Students Take a Stand on Human Trafficking
Erik Kersting

From 9 p.m. March 10 to 12 a.m. March 12, over 100 students at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, along with many across the nation, stood for 27 hours to raise awareness about human trafficking.

Running with the slogan, “you may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know,” the event was headed by the International Justice Mission, a non-profit human rights organization with the goal of eliminating modern-day slavery.

“I think that everybody on cam­pus and in the community should know about it, and just this simple act of standing for 27 hours can do that,” said Ashley Majewski, the president of the mission on campus.

On March 11, students stood out­side the Health Enhancement Center all day, holding signs saying “I Stand 4 Freedom.” Even at 3 a.m., six stu­dents stood in the snow outside the Newman Catholic Center.

Majewski has an optimistic out­look on the students’ ability to raise awareness.

“I think that it is an easy way for students to fight the issue because it is so big. Some students just get so overwhelmed by that, and they’re like, ‘How can I stop this issue?’ And this is just one small way that the students can take a stand which I think is just empowering for them,” Majewski said.

The issue of human traffick­ing has sparked a wealth of events on campus, such as last semester’s Justice Week. The event included a film and a speech by a survivor of human trafficking.

Juan-Diego Hernandez, vice president of the International Justice Mission, stood for the entire 27 hours because he is very passionate about ending human trafficking.

“There are a lot of problems out there, but the reason that we chose human trafficking is because this issue has been placed on each and every one of our hearts,” Hernandez said. “Slavery is something that was supposed to have been eradicated long ago, but now it is one of the larg­est industries in the world. We fight this because there are many other problems that stem from this issue as well. Some people fight against star­vation and other against poverty. We fight to end human trafficking.”

While the issue is large, there is hope in the students who stand. Hernandez quoted Martin Luther King Jr.: “When one person stands up, they are often unnoticed. But when thousands rise up together, they cannot be overlooked.”