When a topic like human trafficking comes up, it’s difficult to believe it could happen to anybody in one’s personal life, but the problem continues to grow and affect the lives of young women every day. According to the Polaris Project website, 16,658 victims of human trafficking were identified in 2020 alone. And this terrifying concept may prove to be closer to home than students of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette may think.
DeJa J., a student at UL Lafayette, detailed her experience with a human trafficking scare on campus. Planning to leave for her early morning fitness class on Aug. 31, DeJa found a sticky note on the window of her car in the Heritage Apartments parking lot. This has been a common tactic to mark vehicles of young women as targets for trafficking.
“I was about to leave, but my mind was going ‘Who put that there? Is somebody trying to get me? Is someone watching me?’” DeJa said.
The incident has made getting into a daily routine difficult for DeJa, as she is now concerned for her safety on campus.
“I don’t want anything to happen, and for my parents’ sake I’m not going anymore.” DeJa said.
DeJa proceeded to run back into her room after discovering the note, where she contacted the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Police Department. However, despite her efforts to get to the bottom of this situation, ULPD has not followed up on the incident.
“I called ULPD and they came and scoped it out. They told me they were going to follow up with me but that never happened. So to this day, I don’t know if someone was messing with me like a joke, or if this was an attempt at trafficking,” DeJa said.
Though it may appear to be just a sticky note, DeJa expressed how she prefers to remain cautious as nobody should touch something unfamiliar to them, as there is no way to discern what may be on it.
DeJa commented on how ULPD responded to her call at first, expressing how she felt like she had to wait for assistance for a long period of time.
“When they had me go back down. It was daylight now. But still, that was the next time that I had went back outside after that event. So it’s funny because I felt like I was waiting a long minute for them to even get there,” DeJa said.
Lieutenant Billy Abrams, the Public Information Officer of the ULPD, commented on some measures the university currently has to remain safe on campus, especially during nighttime hours.
“We have our Guardian app, where there’s a lot of things that it can do. You can set a timer, and if you go from point A to point B, it has a quick call button. If you want to call University Police, we always tell everybody that our phone numbers are on the back of their ID,” Abrams said.
In response to the scare she experienced on campus, and the lack of response to it, DeJa relayed her difficulties with continuing to attend her fitness class, as she feels unsafe.
“It just sucks being a girl. I feel like I can’t go unless I’m with somebody or if it’s at a later time,” DeJa said.
In light of this recent scare involving a UL Lafayette student, please be advised to remain safe when walking on campus alone, especially in night time or early morning hours.
For more information on staying safe around campus, please visit the University website.