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Sep 02 2009

Non-theist callout an insane success

I’m home from the Society of Non-Theists’ callout, eating a late dinner and drinking a much needed beer. I personally think callouts are the most stressful events to hold because they really set the precedent for the year. Can’t have people come to events if they don’t know about your club. They’re extra stressful when people keep tearing down or vandalizing your flyers, which we deal with all the time. So, how’d it go?

ONE HUNDRED AND FOUR PEOPLE SHOWED UP!
Holy crap. It was standing room only! We have our regular room that has 94 seats, and it’s never even been filled to capacity (well, we’ve had some larger events, but I reserve a larger room). To put this in perspective for you, our first year we had about 90 people (keep in mind we’re brand new so this is from all grade levels), second year 60 (now basically recruiting new students), and most clubs get 10 – maaaybe 40 people at a callout unless they’re huge and popular. We are now huge and popular.

And as a special side note, out of all of my stupid jokes or random ideas, the thought to go see the evangelical Porn & Popcorn night then go watch real porn got a thundering applause.

People who tear our flyers down because you’re afraid we even exist? Yeah, you’re not stopping us.

41 comments

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  1. 1
    Atheistic.ca

    Congrats! It sounds like it was a resounding success and I couldn't imagine a Christian destroying your posters…would Jesus do that?

    Nooooooooo. Surely that's a sin?

  2. 2
    Atheistic.ca

    Congrats! It sounds like it was a resounding success and I couldn’t imagine a Christian destroying your posters…would Jesus do that?Nooooooooo. Surely that’s a sin?

  3. 3
    Brittany

    Yay! Makes me wish I was still a college student. I miss the club.

  4. 4
    Brittany

    Yay! Makes me wish I was still a college student. I miss the club.

  5. 5
    Andre Vienne

    Awesome. Good to hear that this went so well.

  6. 6
    Andre Vienne

    Awesome. Good to hear that this went so well.

  7. 7
    Joé McKen

    Sounds like you're doing a heck of a good job. Be proud. Be very proud. =)

  8. 8
    Joé McKen

    Sounds like you’re doing a heck of a good job. Be proud. Be very proud. =)

  9. 9
    Kris Maglione

    Sounds like much needed relief for non-theists at a conservative midwestern Uni. I bet you're winning some brownie points for good will with some deity or other. I hope you guys do crash the Porn & Popcorn night, too. Nothing makes an impression on a bunch of sexually repressed, conservative prudes like a mob of quiet, respectful, dissenting freethinkers — or so I've been led to believe from the Creation “Museum” trip.

    That said, aren't you the Sciency crowd? You must be able to think of some nifty karmic way of keeping your fliers up. Maybe take a hint from Natural Selection and copy the stink bug? Or from the chemistry department and use some nice epoxy rather than staples? (I'm sure that the bulletin board regulations are notably silent on such issues.)

  10. 10
    Kris Maglione

    Sounds like much needed relief for non-theists at a conservative midwestern Uni. I bet you’re winning some brownie points for good will with some deity or other. I hope you guys do crash the Porn & Popcorn night, too. Nothing makes an impression on a bunch of sexually repressed, conservative prudes like a mob of quiet, respectful, dissenting freethinkers — or so I’ve been led to believe from the Creation “Museum” trip.That said, aren’t you the Sciency crowd? You must be able to think of some nifty karmic way of keeping your fliers up. Maybe take a hint from Natural Selection and copy the stink bug? Or from the chemistry department and use some nice epoxy rather than staples? (I’m sure that the bulletin board regulations are notably silent on such issues.)

  11. 11
    FUG

    Man, that's really really cool.

    Your updates on your club and its doings have warmed me up to the idea of creating a non-theist organization.

  12. 12
    FUG

    Man, that’s really really cool.Your updates on your club and its doings have warmed me up to the idea of creating a non-theist organization.

  13. 13
    Jen

    FUG, if you have the time, do it. It's hard work, easier if you have people to help you, but totally worth it.

  14. 14
    Jen

    FUG, if you have the time, do it. It’s hard work, easier if you have people to help you, but totally worth it.

