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CU Students Against Modern-Day Slavery are working to bridge the connection between sympathy and empathy with their Empathy Week events held on campus this week, according to their website.
Partnering with a Boulder-based anti-trafficking organization, iEmphathize, CU SAMS aims to encourage CU students to help combat current forms of slavery, said Mark Brende, the iEngage intern coordinator and college community mobilizer for iEmpathize.
From Monday through Thursday, participants will have the opportunity to learn about the experiences and suffering that slavery victims endure every day of their lives, especially sex slavery, Brende said.
According to the CU SAMS website, the events began with an exhibit held in the Glenn Miller Ballroom in the UMC.
From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, students and community members can watch a film, see photographs and examine actual artifacts collected from various brothels and victim safe houses.
One image in the exhibit depicts a pair of a sexually enslaved young girl’s sandals, placed outside a raided brothel. Participants can also see the actual pair of shoes, as they are made available as an artifact.
The image has garnered national attention. It was featured in the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report by the Department of State as a representative image for Southeast Asia, said Brad Riley, president and founder of iEmphathize.On Wednesday, CU SAMS and iEmpathize will offer an interactive exploratory exhibit with live art, photographs and video, as listed on the SAMS website.
With this year’s line of events, iEmpathize and CU SAMS hope to make it almost impossible for passers-by to ignore the human rights violations inflicted on many young men, women, boys and girls who are enslaved and powerless, Brende said.
“Our primary purpose in all of this is to engage every student in this issue in such a way that they cannot help but to move in the area of bringing solutions,” he said. “And empathy really is the gateway into solutions for us.”
Brende also said the Boulder campus is the perfect place for groups like CU SAMS and iEmpathize because it is such a politically active community.
“So CU [is] one of the greatest . . . activist environments,” he said. “And so if there are going to be people that are going to rise up against this issue, it’ll be these kinds of students. So we’re excited to be here at the ground level of mobilization.”
Not only are interested students given the opportunity to educate themselves about these domestic and international issues, but involvement with either organization can also be valuable for those trying to enhance their resumes, make connections and find post-graduation career opportunities, said Evan Hanson, a 19-year-old sophomore international affairs major.
Hanson, who is entering into his second year with CU SAMS, said he wants to emphasize CU SAMS’ renowned commitment to bring students of all backgrounds and majors into the CU SAMS community.
“Ideally, and this year in particular, CU SAMS would like to have a wide variety of students,” Hanson said. “Whether you’re a finance major or an engineer, we’re looking to provide you with aspects of the organization, whether it’s finance or events planning, that incorporate your interests as well, in order to make this a more coherent and effective student organization.”
Some students said issues of time will keep them from attending the events on campus. Twenty-year-old senior international affairs and Chinese double major Karl Hoffman, who had not previously heard of the events or the organization, said he does not think he has the time to get properly involved with CU SAMS.
“I don’t think I would be interested in going, no,” Hoffman said. “But it’s great that they’re out there trying to get people involved. Mostly it’s a time thing- I’m taking the LSATs on Oct. 9, so I’m kind of doing that all the time.”
Hoffman also said that he thinks younger students could benefit most from the week’s events.
Alysha Verville, a 23-year-old communication and psychology double major, on the other hand, said she will try to attend most of the Empathy Week events.
“It’s great to see events like this on campus for people who don’t know a lot about this stuff,” Verville said.
Organizers of CU SAMS and iEmpathize will continue to seek out students interested in making a difference, Hanson said.
“If you’re looking for good people, this is a great opportunity,” he said.
For more information on CU SAMS, iEmpathize, or Empathy Week, visit the CU SAMS website.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Neda Habibi at Neda.firstname.lastname@example.org.