SDSU religious club denies social media claims of sex trafficking

by Paulette Villicana, Staff Writer

Members of a religious club at San Diego State said claims that have spread on social media over the last few months that they are responsible for human trafficking are untrue.

The allegations began in Kentucky and made their way across the country, members said.

The Zion Bible Study Club is a Christian organization on  campus that is partnered with the World Mission Society Church of God. The club is worldwide and an campuses throughout San Diego, including at San Diego City College and Grossmont College.

“The campus where it started at, I guess human trafficking was actually prevalent, something that’s going on in their campus,” said club member Maria Ohaeri.  “So whoever started it knew that it would pick up on that campus so I feel like that’s where it started, and from there, you know, once it goes to Twitter, like, boom, it just becomes mass news.”

People began sharing their encounters with the organization through social media. These included tweets warning women on college campuses about being approached by people talking about God, explaining it was a form of sex trafficking.

Biology senior Emelia Morris said she believes the accusations became widespread because people were trying to be cautious.

“Of course you think something like this is possible and of course you’re going to try to spread the word, so I believe people were just trying to be cautious and that’s why it became so spread,”  Morris said. “I was very shocked that people could believe something like this, because ultimately we’ve been on this campus for maybe a couple years now and this has never come up, nothing like this has come up.”

Club representative Steven Andrew also said he was in disbelief when he heard about the accusations.

“I started to feel sad for the current students because  of course it’s going to be defamation of character towards them,” he said. “They’re doing all these good works, they’re putting their face out on being nice to everyone else in the community, but then as soon as people start hearing the false accusations then I just felt bad that the students would be looked at in a negative way.”

Club members said the public shouldn’t believe everything they see on social media.

“I know it’s easy like when it comes to Twitter, like our timeline could be our news, but I really hope that students can take the time to look into things before they believe things and actually see that our club, we do so much on campus, and kind of just take the time to know us for ourselves instead of judging us after what they see,” Ohaeri said.