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So, you may have heard our current officers announce over the last few weeks at meetings that our annual officer elections are coming up for the 2012-2013 school year. You might be thinking, “What does this have to do with me?” I write today to answer this question.
I want to say to you, the person reading this: Consider running for an officer position. Yes, you. Really.
You might be thinking, “I’m not the ‘type’ to be a group officer,” or that you wouldn’t be good at it. Nonsense, I say.
I say to you, I myself never thought about running for an officer position either, until I was nudged into thinking about it. What I want to do right now, with this very blog post, is nudge you into thinking about it, too.
Take a moment. Think about SASHA, and what this group means to you, as you make your way through college. Take a moment to think about what this group can grow into over the next few years, that it is not already, with your help.
We are just going into our third year of being an active student group on campus, and we have barely scratched the surface. You can get in on the ground floor of this. When I started coming to SASHA, there were only about 5 of us regularly attending the meetings. We have easily quadrupled that now, and at our debate last April with Brother Jed, we drew over 200 people. And this is just the beginning! Here are some of the things we’re working on for next year:
- SASHA Book Club (monthly)
- SASHA Volunteer Day (each semester, monthly, or weekly)
- Movie Night (monthly or weekly)
- Game Night (monthly or weekly)
- Field trips to the planetarium, guided tours to local museums or nature trails, and/or to the Science Center or Zoo in St Louis
- Paint ball
- SASHA BBQ
- SASHA Lending Library
- Having professors come and give TED-style talks to us about their research
and that’s not even all of it.
Getting involved with SASHA is one of the best things I have ever done. When I was starting to doubt my religion, when I was the most confused about The Big Questions, when I was searching for answers, when I was just starting to see the light in the distance of rational thinking, SASHA helped me. It helped me connect with other people who are doing the same thing, and who could help me, instead of feeling lost or guilty about asking these questions, feel like I had come home. SASHA has taught me how to be a better person and how to be more comfortable as the person I really am, and as the person I really want to be.
When I first started coming to SASHA meetings, it was a brand-new experience for me. I was still in the closet as an atheist, and no one knew about my atheism except for my girlfriend at the time. SASHA gave me the courage in numbers — and the factual ammunition — necessary to feel confident about why I didn’t believe in a god, about evolution & natural selection, the origin of the Universe, history, about LOTS of topics.
SASHA taught me how to think like a scientist thinks, how to ask questions, and how to be comfortable without always having the answer of “God did it.” But what SASHA also did was give me a place to do that, where I was not judged, where I was not scolded, where I did not have to be afraid of my curiosity about the world.
Whether you identify as a skeptic, an atheist, a secular humanist, an agnostic, or something else, if you go to Mizzou, and you value science, reason, and secular values, SASHA is not only here for you, but we want you to think of SASHA as home. We want SASHA to be where you feel the most comfortable, where you can come to be free from censorship, discrimination, oppression, and closed-mindedness — a place you can come for intellectual stimulation, for challenge, for friendship, for moral support, for camaraderie, to help you through hardship: a place where you can not only be yourself, but celebrate who you are.
Further, we want you to know that SASHA is your group as much as it is ours or anyone else’s. We are not like churches, with top-down, hierarchical dogmas about what you have to believe to be part of SASHA, or how we have to operate. Yes, we have officers who carry out these things, but as a group, we explicitly value rational inquiry and critical thinking. If you have an idea for a better way of doing things, or an idea for something you want our group to do in order to serve us all better, we want you to know that you have the power to help make this happen. If you have ideas for changes in this group, in the activities that we do, in the topics of our talks, in how we function, remember that this is your group, and we want you to get involved.
I think SASHA is a great thing. It’s been a major part of my life these past 3 years, from when I first started attending 3 years ago, to when I became the Co-Director of Public Relations last year, and on to becoming the Vice President this current school year.
SASHA is, in fact, responsible for me becoming interested in where I see my long-term plans and career heading, since I’ve become an atheist and I no longer can feel at home working as a worship musician. It is through SASHA that I got interested in activism, and started writing about skepticism & history, doing public debates, and doing public speaking, first here at Mizzou and now at other schools as well. And as I mentioned at the meeting tonight, this summer I have an internship where I will have an opportunity to do exactly what I’ve realized I love doing — writing and speaking about atheism topics and representing the secular, skeptical point of view to the world — at a non-profit that specializes in doing exactly that.
I feel like I am finally finding my place in the world, in a way that I haven’t felt since I stopped working for a church. Only the difference is, I no longer have this nagging feeling constantly in the back of my mind that everything I’m doing is rooted in a lie, the way I used to. I feel like what I’m doing now really matters, and that I can effect real change by doing it. I no longer feel like I’m living a lie, and it’s a great feeling, and it’s all because of SASHA.
I hope that you will consider running for an officer position. Positions open now are President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Director of Public Relations. Contact our current president, Tony Lakey, and he will tell you what’s next.
I look forward to working with you next year! Together, we can do great things!
(573) 424-0420 cell/text
If you have abilities that don’t fit into one of these, come and talk to us! We created the Director of Public Relations position because we realized we needed someone in charge of that, and we had someone interested in doing it. If you are a photographer — or are even just interested in photography, and want to get more experience by shooting SASHA events — come talk to us about making a new officer position to emphasize it. If you are a web designer, or want to learn, come talk to us. If you are want to be on the committee to help plan our Fall Conference, come talk to us. We are open to ideas, and want you along for the ride!
Dave Muscato is Vice President of MU SASHA. He is a vegetarian, LGBTQ ally, and human- & animal-welfare activist. A junior at Mizzou majoring in economics & anthropology and minoring in philosophy & Latin, Dave posts updates to the SASHA blog every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. His website is http://www.DaveMuscato.com.
and don’t forget… other SASHA members! We are here for you, too!