The UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management announced its partnership with United Abolitionists to combat human trafficking on Wednesday.
According to the Human Trafficking Hotline, Florida has had many human trafficking crimes in recent years. In 2018 alone, Florida had 767 cases reported and more than 1,000 victims and survivors were identified.
Human traffickers often take advantage of the privacy guests experience at hotels. That combined with the mobility traffickers can have by hopping from hotel to hotel make the hospitality industry a frequent setting of traffickers.
Youcheng Wang, dean of Rosen College, said it is important for Rosen students to know how to identify human trafficking crimes in their line of work for the future.
"These students will become managers and will become the leaders of the industry," Wang said. "So it is vitally important for us not only to impart knowledgeable skills to the students but also advocate them with the right value systems."
The Florida Senate signed a new bill HB 851 in June to stop human trafficking. The bill first requires training for hotel workers so they can spot when human trafficking is occurring. It also requires the Department of Legal Affairs to establish a direct-support organization tasked with providing assistance, funding and support to the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking.
David Wixted, Rosen College internship coordinator, introduced what training would be given to every alumni and student.
"We’re working with United Abolitionists with their curriculum that they’re developing for us to actually be able to deliver,” Wixted said. “We’re going to go through a training program with them, so we can train our students with their curriculum to combat this human trafficking.”
This training will be taught to students in their internship classes. Wixted said the training will begin this semester and students will be doing three modules in each internship class they take.
The training is still in the development stage and will be introduced at UCF next year, Wixted said.
Arianna Soto, senior communications major, was involved in a program group that focused on human trafficking with her professor before she transferred to UCF from Valencia College.
“I really, really wanted to involve myself in this again because my main thing is I have a little sister, and my biggest fear is that she doesn’t know what to do if she ever comes across something like that,” Soto said.
Soto said she now puts her focus on her campaign that tells students what human trafficking is and helps them figure out what they can do to prevent human trafficking.
“[Training] would be a great way to teach students how to go into the real world and learn how to prevent things, especially in the hospitality industry,” Soto said. “You see people going in and out of places, but you don’t know what their story is.”