2009 SSA Best Group Award Winners July 4, 2009

2009 SSA Best Group Award Winners

Every year, the Secular Student Alliance gives out awards to the best campus atheist groups in the country in a variety of areas.

Each group receives a plaque and a cash reward.

Here are this year’s winners:

Best Service Project: Students for Freethought at The Ohio State University.

… They took the idea to their own group and immediately started planning a similar, week-long trip to help rebuilding efforts in New Orleans. But they weren’t content to stop there! They organized their trip to line up with the [University of Illinois’] trip in the spring of 2009, and the groups met up in New Orleans!

Inspired by the success of their spring break trip, SFF leaders then organized a second service project: a three-day camping trip to help improve and maintain the Pine Mountain Trail: putting up trail markers, installing bear poles (to keep bears from eating campers’ food!), and generally cleaning and maintaining the trail through the Appalachians.

Best Website: Students for A Nonreligious Ethos (SANE) at Berkeley University.

… The overall design is simple and uncluttered, making it easy to zero in on the information you need and navigate the site at a glance. The blog-style main feed features upcoming events and reviews of recent activities, updated almost once a week. From the front page, it’s easy to find upcoming events, get information about meeting times and locations, and quickly navigate to other areas of the site. Contacting the group is handled by a spam-filtering webform, and there’s an easy link to subscribe to their mailing list. The FAQ handles common questions in a light-hearted, fun manner. The site features pictures of the group’s recent activities and links to other organizations, information about the group and more — all while maintaining organization and ease of use.

Best Media Coverage/Letter to the Editor: Pastafarians at the University of South Carolina.

The Pastafarians @ USC have received a wide range of media attention this year. They began with their school newspaper, which covered president Andrew Cederdahl’s Founder’s Scholarship from American Atheists, covered and praised the group’s Darwin Day debate (Dan Barker v. Kyle Butt), and included several opinion pieces regarding the group, its message and tactics, both supportive and critical.  Their media attention spread beyond campus when local news station WISTV featured the group’s sold-out Darwin Day debate.  Another local channel featured the group while discussing the recent ARIS survey results.  ABC Columbia focused on the group in a series called "Hidden Columbia," and group leader Andrew Cederdahl was interviewed on Freethought Radio.  Last — but certainly not least — the group was featured in a front page story in the New York Times, “More Atheists Shout It From the Rooftops“…

Best New Affiliate: American University Rationalists & Atheists:

The American Univereity Rationalists & Atheists (AURA) kicked off its first year with a call-out meeting with over 30 students in attendance. They’ve taken a field trip to see Bill Maher’s Religulous, hosted a well-attended dialogue with a christian student organization, welcomed speakers Dan Barker and Ellery Schempp, fed students at a Flying Spaghetti Monster Dinner and hosted a free comedy show on their campus. They were featured in their school’s student newspaper when they challenged their university’s commencement invocation. These activities, combined with student-led presentations and discussion meetings, are the components of a great year for AURA!…

Best Overall Affiliate: Secular Alliance of Indiana University:

The Secular Alliance at Indiana University started just over a year ago, but you’d never guess it from their numbers. They started their semester with a visit from atheist author John Loftus. They then organized a group field trip to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY, and collaborated to make a video of their trip, which you can see on Vimeo. This semester they met with other freethought groups in Indiana and have spearheaded the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign, which already has “You can be good without God” ads on buses in several cities across the state. They have garnered 200 members in just one school year, have built an effective and eye-catching website, and have applied for office space for their group in the fall!

It’s not too late to support the SSA; your donations will be matched by the Vital Spark Foundation!

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  • Congratulations to everyone!

    Here’s to another outstanding year for all of the SSA affiliates.

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