Tulane athletics to partner with Free the Slaves to advocate against human trafficking

Jordan Figueredo, Associate Sports Editor

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Tulane athletics will partner with the Free the Slaves group on campus Oct. 27-30 in the Shut Out Trafficking Week sponsored by UNICEF.

“The goal of this event is to raise awareness to the perils of human trafficking” graduate assistant and former Tulane cornerback Israel Route said.

Each day, there will be a different event to raise awareness to the student athletes as well as the Tulane student body and New Orleans community on how prevalent human trafficking is, especially since New Orleans has been labeled a hot spot for trafficking.

“This event is a big UNICEF initiative. They selected ten athletics departments and over the course of the year, each of the ten schools will host a shut out trafficking event,” graduate assistant Brooke Blankenship said.

UNICEF chose Tulane because they believed the school could spread awareness and institute potential change in New Orleans. 

“[UNICEF] gave us a template on what type of programming we could do and leave it up to us for creativity,” Associate Athletic Director Sue Bower said 

Unlike some of the other schools involved in this initiative, Tulane is having a kickoff event Monday Oct. 27 at Yulman Stadium. The athletes also made a video to raise awareness that will debut this weekend.

“Human trafficking is a very big deal and can be equalized to modern slavery,” Blankenship said. “We want to make a difference and have our athletes more involved with community outreach.”

The weeklong community service initiative will come to a close outside Yulman Stadium on Halloween night. The Cincinnati football game is the national game of the week, so the athletic department is hoping that ESPN picks up on the event. 

Despite the sensitivity of the subject, the planning committee believes it to be an appropriate cause to bring attention to given the ESPN coverage of the game and Tulane’s location in New Orleans/

“It’s not all about sports and school,” Bower said. “Part of our job is to educate and get people out of their comfort zone.”