in hosting an event with Annie Laurie Gaylor or Lori Lipman Brown.

What is on the horizon for FSTS this year?

We will continue to host panel discussions and debates on campus, aside from fundraising and recruitment efforts. We're about to have our first t-shirts made, so as to increase our visibility in the community. I am also hoping our group will start regular volunteer service in San Marcos this spring semester.

Is there anything facing your group that the SSA can help you work around? Can we provide you with speakers, business cards, inexpensive meeting ideas, staff support, grant funding etc.?

We would be very interesting in inviting Annie Laurie Gaylor or Lori Lipman Brown to speak or participate in a group discussion at Texas State. We would, however, need to apply for maybe a $250 grant to help cover costs.

Are members of FSTS talking about attending the SSA/Harvard Conference this year held at Harvard in April '07?

Honestly, we weren't aware of it.
The SSA and Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard Joint Conference will be held April 19-22, as part of the Chaplaincy's 30th anniversary. A great list of speakers and opportunities are already planned, and travel grants are available through the SSA. You can read more about it here.

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

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