Club Profile: The Secular Student Alliance

Araya Jackson

They promote free thinking, strive for comfort within and act as a safe haven for those students with similar beliefs. This is the Secular Student Alliance club at Georgia Southern.

According to SSA President Wesley Taylor, a junior justice studies major, SSA is essentially a political group that supports the separation of church and state.

Their club is made up of atheists, agnostics, free thinkers and religious students that like to see what the opposite side thinks.

“We promote general skeptical thinking, and not just taking what you hear for granted. That can go as far as not believing the assumption of some deity or being scared of the number 13,” Taylor said.

The national Secular Student Alliance website defines “secular” as an adjective used to “describe a person who forms their identity independent of any assumptions about the supernatural, is willing to rethink their beliefs in light of empirical evidence, and forms their values based on concern for the present and future world.”

The club hosts many speakers from the Secular Speakers Bureau that come in and talk about what it means to be a secular activist, others about intersectionality and what it means being a member of the LGBT and non-religious activism community, and a few interface dialogue panels with different religious groups with the school.

In the community, the SSA participated in last year’s “MLK Day On”, a service day on MLK day. The group is currently investigating multiple volunteer opportunities.

“Around here, it’s hard to organize volunteer opportunities because so many are tied to a church. They hold so much social power,” Taylor said.

Taylor feels that another reason their group is active is because it’s easy for a person to feel isolated if they don’t agree with a church.The SSA feel that everyone has a right to gather with people that think the same way.

“Ask an Atheist Day” is their most popular event that they hold every spring. They invite religious groups and generally anyone on campus to come in and ask any questions that they may have, like what it means to be an atheist or non-religious person. At this event, the SSA is able to clear up a lot of misconceptions.

“We usually get one question every year that’s like, ‘do y’all believe in evil or demons?’, and it’s like ‘no, none of that,’” Taylor said.

For Taylor, the group is an opportunity to make skeptical students feel welcomed. It’s a way to help the community without having to ascribe to a moral code they are not behind, and also to talk about the daily encounters faced on and off campus.

“It’s important to live in a world where no one person’s beliefs dictate your world and culture. To be free is important,” Taylor said.

Kaylee Thick, vice-president of the club and sophomore civil engineering major, likes the fact she can talk about things in the group that she may not be able to with her religious friends or her parents.

“It helps to have a place to have open discussions where you can learn more things and broaden your horizons. We do a presentation every week to show what we are about, and I also learn new things every week,” Thick said. “Being atheists, it doesn’t give a purpose like religion does. It’s a way I can live and be able to question things and think about things rationally, and not take everything at face value.”

Connor Klee, current secretary of the club and sophomore chemical engineering major, said he stumbled upon the group at the student organization fair his freshman year.

“This [group] caught my attention because I had never met anyone that was openly non-religious, agnostic, or atheist and that was a surprise to me,” Klee said. “That’s when I felt like this was where I needed to be.”

Klee feels he is more comfortable with his beliefs now and would be more willing to open up about it.

The SSA holds its general body meetings every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Russell Union and tables sets up every Thursday at the Rotunda.