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New religious group on campus focuses on world-view

By Brain Stieglitz Special to the Chronicle

Upon wandering Hofstra’s grounds to explore various clubs and activities in which to get involved, it becomes evident that there are many religious organizations on campus. But, in searching, a few students have wondered why there are no clubs for secular students, atheists in particular.

There is an Interfaith Center, which regulates the Hofstra Hillel, the Christian Fellowship and a plethora of other communities for students who would like to engage in religious activity. But for those who have different beliefs or no concrete beliefs and are still exploring, there is a national organization growing rapidly on college campuses known as the Secular Student Alliance (SSA).

First year students Oscar Courchaine and Ashley Myers joined together with other students and faculty to establish the SSA on Hofstra’s campus. They hope to spread awareness about atheism and agnosticism as well as encourage freethinking.

“There is no atheism club on campus, and we need a club to show that atheists are, in fact, a big part of this community,” said Courchaine.

“We plan to establish a like-minded community where we can all freely discuss and share our thoughts and have intellectual conversations different from ordinary routine,” Myers added.

Courchaine and Myers claimed that the SGA is supporting their alliance, but for now, they would like to remain separate from the Interfaith Center. They want to be represented as more of a political and social club than a religious group.

“We plan on being a chapter of the National Secular Student Alliance so that we are nationally recognized,” said Myers.

The SSA plans to spread awareness by hosting events such as “Ask an Atheist,” in which the organization will dedicate time to answering student questions. It also plans to become involved in secular holidays such as The National Day of Reason and, as part of the National Secular Student Alliance’s tradition, celebrate Friday the 13th by breaking as many superstitions as possible, for example, opening umbrellas indoors and spilling salt. In addition to these events, they wish to host charity fundraisers.

The new club will engage secular, atheist and agnostic students in activity geared toward their beliefs, as well as immerse students in a freethinking atmosphere.

“We want to include everybody in an open-minded setting,” said Myers. “We are here to spread awareness and involve the community.”

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