Image via WikipediaLong-time readers know that I have repeatedly struggled with ways to foster a positive atmosphere for atheist students at the university where I work. I want to provide such students with a safe place where they can find reprieve from the religiously oppressive environment in which we find ourselves. At the same time, I am not particularly interested in going out of my way to alienate the numerous fundamentalists Christian students (and faculty) who walk the same halls of higher learning. I have always been wary of those who use their positions as educators to advance political agendas. The challenge, which remains largely unsolved, is how to provide a welcoming and safe environment for atheist students without alienating the Christians who are equally deserving of a positive learning environment.
You can imagine my delight in seeing that the Chronicle of Higher Education addressed this very topic. Surely I would find some assistance in this highly respected source.
After documenting the need for universities to attend to atheist students, the authors offer some tips for faculty and university administrators:
I appreciate what they are saying, but these recommendations are simply too general to be of much value. What I want to know is how to create a welcoming and safe environment for atheist students. As an individual faculty member, what can I do to help?
Create a welcoming environment for atheist students. Include atheism in student programming. Ensure that atheists can, like other students, explore their inner development. Create safe spaces that are "atheist only" for students. Look to other institutions for best practices.
I recognize that many campuses have active groups for atheist students. I would be thrilled to serve as the faculty advisor to such a group, but I am not sure how interested students would even know to approach me about doing so. Clearly, I need to be more open about my atheism at work. I'm willing to do so, but I'm still not quite sure how best to do so.
H/T to Friendly Atheist
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