Secular Student Alliance gets new president, joins national alliance

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Staff Writer 

The IU South Bend Secular Student Alliance introduced its new president at a meet-and-greet Monday, Aug. 25 in the club room of the Student Activity Center.

Robyn Black, a graduate student of liberal studies, took the helm of the organization for its second year on campus and has already made some big changes.

At the meeting, Black said that the national Secular Student Alliance, a network of secular student groups throughout the country, asked her to lead the IU South Bend chapter after she spoke at their conference in Columbus, Ohio last summer.

“I was invited as a speaker and our region’s coordinator was in attendance,” Black said. “She approached me to restart the

The 2014 Secular Student Alliance national meeting in Columbus, Ohio at which Black spoke.  Photo provided by Robyn Black.
The 2014 Secular Student Alliance national meeting in Columbus, Ohio at which Black spoke.
Photo provided by Robyn Black.

student group, because the three students working on the project last year all graduated.”

According to Black, the Secular Student Alliance that existed on campus last year lost all of its leadership and lapsed at the end of the spring semester before affiliating the group with the national alliance. However, her meetings with representatives at the conference finally yielded this affiliation.

“Because I attended this conference, I was given access to numerous resources to assist in building and running a student group,” Black said. “I also affiliated the group with the national Secular Student Alliance and the Center for Inquiry to bring more resources to campus.”

Those resources have already included a banner with the group’s name and literature to distribute to those with questions for the group – questions they can ask when the alliance holds its ask-an-atheist day, one of the few events Black already had in the works by the time of the meeting.

Six others attended the meeting, which was informal and inviting. Members sat in a circle and spoke at will. After introductions, each member told the story of how they came to support the secular cause. The specter of creationism, the biblical explanation for the origins of the world, loomed large in the discussion. Most of the members raised concerns about it being taught alongside evolution within Indiana high schools. Members also expressed the need for community among secular students.

The students who spoke identified as atheists, although Black said she intends to create a larger umbrella for members to join under.

“Skeptics, freethinkers, atheists, non-theists, humanists, secular humanists and all other students interested in maintaining the wall between church and state are invited to attend our meetings, events and lectures,” Black said.

According to Black, students can expect to see lecturers stopping at IUSB who would otherwise have skipped South Bend on the way to Bloomington, a result of the new affiliation with the national alliance, along with the Center for Inquiry, an Amherst, New York-based charitable organization.

No speaker is currently scheduled, but Black said she intends to have more information by the next meeting, which will be held in September. For more information about the Secular Student Alliance, its schedule of meetings and to see a video of Black speaking at the conference, visit @SSAatIUSB on Twitter.

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