Affiliate Group of the Week

Affiliate Group of the Week #8: Secular Student Alliance at Presbyterian College

January 10, 2013

Our campus groups do great things every day of the week, and rarely get the recognition they deserve. This Thursday blog series was started to help groups to get their name out there more publicly and share their successes with the world. Each week, we'll pick a group that's doing fantastic work to highlight.

Up this week is the Secular Student Alliance of Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina. Harrison Hopkins, the group's current president, agreed to answer some of our questions and share their biggest successes.

Harrison Hopkins and group
Members of SSA at Presbyterian College raised $3,242.35 for Light the Night.

First, please introduce yourself. Where you go to school, graduation year, your background. What's your "atheist/secular conversion story," if you have one?
I am Harrison Hopkins, sophomore at Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC, where I'll hopefully be graduating in two years with a degree in Psychology. I'm president and founder of the Secular Student Alliance at Presbyterian College. My "conversion story" is a bit boring. Sometime back either during late elementary or early middle school I happened across the word "atheist" and realized that hey, that's pretty much what I was. I hadn't been raised in a church at all, the few times I'd go would be during the summers when I'd visit my grandma or when I'd go to hang out with friends. My "prayers" were almost all the same: Asking for Pokémon to be real.

How did your group get started? What year was it founded? Was there a specific event or incident that motivated you to create the organization?
Secular Student Alliance at Presbyterian College was officially founded in October 2011 during the first semester of my freshman year, but I'd been working to get it started since at least June of the previous summer. After attending the Center for Inquiry Student Leadership Conference of that year, I came back knowing that having a group for nonbelievers at PC was necessary.

What is your group's name? How did you decide on that name?
We went with Secular Student Alliance at Presbyterian College for the recognition and the fairly to-the-point name. We may attempt to find a new, more personalized name now that we're more established on campus.

How many members does your group have? What kinds of events do you hold?
Our group on Facebook has 32 members, and our weekly meetings range from 5-10 attendees. There are a few people who don't make it to the meetings but do come to our weekly dinner get-together. This past semester, our events ranged from a spaghetti and movie night, fundraisers for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and a safe-sex drive we did alongside the gay-straight alliance at our school.

Harrison Hopkins

As an example, could you share one thing your group accomplished that you're most proud of in the past year?
I'm most proud of our group managing to raise $3,242.35 this past semester for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Light the Night Walk in conjunction with the Foundation Beyond Belief. It took a huge amount of commitment from all of our members in order to be able to reach that amount. Our goal was $3,000, which I said if we reached, I'd dye my hair the color of our choosing. We *almost* didn't make it, but on the day before the walk we hit the $3,000 mark. They chose blue.

How did you hear about CFI On Campus? How have you worked with CFI On Campus in the past, and how do you hope to work with us in the future?
I learned about CFI On Campus after being contacted to speak at a conference of theirs about challenging prayer at my high school. The conferences are always a great way to network and learn about what other groups are doing and to take inspiration from that. CFI also has some pretty awesome brochures and buttons and other things that we give out when we table that tend to get a good response.

Is there anything else you'd like to add? What's your vision for the secular movement?
I would like to see the secular movement progress to a point where it's completely redundant. A world in which secularism and critical thinking are the norm would be wonderful and show just how successful the movement had been. Is it likely to happen? Maybe, maybe not. But it is nice to dream. 

If you know of a group that you'd like to see featured here, please let us know at oncampus@centerforinquiry.net.

 

About the Author: Sarah Kaiser

Sarah Kaiser's photo

Sarah Kaiser is a field organizer for CFI On Campus. Prior to her work at CFI, she got her start in the freethought movement as the co-founder and president of the Secular Alliance at Indiana University, where she helped organize a nationally recognized atheist bus ad campaign and large campus speaking events. As an atheist, a feminist, and a small part of the universe's way of understanding itself, she is thrilled at the chance to help advance CFI's mission. On Twitter: @sarahebkaiser.

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