Set Free seeks awareness, action

Nathan Davis

With December approaching, as the beards and mustaches from No-Shave November begin to disappear, a new challenge is coming. Dressember is a challenge in which participants wear a dress or a tie every day for the month of December.

Dressember, which is the name of both an organization and the challenge, is meant to bring awareness to the injustice of human trafficking.

“I’m part of Set Free’s team, their Ethical Task Force Director,” explained Tabitha Villanueva, who while working with the Set Free organization also promotes Dressember, “What I do is promote ethics in the garment industry.”

Set Free is an organization dedicated to combating the exploitation of people forced into labor or trafficking.

Villanueva explained the teamwork between Set Free and Dressember to bring the challenge to SPU. “We really want to get students on board with participating this year because it just makes sense. We live in Seattle which is one of the biggest hubs of trafficking in the US,” Villanueva said.

The goal of the challenge is to show the lack of freedom of those caught in trafficking by wearing out-of-the-ordinary clothes every day.

“The thought behind it is you don’t have a choice with what you’re wearing, you have to wear a dress (or a tie) every day and giving up your choice,” Villanueva said. “It’s meant to show the parallels of people stuck in trafficking.”

“Trafficking isn’t just what you see in ‘Taken,’ sometimes it happens to women when they don’t even realize it. It happens on a much more day-to-day level,” she said, explaining that it can be anything from forced labor, which is rampant in the garment industry, or an abusive marriage.

Dressember is partnered with multiple anti trafficking organizations and nonprofits, including A21 and the IJM, or International Justice Mission, to actively combat trafficking locally and around the world.

“As college students and as Americans we have this awesome privilege of being able to have so much access to information,” Villanueva pointed out. “Don’t just become apathetic to what’s going on in the world, because then nothing is going to change.”

Curtesy of Set Free group

Getting involved is simple.

On the Dressember website, all it takes is a profile creation and joining a team, of which SPU already has several. Currently, there are teams for Arnett Hall and commuters, with teams for the rest of the Residence Halls and faculty currently in development.

“You can’t fundraise without a little ‘fun,’” the Dressember website states.

Dressember offers rewards and prizes for teams and individuals who raise given amounts of money either overall or in a certain time period. Some of these prizes include earrings, bags pins, books, and bracelets.

All of the prizes come from partnered companies who also advocate for ethically made clothing.

Note: Anyone who doesn’t own/wear dresses can still participate in Dressember! By either wearing a tie or a suit, “Tie Advocates” can still join Dressember teams.

For information on the Dressember movement, go to:

For information on the Set Free organization, go to:

To hear the founder of Dressember give a Ted Talk, visit: