IJM college chapters: Fight human trafficking on your campus
In 2013, when Dressember founder, Blythe, decided to use her personal style challenge for something bigger, International Justice Mission (IJM) was the first partner Dressember became aligned with. That historic year, the campaign reached its “huge, scary goal” of 25K on the third day of the campaign! In more recent years, Dressember has only continued to grow, adding additional partners and raising just shy of 1.5 million last year! As Dressember continues to grow, IJM remains an integral partnership.
In the business of fighting modern day slavery for two decades, IJM now works through 17 field offices. With a global team of lawyers, investigators, social workers, and activists, they fight to protect people from violence by rescuing victims, prosecuting criminals, restoring survivors of human trafficking, and strengthening the justice system.
Back in the states however, a huge way that IJM works is by building up the next generation and including them in justice restoration. This is manifested in their university IJM chapter program, where students are able to rally others in the fight to end slavery, by engaging with their campus community through discussion, events, and service. There are currently around 79 active IJM chapters, scattered on college campuses all over the US. If you are unsure if your current university of alma mater hosts a chapter, you can find out here.
These campus chapters are started by the students themselves and led by IJM’s National Student Leadership Team (NSLT), a group of eight campus chapter leaders who use their experience to help other students engage with their own campuses. Currently heading up that NSLT team is Jordie, a recent college grad herself.
“Truly, they make huge impacts! Whether it has been actively praying, increasing awareness, building partnerships in their communities, or coming up with creative events to raise money for IJM; campus chapters have made monumental impacts that words alone cannot adequately describe,” said Jordie when asked about the benefit of these college chapters and the unique ways they are fighting to end injustice.
“While there is one unified mission for chapters in advocacy, fundraising and prayer; it is so fun to see the creativity and innovation that comes from the leaders at each chapter who know the culture of their school and how to be effective in what they are setting out to do.”
These chapter leaders are self-starters and passionate about ending cycles of exploitation. Inspired by these fellow student leaders of mine, I wanted to get their take on working to end slavery, so that I could pass along their insight. Recently, I quizzed some of these leaders, who are also Dressember advocates, about what working towards justice means to them, and why they participate in Dressember as a part of that justice restoration. Here’s what three of these world-changers had to say:
What Does working towards justice mean to you?
Cassie Anderson, Junior, Grand Valley State University, Chapter President:
“For me personally, it looks like advocating for those who are affected by injustice and educating those around me to be aware of what is happening and what they can do."
Madeline Rowe, Senior, Ouachita Baptist University:
“We are not only striving to make everyone free, but to also be able to hear about (survivors) stories to have a better understanding, so that we can help those in similar situations."
Jazmyn Elliott, Senior, George Fox University, Chapter President:
“It means bringing the injustices of people who aren't seen out into the open public. Many things go unchecked because people don't know about them, or they know about it, but they don't see it. Therefore, they don't 'need' to do anything about it.”
A great way to actively give the voiceless a voice of their own, and bring injustice into the public eye, is by becoming a Dressember advocate, something all three of these ladies have chosen to do. Here is what they had to say about participating:
Why is participating in Dressember important to you?
“It sparks conversations with those around me about why I'm so dressed up. It also challenges me to be thinking and praying for the victims and oppressors of trafficking. It's hard to forget why you're wearing a dress and tights in 30 degree weather!”
For those of you only accustomed to warm winter climates, that 30 degree weather is no joke! I am always amazed to see Dressember participants rocking their dresses on ski vacations, snow-chilled streets, and Christmas tree cutting outings. As someone who will be moving from Thailand back to the PNW this Dressember, that should be an interesting transition, so I get you girl! Luckily, tights and a good attitude like Cassie’s can turn this into a Dressember asset.
“As a woman … I think everyone deserves to have dignity in themselves. In slavery, dignity is taken away and so much more, so I wear a dress to show that (all) deserve to stand tall and proud of who they are, no matter what trials they face.”
This so perfectly nails what Dressember is all about! Women, as well as men (shout out to our Dressember dudes, we see you!) fighting for the dignity of ALL People! Love this response Madeline!
“It helps raise awareness for this issue and gets a lot of people involved.”
Though we can use fancy words to describe our impact, simply put, this is exactly what Dressember does. Getting people not only aware of injustice, but involved in fighting it, is one of the most important parts of justice restoration!
I hope that these responses serve to remind us why fighting for justice matters, and sparks our passion as Dressember advocates. And this campaign season, let’s shoot even higher (2 or 3 million anyone!?), so we can continue the impact of IJM and our other partners. We are in this fight together, and I am sooooo grateful for this Dressember community! So let’s get to it!
About the Author
Reagan Swier enjoys fashion, food, travel, writing, and more. She believes that all of those passions (and your passions too!) can be used to advocate for social justice and create a better world for future generations. Currently, she is a Junior at a small university in Oregon, where she helps lead her school’s IJM (International Justice Mission) chapter. She enjoys the creative scene of the Portland area, which inspires her writing and feeds her passion for social entrepreneurship. However, she is currently studying abroad in Thailand, learning all about topics close to the heart of Dressember.