Humanist Chapters and Student Groups: How Can We Collaborate?

By Nate Mauger

At college campuses around the country, secular students have been mobilizing to plan lively student group discussions on secular issues, organize service projects locally and nationally, and promote awareness of the secular movement through tabling events and conferences. The Secular Student Alliance (SSA), a national nonprofit organization based in Columbus, Ohio, is an integral piece of this movement.

The SSA supports the student movement by providing them with speakers for events, tabling supplies for promotional events on their campuses, regional and national conferences to develop leadership skills, and funding for student focused events and projects. The SSA could not provide these services without help and support from its fellow national organizations such as the American Humanist Association.

So what does the AHA do to aid the SSA in its efforts to help the secular student movement grow? I should start by mentioning the help it provides through its brochures, humanist cards and stickers that it provides to the SSA to distribute to its 225 affiliates around the world. To clarify this point further, consider the following statistics. Since July 2010, the SSA has received over 84 requests for tabling supplies. Forty percent of these included specific requests to include AHA brochures and materials in the tabling supplies packets. SSA tabling supplies regularly include AHA materials. Student groups then take the resources provided by the AHA and other national organizations to their student involvement fairs where tens of thousands of students get exposed to the various arms of the movement and the services they provide. This kind of cooperation is unprecedented, and it serves to empower hundreds of talented, engaged student leaders to gain the awareness necessary to maintain their passion for secularism into the future.

Not only has the American Humanist Association partnered with the SSA to provide tabling supplies for our affiliates, but they have also worked with the SSA to plan an entire breakout track of programming for the leaders of student groups and off-campus organizations at the AHA’s 70th Annual Conference in Boston, Massachusetts this spring. These break-out sessions will employ many of the unique strategies the Secular Student Alliance promotes for its campus affiliates in order to assist them in running events, planning leadership transitions, promoting their groups, and organizing service projects. Student leaders from all over the east coast will have the opportunity to learn and collaborate with off-campus leaders to forge relationships that should serve to bridge the gap between the student and non-student movements. In working with the SSA to make this breakout track a reality, the AHA has taken an important step in keeping students invested in the movement beyond college.

Partnering is the key to successful collaboration between the many factions of the secular movement. In light of successful partnership between AHA and SSA, how can local groups work with secular students in their communities to cooperate on a deeper level? Here in Columbus, our local humanist group, the Humanist Community of Central Ohio, offers free admission to its Winter Solstice Banquet  to the Students for Freethought at Ohio State. Many student groups have co-sponsored events such as a Flying Spaghetti Monster charity dinner with their local off-campus group.

The opportunity to fund and support student groups is endless. I encourage all leaders of AHA chapters and affiliates to take this opportunity and see if there is a student group in your area by checking out our affiliate map, at


Nate Mauger is the assistant campus organizer at the Secular Student Alliance. Contact Nate at