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New club holds rally about ending modern slavery

| Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A new organization known as the International Justice Mission of Notre Dame (IJMND) held a rally Monday in LaFortune Student Center geared towards raising support for the End Modern Slavery Initiative.

According to Congress’ website, the End Modern Slavery Initiative is a piece of legislation that grants resources towards eradicating modern slavery and human trafficking across the world. Introduced by Tennessee senator Bob Corker in 2015, the bill was signed into law by Barack Obama in 2016, Corker’s website states.

Despite its passage, the act requires refunding every two years to survive, which is what the rally was aimed towards, co-presidents of IJMND and freshmen Ella Wood and Malia Marshall said.

“There is about 45 million people working in slavery right now — all sorts, whether in factories or sex or anything,” Wood said. “We believe that you can end modern slavery by getting people together by advocating for modern slaves, so we’re bringing that movement to Notre Dame.”

Marshall said IJMND is participating in the International Justice Mission’s movement known as “Rally for Freedom” week to raise awareness about the act and encourage students to reach out to members of Congress and advocate for the initiative’s refunding.

“We are handing out flyers that are giving people instructions about how they can contact their congressperson about refunding the act,” Marshall said. “And then we’re also passing out fair trade chocolate and talking about how people are often enslaved when they’re making chocolate.”

Wood said there will be two more rallies this week, the first in North Dining Hall on Tuesday and the second in South Dining Hall on Wednesday. The rallies are also intended to spread the word about IJMND, Marshall said, which was only recently approved by the Student Activities Office.

“Especially as a Catholic school, I think it’s a big part of our calling to protect human dignity,” Wood said. “People think of slavery and they think of something that’s in the past, but it’s very much something that’s still a huge problem — even worse today than it used to be. No matter who you are [or] where you are, it’s really important to help and seek to prevent this.”

As a new organization, IJMND — particularly its core team — planned Rally for Freedom week over the course of a few months, Wood said, and has “some other events in the works.”

“Eventually, we’ll start having regular meetings and doing other fundraising events around campus,” Marshall said.

After witnessing multiple people listen to the rally’s pitch and walk away without asking more about it, senior Andrew Dorritie said he decided to sign up for IJMND’s email list to learn more about the cause.

“It obviously seems like a good cause that any person with any sense of humanitarian concept would support,” Dorritie said. “There’s really no reason not to just spend two minutes of your time to actually just call a senator or congressman and actually make a difference.”

Though he was convinced to advocate for the cause at face-value, Dorritie said he recognized he needed to know more about the nitty-gritty aspects of the bill to learn “all the pieces of the puzzle” before acting.

“I felt like there was a lot more that I could know about the issue because I don’t really believe or like signing up for petitions or things without really knowing what I’m signing up for,” he said. “So I was just hoping to get more information on what it really is and what I would be calling to try to sway Congress on.”

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About Kelli Smith

Kelli Smith is a junior at the University of Notre Dame. Originally from El Paso, Texas, she is currently serving as Associate News Editor at the Observer and is pursuing a double major in political science and film, television and theatre with minors in journalism and computing.

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