  15. 15
    Veritas

    Way to go, Jen. Huge news for you guys. Seems like you are gaining steam each year!

  16. 16
    Veritas

    Way to go, Jen. Huge news for you guys. Seems like you are gaining steam each year!

  17. 17
    Chris Wellons

    Congrats! Your success reminds me a bit of my group's first meeting ever. I was one of the founders of the Penn State atheist group called the "Penn State Atheist, Agnostic Association" (PSAAA) back in spring 2004, which I am surprised to find is still active.

    For our very first meeting, to really begin with a bang, we invited the (in)famous Willard Preacher, Gary Cattel, as a guest speaker/debater of sorts. He was called the "Willard Preacher" because he preaches fire and brimstone outside the Willard building, a very common classroom building, every weekday afternoon for hours, so everyone on campus knows about him. This event was so popular it brought in over 150 people to that meeting, and we had to move the meeting room at the last minute because so many people were showing up. We were amazed.

    If you search online there's an article about it.

    It didn't last though. The regular meeting attendance dropped to something like 10 to 20 people. :-P The initial group was mostly just a curious crowd.

    Anyway, congrats!

  18. 18
    Chris Wellons

    Congrats! Your success reminds me a bit of my group’s first meeting ever. I was one of the founders of the Penn State atheist group called the “Penn State Atheist, Agnostic Association” (PSAAA) back in spring 2004, which I am surprised to find is still active.For our very first meeting, to really begin with a bang, we invited the (in)famous Willard Preacher, Gary Cattel, as a guest speaker/debater of sorts. He was called the “Willard Preacher” because he preaches fire and brimstone outside the Willard building, a very common classroom building, every weekday afternoon for hours, so everyone on campus knows about him. This event was so popular it brought in over 150 people to that meeting, and we had to move the meeting room at the last minute because so many people were showing up. We were amazed.If you search online there’s an article about it.It didn’t last though. The regular meeting attendance dropped to something like 10 to 20 people. :-P The initial group was mostly just a curious crowd.Anyway, congrats!

  19. 19
    Anonymous

    Oops, that should be spring 2005.

  20. 20
    Anonymous

    Oops, that should be spring 2005.

  21. 21
    Egoist Paul

    That's great! If I were you, I would get feedback from the audience and then find ways to attract more people.

  22. 22
    Egoist Paul

    That’s great! If I were you, I would get feedback from the audience and then find ways to attract more people.

  23. 23
    Jen

    I took a little poll on how people heard about the club – about 1/3 from our tables where we hand out flyers, 1/3 from flyers and chalking, and 1/3 from misc stuff (newspaper ad, internet, etc). Only makes me wonder how many more people we'd have if our flyers actually stayed up more than a day!

  24. 24
    Jen

    I took a little poll on how people heard about the club – about 1/3 from our tables where we hand out flyers, 1/3 from flyers and chalking, and 1/3 from misc stuff (newspaper ad, internet, etc). Only makes me wonder how many more people we’d have if our flyers actually stayed up more than a day!

  25. 25
    James

    Wow. That's really encouraging; congratulations. I just hope that it isn't a phenomenon like Chris described, i.e. that 90% of them will leave. Even if a lot of them do, they'll likely talk about it at least a little bit, and possibly inadvertently send a few more your way that you missed the first time around.

    I'm not really sure what "callouts" are exactly and what kind of obligation there is, if any. I don't really do clubs, but I would if there were a well-managed atheist group. I'm at UMCP, and we have nearly as many students as Purdue, but somehow we don't seem to have one. My search turned up one that apparently started in 2004 and fizzled within a year. We have tons of religious clubs, and Korean missionaries harass people on campus fairly often, but, oddly enough, most people seem pretty low-key about religion here.

    I'd take your advice and start one myself, but I have no true atheist friends (or acquaintances) that I know of, and I wouldn't really know how to set up good events and what not, in order to keep everyone's interest. I'm also not sure how strong the reaction would be, since neither side seems willing to rock the boat very much. Then there's the fact that I'm working and taking 4 advanced math and CS classes each semester. I know your workload is roughly equivalent, plus your club, plus TAing, plus some other stuff I probably don't know about, so that might sound lazy of me, but it really takes all my effort to get As in some of these math classes.

  26. 26
    James

    Wow. That’s really encouraging; congratulations. I just hope that it isn’t a phenomenon like Chris described, i.e. that 90% of them will leave. Even if a lot of them do, they’ll likely talk about it at least a little bit, and possibly inadvertently send a few more your way that you missed the first time around.I’m not really sure what “callouts” are exactly and what kind of obligation there is, if any. I don’t really do clubs, but I would if there were a well-managed atheist group. I’m at UMCP, and we have nearly as many students as Purdue, but somehow we don’t seem to have one. My search turned up one that apparently started in 2004 and fizzled within a year. We have tons of religious clubs, and Korean missionaries harass people on campus fairly often, but, oddly enough, most people seem pretty low-key about religion here.I’d take your advice and start one myself, but I have no true atheist friends (or acquaintances) that I know of, and I wouldn’t really know how to set up good events and what not, in order to keep everyone’s interest. I’m also not sure how strong the reaction would be, since neither side seems willing to rock the boat very much. Then there’s the fact that I’m working and taking 4 advanced math and CS classes each semester. I know your workload is roughly equivalent, plus your club, plus TAing, plus some other stuff I probably don’t know about, so that might sound lazy of me, but it really takes all my effort to get As in some of these math classes.

  27. 27
    Veritas

    James, I've started clubs before. Usually it's as easy as getting a table and sitting at your university's group night. We did that at X for our RPG society, and trust me, that was fun. Most people look at you like you've got two heads. But you find kindred spirits. They do exist.

    Beyond that, the group may even elect a different governor, or president, or what-have-you. I suppose it's up to you if you want to take the effort and such.

  28. 28
    Veritas

    James, I’ve started clubs before. Usually it’s as easy as getting a table and sitting at your university’s group night. We did that at X for our RPG society, and trust me, that was fun. Most people look at you like you’ve got two heads. But you find kindred spirits. They do exist.Beyond that, the group may even elect a different governor, or president, or what-have-you. I suppose it’s up to you if you want to take the effort and such.

  29. 29
    BeamStalk

    Wow, congrats Jen. Your little group is now teh awesome.

  30. 30
    BeamStalk

    Wow, congrats Jen. Your little group is now teh awesome.

  31. 31
    Dan Gilbert

    Wow! Congratulations! That's awesome!

  32. 32
    Dan Gilbert

    Wow! Congratulations! That’s awesome!

  33. 33
    godlessgirl

    Now *this* is a group worth being a member of in university. Makes me long to re-live my college days as an atheist and not a Christian. Keep up the good work!

  34. 34
    godlessgirl

    Now *this* is a group worth being a member of in university. Makes me long to re-live my college days as an atheist and not a Christian. Keep up the good work!

  35. 35
    sultanashma

    Excellant stuff. Just establishing that the option exists expands the communal, cognitive space, and that's the surest way to kill bogus religion.

    Re: the fliers…I suggest some monitoring to see if it's organized. If it is, get their memebership list, and SEND them the fliers to the next event. Could have a really snarky cover letter, like, "We noted your interest in our last event…we'll be glad to give you a reminder call…we've also added you to our email list", etc.

  36. 36
    Camels With Hammers

    Go Blaghag! Congratulations on the great turnout

  37. 37
    Camels With Hammers

    Go Blaghag! Congratulations on the great turnout

  38. 38
    vjack

    Outstanding news! Congrats on the impressive turnout.

  39. 39
    vjack

    Outstanding news! Congrats on the impressive turnout.

  40. 40
    ANuRa

    Wow! I congratulate!

    Just one question: where the hell did you get that atheist cartoon that shows in the photo? I would love to have it!

  41. 41
    Anura

    Wow! I congratulate!Just one question: where the hell did you get that atheist cartoon that shows in the photo? I would love to have it!

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