Human Trafficking Conference educates students on harsh working conditions

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While the majority of campus was deserted over the Easter weekend, the McKay Archives Center was buzzing with both students and members of the surrounding community.

This group was assembled for the Conference on Human Trafficking, hosted by Florida Southern College.

The conference revolved around guest speakers, student presentations and exhibits.

“The idea to have the conference came about last semester,” Morgan Bow, one conference coordinator, said. “Dr. Masters, Head of the Department of Sociology and Criminology, and the Assistant Professor of Criminology, Dr. Carter, began discussing ideas about holding a conference for the school. The idea was to get students involved and encourage them to learn about human trafficking.”

The conference committee later decided to open the conference up to the community and FSC students.

Conference Coordinators Morgan Bow and Jessie Mobley worked along Dr. Master and Dr. Carter to invite guest speakers and endorsers of the conference.

By the time of the conference, they had successfully invited four guest speakers and 16 endorsers.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Florida Modern Day Slavery Museum had an exhibit set up in front of the McKay Archives Center.

The exhibit contained storyboards that were about six feet tall giving details on slavery, human trafficking and unfair working conditions in Florida dating back from pre-civil war to present day.

The exhibit displayed photographs, newspaper articles, and artifacts that related to the issue.

The part of the exhibit that attracted the most attention was the semi truck fashioned after a 2007 case in which four workers were locked inside under harsh conditions.

Inside the Archives Center, chairs were set up for people to listen to the speakers and student presentations.

The speakers included Detective James E. McBride from the Clearwater Police Department, Giselle Rodriguez from the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking and Detective Tammy Hancock from the Lakeland Police Department.

The Conference also featured presentations made by current students from the Criminology, Sociology and Women’s Studies programs.

The presentations revolved around topics such as sex slavery, human trafficking in agricultural labor and organ harvesting.

Dr. Erica Bernheim’s Creative Writing students hosted a panel in which they presented fictional accounts of human trafficking.

The students presented a creative yet realistic view on the issue.

Junior criminology major, Sierra Saunders attended the conference and said:

“The conference was incredibly moving. I learned so much about different aspects within human trafficking that I had no clue existed. I thought it was really neat how a bunch of different departments at FSC got involved, not only the criminology and sociology department but the English department as well. Their creative writing pieces were phenomenal.”

The second half of the conference focused around more in-depth descriptions and presentations on human trafficking and its effects.

Seniors Jessica Yost, Zachary Wheat and Mitch Varnum presented on The End It Movement.

The End It Movement was brought about as a four-month project on college campuses that focuses on ending slavery in this generation. This group presented on their accomplishments thus far, and encouraged everyone to take a stand on the issue.

“The End It Movement is a movement among college students to make the issue of slavery go viral,” Yost said. “People need to know about it. So that’s our main job. The biggest thing you can do to end slavery is use the resources you have. We all have a computer where we can look up more info and share our life story with the world, so why not do the same for slavery?”

To get involved, follow the movement on Twitter @FSCEndIt, Facebook and email at Fscenditmovement@gmail.com.

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