Red Sand Project draws attention to human trafficking

Mason McLeod, a junior psychology major, helps fill Risman Plaza with red sand to raise awareness on human trafficking Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017.

Chyenne Tatum

Delaney Cordova stood in a pile of red sand covering Risman Plaza, sharing the stories of millions of people who still experience modern-day slavery.

“There are people slipping through the cracks of abuse, with no one looking out or speaking up for them,” said Cordova, a junior communication studies major and president of the Kent campus chapter of the International Justice Mission. “Slavery is still happening and it’s closer than we think.”

Members of IJM held their second annual Red Sand Project, a metaphorical movement where students pour bags of red sand into the cracks of Risman Plaza.

The sand represents victims of slavery who are overlooked by society as they fall through the cracks of abuse and oppression. The event lasted for seven hours, and by the end of the day, the entire plaza was covered in bright red sand.

Statistics show the U.S. ranks 145th out of 167 countries for slavery prevalence, and Ohio is ranked fifth in the nation for human trafficking.  

“When people hear about trafficking, they think of foreign countries far away,” said Brooke Davis, a senior communications studies major. “And although it’s also an issue overseas, the same kind of horrific behavior is going (on) in our states; that’s what some people aren’t aware of.”

Members of the organization said the 2011 documentary “Nefarious: Merchant of Souls” was a reason why they decided to get involved and fight for the cause. Group member Hunter Chenevey felt the need to use his voice for the victims who could not.

“Watching that movie made me realize how serious this issue is and why it’s important to save as many people from this as we can,” said Chenevey, a freshman criminology and justice studies major. “So, every semester we show that movie to our new members so they can get a glimpse of what’s really happening around us.”

IJM is a faith-based, Christian organization. Members incorporate their religion into activities and T-shirts, which Chenevey proudly showed off. The back of the shirt included a verse from Micah 6:8 that read, “Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.”

Davis said, “Without His help, none of this would be possible, so we believe in using the word of God to spread our message and continue with the mission statement.”

In addition to spreading their cause, IJM also works with Freedom Partners to send money to slavery victims.

Chyenne Tatum is an arts and entertainment reporter. Contact her at [email protected]