Classes were in session this weekend at UNC - but none of those that took place can be found in the Undergraduate Bulletin.
Fifty-five workshops, ranging from "Civil Disobedience and the Effects of Arrest" to "Activist Poetry and Prose," were offered as part of the second Students United for Responsible Global Environment international conference. "Most of them deal with any global topic we could think of," said sophomore Craig Owen, a SURGE member.
Nearly 200 people attended workshops Saturday and Sunday that focused on political activism and promoted such causes as workers' rights, animal rights and ending the death penalty. SURGE members began planning last semester, trying to show the relationships between a broad range of issues.
"All these issues are brought together here and being worked on in a grassroots way," said Mary Barbarette, a senior from the University of Florida.
UNC senior Todd Pugatch and sophomore Courtney Sproule, who are involved in United Students Against Sweatshops, ran a workshop titled "The Anti-Sweatshop Struggle and USAS."
The workshop covered how the apparel industry is set up, the role the government plays and how students could start movements at their universities.
UNC has been visible in recent sweatshop-related issues, where protesters succeeded in convincing the University to have dual membership in the Workers Rights Consortium and the Fair Labor Association, two labor monitoring groups.
Jason Tompkins, a senior from UF, said the workshop inspired him. "Coming to UNC is good because UNC did it," he said. "It's good to come here and see people who were successful."
A workshop also took place regarding the Campaign to End the Death Penalty. It began with a listing of facts on the death penalty and evolved into a round-table discussion about organization and tactics.
During a workshop on civil disobedience, attendees learned different methods for "lock-downs," a protest method where participants chain themselves together or to objects. Linking themselves on the floor of the Great Hall in the Student Union, participants learned to protect sensitive areas and how to use bicycle locks and PVC pipe in lock-downs.
While education was a primary goal of the workshops, SURGE members also wanted to inspire action. "It's got two parts," Owen said. "Simple education, letting people know what's going on. Once you know what's going on, the next logical question is how to change it."
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