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Let's Talk Human Rights

Human Rights Week 2022

By Elizabeth Kolb '23, Allie O'Gorman '24, Sofia Garcia '23, & Allia Carr-Chellman '25

Human Rights Week has been a tradition at the University of Dayton for nearly 20 years. Every year, students organize a week of awareness raising and engagement on human rights issues during the month of February. This year the Human Rights Advocacy Group was established to take forward this tradition. Students organized a series of events under the theme Human Rights in Your Backyard covering a range of human rights issues that impact the community of Dayton. 

The Hidden Epidemic by Elizabeth

As the president and co-founder of the Human Rights Advocacy Group, I had the privilege of working with each team to create presentations on the topic of Human Rights in Dayton, Ohio. For about 2 months, each team met to research, converse, and practice. Having the ability to watch all of my peers dedicate their time and energy to something so vital was incredibly fulfilling and exciting. I cannot express how impressed and thankful I am to everyone who worked so hard to make Human Rights Week happen!

On Thursday, February 17th, Colleen Hayes, Sarah Harper, Lorena Idris, Katie Bardine & I gave a presentation focused on the opioid crisis in Dayton. The right to adequate care and access to services necessary to recover from addiction is outlined in article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The presentation gave a brief overview of the history of opioid misuse in our nation, concluding with the Support of Patient and Community Act, signed by former President Trump, to help combat the opioid epidemic all over the globe. 

In 2017, Dayton was known as the epicenter for opioid use and addiction, and since then the city of Dayton has worked to provide resources, education, and medical care to those struggling with opioid addiction in the community. In the state of Ohio, efforts such as the GROW program, (Getting Recovery Options Working), which follows up with patients who receive Narcan there are many different resources in the city of Dayton for families and individuals who persevere in active addiction. The Dayton Fellowship Club is a non-profit, community-based, grassroots organization that provides education, emotional and social support to families. 

Displacement by Allie

On Wednesday, February 16th, I and five other students presented on the topic of displacement in Dayton. As a student leader in this presentation and a member of the Human Rights Advocacy group, I was keen to research and learn about this issue in a local context and share it with so many. 

There are countless stigmas and stereotypes placed on people that are experiencing homelessness ranging from social to economic. We discussed the dangers of these stigmas, specifically in a university context, and how the idea of experiencing homelessness is understood differently by everyone.  

Displacement in the Greater Dayton area has not shown much progress in recent years, seeing around 550 individuals considered homeless on an average night. 17% of those are children and families. This number has remained the same over the past 5 years. 

There are several common themes in the causes for displacement: lack of access to food and clean water, unemployment, lack of affordable housing, impacts of climate change, and social injustice. The basic denial of circumstances that lead to a healthy and fulfilling life are often those that also lead to displacement, which then often results in significant health and personal issues from the experience of homelessness. These can include drug dependence, mental illness, contact with the criminal justice system, and others. 

If you want to get involved, there are many opportunities to volunteer and help those who are displaced and shelters created for them. St. Vincent DePaul and Daybreak Homeless Shelter are prominent places in the Dayton area that accept volunteers.

Combating Food Insecurity with Community Experts by Sofia

Food insecurity is an issue that encapsulates other social injustices, such as discrimination based on race, location, economic status, immigration status and others. I attended the Food Insecurity In Dayton event with four panelists representing Mission of Mary Cooperative, Hall Hunger Initiative, YWCA Dayton, and The Foodbank Inc. 

Food insecurity is typically defined as the measure of the availability of food and individuals' ability to access it. Taylor Curtis, Advocacy Manager at the YWCA, refers to food insecurity as the “food apartheid”.  She explained it as a system of institutional racism and discrimination and racially discriminatory practices. There are many reasons why lack of food and accessibility to food is a systemic racial issue. A majority of grocery stores are located in upper and middle-class neighborhoods, which tend to have a majority white population, in part due to the history of redlining. In addition, people of color in the US statistically have higher poverty rates, which in turn, leads to the inability to buy healthy, nourishing food for themselves and their families. Mark Wilis, Director of the Hall Hunger Initiative, mentioned that undocumented immigrants face obstacles when it comes to affordable, nutritious food. Undocumented immigrants cannot go to food banks because they do not have a valid ID. 

The Reality of Period Poverty in Dayton by Alia

The event on period poverty is a step in the direction of combatting period poverty both on and off our campus. The speakers were engaging and helpful in addressing a very stigmatized conversation. Lack of access is one of the more pervasive problems women and girls face, but many are afraid to speak out because of the shame they may feel.  It is difficult to speak about menstruation publicly. 

Period poverty is defined as a lack of access to period products, education, hygiene, and waste management. It can cause physical, emotional and financial stress. 25% of women experience period poverty. Almost 70% of all women in the US with a low income are not able to afford period products; women have to choose between that and buying food. Most states still have taxes on period products. People who are experiencing period poverty are significantly more likely to be depressed. The inability to access period products can lead to alternative use of household products like tissues, sponges, or towels which can lead to infection and less hygienic conditions generally.

Period products should be a right, not a luxury. I took away three major insights from the speakers: 

  1. Menstrual hygiene is a basic need, yet very little research has examined how unmet menstrual hygiene needs may impact mental health.
  2. We need to address the stigma around menstruation to understand and fix the challenges people face around access to menstrual hygiene products. 
  3. The World Bank estimates that 500 million women and girls globally lack access to adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene management.


Elizabeth Kolb, is a junior at UD, studying International Studies with a concentration in Global Migration and Economic Development as well as TESOL Education. She is the co-founder of the Human Rights Advocacy Group loves getting to know so many people on campus who share this passion.

Allie O’Gorman is a sophomore at UD majoring in human rights studies and criminal justice. She is a part of the Student Engagement Cluster here at the Human Rights Center and a member of the Human Rights Advocacy Group. Her interests include women’s rights, criminal justice reform, and many other issues.

Sofia Garcia is a junior with a major in Political Science and a minor in International Studies with a concentration in Global Migration and Economic Development and French. She is a member of the Student Engagement Cluster at the HRC, and her interests include immigrant's rights, women's rights, and sexual violence prevention.

Aila Carr-Chellman is a University of Dayton student from Moscow, Idaho. She is studying Political Science and Philosophy. She’s interested in recognizing oppressed classes on campus, specifically under the umbrella of religious discrimination. Aila serves on the Student Government Association (SGA), as well as Housing and Residence Association (RHA) Marycrest Area Council in addition to being a Rower and a member of Model UN.


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