Student group lands grant to help students transition away from faith.

Picture of a stone sign reading "new territory."Earlier this year I spoke at the Freethought Festival put on by the Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  They were beyond impressive.  Everything was highly organized and all their members seemed to be having a blast.

Now I see just how organized they are.  They recently submitted a 50+ page proposal to the committee that allocates certain organizational funding at their school.  The proposal was for a $90,000+ budget to provide two services to the campus:

Faith Questioning is a peer-to-peer religious advising service, designed to help students struggling with their faith, and to encourage all participants to develop their own religious identity.

Secular Support Groups are discussion-based meetings for nonreligious, questioning, or any students interested in discussing topics relating to religion in a large group setting.

Asking a 15-student panel for more than ninety grand for these kind of services, to better help religious students deal with the painful transition to atheism, takes balls.  Even the idealist in me would think such an effort would be doomed to failure.

But, as Sheriff Bart famously said in Blazing Saddles: once you establish yourself, they’ve got to accept you.  The proposal was air tight and, in the end…

…the SSFC voted 11-1 in favor of granting AHA GSSF Eligibility!  This is an honor that perhaps 20 out of the over 750 student groups on campus have ever received.  We have submitted a budget request of  $90,014.20.  We’ll have an additional budgetary hearing with the SSFC within a month, which then gets sent up to the ASM Council, then the UW-Madison Chancellor, and finally the UW-System Board of Regents for approval.  Stay tuned…

I say this as the guy who co-created and ran Skepticon as a college student: this achievement by the AHA at UW Madison is easily the greatest accomplishment by a secular student group in history.  Well-played, guys.  Be sure and keep the secular world posted!

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.