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This Week (Group Starting Edition) -- Using the SSA Brand
One of the biggest pieces of forming a new campus group is choosing a name. After all, the name of your group is going to be the one thing that most people see, hear, say, and identify with. It's important! SSA affiliate groups use all kinds of names, from the clever (Freethinkers, Atheists and Questioners - FAQ) to the umbrella (Secular Humanists, Atheists and Agnostics for Reason, Knowledge and Science) to the simple (Freethinkers Club).
But one of the most commonly used names among our affiliates is actually using "Secular Student Alliance" as the name for your group. While we're happy to support our groups no matter what name they choose, there are a lot of great reasons to use our name and logo - the SSA "brand."
Perhaps the most significant benefit to using the SSA brand for your group is that you get to borrow our name recognition. As the national SSA grows and becomes more widely recognized (particularly with things like this week's Reddit/Facebook/Friendly Atheist attention blitz), your group also benefits. Students coming onto campus may already be familiar with the SSA name, and when they see your group, they'll know they have a place to land. In the aftermath of a media wave, curious off-campus supporters google for SSA in their area, and can easily find your group.
You're also making it clear that you're part of something larger. This can be particularly helpful when you're just getting started, as a hesitant administration or resistant community is more likely to accept a group that's part of a strong national organization than an unaffiliated band of students. (Of course, all groups affiliated with the SSA get our support, but using our name makes it loud and clear to the rest of the world.)
Because we can order supplies with our name and logo on them in bulk quantities, those groups using our name have access to a few extra tabling supplies and resources. We produce stickers, buttons, pens and banners with the SSA logo on them - but they're only available for free to those groups who are using our name. (Because, really, if your group name is "Freethinker's Society," what good is a "Secular Student Alliance" banner going to do for you?)
Sometimes the SSA name just isn't right for your campus. There may be any number of reasons: maybe your administration is scared of the connection, or maybe your school lends itself to a fantastic acronym. We value your creativity and autonomy, and so we don't require your group to use our name (or do anything else, for that matter, other than renew your affiliation every semester). We don't offer any material benefits to groups that choose to use our name other than that handful of tabling supplies, and that's mostly because they don't benefit independently-named groups nearly as much as they do the groups using our name. So if you're not sold on the SSA @ Your School, don't panic. We're still here for you.
If you're set to use the SSA name for your group, here's how. First, you need to decide what format you'll use. The default format is "Your School Secular Student Alliance" or "Secular Student Alliance at Your School." That said, there are a few variations we can get behind, such as using your mascot instead of the school name: at the University of Illinois, the campus group goes by "Illini Secular Student Alliance." If you go much beyond that format, though, check with us to make sure it still fits the model.
Once you've chosen your group's name format, you'll need to complete a Name Use Agreement. This is a legal agreement that basically just says you're not going to pretend to be SSA national and that you won't steal our logo. High school groups should note that you'll need to make sure that whoever completes the form is age 18 or older.
Bam! You've got yourself a great name for your group, so out and put it to good use! If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to contact us.