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While San Francisco Police Crack Down, Santa Clara University Students Raise Awareness
Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011
Three full-time human trafficking investigators are combing the streets of San Francisco, setting their sights on everything from enslaved laborers to child sex workers. San Francisco Police reorganized its Special Victims Unit this October. Until now, no investigator worked full time on trafficking cases.
Forty miles south of the city in a small classroom on the campus of Santa Clara University, Dr. Jonathan Fung is also targeting human trafficking through film and by incorporating it into his curriculum. Over the summer, he had eight students collectively working hundreds of hours on the set of Hark, a narrative film that exposes the realities of sex slavery and human trafficking. He co-wrote, produced, and directed the film, which is set in the 21st century in the San Francisco Bay Area, a place many of his students couldn’t fathom as having one of the highest human trafficking numbers in the country.
“People think human trafficking happens in remote areas or in developing countries and not in metropolitan areas like the Bay Area,” said Chloe Fitzmaurice ’12, who worked as a script supervisor for Hark. Two days before shooting began, Fitzmaurice had just returned from Vietnam where she volunteered for two months working at a human trafficking shelter. “ I also didn’t know how young the girls were until I started learning about the issue at SCU and in Vietnam.”
“The movie has a strong social justice message that provokes you to think about what’s happening down the street in your hometown,” said Katie Galli ’11, who actually didn’t want to get involved until she read Dr. Fung’s script.
While the filming of Hark has wrapped up, the issue is far from it.
“I am teaching my students that filmmaking is more than Hollywood blockbusters and entertainment. Every final project I give must incorporate an element of social justice. Students are learning that film is a powerful medium and can be used as a platform to communicate and bring change,” said Dr. Fung.
Dr. Fung is now the advisor of a new student organization called The Freedom Project: Students Against Human Trafficking that launched this fall quarter. The Freedom Project’s mission is to educate, spread awareness, and initiate a call to action amongst the SCU community. “My role as the faculty advisor is to ignite the passion the students have to end human trafficking, provide resources and partnering opportunities, and mentor them by keeping their vision alive,” said Dr. Fung.
“As human beings, we have a responsibility to preserve the rights of others, especially when rights are being taken away by those who have the power to do that,” said Dr. Fung.
Dr. Fung and his students are available for media interviews.
Connie Kim Coutain | email@example.com | 408-554-5126 O | 408-829-4836 C