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Started by Whitney, May 28, 2009, 09:07:33 AM
QuoteThe Alliance of Happy Atheists says it promotes tolerance, but struggles for ASUO recognitionStanding outside the EMU Amphitheatre, University freshman Greg Kirby holds a white sign. It reads, "Ask an Atheist Anything." Kirby, the vice president of the recently formed Alliance of Happy Atheists student group, discusses religion with people as they pass by, while promoting the group's weekly Thursday meetings.A group of eight organizers has been meeting since January, but has only hosted public meetings since April. On April 10, 90 students gathered for AHA's first meeting.Lucy Gubbins, the group's recently elected president, says the group's goal is not to be anti-religious. Instead, the group is focused on being courteous, tolerant, and supporting atheism and atheists."I think the Alliance of Happy Atheists creates a community for people to come to," said Gubbins, a University freshman. "I think it's a wonderful social atmosphere. I think people really feel that they can be honest, and they can really can talk about their struggles, and I think that's the most important thing."Gubbins has been instrumental in the group's success this year. She re-energized the "UO Alliance of Happy Atheists!" Facebook group originally formed by Jeff Kline. Gubbins and Kline started holding weekly meetings with Kirby, Megan Littlejohn, Niels Goossens, Kendra Taylor, Simon Sanchez and Matt Brauer to establish the group's core concepts. The Facebook group grew from 19 to over 170 members.The group applied to be a recognized ASUO group but was denied. The ASUO explained that the group must exist for six months before it can gain official recognition. "The ASUO hasn't let us use any kinds of materials," Gubbins said. "It's like they don't even want us to be a group."The lack of recognition poses a problem for AHA. Unable to reserve rooms for meetings, the group has appealed to ASUO President Sam Dotters-Katz, who helps make University room reservations. "I'm happy to sign off on rooms for them because it's important to create a place on campus for everybody," Dotters-Katz said.