‘Fighting Injustice 101’: Series teaches students to be activists


UK Alum Greg Capillo explains tips for intervening in tense situations to a group of students at the third installment of the Fighting Injustice 101 Training Series presented in the UK Dinkle-Mas Suite for LGBTQ* Resources in Lexington, Ky., on Feb. 12, 2019. Photo by Olivia Antigua. 

Olivia Antigua

Multiple student organizations from across the university came together on Tuesday for the third installment of a six-part series meant to teach students how to be safe and effective activists.

UK alum and Catalyst Trainer Greg Capillo spoke to students on how to keep protests non-violent.

“It’s always okay to do what you need to do to be safe,” Capillo said in reference to leaving events early. “It doesn’t make you less of an ally.” 

A small intimate group of students roleplayed tense situations. Greenthumb officer of events, Ryan Welleford, detailed how the activity enabled him to have a sense of empathy while protesting. 

“Doing it really made me think of the mindset of the other person,” Welleford said.

According to Capillo, humanizing the opposing side is key to basic nonviolent direct action. He pointed out that human instinct causes people to want to connect, and by making connections, one can diffuse dangerous situations and keep themselves safe.

To maintain that mindset, students were prompted to be direct by addressing people specifically, distract by shifting focus to less heated topics and delegate by asking others for help when things get out of hand.

The majority of students at the event were members of activist organizations on campus, like Divest UK, Greenthumb and Student Activists for Social Injustice. The talk was largely tailored to the needs of those particular organizations.

When deciding what this series would focus on, event organizer and leader of Divest UK Cameron Baller looked for commonalities between each of these student organizations.

“Folks working in all three groups had similar goals, social and environmental justice are intertwined, led to a training series that would tackle justice issues at multiple intersections,” Baller said.

Alongside intersectionality, Baller asked for student input to make sure the session’s talks were informative and interesting

“I had folks fill out a survey on student organizing and had them pick their favorites,” Baller said.

While personal safety, anti-oppression basics and campaign planning were the focuses of the first few talks, the last half will focus on topics ranging from event planning, leadership development to recruitment.

The next workshop is on event planning and will take place on Feb. 19 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the LGBTQ* Resource Office in the Gatton Student Center.