New SSA Affiliate Forms at Emerson College

There is a new Secular Student Alliance affiliate at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts!

It was started by freshman Ian Stewart after a winter break spent engrossed in The God Delusion. He and two other freshmen started the group because “[they] felt inspired to counter campus faith-based groups by uniting [their] fellow non-believers.”

Look at those charming faces.

They’ve spent seven hours over the last week getting students to help create their group on campus:

“As someone who is both gay and an atheist, I feel more persecuted as an atheist than as a gay man, and that’s saying something,” said [Stewart] the performing arts major. “I wanted to create a group for not just atheists, but agnostics and humanists, so that they could feel comfortable.”

I have heard that a lot from non-theists I’ve met over the years. It’s not always easy to come out — and if you’re a double threat (heh), then it can be even harder. That why it’s great that the number of SSA affiliates has been rising so rapidly. It’s easier than ever to come out as an atheist now, but there’s still some areas where it can be scary. Stewart says he wants to help remove the stigma attached to being an atheist and plans on getting his group involved with volunteer work.

Kate Caldwell, the president of the Emerson Christian Society, says she was surprised to hear about the formation of the group, possibly due to Emerson’s largely secular student body.

“There are the Christian, Catholic, and Jewish organizations on campus, and I just never had thought that people with agnostic or atheist views would want a place to meet and talk about that,” said the writing, literature, and publishing major. “If they do, I think that’s totally cool.”

Sounds like an awesome, totally reasonable response! Glad to hear that there are some open minded and rational people at Emerson. Not everyone understands why the group is a welcome addition to the school’s groups, but member Sara Detrick had a response to that:

“I was talking to a girl on my floor who is a part of a Christian group here, and she said there were so many secular people there is no need for the group,” [member] Detrick said. “I think because there’s so many of us, we need to be connected so that we can get things done.”

I’m looking forward to see how this group does. I hope they flourish up there in Boston!

About Kelley Freeman

Kelley is a recent graduate of the University of South Carolina. She is a former president of the Secular Student Alliance at the University of South Carolina and a former intern for both SSA and Foundation Beyond Belief. Kelley is also a board member for both Camp Quest South Carolina and the Carolinas Secular Association, a Volunteer Network Coordinator for the southeastern region for the SSA, runs a vlog series called Secular Start Up, sometimes does stand up comedy and can crochet like a fiend. She's on her way to becoming a Jane of All Trades. Follow her on twitter @ramenneedles

  • Anonymous

    Who knew that Michael Cera is at Emerson College?

  • Anonymous

    Who knew that Michael Cera is at Emerson College?

  • chris

    Hi there, like you site and your writing. Just want to comment on the atheist who said it is harder to be an atheist than a gay. I am from sweden (the most secular country in the world, they say) and here it is the opposite. It is very hard to “come” out as a christian, miles harder than saying I am gay. It seems like we people just going from one ditch to the other. We need to be more tolerate to each other. /Chris

  • chris

    Hi there, like you site and your writing. Just want to comment on the atheist who said it is harder to be an atheist than a gay. I am from sweden (the most secular country in the world, they say) and here it is the opposite. It is very hard to “come” out as a christian, miles harder than saying I am gay. It seems like we people just going from one ditch to the other. We need to be more tolerate to each other. /Chris

    • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

      … why?

  • Ryan Jean

    “I just never had thought that people with agnostic or atheist views would want a place to meet and talk about that.”

    I’m thrilled that the president of the College’s Christian Society sees absolutely no problem in the new SSA being there, but I can’t get past the startling frequency with which the part of her quote I excerpted above gets uttered by even the most well-meaning individuals. A part of me wants to pull her aside and simply say, “your privilege is showing.” How can someone truly appreciate what you’re trying to accomplish with the formation of something like an SSA if their vantage point makes it tough for them to even perceive the need for community and fellowship among secular individuals?

  • http://twitter.com/TychaBrahe TychaBrahe

    I do sort of get the, “There are so many secular students so why do they need a group?” mentality.  It’s generally the outsiders who need groups.  Read Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria.  It’s why there’s often an Asian student union and a Black student union, but not a White student union.  Part of privilege is not having to discuss who you are.

    But while the majority of the school may be secular (and I’d question that, it’s probably more like the majority of the school isn’t overtly religious), society is not secular, and there’s a lot of pushback from the religious over the new secular-rights movement.  I can see why the atheists and agnostics want a group, but equally why the Christians don’t understand why they need one.


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