Standing Up for Change

chinnylaw.jpg

“Students are a Powerful source of change, and if we work hard enough, our voice will be heard... I’m proof of that.”

Not long ago, Rotsen “Chinny” Law was an average, happy-go-lucky college student. Enrolled in Kennesaw State’s conflict management master’s program, she had a full-time job in a law office and was attending classes on the weekend. And she was blissfully unaware of the modern-day slave trade.

Fast forward to 2011, and Law has helped investigate local human trafficking, participated in the Clinton Global Initiative, which launched the “mtvU Against Our Will Campaign,” and successfully lobbied Congress on behalf of victims of human trafficking.

“Students are a powerful source of change, and if we work hard enough, our voice will be heard,” she said. “I’m proof of that.”

Law, currently an adjunct professor in KSU’s First Year Programs, said she had no idea slavery still existed.

“I was pretty sure it was a thing of the past,” she said. “But one day, on a total whim of boredom, I watched ‘Taken,’ a movie about the modernday slave trade. It was a movie about a father’s efforts to track down his daughter, who had been kidnapped and trafficked into the sex industry.”

About the same time, Law, who was searching for ideas for her master’s project, heard a local anti-trafficking advocate speak.

“I began to research the issue, and I found out a lot of trafficking victims come from southeast Asia, and my family is from the Philippines, so it really hit close to home at that point,” Law said. “I also learned that trafficking was not just a global problem, but also a problem within the United States, and even more so in Atlanta.”

Law found her master’s project topic.

Working with the local anti-trafficking advocate and several other students, Law began investigating a Kennesaw restaurant where human trafficking victims were thought to be working.

Using stake-outs, public record searches and other investigative techniques, Law and her team discovered several suspicious things about the restaurant. For instance, all employees arrived and left at the same time every day in a van that transported the entire group to a large secluded house surrounded by woods.

Eventually, Law’s group turned all of the information they gathered over to local immigration and custom enforcement officials. There is no word to date on what became of the investigation.

“Humans are not goods,” she said. “I feel like it’s our civic responsibility to protect the idea that life is sacred.”

With the first semester of law school under her belt, Law is working with two local, nonprofit, anti-trafficking groups collecting toiletries and donating items to the charity’s consignment shop. Each semester she also has her class choose a community engagement project — fighting modern-day slave trading or whatever cause is close to their hearts.

“I try to take my students a step beyond awareness,” she said. “Awareness is so easy. What can you do past awareness? No matter how small. Just do something.”

 

-- Jennifer Hafer