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02.27.2013 | Hot Topics, Students, International, Culture and Society
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A group of University of Dayton students are working to take down a $35 billion global industry.

They'll hold the second Consciousness Rising conference March 7-9 at the University of Dayton to expose students, faculty and staff, as well as the greater Dayton community, to the issues of human trafficking. Event organizers say human trafficking generates $35 billion worldwide a year, which is more than Nike, Google and Starbucks combined.

Other Consciousness Rising events will focus on racism, oppression and the achievement gap, domestic and international racial and ethnic relations, the University's campus diversity climate and corporate social responsibility.

The New Abolitionist Group, a University of Dayton student-run group dedicated to the elimination of human trafficking, started Consciousness Rising last year as a one-day event. Realizing the event's impact, organizers expanded it to three days this year, according to Erin Peery, president of Consciousness Rising.

Nicholas Kristof, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist and co-author of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, will headline this year's event. His free, public talk, which also is part of the University of Dayton Speaker Series, will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 9, in the 1700 South Patterson Building on the University's River Campus.

Consciousness Rising kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 7, in Sears Recital Hall with a free, public talk about everyday personal interaction among different races by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, author of Racism Without Racists and chair of Duke University's Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

Friday focuses on changing the diversity climate at the University with conversations among faculty, students and staff on how diversity has an impact on the University. Eddie Moore Jr., founder of the White Privilege Conference, will conduct anti-racism teach-ins at 10 and 11 a.m. in the Sears Recital Hall. From 3 to 5 p.m. students, staff and faculty will gather for a dialogue on campus diversity in the Virginia W. Kettering residence hall main meeting room. It will be followed in the same room by a resource fair for campus organizations highlighting diversity.

Following Kristof's talk at 1700 South Patterson on Saturday, the public is invited to participate in interactive student exhibits and groups discussing resources to combat current racial injustices. Topics include racism, oppression and the achievement gap, domestic and international racial and ethnic relations, the University's campus diversity climate and corporate social responsibility.

"We realized after last year's event this is something we need to expand to more of campus. We see so many great passionate people on campus," Peery said. "If they can just know the impact they can have on these issues, we think great change could happen."

The University's offices of Multicultural Affairs and Housing and Residence Life, along with the department of sociology, anthropology and social work, are also sponsoring the event.

University of Dayton students have been active the past few years in the fight against human trafficking.

Students were instrumental in encouraging Ohio legislators to pass Senate Bill 235, making human trafficking a felony. University of Dayton representatives attended the ceremony when former Gov. Ted Strickland signed the bill into law in 2010.

The New Abolitionist Movement, founded in 2010, continues to lobby for stronger anti-human trafficking laws in Ohio, make presentations in the region to raise awareness of human trafficking, conduct fundraisers to benefit agencies working with victims and encourage local businesses to post trafficking hotline posters. The group also worked with the University of Dayton Roesch Library to create a depository of information on human trafficking.
For more information, contact Shawn Robinson, associate director of media relations, at 937-229-3391 or srobinson@udayton.edu.