The Illini Secular Student Alliance (ISSA) is a Registered Student Organization at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign dedicated to establishing a supportive social network for the nonreligious student community at UIUC, in addition to acting as an educational and philanthropic institution both on campus and nationwide.
From its inception, ISSA has strived to provide quality activities and events for nontheists and skeptics of all stripes. To that end, we've brought a wide range of speakers to campus, from biologist PZ Myers to eminent author and skeptic Michael Shermer. ISSA also engages in many forms of service work, including blood drives, bake sales, and service trips to areas in need.
For its efforts, ISSA has received national attention on multiple occasions. In early 2010, the group (then known as Atheists, Agnostics & Freethinkers) found itself the center of significant controversy after drawing stick figures of Muhammad in support of Matt Stone and Trey Parker (of South Park fame). The furor generated by this innocuous act of blasphemous free speech empowered ISSA to found the Transfaith initiative: A brand of interfaith work which says that groups of different beliefs can air their disagreements while still coming together to affect positive change. Harvard Humanist Chaplain Greg Epstein is among those who have responded to the idea of Transfaith. ISSA's 2010 bus ad campaign also found national attention and continues to work its way to the front page of Reddit, a tribute to the wide appeal of ISSA's message: That we don't need religion or its baggage to be forces for positive change, both within our community and as citizens of the world.
ISSA has also received more formal recognition for its work. In 2008, the national Secular Student Alliance presented the group with its "Best Service Project" award for a service trip ISSA members took to New Orleans. In 2011, ISSA received the Center for Inquiry's "Good Without God" award. Later that year, the group was recognized as the Secular Student Alliance's "Affiliate of the Year", placing it at the forefront of the ever-expanding secular student community. Both CFI and the SSA recognized ISSA again in 2012, CFI for "Diversity Initiatives" and the SSA once more for "Best Service". ISSA was even mentioned positively in an article in the Journal of College and Character, titled "Nontheistic Students on Campus: Understanding and Accommodating Atheists, Agnostics, Humanists and Others," in which the authors made reference to our nation-wide educational initiative "National Ask an Atheist Day". NAAAD united and mobilized secular groups on more than 50 campuses to combat prejudice against (and misconceptions regarding) non-religious peoples. The article later appeared in the Huffington Post.
ISSA was founded on 3/14/07 by Chris Calvey and Bharath Gudivada as Atheists, Agnostics & Freethinkers.
For more information, please read our FAQ or see our list of past officers!
President: Bethany B.
Vice President: Katrina Halfaker (interim)
Treasurer: Jonas Murphy
Outreach Chair: Grace Sun (interim)
Secretary: Grace Sun
Social Media Chair: Max McKittrick
Social Chair: Ellen Denby
Interfaith Chair: Brian Hsieh
Street Team Coord.: Brian Hsieh (interim)
Scribe: Katrina Halfaker
Scribe: Alex Nelson