Sunday, 26 September 2010

Fresher's Fair and Future Plans

The new academic year is nearly upon us and after a summer of slumber the Aston Humanist Society is truly wide awake and ready to set minds alight once again! It all kicks off with Fresher’s Fair next on Sunday 3rd of September in the Aston Student’s Guild at 11 o clock. For anyone that can make it, it’s to speak to some of us in person, find out what we’re all about and join up!

It’s important to stress that we’re absolutely not an 'anti-theist' society that exists just out to ruffle religious feathers, those with religious beliefs are very welcome to join; the main objective of the group is to provide a forum for discussion so that people can express their ideas and opinions on things that interest them.

Membership is £5 and runs for a calendar year from October 2010. £5 is the minimum required fee set by the Student’s Guild to cover the cost of admin., hiring rooms etc. throughout the year. We’d like to be completely free, but the price of a couple of pints is pretty good value for being part of one the coolest clubs on campus. To sweeten the deal (if you’ll excuse the pun), everyone that signed up last year was treated to a special homemade humanist fairy cake, this year we’ve got some special cookies lined up!

Meetings will be held weekly on Thursdays at 7pm in the Presentation Suite on the second floor of the Aston University Student’s Guild. For those unlucky people that can’t make it to meetings and events in person, the blog is the best way to keep abreast of the latest action and contribute to articles and ideas.

At some of the meetings last year, we attempted answer, or at least think about, some of the questions that god wasn’t going to answer for us: “How do we deal with the involvement of religion in major health issues, namely the Pope and his reigniting of the condoms/Aids situation”, “Should we treat paedophiles and criminals or mentally ill?”, “Trust in doctors or trust in god: how should society deal with clashes between people's beliefs and medical ethics?” and “Do criminals should have the right to vote?”.

Members can nominate a topic on anything that they wish by emailing or coming along to meetings. A doozy of a topic we’ve got lined up for one of the next discussions is “Having a baby: right or privilege?” an ethical minefield which is taking on even more importance given potential revisions to government policy with regards to IVF treatment in reaction to the financial crisis and the need to cut NHS spending.

It isn’t all intense, high-brow and heated debates though! Last year we also had regular movie/documentary nights (including Richard Dawkin’s The Enemy of Reason, Religulous and the BBC doc. My Name Is Muhammad, we hosted talks by Ariane Sherine (Atheist Bus Campaign) and Rebecca Watson (Skepchick), and took part in fundraising events like AmnesTEA parties, and the Cancer Research UK Relay for Life.

This year the plan is for a monthly rota of events roughly broken down in to:

1. Weekly discussion meeting on a topic decided by members
2. Documentary/movie night
3. Birmingham Skeptics in the Pub talk
4. Social in the pub, which will be a chance to do a bit of drinking along with the thinking

with other events and guest speakers slotted in as and when then happen.

All the scheduled events will go up on the public Aston Humanist Society Google Calendar. To make things easy, there’s a handy button which will automatically add them to your own diaries!

The first meeting will be on Thursday the 7th of October and will be a chance for all of our new members to get to know each other over some free drinks and nibbles. The first proper event is a cracker: a trip to the Victoria on Wednesday the 13th of October to see Simon Singh speak to the Birmingham Skeptics in the Pub about his run in with the British Chiropractic Association and the subsequent Libel Reform campaign (which you should definitely sign up to and support!).

We’d also like announce that we are now an official member of the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies (also confusingly shortened to the AHS), with myself and James Ellor as the two members on the committee.

With the society really finding its feet and promising to go from strength to strength, it looks to be an great year ahead, chock full of fantastic events and opportunities to shares ideas, vent your spleen, or just listen to what others have to say on some interesting and often controversial issues. With the support of the AHS and other societies like ours, we’ll be able to put on bigger and better events and contribute to an ever-growing network of student groups promoting free-thinking!

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