This year, at the 2010 Center for Inquiry Student Leadership Conference, five student groups were recognized for their unique, impressive accomplishments throughout the 2009-2010 academic year. The Missouri State Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster won the “Best On Campus Event” award for Skepticon II, a free, multi-day conference featuring PZ Myers, Victor Stenger, Dan Barker, Richard Carrier, D.J. Grothe, Joe Nickell, Robert Price, and Rebecca Watson. Skepticon II, which was attended by 400 people in Springfield, Missouri, will be followed up by 2010’s Skepticon III, to be held November 19-21, which hopes to be even bigger and better. The “Best New Group” award went to the California State University – Bakersfield Free Thinking Society. The group, led by Eddy Lee, was created in 2009 and organized lectures, which were attended by hundreds, by Michael Shermer, William Lobdell, and Liora Gubkin.
Because of their philanthropic work in New Orleans, the Students for Freethought at The Ohio State University were given the “Secular Service” award. Their work, which is detailed in an article and video blog, describes what they did in the Big Easy: namely, destroying drywall, ceilings, and even pianos in order to begin the reconstruction process of various homes. The Campus and Community Impact award was given to the University of Melbourne Secular Secular Society, which helped organize the 2010 Global Atheism Convention, attended by over 5,000 people from across the world from March 12-14, 2010. With his group, Jason Ball helped to organize the largest atheist conference in Australia’s history, headlined by Richard Dawkins and Peter Singer. Three months after the conference, Australia elected its first female and first atheist Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. The University of Northern Iowa Freethinkers and Inquirers were given the “Defense of Free Expression” award for their activism on International Blasphemy Day, September 30, 2009. Emphasizing that people, not ideas, have rights, the UNIFI group chalked the campus with phrases and pictures that sparked debate on campus regarding the limits and purpose of free speech. Congratulations to all of our award winners. Keep up the great work on campus!