Last year, I wrote about an inaugural conference for secular students which brought together atheist, humanist and secular students from throughout the UK. I am pleased to say that this first meeting has blossomed into a new organisation: the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies (AHS).
The organisation had its official launch last Thursday and it looked like a promising start. President Norman Ralph, from the Leeds Atheist Society, set the tone with a rousing and sincere speech about the need for, the purpose of and the future for the AHS. He was followed by similarly enthusiastic and supportive speeches from Professor A.C. Grayling, Professor Richard Dawkins and Polly Toynbee, journalist and President of the BHA. Indeed, Professor Dawkins even announced his intention to provide funding for student groups through his organisation, the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. I am sure that there will be many groups keen to take him up on that offer! The AHS is also supported by many of the UK’s various atheist, humanist and secular organisations.
Present at the launch were the British Humanist Association, the National Secular Society, the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association, the Council of Ex-Muslims and Accord, the coalition for inclusive schools. Most importantly, besides the organisations, speakers and press, there were students from all over the UK. From Belfast to Edinburgh to Southampton to Leeds, the room was filled with representatives of the various groups getting to know each other and swapping ideas and contact details. I’m excited to see what they’ll be doing next…
Some coverage of the AHS launch can be found in the Guardian and the Independent, as well as comment pieces from A.C. Grayling and Dr Susan Blackmore. For more details about the day’s events for student participants try asking Mike at the Not-Quite-So-Friendly Humanist. Photos from the event can be found here.