Last Tuesday, Secular Coalition for America held their Knit A Brick march in Washington, DC to protest the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores. Ever since hearing Sarah Levin, Outreach Coordinator for SCA, speak about the Knit A Brick campaign at the CFI Leadership Conference months ago, I thought it was a fantastic idea; they would have individuals knit and mail in “bricks” (really just rectangles), and at the end of the drive, SCA would knit the collected bricks into one “wall of separation between church and state,” then bring that wall to the Supreme Court building. I was fully in support of the cause – I even sponsored a brick – but I had no idea that I would find myself traveling 400 miles to participate in person.
My name is Margaret Nervig and I currently serve as the Alumni Coordinator for the UNI Freethinkers & Inquirers (UNIFI). Yes, you read that correctly. After seven years as a student organization at the University of Northern Iowa, we have finally amassed enough alumni that we had to create a specific position to monitor the program. Until this year, the Alumni Program was really just the longtime project/dream of UNIFI alum Trevor Boeckmann. Taking inspiration from (much) bigger groups with (much) bigger alumni programs, Trevor wanted to create a way for current UNIFI members to connect with alumni--and vice versa.
I started investigating atheist campus groups for the first time in college, in an attempt to find people who were like minded to myself. While I have been aware of the fact that I'm an atheist since childhood, it was not until I started attending university and being swarmed by campus ministries that I ever really felt a need to talk or even think about atheism. For most of my life, my lack of belief in God was something I was quiet about unless asked. The atheist campus group I encountered was called the American University Rationalists and Atheists (AURA), and we engaged in weekly discussion on religious and secular topics.
Hi, I’m Aaron Friel, a student at the University of Northern Iowa and president of the UNI Freethinkers & Inquirers. We organized an event last weekend called Progressive Picnic; here was our elevator pitch:
It's hard to believe, but the fall semester is just around the corner! Start the year off right by hanging out at the Progressive Picnic on Sunday, August 24th from 5-8 at Lawther Field at UNI. At the picnic, you'll have a chance to hang out with leaders from all the great student orgs and members of the Progressive Coalition! Live music will be provided by local bands Peas and Carrot and Commons Collective, and we’ll have games like bags and MEGA JENGA. And all with refreshing sno-cones to keep you cool during move-in weekend. Everything is free!
I asked three leaders of CFI On Campus affiliate groups--Max Nielson of the Secular Student Alliance at the College of Charleston, Aaron Friel of University of Northern Iowa Freethinkers and Inquirers, and Max McKittrick of the Illini Secular Student Alliance--to tell me what their organizations had planned for the start of the semester. Read what they had to say, and think about what your student group is doing to kick off the year. (Oh, and utilize their ideas all you want--the best events have usually been inspired by something another group did first!)