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Statistics spur students stand up to human trafficking

Members of SOLD OUT, an on-campus group dedicated to fundraising and bringing awareness to human trafficking prevention

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Members of SOLD OUT, an on-campus group dedicated to fundraising and bringing awareness to human trafficking prevention

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Milwaukee is sometimes referred to as “the Harvard of pimp schools” for its underground human trafficking economy, but a group of Marquette students are looking to change that.

The infamous nickname was given by Dana World-Patterson, chair of the Human Trafficking Task Force of Greater Milwaukee. 

$OLD OUT is an on-campus group dedicated to fundraising and bringing awareness to human trafficking prevention. The group was started this year in response to startling statistics about human trafficking.

According to 5-Stones, a nonprofit dedicated to talking about the magnitude of trafficking in Wisconsin, human trafficking is a $99 billion industry nationwide. The average age of prostitution victims is 14 years old.  The youngest recovered prostitution victim was 18 months old.  Typically, victims see 30 clients a day and have seven-day work weeks.

“We’re just finding out about all of this now,” Sydney Gallop, junior in the College of Health Sciences and $OLD OUT member, said. “When you hear these things, you almost immediately want to do something about it. We just started, so we’re trying to get a little bit more recognition. Sometimes people see our name and think that our events are literally sold out.”

Gallop said the name $OLD OUT is meant to represent the victims who are used like products in human trafficking. The group currently has around 100 members, with approximately 30 active members. They also team up with various groups around campus to spread the word.

“Sometimes (Delta Chi) helps out with $OLD OUT events,” Emmett Jaeger, junior in the College of Business Administration and Delta Chi fraternity member, said. “It’s a pretty worthy cause, so we’re happy to do it.”

The fraternity has contributed mostly to the events $OLD OUT has hosted since its inception. $OLD OUT has sponsored many fundraising events, including bake sales, movie screenings and a 5K run that will take place April 28.

“The last bake sale pulled in north of $400,” Jaeger said.

The proceeds are split among two shelters in Milwaukee: the Inner Beauty Center and the Benedict Center. Besides monetary donations, $OLD OUT helped the women at the Inner Beauty Center in a different way.

“We had about 20 women here fill out cards and give them to ($OLD OUT president) Paige Kelly during Christmastime,” Deanne Lawson, founder and executive director of the Inner Beauty Center, said. “The women wrote things that they would have liked as gifts, and $OLD OUT raised the money to go and purchase them.”

The Inner Beauty Center provides many services to women who are trying to survive human trafficking. On Tuesdays from 4-8 p.m., it offers a meal, clothing and a professional haircut to women who drop in. On Fridays, they disperse in teams of three and drive into high-activity areas for trafficking with beverages and travel-sized items to donate.

The Benedict Center helps similarly with their Sisters Program, which is designed as a street outreach program. The shelter has teamed up with the Milwaukee Police Department to provide mental health services and skills training to women most affected by human trafficking.

Gallop said through its efforts, $OLD OUT hopes to raise awareness and make human trafficking in Milwaukee a thing of the past.

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