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Freethought Festival 2012 (Presented by Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics at the University of Wisconsin – Madison)

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In April 2012, Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics at the University of Wisconsin – Madison was able to host Freethought Festival 2012 in collaboration with the Madison Coalition of Reason thanks to a Project Grant from the national SSA. This article summarizes the experiences of that event for the group.


It would be a severe understatement to say that Freethought Festival 2012 was “big.” The mere possibility of such an event is a testament to the tremendous support received from the SSA, our guest speakers, the event organizers, and the growing secular movement itself.  As such, please understand that the following summary, while lengthy, in no way captures the magnitude of the Freethought Festival.

Freethought Festival 2012 was broken down into four theme-based sessions, each of which featured five to seven talks related to a central topic of importance.  The first session, “Sexy Secularism,” took place on Friday, April 27th, and consisted of talks addressing issues of religiosity in human sexuality (Dr. Darrel Ray), the intersection of biology and morality in the abortion debate (Chris Calvey), LGBTQ rights (Dr. Veronica Drantz), philosophy of science (Dr. Elliot Sober), and then culminated with a keynote discussion of evolution vs. creationism in the public science classroom (Dr. Kevin Padian).  The crowd grew over the course of this first evening, perhaps reaching 400 seated attendees at its peak – though there was continuous turnover as people arrived and left throughout the evening.  After each talk there was time for a brief Q&A session, allowing audience participation and a chance for speakers to clarify points.

This Week: One More Week for Affiliation Renewal, Light the Night Updates, New Branded Affiliate Policy

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One More Week for Affiliation Renewal

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The Fall 2012 Affiliation Renewal is over in a week - that's October 22nd! Only about 40% of our groups have filled out the form, so don't wait until it's too late! Many of you have affiliated recently but if your group affiliated before October 8th, you still need to fill this form out! We need each and every SSA affiliate group to renew, so lend us 15 minutes to get your affiliation renewed.  Learn more, check outstanding groups, use the FAQ, complete the renewal form and more at www.secularstudents.org/renewal.

Light the Night Updates

If you haven't already heard, the FBB team has raised $297,566.36 which is about $200,000 short of the $500,000 match from the Stiefel Freethought Foundation to reach the end goal of one million dollars. After a bit of numbers crunching, we know that of the 138 teams or so, our affiliates account for 38 of them! That's a hefty chunk! If your group is not being represented in the 38 let us know!

The bottom line is that secular students across the country are making a big difference in this effort. We are less than $150,000 away in matchable donations from beating the record for most money raised by a first-year national partner. SSA affiliate teams have raised thousands so far and are raising more money every day. Congratulations guys!

New Branded Affiliate Policy

We have made a change to our branded affiliate program. Now only groups officially named some variation of Secular Student Alliance [CAMPUS NAME] or [CAMPUS NAME] Secular Student Alliance can get free banners with our tabling supplies service. Groups that use the subtitle option: An Affiliate of the Secular Student Alliance can no longer request free banners. For more of an in-depth understanding of our Branded Affiliates Program, check out this page. As always branding your group using our name provides these benefits:

  • Association with a nationally-recognized name
  • A professional brand and logo (which you can customize for your group)
  • Support from and to other groups who share the name
  • Brochures, business cards, and other tabling swag (as available)
  • No exclusivity - you are welcome to maintain all ties with other organizations (in fact, we encourage it!)

It is worth reading the whole thing to become familiar with how things are. Also check out pages for alternative logo use and the name use agreement if you ever want to brand your group. Finally, if you don't want to change your name and still want a banner, you can buy one at our new store (must have student membership to login).

Group Photo of the Week

Secular Students at the North Carolina Secular Student Leadership Summit. Schools represented: Irmo High School, ECU, UNCP, UNC-CH, UNCG, Duke, NCSU, Clemson, USC, College of Charleston et. al.

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SSA Leaderspace
Want to be a part of the SSA Annual 2013 Conference? We are taking applications from any student who is interested in speaking to their peers and helping out the student movement. We have a list of topics to choose from, but you can also suggest your own. Simply fill out this form to apply. You must be a student in the U.S. to qualify. Let Nick know if you have any questions!

