Emily Kennedy and Jessica Dickinson Goodman put together an exciting event at CMU in order to raise awareness to the widespread issue of Human Trafficking. CMU students gathered in the University Center on April 13th, hoping to bring awareness of this epidemic to our community and in order to garner support and advocacy. The two students created a letter writing campaign in support of the Massage Parlor Ordinance. Below, Emily discusses the event and the immense problems behind human trafficking.
HC: What is your major and year at CMU?
Emily: I’m a junior studying Ethics, History, and Public Policy
HC: Why did you decide to create this event?
Emily: I wanted to join Jessica in this event because it is a tangible way that students can fight human trafficking in our own city. I think that, a lot of the time, ways to fight injustice can seem very abstract; but writing letters to encourage local governmental leaders to pass this ordinance is a very real way that students and young people can impact the lives of trafficking victims in Pittsburgh.
HC: What has drawn you to this cause?
Emily: Sex trafficking–basically the business of rape–is one of the worst injustices I can think of. No one should be violated in this way, and those of us who have the power to do so, should act.
HC: What did you hope to get out of it? Was the event a success?
Emily: I know Jessica’s goal was to get 500 letters total to send to the city council members and we are more than halfway there! The student body has come together in a really awesome way; and I think it is a success because, not only are we achieving the goal, but students are becoming more aware of this pressing issue. Although it is going well, we still need more letters, so we’d like to encourage people to keep writing!
HC: How do you hope to continue raising awareness and gaining advocates?
Emily: I am President of Carnegie Mellon International Justice Mission (IJM). Carnegie Mellon IJM is the only club on campus solely dedicated to raising awareness about the issue of human trafficking, raising money for anti-trafficking work, and praying for the work done to fight trafficking across the world. In addition to various student clubs, there are also local groups, such as the Pittsburgh Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition. Finally, there is a wealth of resources to be found on the web, and educating ourselves and our peers about the issue can sometimes be half the battle.
HC: How can HC readers help?
Emily: The immediate way HC readers can help is to write some letters to city council members urging them to support the Massage Parlor Ordinance. We will be tabling on campus in the coming week (you can ask either Jessica or me for the details if you like) to provide a place for people to write or submit their letters and the information they need to do so. Also, I would encourage readers to just educate themselves personally on the issue. It’s important to note that human trafficking is not just an international issue, but one that affects the United States in a huge way as well. Every individual that becomes aware of this injustice has the potential to join the fight.