As a high-schooler in a rural town, it wasn’t unusual to listen my “science” teachers preach creationism or to have to sit through anti-liberal rants from my government teacher (who is now an ultra-conservative legislator for the Kansas House of Representatives). Such experiences made it nigh unimaginable for my freshly-agnostic, teenage self to even dream about having a secular student group in my school. My encounters are hardly the only one of its kind. Sarah Moglia, Campus Organizing Communication Specialist for the SSA, literally had piss & shit leveled against her in response to her college atheist group:
Six years (and one religious relapse) after graduating from high school in that tiny Bible Belt town, the Secular Student Alliance has almost 400 affiliated groups in high schools, colleges, and universities across the country. The landscape is changing – quickly – but in order to keep up their efforts, groups like the SSA need our involvement. The SSA is based out of Columbus, Ohio and while they have several regional organizers, a great deal of their work with student groups takes place remotely. Last week, they announced a fundraising campaign to hire a Rapid Response Organizer. What does that entail? Glad you asked!
The Rapid Response Organizer (RRO) will be a full-time position with the SSA. This person will monitor news reports and our own networks to react as early as possible to situations where secular students need help standing up for their rights or where secular students are doing especially amazing work. As quickly as possible, the RRO will then travel anywhere in the country to either mitigate the negative situations or amplify the positive ones!
This position will fill a much-needed gap with the secular community. As expected, the RRO would be available to aid students whose administrators don’t realize the law is on their side. Not only that, they’ll be able to witness firsthand what some of the especially successful groups are doing so they can help other groups do the same!
If you want to help out, please visit the Secular Student Alliance RRO donation page, which can be found here. And while you’re there, don’t forget to sign up or renew your membership with the SSA. The SSA has a $250,000 donation campaign right now so your money has twice the impact – their matching campaign counts toward renewals as well as RRO donations! By now, we know that stories like mine and Sarah’s aren’t uncommon. But every once in a while, we get a story about a young atheist who stands up and wins against the odds (see: Jessica Ahlquist) – and we need to learn from those students, too! With your help, the SSA will be able to help students across the country, while also getting firsthand experience from students who are making a difference.