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Reason Rally 2012 (Presented by Secular Student Alliance at SUNY Cortland)

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SSA at SUNYCortland

In March 2012, SSA at SUNY Cortland was able to attend the Reason Rally thanks to a Project Grant from the national SSA. This article summarizes the experiences of that event for the group.

We are the Secular Student Alliance @ SUNY Cortland. There were three of us in attendance: Dustin Taylor, Nicholas Gardner, and Erica Deretz. We attended the Reason Rally on March 24th and the American Atheist Convention on March 25th. We were interviewed by several different news organizations. We made an article in the Washington Post, and Dustin was even mentioned in another article criticizing the Rally.

This is what Dustin had to say about the weekend:

My trip to the Reason Rally, in Washington D.C. on March 24th with the Secular Student Alliance at SUNY Cortland was absolutely unforgettable. We got to the rally early, before the crowd began to form and it was awesome to see the different types of people who were going to be joining us. People of all ethnic backgrounds, of all sexual orientations, of all different experiences, yet all with one common goal: to spread the word and make our voices heard.

As more than 20,000 other likeminded individuals crowded the National Mall around us, I couldn’t help the feeling of belonging and community. All of my fellow secularists were very friendly, and were eager to meet everyone around them and get to know them, regardless of the fact that they would most likely never see them again.

The speakers were absolutely awe-inspiring. The stories they had, the arguments they made, and the problems they have faced could be related to by many of us in one way or another.  All of the speakers were very eloquent, and had great things to say, I found myself hanging on their every word.

The Secular Students Alliance at SUNY Cortland was lucky enough to be interviewed and featured in the Washington Post’s Sunday coverage of the Reason Rally. The journalist that interviewed us had so many great questions, I didn’t even get a chance to answer all of them. I’m glad that I was able to voice my own opinions, and know that so many people around me would wholeheartedly agree with what I said.

Even the miserable weather could not dampen the spirits of 20,000+ reasonable individuals with somethingsign to say.

The American Atheist Convention the following day was just as amazing. There were more great speakers to be heard, more great stories to be told, and more great people to meet.

I wish that weekend could have lasted forever. Even today, weeks after the event, I am still inspired by what I saw and heard. The rally definitely helped me with my decision to be more active in the atheist movement. I want to make differences the way some of those speakers did, I want stories like they had, I want to help the movement as much as possible.

Dustin E Taylor
Secular Student Alliance @ SUNY Cortland

It really was an unforgettable weekend. We had such an amazing time. The speakers at both events were phenomenal. To see Richard Dawkins speak in person, to hear his voice in the same room and at the rally, to hear all the other great speakers, to see Tim Minchin perform, it really was an experience of a lifetime!

We spent the money provided with this grant on our hotel and travel expenses. As a new club of only about two months at this time, our club did not have a budget and the rest of our expenses came out of pocket. The experiences were invaluable. What I value most out of this weekend was how much it motivated my fellow travel companions, and we have in turn motivated other members of our club. They had enough interest in the cause to elect to go for the weekend and pay their necessary part. But after hearing the speakers and talking with fellow reasonable peoples, this became not just a cause they were interested in, it became their cause and they have since made it their own. We’re all so fortunate to have been able to attend, all thanks to the generosity of the SSA.

This article was written by the members of SSA @ SUNY Cortland.

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