February 20, 2018

VSU Takes a Stand Against Slavery and Human Trafficking Feb. 22

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University will unite to take a stand against slavery and human trafficking from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22, at the Student Union. The Shine a Light on Slavery Day event will include a special ceremony from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the steps of the Student Union.

The event is a collaboration between VSU’s Office of Student Life, Department of Student Diversity and Inclusion, and Department of Student Leadership and Volunteer Services. Shine a Light on Slavery Day is a worldwide day of activism created by the End It Movement, a coalition of leading nonprofit organizations that seeks to end modern day slavery.

Students, faculty, staff, alumni, retirees, and friends of the university are invited to visit the second floor of the Student Union on Thursday to have a red “X” — the symbol of the anti-slavery movement — drawn on their hand. A photo booth will be provided, and those who post a photo to social media and tag @vsu_studentlife and @enditmovement and use the hashtag #VStateinittoENDIT will receive a free T-shirt for becoming a “Freedom Fighter.”

The special ceremony from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. will include a moment of silence with red candles for victims of slavery and human trafficking. Coordinators will explain the End It Movement and share testimonies from survivors. Staff from the VSU Counseling Center will also be present to discuss their services and schedule appointments for those interested.

“We’re hosting this event to raise awareness and to let people know that human sex trafficking is a real thing,” said Rachel Dawkins, a public relations major from Tallahassee, Florida, and one of the event coordinators. “It’s not just in Europe or somewhere far away. It’s also in Atlanta and in Valdosta; it’s in our own backyard. People need to know about it because it’s such a big thing. And we can stop it.

“What’s crazy to me is that slavery exists in every country even though it’s illegal in every single nation in the world. We want to make it known so that we can end it.”

Volunteers are needed to hand out fliers and T-shirts from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday. Contact De’Essence Cox, graduate assistant for the Office of Student Life, at dlcox@valdosta.edu to sign up. Volunteers will receive a free T-shirt.

More than 40 million men, women, and children worldwide suffer the exploitation of human trafficking and modern slavery today. One in five victims of slavery is a child under 18 years of age. Atlanta is one of the largest hubs of human trafficking and slavery in the nation.

“This is something bigger than ourselves,” Dawkins said. “This is an epidemic, and we can help those who can’t speak for themselves. We can be that light and show victims and survivors that we’re here for them and they’re not alone.”

Contact Rachel Dawkins at rldawkins@valdosta.edu to learn more. 

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