Columbia University Welcomes New Humanist Society
Frangell Basora, Founder
Columbia Humanist Society
The Columbia Humanist Society, at Columbia University in New York City, was founded by Frangell Basora [third from the left], Michael Winsor, Verity Walsh, Cinta Kiehl, Brandon Elias, and Jeremy Jones, with the invaluable guidance of Dr. Anne Klaeysen [Leader, New York Society for Ethical Culture and Religious Life Adviser for the Ethical Humanist Chaplaincy at Columbia University and Barnard College], and the assistance of graduate students, Joe Blankholm and Scott Kallgren. This philosophical and political student society has been created on the premise that despite all of our differences in political ideologies or party affiliations, religious or faithful practices and beliefs, socioeconomic classes, races or ethnicities, or our upbringings, what brings us together is our dedication to the well-being and development of humankind.
We believe in the power and the value of individuals and appreciate their complexity. We acknowledge that, without humans, there is no world, no God, and, essentially, no meaning, for all that surrounds us finds its roots in human existence. As members of the Columbia Humanist Society, we strive for a greater community within our space that is not limited by categories or attributed standards, but is freed by our willingness to learn from one another and the acknowledgement that we are one, though being many. The members of our society execute such uniting beliefs in the following three component areas: Humanist Inquiry, Progressive Activism, and Public Service. Humanist Inquiry
We explore the achievements of humankind, wrestle with pertinent philosophical and existential questions about life, and address the great political movements and debates of our time in weekly, forum-like discussions. The members of the Columbia Humanist Society have explored and shared their passions in literature, religion, philosophy, ancient and modern languages, history, law, morality, and the arts. We have also respectfully debated political matters like same-sex marriage, women's rights, abortion rights, race relations, and international social movements like the Arab Spring and its implications for the changes of our modern times.
We will continue this tradition of debate and plan to extend our discussions to matters that have not been addressed, like religion in American and international politics and the beauty of East Asian cultures. We also plan on exploring these matters in conjunction with other student-organizations of the greater Columbia community. Progressive Activism
We advocate for the rights and the privileges of the members of our society that have been oppressed by social or religious dogma. We also believe in the personal responsibility of the individual: the individual's strength is capable of surpassing any condition or disadvantage, and what is necessary to doing so is the individual's willingness. We value equality and individual liberty, private property, limited government, and acknowledge the importance of toleration, consent, autonomy, and pluralism. The core set of issues that we support include women's rights, LGBT rights, the separation of church and State, as well as policies that promote liberty, equal rights, the free exercise of religion, free and fair elections, human rights, and constitutionalism.
We are dedicated to protecting the civil liberties that promote the progression of humankind. Our job as student advocates is to aid individuals and promote unity within our society. The Columbia Humanist Society has participated in various events that promote such values in New York City and Washington, D.C. and plan on collaborating with organizations around the country to extend our influence as student advocates. Public Service
We demonstrate our dedication to the well-being of the human being by serving our community. Our initiatives in public service are meant to expose the members of the Columbia Humanist Society to the beautiful New York City that we study in and learn from its great diversity in cultures, beliefs, and socioeconomic statuses. We learn most about ourselves and the world around us through an exposure to those who are most different from us. We are fortunate enough to live and study in a city where one has access to such exposures to differences, and we plan on taking full advantage of it.
Members of the Columbia Humanist Society have cooked and served food to homeless men and women with volunteers of Obama for America, made birthday cards for forgotten elders in elderly homes, and have cleaned parks with representatives and members of the Center for Free Inquiry and the Bronx Community College Secular Humanist Club. We plan on extending our service to the greater areas of New York City and partnering with other religious and cultural organizations.
Although new, the Columbia Humanist Society has become a great presence on the Columbia University campus. We will continue to strive to strengthen that presence.