Q & A with Kevin: Creighton University and I am Human Trafficking
CRS is so grateful for the outpouring of solidarity with those who have experienced human trafficking by the Creighton University community. Can you share more about what you did and why?
Kevin: Every semester our office, the Schlegel Center for Service and Justice, facilitates Service & Justice Trips during fall/spring break. We prepare our students for their trips with a series of 3 formation meetings. One of the pillars of our program is justice, so not only do we want students to be engaging with direct service but also with asking questions about social injustices and working to change the systems that cause them. Naturally, this leads us to encourage various forms of advocacy.
To prepare students for Fall Break Service & Justice Trips 2016, at our third general meeting our student Core Team (of 8 student leaders) guided about 240 student coordinators and participants through a social analysis of the reality of human trafficking. We showed a brief television investigative report about human trafficking victims, and then asked students to write down questions (and questions only!) in relation to various macro-systems: political, social, economic, educational, and religious. They then proceeded to group the systems together and draw connections between questions in each system to those in the others.
We followed social analysis with a presentation by me on the basics of advocacy. What is it? Why is it important? How does it relate to service and telling our stories (and those of the people we meet on our trips)? Does it really work?
At the end of my presentation, we looped back around to the topic of our social analysis: human trafficking. We encouraged students to take action right then by taking out their phones and filling out the letter on the CRS website. We sent them a link in their email (see below) to make it even easier, and encouraged them to take a look at some of the other advocacy opportunities through CRS.
Who were the key organizers? Were there campus leaders or offices/departments involved?
Kevin: The key organizers were members of our Service & Justice Trips Core Team (8 students), myself (Graduate Assistant), Jeff Peak (Assistant Director, Service & Justice Trips). We had also previously trained our 61 S&J Trips student coordinators in social analysis. Only our office, the SCSJ, was involved.
What resources did you use—CRS & otherwise?
Kevin: We used the CRS University website's I am Human Trafficking advocacy resources. It was so easy!
How did you get people to come to your event?
Kevin: It is a pre-existing event that is mandatory for those who want to participate in a Service & Justice Trip.
What was the most impactful part of the experience for participants?
Kevin: Our hope is that it helps them to feel like advocacy is easy and something that they can do during and after their trips. We really encourage this, and some groups do more advocacy actions on/after their trips. Some end up attending the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice or other advocacy opportunities too. We chose this particular advocacy action because it was so easy and non-controversial, which is a great way to get a student's foot in the door to do more advocacy.
How does reflecting and acting on the issue of human trafficking integrate into the Jesuit Catholic spirituality and identity of Creighton?
Kevin: For us, it's about a "faith that does justice." As the SCSJ mission states, we're motivated by our Catholic identity to "awaken hearts and lives of solidarity to build a more just world." Human trafficking is clearly a violation of the sacred human dignity of each person, and if we are to truly educate students to be for and with others, we must respond to this injustice and try to make it right as best we can.
Reflection is one of the pillars of our program. Notice that reflection (in this case, social analysis) was an indispensable part of our advocacy action. The symbol of our office is what we call the "praxis spiral," which reminds us of the reflection process of "see, judge, act" or as we sometimes say "What? So What? Now What?" We encourage our students to use this method of reflection whenever they participate in service activities in order to lead them to advocacy and action for justice.
A side note: this particular issue of human trafficking was especially pertinent this semester at Creighton as we awarded the million-dollar Opus Prize to Sari Bari, an organization that works with trafficking victims in India.
What advice would you have for campuses looking to integrate “I am Human Trafficking” into their outreach?
Kevin: My advice is to use the awesome resources that already exist. Try to connect advocacy to real stories and give students the opportunity to think through the issue and make connections so they actually know and understand why they need to act to resolve it. Tap into already existing programs, especially service-oriented ones that may lack the justice element that is so crucial to a more integral approach. Lastly, make it easy!
The sample email Creighton University sent to students during the event to make it easier:
Help fight human trafficking! Urge your legislators to support passage of the Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act of 2015, (H.R. 3226/S. 1968)
- Feel free to adapt this form email to your own stories and experience
Follow this link and fill out the form.
That was easy!