Wednesday, October 31, 2012

AHA Emails #7: Atheists & Politics (Election Edition)


Hey nonbelievers,
Happy Halloween!
Here's things happening this week:

Meeting #7: Atheists & Politics: Election Edition
When: Thursday (Tomorrow!), November 1st at 7pm.
Where: Van Vleck B223
What: AHA will discuss the intersection of religion and politics
Why: The election is really soon!

Fun Friday
Are you looking for a good time on Friday afternoon and want to hang out with some fellow AHAers?
If so, join us for Fun Friday at The Rathskeller at 6pm this Friday
We'll play cards and hang out and just have a good time. Cya there!
Feel free to bring your own board game or suggest a more clever name for this weekly event!

Election Night!
Celebrate our civic duty by watching the election with us at the Rathskeller! AHA officers will arrive at 8pm at the Rathskeller on Tuesday, November 6th. Feel free to drop by anytime!

Friday, October 26, 2012

AHA Emails #6: DEATH


Hey nonbelievers,
Here's things happening this week:

Meeting #6: Death
When: Thursday (Tomorrow!), October 25th at 7pm.
Where: Van Vleck B223
What: AHA will discuss about how one day, we'll probably die.
Why: It's either this or taxes?
Wow: Due to popular demand, our meetings will now last 90 minutes! (We'll take a break after 55 minutes)
Woah: Yeah, that means meet at the Rathskeller for post meeting fun at 8:30

Light The Night Walk For Lymphoma And Leukemia!
AHA is trying to raise money for the Light The Night Walk
All money donated goes to cancer research and support for people battling cancer.
And... All money raised by AHA will be matched by famous (rich) Atheist Todd Steifel!
Do your part to fight cancer! (it sucks)
We've already raised over $1,800, help us raise even more!
Also, we’re in 4th place for SSA affiliated groups raising money... Is 4th place good enough for you?!

Friday, October 19, 2012

AHA Emails #5: Discrimination!


Hey nonbelievers,
Take a look at what we're doing this week!

Meeting #5: Discrimination & Diversity Within The Atheist Movement!
When: Thursday (Tomorrow!), October 18th at 7pm.
Where: Van Vleck B223
What: We'll talk about racism and sexism within the atheist movement
Why: Because diversity rocks
Wow: Due to popular demand, our meetings will now last 90 minutes! (We'll take a break after 55 minutes)
Woah: Yeah, that means meet at the Rathskeller for post meeting fun at 8:30

Light The Night Walk For Lymphoma And Leukemia!
AHA is trying to raise money for the Light The Night Walk
All money donated goes to cancer research and support for people battling cancer.
And... All money raised by AHA will be matched by famous (rich) Atheist Todd Steifel!
Do your part to fight cancer! (it sucks)
We've already raised over $1,500, help us raise even more!
Also, we’re in 3rd place for SSA affiliated groups raising money... Is 3rd place good enough for you?!
DONATE HERE

Speaking of diversity...
The Muslim Students Association will be hosting Understanding Islamophobia in America 
It's at 6:30pm in Varsity Hall of Union South this Friday, October 19th.
Five distinguished speakers will be joining us. From the press release:
"Keynote speaker Ahmed Rehab, director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Chicago, will discuss the definitions, origins, nature, motivations, machinations and consequences of Islamophobia. Rashid Dar, a UW alumnus and former program director at Park 51, a planned Islamic community center near the site of the 9/11 attacks, will share his experiences. UW Professor Asifa Quraishi-Landes plans to discuss the anti-Sharia movement, and UW Professor Jennifer Loewenstein will address the reaction to the "Innocence of Muslims" video. Huffington Post writer Daniel Tutt will then speak on strategies for responding to Islamophobia in a larger historical context."
It sounds really fascinating, so you should totally show up! Cya there.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

AHA Emails #4: Indoctrination!


