Oct. 9, 2007
For Release: Immediately Upon Receipt
Contact: August E. Brunsman IV, 614-441-9588
Secular Student Alliance Hires New York City Campus Organizer
Atheist, Humanist and other youth who reject religion are getting organized in New York City.
Albany, NY - Atheist, humanist and other freethinking students in the New York City area can now call on a professional for advice on how to organize campus groups.
Wilson Karaman, 26, has been hired as the first New York City regional campus organizer of the Secular Student Alliance (SSA), a nonprofit organization that acts as a resource for atheist, humanist and other freethinking high school and college students worldwide. Karaman is a doctoral student in political science at the New School for Social Research. Prior to that, he did his undergraduate work at New York University.
"College is really the first time you integrate life experience with intellectual experience," said Karaman. "For many, it's also the first time you begin to question your own religious upbringing and start to see the world with your own eyes."
Students are increasingly rejecting the religion of their childhood. A January survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that Americans ages 18-25 with no religion have nearly doubled since the late 1980s from one-in-ten to one-in-five. The Secular Student Alliance currently has more than 100 affiliate groups, run by students at schools all over the world. The number of SSA affiliate groups has more than doubled since 2004.
As regional campus organizer, Karaman's duties include working with campus groups to help them run better events, create a sense of community within their groups, and provide resources and opportunities for student leaders to network with each other and the larger secular community. Another important part of the position is helping to start new secularist groups on campuses without any.
Karaman's position is partially funded through a grant from the New York City Atheists. Ken Bronstein, president of the NYC Atheists, said that the staff of the Secular Student Alliance "are the ideal people" to organize secular students in the New York City area because of their track record.
"With more than 600,000 students in New York City, there are some amazing opportunities to form secular communities," said August E. Brunsman IV, executive director of the Secular Student Alliance. Students interested in starting a group on their campus should request a free group starting packet from the SSA's Web site.
The Secular Student Alliance has another regional campus organizer based out of southern California and is looking for funding to hire more regional campus organizers in other parts of the country. The SSA is headquartered in Albany, N.Y., with free office space provided by the Institute for Humanist Studies, a think tank that has awarded the SSA more than $130,000 in grants since 2001.
The mission of the Secular Student Alliance is to organize, unite, educate, and serve students and student communities that promote the ideals of scientific and critical inquiry, democracy, secularism, and human based ethics. The Secular Student Alliance represents atheist and humanist groups at more than 100 high schools and colleges around the world.
For information about the Secular Student Alliance, visit: http://www.secularstudents.org
For information about the New York City Atheists, visit: http://nyc-atheists.org/