When I ran my college atheist group, it was a triumph when we brought in one awesome speaker.
When I heard that the Atheists, Humanists, & Agnostics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison were running their own conference last year (and again this coming year), I thought that was about as good as it could get.
They’ve just blown out whatever glass ceiling might have been in place.
The campus has a “General Student Services Fund” (the AHA calls it “the holy grail of student organization funding”) that only about 20 of the 750 campus groups are eligible for. This funding covers things like programming, operating expenses, travel, and paid staff. Religious groups like Campus Crusade for Christ (“Cru”) have had that sort of mega-budget for decades — but I’ve never seen a campus atheist group with anything even close to it.
AHA applied to be eligible for this funding — and they were approved back in October.
So they submitted a budget… and just found out yesterday that they will be receiving about $67,000 in funding to cover all their needs for next year!
Among the items in their budget:
- $30,000 for 8 paid staff positions
- $16,650 to fund their free annual conference
- $1,350 for a computer and printer in their new office space
- $200 for a “Kickoff Bash” pizza party
It’s hard to fathom how much of an impact this will have because we’ve never seen anything like it before. But I have no doubt the AHA officers will make it count — they’re smart students who know not to take this money for granted.
As the AHA said last month, their focus when applying for the money was on “Faith Questioning” (helping students who are struggling with their faith) and “Secular Support Groups” (for discussing religion in a large group setting). Both of those categories benefit everyone on campus, atheist or not, because of the exposure to new ideas and the opportunity to discuss topics that pastors aren’t exactly eager to bring up.
Congratulations to the officers of the group for making this happen. The next step, I presume, is to wait for some religious group to complain about all this.