The Secular Student Alliance seems like a new group on campus, but their ideas have been here as long as Murray State has.
Caitlin Starkey, treasurer of the group, said their need on campus is often voiced by their own members.
“It seems like most of the comments that we get are surprise/happiness that we exist,” Starkey said. “Most people don’t expect it, being in the Bible Belt.”
The Student Secular Alliance was the result of a merge of two different students groups with very similar ideas. “The Society of Reason and Science” and the group “Freethinkers” on campus merged under the Secular Student Alliance, a new chapter in the nationwide group that was formed last spring semester.
She said their presence isn’t just appreciated on campus, but in the community as well.
“When tabling and doing other events, we’ve been approached by older members of the community who were glad that we existed,” Starkey said. “And wished a group like us existed when they were attending university.”
Starkey said the group plans to bring back an event from last year for the Halloween season.
“We’ll probably have a Graveyard of the Gods event. It’s a bit of a political statement, fully endorsed by the national SSA,” Starkey said. “It’s basically a tabling event, but with a twist. We set up tombstones with various “dead” gods on them. Think Thor, Athena, Mercury — gods people don’t worship any more. It’s meant to start a conversation. If those gods are widely regarded as myth now, what makes any current gods any different?”
Though some of their statements are political, they maintain a good relationship with religious groups on campus.
“Actually, in the past, we’ve had good relations with FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students),” Starkey said. “We went bowling with them last semester, have had a couple of discussion panels with them and find that we agree on a good deal of things.”
As for the future, Starkey said she wants to see the group invite more guest speakers.
“At some point, perhaps next semester, we’d also like to invite a guest speaker to campus who’ll talk about the intersectionality of atheism and the LGBT community,” Starkey said. “But there’s much more planning to be had before we can officially say we’ll have her.”
Other than that, Starkey said they have weekly meetings, half of which are movie and game nights. And the other, presentations led by various professors and students about various, not necessarily religious topics.