HTAD logo 2.19 Students participate in Human Trafficking Awareness Day at Colorado State CapitolImage of

Students participate in Human Trafficking Awareness Day at Colorado State Capitol

On Thursday, Feb. 19, nine students from SPCM 496: Communication and Anti Human Trafficking, traveled to Denver with Dr. Karrin Anderson to participate in the third annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Anti-human trafficking advocacy groups from around the state organize the event each year.

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SPCM 469 students meet with State Senator John Kefalas

Anderson arranged for SPCM 496 students to meet with State Senator John Kefalas to share their concerns about human-trafficking in Colorado. Students also attended a rally that featured Jessa Dillow-Crisp, a sex trafficking survivor who shed light on the realities of human trafficking in Colorado. Several legislative members, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, FBI agents, and other advocacy  representatives also spoke at the rally.

“Although many of the politicians re-voiced similar opinions, they were both inspiring and progressive in their efforts,” says student Eliza Wagner-Kinyon.

According to this article in the Denver Post, Colorado was one of 39 states to pass new human trafficking laws in 2013. The sweeping legislation provides a comprehensive legal definition of human trafficking, extended the state’s rape law to human trafficking victims, made sex trafficking of minor a sex offense and created the Colorado Human Trafficking Council to coordinate statewide anti-trafficking efforts.

Prior to 2013, Colorado had dismal human trafficking legislation. In fact, the Polaris Project, a Washington, D.C.-based  trafficking policy and victims advocacy group, had ranked Colorado as one of the worst states for anti-trafficking efforts.

“The bad publicity moved our legislators to get serious,” Anderson says. ”The good news is that the new legislation is helping law enforcement officers successfully prosecute traffickers.”

This is the second year that Anderson has taught Communication and Human Trafficking. “The class examines historical and contemporary anti-human trafficking movements,” Anderson says. “We look at the  communication strategies anti-trafficking advocates and organizations use, as well as how language shapes societal attitudes towards victims and perpetrators of human trafficking.”

The course also emphasizes community-based learning. Not only do students hear from anti-trafficking organizations that operate in Colorado, such as they did in Denver, they partner  with campus and community organizations to both learn about and spread awareness of human trafficking. Lastly, they are required to complete a project in which they partner with a community organization or expert to engage in awareness outreach that advances the partner’s mission.

Several student projects focus on two upcoming campus events. The first, “Enslaved,” is an awareness-raising simulation organized by the student group No More Injustice. The event occurs in the Lory Student Center on April 2 and 3 from 10 a.m.-4p.m. The second is the April 6 screening in the Lory Student Center Theater of the documentary, Tricked. The CSU Center for Public Deliberation is co-hosting the event with Anderson’s class. The screening will be followed by a community dialogue on human trafficking.