Hey nonbelievers,
Stupid midterms. Here's what's happening this week:

Meeting #4: Indoctrination!
When: Thursday (Tomorrow!), October 11th at 7pm.
Where: Van Vleck B223
What: We'll talk about how we'll raise our kids! Is teaching them about god a good idea? I dunno, let's figure it out
Why: Children are our future, right?
Wow: Due to popular demand, our meetings will now last 90 minutes! (We'll take a break after 55 minutes)
Woah: Yeah, that means meet at the Rathskeller for post meeting fun at 8:30

Light The Night Walk For Lymphoma And Leukemia!
AHA is trying to raise money for the Light The Night Walk
All money donated goes to cancer research and support for people battling cancer.
And... All money raised by AHA will be matched by famous (rich) Atheist Todd Steifel!
Do your part to fight cancer! (it sucks)
We've already raised over $1,500, help us raise even more!
Also, we’re in 3rd place for SSA affiliated groups raising money... Is 3rd place good enough for you?!
DONATE HERE

Looking for an internship in Madison? Want to help the Freedom From Religion Foundation?
If so, read this note from our good friends and nonbelief champions, the FFRF
The Freedom From Religion Foundation seeks an intern for the fall and spring semester to assist its Legal Department. FFRF is a national nonprofit organization that works to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church. The intern will work under the supervision of Staff Attorneys and will assist in remedying constitutional violations. Duties include drafting correspondence to government agencies, responding to member complaints on state/church issues, organizing files, research, and other administrative tasks. We ask for a commitment of 8-10 hours per week. Strong applicants will have excellent writing and research skills. If interested, send cover letter and resume to rmarkert@ffrf.org

Friday, October 5, 2012

Here's the hate mail, it never fails/It makes me wanna wag my tail...

And now, what you’ve all been waiting for…

              Ah, it’s that time of year again in beautiful Madison, Wisconsin. The leaves become red, gold, and orange, like an unchecked forest fire, locusts flock to the area in droves, Mendota and Menona begin to run with blood, and Lucifer himself takes a break from eternally punishing the souls of the damned and unbaptized to send the biannual AHA mass email! Let’s take a look at what horrible evil was sent out to the entire UW-Madison student populace this semester:

 
I would like to take this moment to have a short (long) discussion with you concerning the sentence that has caused a bit of a stir: 
“If you get mad about this, we will make fun of you on our blog.”

Out of all the emails we received in response to our mass email, emails with a focus on this seemly innocuous little line were the greatest in number. Now, to avoid any potential confusion, I would like to explicitly assure anyone and everyone that we appreciate the emails we receive, whether concerned, supportive, questioning, in agreement, or in disagreement, provided that the emails are thoughtful and respectful. (For reasons that completely baffle me, most of the emails received could not quite be classified as “thoughtful and respectful.”)

However, for those of you with legitimate concerns about this line (that we’re misrepresenting the atheist movement by appearing close-minded, that we are coming off as petty, etc.,) and for those of you with anger issues (YOU’LL MAKE FUN OF ME???!?!?! ARRRGGHH!!!!11?1@21!!), I offer you the following explanation.

This message is sent once a semester from a UW generated list.
You are not subscribed to anything, and will not receive additional messages.
If you get mad about this, we will make fun of you on our blog.
The line in question follows a little disclaimer, which informs all who read it that what it is that they are reading is, in fact, a mass email, and it goes to everybody. Thus, when we say "If you get mad about this," the "this" references the e-mail itself, and only the email itself. The utilization of a demonstrative pronoun suggests that we are continuing the subject of the preceding sentences; in this case, we are discussing the mass email. We are not saying “we will make fun of your religion,” nor “we hate your stupid dumb belief things!!!” It is not meant to be some sort of jab.

Additionally, as many of you know, we send out one of these mass emails every semester… and receive quite a bit of hate mail for it. If you would like some examples of the last mass email’s responses, you should click right here. The tradition of sharing and poking fun at some examples of what we get in return for advertising our student organization is simply a lighthearted way to take into account some of the very real and very awful things said to atheists/agnostics/etc. simply because they are atheist/agnostic/etc. We do not make fun of legitimate beliefs and concerns, and welcome all to come to our meetings, regardless of religious affiliation. However, some things just need to be shared, for the sake of comedy and for the sake of our sanity.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, because I can read your thoughts with my Wiccan mind-reading heathen powers. You’re thinking, “Gadzooks Calli, that just got really serious and wasn’t even very funny. You are the worst blog post writer ever.” That last line was pretty rude of you to think, but I generally agree that we should quickly put a halt to all of that silly seriousness and get to the good stuff.



RESPONSES TO THE DISCLAIMER LINE FROM HELL, WITH COMMENTARY 

That's the difference between you and a man of faith.  The man of faith would not "make fun" of you for your beliefs.
I wish this faceless, righteous man of faith would make fun of me for my beliefs in lieu of doing some of the other stuff he does, like attempt to garner legal control over my uterus by citing his personal religious beliefs and telling me with some regularity that I am going to burn in hell for an eternity and what-have-you. But I suppose we all have our priorities. Some of us are just really sensitive to being made fun of. :( Sowwy.


