Secular Student Alliance gives non-religious students identity

Lashana Harney

On a campus where there are numerous religious groups, WKU’s Secular Student Alliance is one of the only organizations on campus that serves as a place to give a voice to students who identify as atheists, agnostics or non-religious. 

WKU’s SSA is a non-profit organization affiliated with the national SSA with the mission to create an open forum for all secular students at WKU. 

Their first meeting of the school year was held on Tuesday, Aug. 26. 

“We wanted to build a community for atheists and agnostics,” Lexington senior Ryan Peach, SSA chair, said

Although the organization abstains from religion, they are not anti-religious.

Bowling Green sophomore Michael Schrader, SSA public relations officer, said members of the group “are advocates for separation of church and state, for science education, honesty, openness and ideas.” 

SSA currently consists of about 10 to 15 members, but the alliance hopes to expand. 

Due to the relatively small size of the group, Schrader said the group tends to be very close.

“We are friends first,” he said.

The group meets every Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. in room 900 in Cravens Library to discuss secular issues. The faculty advisor over the organization is Jerry Daday, interim executive director for the Center for Faculty Development. 

SSA keeps students updated by posting on the group Facebook page. 

There have been previous versions of SSA in the past. 

“We had kind of a weak version,” Schrader said. “About five of us would get together and meet, but it died out quickly. So, some of us decided to reinvigorate it and rework the Facebook group at the beginning of last semester.”

In April, the alliance held an event at Centennial Mall coined Ask-an-Atheist Day to help clarify misconceptions about those who aren’t religious.

“A lot of reasons we have problems are because most people fear what they don’t know. So, on Ask-An-Atheist Day, we wanted people to ask us what they wanted to know,” Schrader said.

Peach said plans for this year include hosting debates, movies and more meetings.

Schrader said the group hasn’t had any problems participating in events on campus, but that the group has occasionally encountered people who misunderstood atheists and agnostics.

“For instance, one day I went to a bible study and a lot of what I heard was well-intentioned people who were very misinformed about atheists and agnostic people,” said Schrader. 

However, Schrader said that’s not always the case and WKU seems to be a very open-minded campus.

Members of SSA represent various backgrounds and beliefs, creating a diverse organization. SSA accepts everyone who decides they want to join. 

“Christians are even welcome to the SSA,” said Schrader. “We don’t exclude anyone.”