You heard about how Tori’s time as a Secular Student Alliance intern inspired her to bring a secular community to her own campus—now see what that community has become! Here is the final chapter of Tori’s time with the SSA—so far. You can read part one here, and part two here.
As I told you last time, after weeks of continuous lobbying, the student government unanimously approved the Juniata affiliate of the SSA! It was a victorious moment for our group, and we immediately set to planning meetings and events.
Our first major event was during “Hug an Atheist” week, a national effort organized by the SSA and Foundation Beyond Belief to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Our members were so excited to focus on both activism and service. We changed the name to “Hug a Heathen” so all of our group members, whether they are atheists, agnostics, or secular allies, would be excited to participate. Group members took turns camping out in front of the campus cafeteria to exchange hugs for tips towards cancer research.
Hug a Heathen was a huge success for our group, with some people signing up as new members of the SSA on the spot and joining in the hug-fest! The timing of Hug a Heathen also worked out perfectly; it coincided with midterms and students were thrilled to receive hugs between exams. To top it off, Hug a Heathen was covered in articles on the Juniata website and campus newspaper, providing fantastic positive publicity for our new group!
Despite our overwhelming success during Hug a Heathen, not all students on campus were pleased by our presence. This prompted us to address the controversy of secular identity in our upcoming meetings, as well as to work more closely with Campus Ministry on interfaith initiatives. I was even invited to give a talk about my atheism at an interfaith service event! Our membership and presence on campus continues to grow and we are looking forward to even more exciting events next semester.