Living in America, we are often privileged with the benefits of distance from horrific events and tragedies that often take place in countries with far less security than ours. It may not exactly be the distance that makes us feel separate, but rather the pure secrecy of tragic issues such as human trafficking.
“It’s happening here,” said Emma Kumpf, sophomore internatioal studies major and advocate for human trafficking awareness. “It’s like modern-day slavery. It still exists in the U.S. because people don’t know about it, and they’re not fighting it, and we don’t have enough legislation to fight it.”
Kumpf is a member of an up-and-coming club on campus, Project Stay Gold, which is in the process of being recognized under the leadership of freshman Matthew Newman.
“It is a club completely dedicated to fighting human trafficking, which we designate as modern-day slavery,” Newman said. “There’s a lot of parts of modern- day slavery that have an issue in the real world where we designate it is as child slavery, sex slavery and forced labor.”
The club was first founded at Newman’s middle school and high school of Jefferson Township where he was an active member. He is now making the effort to bring the club to the College’s campus as well as other college campuses in order to spread awareness about this under-represented issue.
“People don’t know about it, and people don’t understand it fully,” Newman said. “They think it’s just people being moved from one place to another and it’s not as simple as that. It’s a lot more complicated. It has a lot of psychological issues with it.”
Newman passionately explained that the mission of the club is to educate people on campus on human trafficking through several awareness nights, fliers, chalking and more, as well as working with other school systems such as those in Trenton.
Newman explained an encounter he had at a Project Stay Gold awareness night in which a police officer came up to him and said he never even knew about human trafficking issues.
Newman explained that due to lack of knowledge, there’s a very big disconnect with legislation in which convictions are inconsistent and tend to label the victims as the criminals.
Therefore, as Project Stay Gold will strive to educate people of the issue, Newman hopes that eventually the issue will be stopped as he explained that, “in effect, awareness kills injustice of some kind.”
“We’re the generation of people who are going to be the world changers and be people who can make a difference,” Kumpf said. “The more people know about the issue, the more people can be working against it to get rid of it.”