Attendees of Cup at Cater this week would have found not just their morning caffeine fix, but blue ribbons and a display featuring information on human trafficking awareness.
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
Jan. 11, also the date of the recent Cup at Cater event, was #WearBlueDay — part of a national campaign from the United States Department of Homeland Security to call attention to human trafficking.
“[#WearBlueDay is] basically just using blue as a chance to advocate for having more critical conversations,” said Regan Moss, junior in microbiology and neuroscience and student coordinator of this month’s human trafficking awareness events.
Moss and Courtney Furlong, a Ph.D. student in human development and family sciences, will be giving a talk both in-person and virtually through Zoom presented by the Honors College on Jan. 21 that aims to dispel common myths and misconceptions about human trafficking.
The talk will be given from 3–4 p.m. in Room 1223 of the Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Building. Only the first 30 attendees to RSVP may attend in person, but any number of others may attend via Zoom.
Moss and Furlong are the founding members of Auburn Students Against Human Trafficking.
“The purpose of starting the club is to start counteracting a lot of the more sensationalized narratives and myths that surround trafficking and – importantly – survivors of exploitation,” said Moss.
Moss has been vocal about trafficking since her freshman year at Auburn, she said, and one of the most common myths she wants to dispel is that human trafficking is something that only happens in far-off countries.
“It’s really prevalent,” she said. “It happens in Alabama all the time. It happens in our community, and it’s hidden because it’s coercive and [because] there’s a lot of fraud.”
Moss also wanted to draw attention to labor trafficking and make clear that there is no one universal picture of what human trafficking looks like for victims.
“I think a lot of people think that girls are the only gender identity that is exploited or that it’s just sex trafficking,” Moss said. “It’s within specific scenarios that girls are more commonly exploited. If we can kind of derail this idea that it’s only girls, we can actually figure out: ‘OK, what about girls in certain scenarios makes them more likely to be exploited?’”
Moss and other club members, she said, are interested in addressing broader issues that can often lead to exploitation.
“We could start to implement policies that could help people with housing instability or domestic abuse or discrimination or other economic inequities,” she said. “We can be proactive in the sense that we can target the inequities that fuel exploitation.”
Students who want to help, Moss said, can donate to this month’s partner organizations, Blanket Fort Hope and Hope Haven. Both are nonprofits dedicated to providing care for survivors of human trafficking.
Hope Haven is accepting physical donations, including paper goods, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, art supplies and canvas boards. Donations may be left in bins in Cater Hall until the end of January. Blanket Fort Hope is accepting monetary donations.
Moss also encouraged interested students to join Auburn Students Against Human Trafficking.
“If you join the club, you don’t have to know anything about trafficking first,” she said. “Our goal first is to make sure the people in our club understand and are comfortable with the material that we’re trying to educate people on.”
Those who want to learn more are encouraged to attend the upcoming lecture, Moss said.