University of Wisconsin–Madison

Mass Email Draws Renewed Anger

Once a semester we send out an email to the entire student body at UW-Madison, inviting interested students to join AHA. Using the University’s mass email system, any student organization with $100 can send an email to all 40,000+ students on campus. Here’s our message from this semester, sent last Thursday:

Subject: Join the Secular Conversation!

Are you a non-religious or otherwise freethinking student? Are you questioning your faith? You are not alone. Join AHA: UW-Madison’s only student organization for secular students.

At AHA, we ask questions like:
Why are we moral?
How does religion affect sexual expression?
Is free will an illusion?
Would you date an android?

Join us at our meetings, every Thursday at 7pm in Ingraham Hall 224, to discuss these questions and many more! Tonight’s meeting topic is the meaning of life.

To be on our email list, simply send a blank email to: <join-aha@lists.wisc.edu>

Additionally, join us at any of our kickoff events!

  • Thursday, February 5th – Information Session – 6pm – Ingraham Hall, Room 19
  • Saturday, February 7th – Board Game Night – 8pm – Lakefront on Langdon, in Memorial Union
  • Monday, February 9th – Trivia Night – 8pm – The Sett in Union South
  • Thursday, February 12th – Freethought Speaker Series, with speaker Henry Reich, creator of MinutePhysics – 7pm – Ingraham Hall, room B10

To find out more about these events, check out our social media:
Blog <http://wiscatheists.blogspot.com/>,
Facebook page <http://www.facebook.com/wiscatheists>,
Twitter <https://twitter.com/WiscAtheists>,
Youtube <http://www.youtube.com/user/wiscatheists>


This message is sent from a UW-Madison Registered Student Organization once a semester from a UW generated list.  You are not on any email list, so asking to be taken off will do you no good. You are not subscribed to anything, and will not receive additional messages.

Funded in part by ASM in a viewpoint neutral manner. Students can request disability accommodations at diversity@asm.wisc.edu. View logo at:http://go.wisc.edu/cz030l

In the past, our completely harmless emails have gotten some people pretty upset.  
For a good laugh, check out:

More recently, we wrote about how our fall 2013 mass email drew significantly fewer responses than in past years. After that, we elected to use our Spring 2014 mass email to advertise our Freethought Festival, which you can read more about at freethoughtfestival.org. Because this was an advertisement for our 2014 conference, which featured Dan Savage as headliner, we again received very few responses. We took these two occurrences as a sign that the UW campus had finally gotten over their vitriol, proclaiming that “people are beginning to accept atheism and AHA as a perfectly normal, acceptable, part of the campus community.”

Turns out, we were wrong.

I present to you a compilation of several responses that we’ve received over the last two semesters, accompanied by my own personal take on their anger.

1. The most common responses, wishing to be taken off the email list.

  • UNSUBSCRIBE
  • Can you please take me off this email list.
  • unsubscribe
  • STOP emailing me
  • No more e-mails please. Thanks.
  • Can you stop sending me emails?
  • Cease and desist. Please stop, I have no interest in this type of thing.
If only their god had given them the ability to read all the way to the end of an email, where it clearly states “You are not on any email list, so asking to be taken off will do you no good. You are not subscribed to anything, and will not receive additional messages.”

2. Really went out of his way to get taken off our list.
  • Dear Sir or Madam,

    Your message states that I am on no e-mail list, and so asking to be taken off will do me no good. But I have received an unsolicited e-mail, so it must be that I am on some list, somewhere. Please arrange it so that you send me nothing else. If this is impossible, then please explain why the atheists are able to send un-opt-out-able messages to the campus community, or please direct me to someone who can provide such an explanation.

    May God richly bless you,
    <Name omitted>

At least he read to the end of the email. Good on you, sir, for managing to do something that most angry respondents cannot. The problem is that you’re getting sent this email simply because you’re a UW-Madison student. If you wish to be taken off this list, just don’t be enrolled in classes! It’s that simple.

3. Legitimately angry.

  • Don’t email me about your atheists views. I don’t want to hear about it. I’m a Christian so don’t even bring it up.
  • For the love of god. Stop sending your stupid emails. There has to be a better way to get the word out than annoying every single kid on campus through email…
No, that’s the point. This is far-and-away the best way to get the word out about our group. It is the single best recruitment tactic that we have, and we probably bring in 100+ new members every year because of it. I am sincerely sorry for the minor inconvenience into your daily life. It would’ve been so difficult to just delete the email and carry on with your day!

4. Tries to reconcile freethinking with religion.
  • I would like to inform you that it it is possible to be a free thinking student without denouncing one’s religious beliefs. Also, I will not be attending your events. I truly hope your organization does not receive funding from donors that gave to this university out of the kindness of their heart that was instilled to them by God. 
    In Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.

I’m sure this guy would find a lot of comfort in the fact that we are funded by student segregated fees, which means he personally donated roughly 50 cents to our group. Thank you for the kind donation, sir!

5. Philosophically Crazy
  • Interesting:I wonder if these questions or other questions that may be discussed would serve a purpose. If so, what is that purpose. It cannot be to continue to beat about in the confusion unleashed on the masses by power concentrating mechanisms in society. What is secular? Can people who cannot completely /unconditionally accept others actually be secular?

    First – why do we have these questions?

    > Why are we moral?
    Assumes morality is defined. who decides what that is…not corrupt pyramid schemes. do we need morality when science exists? science teaches us rules of the road. Why not that of life? What does morality do, if anything at all?

    > How does religion affect sexual expression?
    what we mean by religion (a type of socialization)? why do we need to talk about expressions (another type of socialization)? is this topic meaningful?

    > Is free will an illusion? What other illusions exist…

    > Would you date an android?
    Why is dating needed? ‘aliens’ exist in our own backyard as we know little about another human. why do we need to search for aliens for dating ?

I… I… I don’t even know what to say to this one.

Hope you got a good laugh out of these.

-Sam Erickson
AHA President

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