|This is post 1 of 6 in our part of the SSA Week Blogathon!|
Now onto the good stuff. Some of you may be asking: "Why should I give to the SSA? What is it that they do, exactly?" If you caught yesterday's interview with SSA Communications Director Jesse Galef on CNN, you might be under the impression that these guys are coming into schools all over the country shouting, "HEY KIDS, JOIN OUR NATIONAL GROUP DEVOTED TO GODLESSNESS AND HEDONISTIC REVELRY!" Actually, I could imagine JT doing something along those lines, but that's really not how it works. I can't speak to everyone's experiences with the SSA, but I can speak to ISSA's.
Our group formed in 2007, independent of the SSA and under the name Atheists, Agnostics & Freethinkers, though we became affiliated with them shortly thereafter. We would contact them periodically for help funding service trips and bringing in speakers from their fabulous Speakers Bureau, but that was the extent of our involvement for a few years. In 2010, we changed our name to the Illini Secular Student Alliance (both to be more professional and to increase our association with the national group) and really stepped up our level of activity. Contrary to what the average person might think, we still function mostly independently of the SSA. They don't tell us what events to do or how to do them. They do help us make our plans a reality.
In the fall, I was working myself to death trying to throw together Does the Black Community Need God? A Debate on Race, Faith & Culture and we faced a major setback when the University board that grants funds to student groups on our campus denied our very reasonable funding request. I sent a panicked email to the SSA and, one project grant application later, we had a significant portion of the costs covered, plus a bunch of awesome ideas on who else to contact for potential co-sponsorship. Later in the semester, we found ourselves increasingly concerned that our group was being discriminated against in funding decisions. I mentioned this briefly on our affiliation renewal form and immediately got an email from Sarah asking what they could to help.
So, you see, the SSA doesn't orchestrate our group's activities; they guarantee that we have the resources to act on our ambitions and be the best student group we can be. I cannot tell you how many times we've turned to them for things like press contacts, how-tos or ideas for speakers -- they are, simply put, invaluable to the success of our group in every way imaginable.
Donations to the SSA ensure that these resources are available to all students who need them, and I can't think of a more worthwhile cause than that. PLEASE, donate today. You could look as nerd-happy as Mel does in the pic below!