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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Graduate P Shaylee Ackerman (10) pitches during Texas A&Ms game against Valpo on Feb. 10, 2024 at Davis Diamond.
Holding down the house
February 22, 2024
Graduate P Shaylee Ackerman (10) pitches during Texas A&Ms game against Valpo on Feb. 10, 2024 at Davis Diamond.
Holding down the house
February 22, 2024

No Slave November’

 
 

From the “Kony 2012” campaign to the more recent ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, causes can seem to come and go as quickly as seasonal coffee flavors. These issues, however, often do not go away when they fall out of the public eye.
To stay in the public eye, the A&M chapter of International Justice Mission, IJM, an organization that spreads awareness about issues of slavery and human trafficking both internationally and locally, is in the midst of a month-long awareness campaign called “No Slave November.”
“We have floundered up and down, but as far as consistency in supporting IJM goes, we’ve been here,” said Lindsey Landers, business management senior and IJM treasurer. “And it’s kind of exciting to have been here. Seven years doesn’t seem like a lot of time for A&M, but for a human rights agency and a Christian organization, it’s big.”
Bailey Auten, communication junior and co-director of IJM, said student advocacy often wavers.
“Just like anything, it’s a big deal one second and the next it’s not,” Auten said. “It’s just like Aggie football, when we’re good we’re on top of the world and when we’re not people don’t go to games.”
IJM co-director and history and philosophy senior Tori Easton attributes the fluctuation in interest to busy schedules and the immense nature of the issue itself.
“It’s tough in the sense that we’re students,” Easton said. “So primarily our focus is school, and it’s not like this is our job. Right now our job is to be students. So it’s tough to maintain a very big base. We do a lot of things first off, so it’s a big-time commitment.”
Eric Newman, academic adviser at Mays Business School and faculty adviser to IJM, attributes levels of student awareness of the cause in large part to the attention given to human trafficking by other, larger organizations.
“I think, especially in the college realm, and especially in the Christian college realm, Passion [conference] jumping on and taking up their cause had a lot to do with it,” Newman said. “At A&M even, Breakaway started doing their Shalom Project with organizations related to that cause in particular, whereas before it was things like Hurricane Ike relief.”
Newman has been able to watch the trends in interest for longer than most students, and has watched the growing attention have unexpected consequences.
“Even with the student chapter at A&M, the landscape has changed,” Newman said. “All of the sudden between 2012 and 2013, two brand new organizations that were involved in the same kind of work popped up at A&M — Freedom Movement and FREE. IJM had been around for a little while, and then these two other organizations that were kind of operating in the same charitable cause space popped up. It was interesting for IJM to be able to figure out how to work with those organizations, but also to kind of compete for participation and things like that with these other organizations that were working for the same cause.”
The organizations focused on different aspects of human trafficking and often teamed up to host larger events than any could on their own. Easton was involved in FREE before IJM. As co-director of IJM, she now leads the teams focused on stopping human trafficking locally.
“A few semesters ago, FREE and IJM started meeting together because we had the same vision, which was to stop human trafficking in the name of Jesus Christ. We kind of had different focuses but it was all the same,” Easton said.
This semester, the organizations decided to combine and consolidate their forces under the name IJM.
Slavery is not an easy issue to combat, and it can wear on the determination and enthusiasm of people who want to get involved, Easton said.
“When you’re constantly dealing with the reality that it is such a big issue in the United States and even here in College Station, where we like to think that we live in a safe bubble, it’s tough on people,” Easton said. “It’s separate from the feel good pump up, ‘Yeah, let’s go end it,’ attitude. At the beginning of the semester we usually have a pretty big turn out, and then it dwindles so that by the end of the year we don’t have that many people outside of our officer line.”
Easton said dealing with an issue like slavery, which does not have a quick or easy resolution in sight, can wear on members of the organization. She keeps herself motivated by trying to relate her circumstances to those of the victims she is trying to help.
“It’s something that does drain you,” Easton said. “I’ve been doing this for several years now, and it’s tempting for me to step away. Sometimes I come home from a meeting, and I’m just spent, because it’s emotionally exhausting. But it comes back to the fact that it’s not about me. Whatever emotion I’ve spent has no comparison to what someone who’s being trafficked is suffering right now.”
IJM will hold a benefit concert featuring Jenny & Tyler on Thursday at Mugwalls and a Spikeball tournament on Saturday to raise money for trafficking victims.
Easton encourages the students who want to get involved, but may not have the time to join the organization, to support the cause through attending the events.
“You don’t have to sell your life out to this cause or decide it’s what you want to do for the rest of your life,” Easton said. “But you can buy a ticket, donate or even just encourage the people who are in the organization.”

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