KSU students stand against modern day slavery


Shane Flanigan

Freshman fashion design major Jasmine Summers (right) and sophomore early childhood education major Katie Fife (left), hold up signs between the student center and KIVA to raise awareness for enslaved people on Tuesday, March 5 as part of the International Justice Mission KSU chapter’s 27-hour demonstration at Risman Plaza. Photo by Shane Flanigan.

Cassandra Beard

Kent State students began a 27-hour “Stand for Freedom” on the “K” in front of the Student Center to raise awareness of the 27 million people around the world who are currently subjected to slavery.

Students in Kent State’s chapter of the International Justice Mission planned to stand on the “K” for 27 hours, beginning 10 a.m. Tuesday and ending 1 p.m. Wednesday. Students in the group held signs out of cardboard that read “End it Now” and “Stand for Freedom.”

The International Justice Mission helps to rescue individuals involved in sex trafficking, labor and exploitation, and the college chapters promote the organization. The Kent chapter began in early spring 2013 by Rebekah Tefft, sophomore political science major, and some of her friends.

More than 250 colleges nationwide signed up to take part in the “Stand for Freedom.”

“Signing the petition and standing on the ‘K’ gives students the opportunity to help the organization by raising awareness about sex trafficking, labor and exploitation,” said Erin Hawe, junior communications studies major. “The 27 million being forced into slavery is enough to break your heart. That number is six times the population of my home country of New Zealand.”

Hawe said that as of Tuesday afternoon, 60 students had signed up online to stand on the “K” and more than 300 students had signed the paper petition that will be sent to President Barack Obama.

Tefft said she hopes to have 500 student signatures by 1 p.m. Wednesday, but her main goal is to raise awareness about slavery throughout the entire campus.

“I feel that people think slavery ended after the Civil War, and that’s just not the case,” Tefft said. “I have had a passion for this organization since high school, and it’s personal because the tragedy happens so close to home.”

Tefft said she wants Kent State students to be informed on these issues because Ohio has a high rate of sex trafficking.

According to the End It Movement website, a partner to IJM, 200,000 Americans are currently victims of slavery and 50 percent of all humans trafficked are children.

Tefft said it doesn’t cost any money for students to join the cause, and students do not have to join the organization to sign the petition.

Katie Fife, sophomore early childhood education major, said she joined the cause after learning of the statistics and hearing the president of IJM speak in January.

“We are not as far removed from slavery as we would like to think,” Fife said. “It is possible that someone could be trafficked if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is not impossible for an American teenager to be stuck in this type of tragedy.”

Contact Cassandra Beard at [email protected].