The Course of Reason

Congratulations to the 2013 CFI On Campus Award Winners!

August 22, 2013

All of our affiliate groups do awesome work every single year, but we like to take time each year to recognize a few that really stand out in different categories.

For their outstanding efforts coordinating fundraising for Light the Night, the award for Secular Service went to the Secular Student Alliance at Presbyterian College. The group was the highest-raising campus group team and the second-highest fundraising Light the Night Team in the freethought community.

The groups with the Best Educational Event were CASH at University of Minnesota and SSA at St. Cloud State University, for organizing SkepTech. With over 200 registrations and speakers including Zach Weinersmith, Maggie Koerth-Baker, PZ Myers, Stephanie Zvan, Hemant Mehta, Greta Christina, and many others, we're blown away that this was the group's first attempt at organizing a conference.

The award for Diversity Initiatives went to the DePaul Alliance for Free Thought at DePaul University in Chicago. The group held two events, a talk with Sikivu Hutchinson in fall 2012 called "From the Virgin Mary to Jezebel," and a panel this spring called "Real World Atheism: A Panel on Godless Activism and Cultural Relevancy" with Sikivu Hutchinson, Anthony Pinn, Ashley Miller, Stephanie Zvan, and Ian Cromwell. One of the most notable things about these events was that they attracted more people of color than white attendees-considering the demographics of our movement as a whole, this is certainly a rare occurrence.

MU SASHA was given the Defense of Free Expression award for their work to bring attention to continuing human rights issues in Bangladesh by organizing a show of solidarity with censored Bangladeshi atheist bloggers. Students sent out press releases, made signs saying "defend dissent" and "criticizing religion is not a crime," and brought attention to an international issue in their own town of Columbia, Missouri.

Tony Lakey and Aaron Underwood award MU SASHA
Tony Lakey and Aaron Underwood accept MU SASHA's award on behalf of their group.

With an impressive start, the Best New Group award went to the George Washington University Secular Society. Since they started this past year, they've done an atheist awareness flyering campaign, been covered multiple times in the school paper, and hosted a talk with Nate Phelps in partnership with CFI-DC. They held ask an atheist tabling days, counter-protests against religious fundamentalists on campus, and educational Darwin Day events. They already have new officers planned for the coming year and we can't wait to see what they accomplish next!

This year's Activism award goes to the Secular Student Alliance at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. When I met Tommy Coleman last fall at CSICon, in Nashville, that's where I first learned about his ongoing work to preserve church-state separation in Hamilton County, Tennessee. Commissioners meetings in his county were often being opened with prayer-in Jesus' name, no less-and Tommy and his group wanted to replace that with a secular moment of silence. They worked with the Friendly Atheist to raise funds for a court case, and are still fighting the case on appeal. We applaud this group's work to defend separation of church and state at the local level!

Finally, the University of Michigan SSA was a group we wanted to recognize, but couldn't figure out one category to put them in. We thought about online awards, because they have a solid website full of useful informatoin. We thought about giving them an event award, because they hosted a debate with Edward Tabash and Frank Turek that brought hundreds of students and community members out. We thought about giving them a bridge-building award, because of their efforts to involve their group in interfaith and cross-cultural efforts with "Atheists vs. Christians" laser tag and other events. In the end, we couldn't decide on one award, so we chose to give University of Michigan SSA the Group of the Year award.

Congratulations to all of our fantastic affiliate groups! We can't wait to see what you all accomplish in the year (and years) to come.


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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