The school year is quickly coming to a close, and so too is my undergraduate career—I am a senior and will be graduating this semester. And because I’m leaving Utah State University, I’ve been reflecting on my time here.
Many of my fondest memories will be of SHAFT. I have been involved with the group as an officer since its inception in Spring 2008. SHAFT has introduced me to some amazing people and, more generally, has given the secular community a much needed presence on campus. I think we all have reason to be proud of what SHAFT has accomplished.
There has been some discussion recently over what the future of SHAFT should be, however. SHAFT’s mission, as I understand it, is two-fold: (1) provide a fun and safe community for non-theistic students, and (2) promote skepticism (of ourselves and others), scientific literacy, and secular humanist values. There is a slight tension between these objectives. Were SHAFT only a social and support group for atheists, then we run the risk of groupthink. But when we neglect this social/support aspect of SHAFT, we could alienate those who most need SHAFT—people who have been ostracized from family and friends because of their religious doubts or disbelief.
I am convinced that both purposes of SHAFT are vital, so there must be a balancing act. The criticism (and it may well be a legitimate one) that has been leveled at me lately is that I have not struck the appropriate balance. So for the benefit of next year’s officers, let’s discuss what the future of SHAFT should be. Answering the following questions will help inform our discussion:
What has been your favorite SHAFT event? Why?
What has been your least favorite event? Why?
Do you have event ideas for next year? Please share.
Should SHAFT be more accommodating of religious people and their concerns, or less?
To what extent should SHAFT practice self-criticism and challenge atheism?
Your thoughts are greatly appreciated. Thank you for your interest in this club. I am going to miss SHAFT, but I am also excited to see how it will evolve. I trust next year’s officers to do a phenomenal job, and they should have your confidence too.
SHAFT’s 2010-2011 officers:
Administrative – Mike Otteson
Activities – Chris Gardner
Public Relations – Mike Linford
Advertising – Caitlin Laughlin