Yes, I am mad., I don't care if you make fun of me but knowing that I stand for God through his son Jesus Christ who died for all our sins. I pray for you guys that God whom I serve will enlighten your hearts, that you will come to the knowledge of the Saving Power in Jesus Christ. Invite me once and I will prove you that Gos is real!
You were already invited dude, you got the email. But I would be absolutely thrilled to pieces if you could prove Gos is real. In fact, I already believe in Gos. 


Oh, Gos… *swoon* Wait, you were talking about Ryan Gosling, right? Or was that just me severely misinterpreting the whole situation? Who cares. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be watching The Notebook on repeat all night. I mean… I’ll be reading The God Delusion while doing… calculus? Err…


If I see my name anywhere on your nifty blog ill report you for using a government subsidized as a tool for religious / spiritual recruitment to the proper authority. Please send a response showing that you understand.
Deezle.
Wha-... what is a Deezle? Seriously guys, help me out here. Like, should I fear Deezles? I don't know what feels I feel right now.


This is ridiculous. "You'll make fun of me?" Great organization. I hope this organization fails.
I suppose you didn’t hear about our recent success in acquiring GSSF funding eligibility, huh? (BOOM. NAILED IT.)


And my personal favorite…
oo Scary......Atheist Blog


Welcome to AHA, young one.

           


Now, don’t go thinking that every email we received was in response to that single line. We got a lot of legitimate criticism from the student body. I have organized some of the tips, tricks, and suggestions sent our way for your reading convenience.

STOP EMAILING ME.
Oh… I’m… I’m sorry…

stop emailing me otherwise you have to deal with police!
I mean, they probably have other stuff to do, but if you must…

this is awful
I know.

Rock on!
Oh god, how did this get in here?
  
fuck off
NO. YOU FUCK OFF.
Oh jeez, sorry you had to see that, guys. I lost my temper.

Your timing is horrible. Couldn't you have waited until after Sukkot to rip Jews from their tradition? You know, you athiests have turned into an organized religion. You even proselytize to recruit people from other religions. It's completely despicable. You are entitled to your opinions, but don't pervert the concept of atheism by turning it into a religion.
Does this mean we have to stop worshiping Richard Dawkins? Hey, guys, stop construction on the forty-foot-tall marble idol immediately!


By now, I am sure you are exhausted of trudging through my seemingly endless blog post. I am so close to shutting up, I promise you. I will leave you with one last gem. Before I reveal it in all its sparkling glory, however, a very serious topic must be addressed. At the very beginning of the document, you will notice that I included an actual screenshot of the email as I personally received it. It is even time-stamped if you don’t believe me that it is the True Mass Email. Amazingly, this email even caused grammar controversy (!). Some people informed us that, in the line “And since we’re the only one, we’re automatically the best!,” instead of saying “we’re,” we typed “were.” But, if one were to respond to our email to tell us of this catastrophe, the original email appeared under their response perfectly fine – apostrophes and all. Basically, the point of all that I am saying is that the apostrophes were there, I swear to Gos. Maybe the email just looked weird on your screen or something.

Anyways, enjoy.


Dear Godless Email Spammers,

Based on your email, I feel it is safe to assume that you also do not believe in punctuation. Confusing "were" and "we're" is pretty embarrassing for an organization hoping to attract new members.

Sincerely,

Godless Spam Email Recipient



And upon our suggestion that perhaps he is mistaken about the "were" vs. "we're" debacle...



Dear godless ass-covering amateurs,

It was a nice attempt to cover up for your stupid mistake by editing the original message in your reply. I have the first email you sent with the punctuation mistake, and I will send you a screen shot if you like.

[....]

Perhaps Jesus will forgive you for your sins.


Sincerely,

***** *******



It is your choice whether you laugh or cry at that last email.


I thank you for your time. 
Live long and prosper.





P.S.: To the many, many, many, many, many people who responded to the email to ask us to take you off the mailing list: The mass email goes to everyone in the school. It literally says that in the very email you apparently did not have the time to read, but had the time to respond to. If you want to be taken off the list, drop out of college. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

AHA Emails #3: Blasphemy!


Hey nonbelievers,
Excited for the huge event on Thursday?! Yeah, we're having our 3rd meeting of the year!

