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Student group pushes freedom agenda on campus

Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 20:07

After a major Christian conference for college students highlighted the pervasiveness of human trafficking, a student-led campaign known as the Freedom Movement took flight on the Texas A&M campus with one mission: to help eradicate all forms of human slavery.

Human trafficking, both sex trafficking and trafficking for forced labor, is tied with the illegal arms industry as the second-largest criminal industry in the world, and is the fastest-growing, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Freedom Movement is an effort by college students with the aim of providing not only a voice but also the resources needed to liberate the approximately 27 million enslaved individuals worldwide. Since the creation of the Freedom Movement campaign, more than 25 universities across the nation have joined efforts.

“The Freedom Movement is a call to moving the masses, re-shifting perspectives from a selfish perspective to a selfless perspective,” said John Amini, junior business management major and Freedom Movement director.

Monday was the beginning of a week-long campaign called “Freedom Week,” which consists of college students on dozens of campuses, including Texas A&M, raising awareness by holding signs, selling T-shirts and hosting events such as movie screenings.

“Seeing as the Freedom Movement was founded here at Texas A&M, we are the standard for the rest of the schools,” Amini said.

Tiny Hands International is one of the non-profit organizations the Freedom Movement supports. The group is based primarily in Nepal and aims to help orphans, homeless women and children and those threatened by, or victims of, the sex-trafficking industry.

“Freedom Week’s purpose here on campus is to spread the word and to tell as many people as possible about the multiple events available to educate people about human slavery,” said freshman general studies major Sam Murray while holding a sign for the Freedom Movement in Academic Plaza.

Unlikely Heroes is another non-profit organization accepting donations by way of the Freedom Movement, which exists to rescue and restore children who were previously sold for sex in the U.S. and internationally.

“Each school participating will select a third local non-profit organization in addition to the two supported by the Freedom Movement,” Amini said,  “with Texas A&M University’s local non-profit being Free The Captive, out of Houston.”

Matt Johnson, Class of 2009, didn’t hesitate when approached at Mugwalls coffee shop and asked to direct a launch video for the Freedom Movement.

“With this video, I wanted to create an abstract look at human trafficking. The video needed to be abstract enough to where people could tell it was about slavery, but not so obviously associated with Texas A&M that other campuses couldn’t use it,” Johnson said. “The vision of the video was to shine a light on slavery in order that we might raise our lanterns as college students to make it stop.”

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