Nearly one-thousand atendees have arived as
the Students For Global Justice counter-forum enters its
second day. Although they are focused today's workshops
and plenary session, they have not forgotten about
Saturday's anti-WEF rally.
In a little over a day and a half, almost one-thousand
students have traveled to Columbia University to
participate in the Students for Global Justice (SGJ)
WEF counter-forum. The forum, entitled "Globalizing
Justice" is being held at Columbia from January 31st
through February 4th, and is meant to educate students
"about the shortcomings of the WEF's one-sided
The conference is divided into a series
of over 50
workshops and two large scale plenary sessions.
Workshop topics range from "Who is Mumia?" to
"Training for Nonviolent Direct Action" to "WEF's
Local Agenda: Fighting NYC Budget Cuts." Two plenary
sessions discuss "Globalism, Militarism, the
Neoliberal Agenda, and Their Discontents" and "Another
World is Possible: Globalizing Justice and
Contrary to the myth promoted by the
mass media, which
usually identifies college students as
greedy, antendees seemed both energized by
of a day of meetings and resolutely opposed
current structure of world-wide global capitalism.
Molly, Grahm, and Adrien all traveled from North
Carolina to participate in the conference. Students at
UNC-Willmington, they are members of People Educating
With An Active Commitment to Equality (PEACE). "I'm
here to make my voice heard," said Grahm. He added
"This is also my first visit to the big city." That
sentiment was echoed by John, a student at the
University of Oregon in Eugene. "This is my first time
in New York," he said, I'm kind of overwhelmed."
Kylie, who traveled from Eugene with John, remarked
that the Forum was a "once in a lifetime chance."
added that a lot of students at Oregon seemed
about the importance of the trip. "A lot
of them looked
over at me and said: 'that's a lot of
money to spend on a
protest'...it's really sad. I
think that the media doesn't
cover the justice work
that a lot of students are doing."
The morning workshops ran from 10am until 12 noon, and
were followed up by a group lunch. One workshop, "Why
McDonald's Needs McDonell Douglas: Globalization and
the Drive to War," attracted overflow crowds that
forced it to move into a larger space. Meredith
Kolodner, of the International Socialist Organization,
sought to draw the connection between what she called
"the drive for war in Afghanistan and the corporate
drive for profit."
In order for multi-national
corporations (MNC's) to
successfully impose a neoliberal
economic agenda on a
developing nation, Kolodner argued,
that nation must
first have a certain level of so-called
stability. That stability is usually defined by
business and is often enforced via the United States
Because of this connection, Kolodner
"anti-war activism has got to be at the center
global justice movement."
In a smaller but
lively workshop, "Transforming
Democracy: Global Justice
and a Voter's Bill of
Rights," Amy Quinn from the
Institute For Policy
Studies (IPS) used a drawing of the
"sick tree of
globalization" to discuss ways in which
institutions (like the WEF and World Bank)
out of fundamental flaws in the U.S.
Drawing on Enron as an example
corruption, Quinn argued that fundamental
reform, personified in a Voter's Bill of
help global justice movements take the first
towards creating a more equitable world.
Although they seemed primarily focused on the day
ahead, students seemed well aware of the large-scale
WEF-protests taking place this weekend.
stated that she "hoped the protests were both peaceful and
attention getting." Molly seemed confident that things
would go smoothly. "I think all the talk about
violence is a lot of hype," she said.
As the day
wore on and an ever growing group of new
arrivals lined up
to register, uniformed security
personnel looked on
passively and with a hint of
curiosity Asked for some
thoughts on the
counter-summit, though, security quickly
"No comment," they replied.
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