Affiliate Group of the Week #22: Dixie Reason, Inquiry, and FreeThought (DRIFT)
August 29, 2013
Jessica Argyle, president of Dixie Reason, Inquiry, and FreeThought shares her thoughts on how the group started and what they provide to the local community in her area.
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'm a student at Dixie State University, studying Visual Technologies. I've lived in Utah my entire life, and I was raised Mormon, but all my life I had a difficult time getting religion to stick. Around 13-14 I just found too many inconsistencies and ideas that were too dissimilar to my own to ignore. I was probably an atheist by about age 15.
Members of DRIFT hang out at a casual social gathering.
How did your group get started? What year was it founded? Was there a specific event or incident that motivated you or the founders to create the organization?
Getting the group started has been a long process, and over the years a few of our members have tried to get a group up and running, and luckily with DRIFT we actually succeeded. When I moved to Saint George, I didn't know many people and I felt very isolated and overwhelmed by the religious majority. Truth be told, I had wanted to start a group before I even began college. When I found another student was trying to get something started, I jumped right on board.
What is your group’s name? How did you decide on that name?
Our group is called DRIFT, which stands for Dixie Reason, Inquiry, and FreeThought. ("Dixie" is the local nickname for our city, Saint George.) The name is based off of the naming scheme of similar student groups in Utah—for example SHIFT (Secular Humanism, Inquiry and FreeThought), and SHAAFT (Secular Humanism, Agnosticism and FreeThought). The name we chose allows us to be a more inclusive than just an "atheist" club, and we try to welcome a wide variety of people.
How many members does your group have? What kinds of events do you hold?
There are over 120 members on our Facebook group, but our meetings usually have about 10-20 people show up regularly. We meet up every Sunday for coffee and just talk about whatever is on our mind-- everything from philosophy to transhumanism to cats. We also have a variety of fun activities such as family nights for parents with kids, barbecues, card games, and Frisbee in the park. We're trying to get the official campus group to gain momentum so we can do more events like speakers and service projects.
As an example, could you share one thing you're most proud of that your group accomplished in the past year?
I'm proud that DRIFT has been able to be a home to so many people, and that we have such a diverse group of members. I'm proud of our collective compassion—whether we're brainstorming a recycling program or participating in a 5K to help a friend. But, I think I'm the most proud that our attendance has kept the local coffee shop open later on Sundays.
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 started looking everywhere for resources and help in starting a group, as I've never done anything like it before and the idea was daunting. CFI is one of the first resources that I found, and it has been great to be able to have a relationship with the Center for Inquiry, and have that support.
What is your vision for the secular movement?
It's so important to have a relationship with like minds. Whether you're a militant atheist or a spiritual agnostic, if you don't fit squarely into the local faith, it's difficult to find the same sense of community that you find through church. That's what I love about DRIFT—I've found that community.
About the Author: Sarah Kaiser
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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