Manifesto for Executive Secretary – Caitlin Greenwood
When I started at Bristol, I was (to say the least) a massive, awkward weirdo. I knew I could join societies where there might be people who shared my interests, maybe even people I could form friendships with! But which societies to choose?
While browsing the catalogue the SU so helpfully provided me with, I discovered the “Faith Societies” section. And there, in shining black type and laminated paper, heading up the alphabetical list were the words “Atheist, Agnostic and Secular Society (AASS)”. I had found my people.
Throughout my time at Bristol, AASS was a weekly part of my term time life. I served on the committee twice, once as Academic Secretary (in charge of inviting speakers) and once as Vice President. As our then president was in his Master’s year, I did much of the administrative work involved. The community I found at AASS was the most important of my undergrad life.
I was introduced to the AHS by Jenny (Bartle) and Mike (Paynter), who dragged me along to the AHS Convention that year. I was nervously introduced to Andrew Copson, who (on hearing I was a Classicist) declared he “liked me already!” and then immediately marched off to who knows where. Basically, I thought the AHS, as a means of meeting and forming friendships with other young people who hated god, or y’know, didn’t really mind god but thought he probably didn’t exist, was pretty fantastic. I’ve been to every AHS convention since then, and have always thoroughly enjoyed myself.
After a brief hiatus last academic year (I was doing a master’s degree, and who among us can say it did not consume their life?) I joined the AHS as Campaigns Officer. This year we’ve produced a few guides to the more contentious issues on campus, such as gender segregation and free speech. I’ve also written for the AHS website, and ran a workshop at the AHS training day in December. My big project, however, is still in the works. I am currently running a freedom of information request campaign into university chaplaincies: which religions do they represent, how much money does the university spend on them, and so on. I can’t give you any conclusions yet (what good scientist would tell you before they’d recorded their results?) but it’s a very exciting project to be working on, and I hope to be able to update everyone at the AGM with my progress.
Moving forward, I hope to be able to bring my skills as an organiser and researcher to the AHS, which is why I’ve put myself forward as secretary. I would like very much to continue developing the role of campaigns within the AHS, and a position on the Exec would give me scope to do that. I’m also really quite good at boring stuff like timetabling and meeting deadlines, so I’ve got that in my favour. Undertaking this kind of research helps make the AHS relevant to students, who might ask “Why would I join an atheist society (if it weren’t for the excellent company)?” It also has the potential to raise the profile of the AHS, and possibly widen our reach to those few, dark outposts where no current AHS society shines the light of rational thinking and burgeoning alcoholism.
Finally, if my rambling life story hasn’t convinced you that I am the person for the job, consider this: are you likely to be able to convince anyone else to come to the convention as a historically accurate Viking? No, I didn’t think so.
The boring stuff:
This year I’m starting the first year of an Arts PhD. This will be flexible, timewise, until after the AHS convention, so important planning time over the summer and in the run up to the Convention shouldn’t be compromised. I will be doing lab time after that, but scheduling is one of my strengths so the AHS need not suffer because I’m a little busier.