Meeting #3: Blasphemy!
When: Thursday (Tomorrow!), October 4th at 7pm.
Where: Van Vleck B223
What: We'll talk about depictions of Muhammad, Free Speech, and Blasphemy.
Why: You probably heard people don't like the “movie” "The Innocence of Muslims", right?
Wow: Due to popular demand, our meetings will now last 90 minutes! (That's 50% more AHA!)
Woah: Yeah, that means meet at the Rathskeller for post meeting fun at 8:30

Light The Night Walk For Lymphoma And Leukemia!
AHA is trying to raise money for the Light The Night Walk
All money donated goes to cancer research and support for people battling cancer.
And... All money raised by AHA will be matched by famous (rich) Atheist Todd Steifel!
Do your part to fight cancer! (it sucks)
We've already raised over $1,500, help us raise even more!
Also, we’re in 2nd place for SSA affiliated groups raising money... Is 2nd place good enough for you?
DONATE HERE

Roy Zimmerman: Atheist Comedian/Singer
On Sunday, October 7th at 7pm Comedian/Singer Roy Zimmermann will be performing at the James Reeb UU Congregation!
He sings about topics such as creationism, abstinence, and same-sex marriage and is "very funny"!
Meet at 2146 E. Johnson St. for the Free Show!
RSVP on facebook right here
And preview his hilarity right here

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Historic Day For AHA

We've been working on something pretty big here at the AHA HQ.  
It's a long story, so bear with me.

Every semester, in addition to our normal tuition, UW - Madison students are required to pay "segregated fees" to the tune of about $1,400 per person per year.  This money goes on to pay for a multitude of things on campus - all of which, at least in theory, directly benefit students. Most of the $32 million pool goes towards paying for student health services (UHS), building projects on campus, bus passes, and gyms.  (See figure below)  Our student government, the Associated Students of Madison (ASM), have some degree of oversight on how these funds are allocated.  About 3% of the total segregated fees are distributed by ASM to support the hundreds of Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) on campus.  Student orgs can apply for this money via a variety of funding streams.  For example, there are "Event Grants" to support groups organizing events, "Operations Grants" which cover day-to-day operating expenses of organizations, and "Travel Grants" for sending students to attend leadership conferences.  AHA has a long history of successfully tapping into these funding opportunities.
Where does your money go?













 .

Then... then there is the GSSF - the  General Student Services Fund, the holy grail of student organization funding.  The GSSF is sort of a "one stop shop" for exceptionally large, well organized, and indispensable organizations on campus.  Rather than applying for the multiple event/travel/operations grants described above, GSSF groups receive a single budget to cover all of their services, programming, operating expenses, travel, and paid student staff. Thus, the budgets can get pretty large...

A few of the major GSSF groups receiving funding recently.  Average budget: about $100,000.





.

GSSF funds are administered by another acronymed organization, the Student Services Finance Committee (SSFC).  The SSFC is a board made up of 15 student representatives who make recommendations to ASM on the allocation of segregated fees, and also get to decide which groups are eligible to receive GSSF funding.  When this much cash is at stake, you can bet your sweet ass that GSSF funding is not easy to get.  AHA's completed application was just shy of 50 pages long. There are a litany of strict requirements that all must be met in order for RSOs to be considered qualified for the GSSF.  Probably the single most important requirement is that: "The group must provide to the students of the university a specific and identifiable direct service."  In order for programming offered by an RSO to count as a direct service, it must meet all of the following criteria.
  • The program must be available upon request by recipients 
  • The program can be tailored subject to the needs of the recipients within the mission of the group.
  • The program must be accessible to the recipients regardless of recipient’s participation and/or membership in the group.
  • The program must be available to recipients continually throughout the course of the fiscal year.
  • The program is not an individual event, publication, or a leadership development opportunity for group member.

AHA will offer two direct services: "Faith Questioning" and the "Secular Support Group"
Faith Questioning is a peer-to-peer religious advising service, designed to help students struggling with their faith, and to encourage all participants to develop their own religious identity.
Secular Support Groups are discussion-based meetings for nonreligious, questioning, or any students interested in discussing topics relating to religion in a large group setting.

Today, the SSFC voted 11-1 in favor of granting AHA GSSF Eligibility!  This is an honor that perhaps 20 out of the over 750 student groups on campus have ever received.  We have submitted a budget request of  $90,014.20.  We'll have an additional budgetary hearing with the SSFC within a month, which then gets sent up to the ASM Council, then the UW-Madison Chancellor, and finally the UW-System Board of Regents for approval.  Stay tuned...

Update 10/10/12:
Our budget hearing with the SSFC has been scheduled for November 5th.  This will determine exactly how much of our original $90,000 request will be approved.