The Course of Reason

The Course of Reason On Air Session 1: Wrap-Up

August 16, 2013

Last night, Cody Hashman hosted CFI On Campus' first ever episode of The Course of Reason On Air. We were joined by 5 students from schools across the US with a great amount of experience in starting off the school year right. 

If you're looking for ideas to help your group win this fall, I'd encourage you to watch the whole thing. However, I know you're busy. We're halfway through August and many schools start classes this month. So, we created an annotated version below, just for you.

Is the beginning of the school year important for groups? And why? [2:40]

  • Derek: "it's the best opportunity for recruitment"
  • German: "hard to know where to focus your attention" -- but you can get involved with existing university programs

What events do you get involved with that are hosted by your university? [5:40]

  • Amanda: Host a meeting about what your group does, but also have social events
  • Alex: Table at your university's student involvement/student org fair, but also work with your natural allies to host beginning-of-the-year events

What are you doing to promote your group that isn't tabling or hosting events? (For example, flyering.) [12:45]

  • Derek: Every flyer should have the group's name, FB link, website link, and date/time of first meeting -- also good to have brochures listing past events so people can see what kind of things you actually do
  • Amanda: Shared AHA's idea of having cute animals with puns on flyers. For example:
  • otteraha

  • Stef: Adds that hosting events with similar groups is good. UNIFI does a Progressive Picnic every year, means they reach more people than they otherwise would.

How important is it to target freshmen? How important are they specifically? [18:40]

  • German: Freshmen are important because your group needs to survive. If you can't pass the "hit by a bus" test (will your group live if the whole executive board is hit by a bus tomorrow?) then you're in a fragile state. Recruit freshmen!
  • Alex: Try to find kids involved in freethought groups in high school.
  • Stef: UNIFI is developing a "Freshmen Survival Guide" with tips to share with new students this fall
  • Amanda: Look into local high schools that might feed into your college and build bridges
  • Derek: Table at local events, but also just table! And try to get in local press
  • Amanda: Write letters to the editor about your group to get in the paper! 

The summer slump. How do you get people to stay involved over summer, and get back into the group in fall? [28:30]

  • Alex: Form an alumni email list to stay in touch with older members that might be around
  • German: Pay attention to what members want. Take notes to share with future leaders
  • Alex: Use a yearly survey to give members a voice in how you operate
  • Amanda: Informal social events over the summer can help
  • Stef: Use social media to stay in touch over summer! UNIFI has a Facebook group for mostly social purposes to keep in touch.

Within the rules of your institution, can bar crawls help bring older members back into the fold? [35:45]

  • Derek: They could. But, simply allowing older members to introduce younger members to college life can help them make transition more safely 

Can you share which events you're throwing at the beginning of the school year? [37:25]

  • Stef: Make sure your executive board works together over summer on this. UNIFI is having brunch, a Progressive Picnic, new member meeting, informational meeting, a Flying Spaghetti Monster dinner, and an event for Blasphemy Rights Day
  • Amanda: There are benefits to tailoring some early events to making your group welcoming to more diverse groups of people. Madison group to host "Crappy Christian Movie Night." The group also looking to host an interfaith mixer.
  • Alex: Still planning, they have a bowling night, Christian vs. atheists laser tag, parties at member houses, and have had ladies night events.

Maybe diversity can be a separate hangout topic! How important are different types of events at the beginning of the school year? What do you do besides social events? [51:26]

  • German: we try to have a healthy mix of event types, but we're working on improving at having volunteer options. Primarily they are an activist group. 
  • German: "People come for the ideal, but stay for the people."
  • Amanda: Volunteer blood drive hosted with LGBT and small Christian group was also activism to raise awareness about ban on men who have sex with men giving blood
  • Stef: Try to turn social events into educational ones, with an FSM dinner that teaches the history of what FSM is about and the science education aspects of that 

Cody describes Light the Night, then asks Derek to talk about what his group did with it. [59:35]

  • Hug an Atheist Week and Light the Night is something we're encouraging campus groups to get involved in!
  • Derek: In the course of raising money for an important cause, by doing Hug an Atheist Week, you're also elevating the image of atheists in mainstream society. An awesome combination! 

Final comments [1:01:05]

  • German: As far as diversity goes, many campuses might have LGBT programs where LGBT students don't necessarily feel welcome. His campus group ended up being a place for people to feel at home where they otherwise wouldn't at school. So, make your group a welcoming place for LGBT and other groups!
  • Stef: Let's keep the conversation going and keep sharing ideas!
  • Sarah: We got a question about conferences, so everyone should know that CFI has a Student Leadership Conference every summer in Amherst. 

Last night's guests included: 

Stef McGraw
UNI Freethinkers & Inquirers






Derek Miller
Illini Secular Student Alliance






Amanda Supak 
Atheists, Humanists, & Agnostics @ UW-Madison 
Volunteer Chair






German Beard 
Secular Student Alliance at UCF 
Vice President






Alex Coulter 
University of Michigan Secular Student Alliance  






This event was broadcast on the Google+ event page and recorded for later viewing. Feel free to share the Google+ event page below!.

Click here to view the Google+ event page.

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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