Missed the SSA's Annual Conference? Didn't get to see all the talks? We're constantly posting new videos to our YouTube Channel, so you can check them out! This latest video comes from Jen McCreight speaking on creating diversity in your group.
Newest Affiliate
Secular Student Alliance at Biotechnology High School
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Speakers Bureau
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Featured Speaker
David Fitzgerald
David Fitzgerald is a writer, public speaker and historical researcher based in San Francisco. He is the author of  NAILED: Ten Christian Myths that Show Jesus Never Existed at All. His presentations include "Ten Beautiful Lies about Jesus," "The Complete Heretic's Guide to Western Religion: Mormonism" among others. David Charges a $100 honorarium from any group hosting him.
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$20,000 end-of-year match!

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Ron Verstappen ca. 2012
Ron Verstappen

Dear friends,

I have exciting news for you!

Secular Student Alliance supporter Ron Verstappen has seen all of the amazing work we have been doing this year. He knows we have seen incredible growth and have started this semester off the right way: sending out almost 150 group starting packets, over 100 sets of tabling supplies, and growing to nearly 400 affiliate groups.

Ron also knows that this growth isn't going to stop, and that with your support we can finish this year off stronger than ever.

This is why Ron has pledged a $20,000 matching offer to finish the year off the right way. If you did not give in 2011, anything you give will be matched dollar-for-dollar. Supporters who gave in 2011 will have any increase in their 2011 total gift matched. However, this matching offer ends on December 31st! Donate before then and you can help twice as many students form communities on their campuses.

The Secular Student Alliance relies on support from individuals like you and Ron to create a world where secular students are respected voices in public discourse and vital partners in the secular movement's charge against irrationality and dogma. We provide many of our services to students completely free of charge: this is only possible because of your generosity. Show your support of secular students by making a gift today.

This Week: Fall 2012 Affiliation Renewals, Project Grants, 2013 SSA Annual Conference Student Speakers

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Fall 2012 Affiliation Renewals

Renewal Icon

The Fall 2012 Affiliation Renewal is happening right now!  All leaders and advisors should have gotten an email about this required form.  We need each and every SSA affiliate group to renew, so lend us 15 minutes to get your affiliation renewed.  Learn more, check outstanding groups, use the FAQ, complete the renewal form and more at www.secularstudents.org/renewal.

Project Grants

Who wants money for group projects? Use project grants to take your group on an excursion to freethought conferences, collaborate with other groups to help run an event or simply to make custom club  t-shirts. Alls you have to do is go to our grant page and fill out the form at the bottom. We will get back to you with further details.

Make sure your group is eligible! Your group must have a constitution and a bank account to receive this funding. We can help you with any to these requirements or any other questions you may have. Just contact us!

This year's Skepticon is coming fast! If your group is interested in receiving travel funding for this event, make sure to fill out a project grant application by the end of this week!

2013 SSA Annual Conference Student Speakers

Next year's conference is a wee bit away, but you can be part of the magic now!  We are taking applications from any student who is interested in speaking to their peers and helping out the student movement. We have a list of topics to choose from, but you can also suggest your own if you think it belongs at our conference. Simply fill out this form:

http://www.secularstudents.org/2013con/speakerapp

There are no requirements other than being a student in the U.S. Let Nick know if you have any questions!

Group Photo of the Week

Members from the Atheist Student Organization at University of Texas - Pan American welcoming new members at their Great Godless Gathering – Reprise event..

Send us your photos!
New Leader?
No Longer a Leader?
Let us know!
SSA Leaderspace

Missed the SSA's Annual Conference? Didn't get to see all the talks? We're constantly posting new videos to our YouTube Channel, so you can check them out! This latest video comes from Derek Miller speaking on the perception of atheists in American society.
Newest Affiliate
Secular Student Alliance of Mercersburg
Affiliate Your Group!

Featured Service
Project Grants
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Featured Speaker
Nate Phelps
Nate Phelps is the son of Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church. He escaped the Church himself when he turned 18 and has dedicated his life to helping others in similar situations. Nate is on the board of directors of Recovering from Religion and the Executive Director of the Centre for Inquiry Canada in Calgary, Alberta. He can speak on growing up in a cult, LGBT rights and other issues.
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