by Chris Wilson
At least 145 women of the faculty and student body are engaged in Dressember, a global challenge to wear a dress for all 31 days of December. The purpose of this collaborative movement is to apply fashion and creativity to restore dignity to all women who are exploited for their femininity through human trafficking and sex slavery.
Last year over 2,600 women registered worldwide and raised over $465,000. This nearly tripled the first year of the organization, in which the 1,233 participants raised around $165,000.
“It’s something that kind of gets noticed,” freshman Erin Rowland said. “People usually don’t wear dresses everyday, so people might ask ‘why are you dressed up?’ And dresses in December is something that’s not comfortable for us, but it’s nothing compared to the pain that victims of human trafficking are going through.”
Student participation in this movement has been spearheaded by sophomore Andie Anderson, junior Elizabeth Rasmussen, sophomore Liz Schmidt and sophomore Laura Soundy, who are also the founders of Lighthouse: Illuminate to Liberate, a new club on campus. The four leaders bonded over their passion for this issue and their desire to do something about it on Concordia’s campus and beyond.
“We advocate and we want to shine Jesus’ light in the issue because it’s God’s fight, not just ours,” Rasmussen said. “We just all are extremely passionate about the human trafficking and sex trafficking. We want to raise awareness for this issue that is rising up all over the world including the United States.”
In addition to raising awareness, Dressember also works to raise funds for International Justice Mission.
Lighthouse is working together with two admissions counselors who both participated in Dressember last year, Alicia Oldre and Chelsea Sernett. Sernett was introduced to the idea by her friend who interned with International Justice Mission.
Sernett encouraged other admissions counselors to participate in Dressember.
“[CUNE for Change] is the name of our Dressember team,” Sernett said. “Dressember is similar to other organizations like Relay for Life where you form a team to raise money. We just opened it up to girls on campus… and encouraged them to become members of our Dressember team, and that’s how that exploded across campus.”
CUNE for Change has 12 people on their team and that number is growing. Each person has a profile with a fundraising goal. They have raised $215 already out of their goal of $250.
“I have a lot of passion for speaking up for the voiceless and sex trafficking is one of the greatest forms of evil. So raising awareness was really appealing to me,” junior Alicia Royuk said.
“This is something that’s extremely personal for me. And I want to go into some career that will help me combat this injustice,” Schmidt said. “Any possible way I can raise awareness for this injustice, I will do it.”
Men do not need to wear a dress in order to help with the human trafficking issue. Like those participating in Dressember, men can raise funds, spread awareness and share why this movement is happening.
Another way to help is by becoming informed of the massive rate of human trafficking across the globe.
A TED Talk on the history of Dressember can be found on Dressember.org.