Students stand for freedom

Photo by Lauren Brett

From Thursday, March 14 at 9 a.m. to noon on Friday, students gathered together together on Tech Green to Stand for Freedom.

This event, which occurred nationwide on over 400 college campuses, and promoted by the International Justice Mission (IJM), lasted for 27 hours in honor of the 27 million people across the globe who remain enslaved.

“Going into the event, I didn’t think standing for 27 hours would be difficult. It actually turned out to be pretty taxing,” said Tech IJM chapter president Dustin Hsu. “Between the wind and cold at night and the actual standing, I couldn’t really feel my feet after a few hours. However, it was the least i could do to take a stand for the millions of slaves that who have to experience not only far greater physical pain, but unimaginable psychological, emotional, and spiritual abuse.”

During Stand for Freedom, Tech students were encouraged to sign a petition to send to President Obama encouraging more programs and relief efforts for those bound by modern day slavery.

Games and other fundraising activities were also a part of the 27 hour event, such as a flashmob, IJM guest speaker and Gallon Challenge, in which money was donated for every glass of milk that was consumed by participants.

“We do want to focus on fundraising. It’s a little harder in a college environment, but there are still really creative ways you can do it” said Emily Gooding, Tech IJM chapter Vice-President.

The Tech IJM chapter collected over 1,200 signatures, as well as over $1,600 in donations, well above their expectations and the suggested goal of 1,000 signatures from IJM Headquarters.

“As much as we love IJM’s work, their biggest constraint is money, so we love raising funds to be able to go in and help them go on rescues missions and be able to care for people,” Hsu said.

Students passing by seemed to have a positive reaction to IJM’s mission.

“As far as getting the word out, it’s definitely been effective, especially having it here on campus,” said Anna Catherine Finch, a first-year INTA student.

”I thought it was really effective, just because everyone spread the word really well…[and] I know a lot of people who knew about it and felt really passionate about it,” said Anna Hunter, a second-year ECON and INTA major.

“We kept having to print more [petition] sheets, because we didn’t expect so many signatures,” Gooding said.

IJM is an international human rights organization headquartered in DC, and is made up of investigators, lawyers, and case-workers who work on specific cases involving modern day slavery and injustice, including sex trafficking, forced labor, and improper land seizure.

“…Basically anything where the law is not being enforced for those at risk”, Hsu said.

Often, the next step for IJM employee are raids with local police to physically rescue people from brothels, rice mills, factories. This has resulted in the rescue of thousands of slaves all over the world.

According to IJM, there are 27 million slaves in the world today, twice as many people as were taken in chains during the entire 350 years of the African Slave Trade.

Of these 27 million enslaved people, 1 million are children exploited by the global commercial sex trade, every year. The slave market includes 161 countries and generates $32 billion in profit yearly, putting it , human trafficking is estimated to be the third largest international crime industry, behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.