A group of Cal Poly students is working to make a better campus and “A Better World” by raising awareness against human sex trafficking. The students started an on-campus club called “A Better World” as a project for a political science course and are now seeking members to help advance their mission.
There are 100,000 to 300,000 U.S. born youth currently being sex trafficked, according to a study by the Department of Justice. Sex trafficking is considered the fastest growing crime in the world.
Although the club began this fall, the idea’s origin traces further back. Club president and political science junior Haley Schmidman got the idea after attending the Women’s March in San Luis Obispo.
“It sparked my interest — the lack of knowledge on sex trafficking within the nation, and even locally,” Schmidman said. “There’s a need for awareness, action and change in our community. I decided to tackle this special injustice because I think sex trafficking gets overlooked and people forget that it is happening in their community and is growing.”
Following the Women’s March, Schmidman enrolled in POLS 316: Political Participation. The course asks students to “lead social change through collective action” by organizing a campaign, according to the course syllabus. Schmidman saw her opportunity to assemble fellow students to raise awareness about the prevalence of sex trafficking in our county.
She informed the class of her plans to start an anti-sex trafficking club for her project and asked whether anybody would like to join in her efforts. Eight students joined the group.
One member, Anna Kraemer, said she was on-board the moment she heard Schmidman’s idea. Kraemer, a political science sophomore and the vice president of the club, said she did not know the extent of the issue and saw a great need for education.
“The first step to solving any problem is acknowledgement of the problem so that you can then take steps to fix it,” Kraemer said. “If we educate people that this exists and it’s a pervasive problem in our community, that goes a long way towards eventually fixing it.”
Club member and political science senior Connor McMurdo said the club will work to make more information about human sex trafficking available in San Luis Obispo.
“The club will educate students on the signs of human trafficking and what they can do if they suspect it,” McMurdo said.
The team is in the process of organizing an event in Dec. and is designing educational posters to raise awareness. In the meantime, the “A Better World” club will host its first meeting on Thursday, Nov. 29 at 11:00 a.m. The location has yet to be determined. Kraemer said she hopes students will join and become “social justice warriors.”
“Clubs like ours are very important because we, as students, are the next generation, so we inherit this crazy world,” said Kraemer. “We have to figure out how to fix the problems because no one else will do it for us.”