IWU students raise awareness for human trafficking

Olivia Jacobs

IWU students participating in the Red Sand Project in front of Memorial Center
Photo: Julia Hilt

Over 120 IWU students participated in the Red Sand Project event on campus that took place between April 6 and 8. 

The Red Sand Project is a participatory form of artwork demonstrated by pouring red sand into pavement cracks. The grains of red sand represent the millions of men, women and children who often fall through the cracks and are exploited daily for commercial sex or forced labor.

Julia Hilt said during her first day of tabling, there was no rain and all sun and so many students were engaged and coming to ask questions about the project and learn more about the prevalence of human trafficking in the world.

“I was actually very surprised to see how much engagement there was, especially for the first day, but plenty of students showed genuine interest which was hopeful and exciting,” Hilt said. 

The event was a collaboration with the Student Senate, Dean of Students Office,  Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) and the Advocacy and Awareness commissioner. 

The idea for IWU to participate in the Red Sand Project came from Lynda Duke in the Dean of Students Office and the Sexual Assault Prevention Task Force. 

“I feel this event helped get the word out about human trafficking and sexual exploitation, as this is not a topic we discuss often when thinking about marginalized individuals in our society. This form of street activism allowed for IWU students to come to the table and learn about the issue, and then participate by spreading awareness on campus,” Hilt said. 

Hilt said her favorite part about the event was when her friends, other senate executive members and other RSO leaders would come to the table to help pass out the sand and become so passionate about the project that they would help educate others about the topic.

“It was amazing to see how quickly they were able to educate themselves and recognize this issue to spread the correct information to the students,” Hilt said. 

IWU has never participated in the Red Sand Project before, but Hilt hopes that it will continue in the future. 

“Hopefully more RSOs with the same missions are able to collaborate with this event because this project is necessary and a great way to start the conversation and continue to build awareness. I hope this becomes an annual initiative so that we are able to reach more students each year,” Hilt said. 

More information on the Red Sand Project can be found through their official website at www.redsandproject.com. For those interested in participating in the Red Sand Project, the red sand can also be ordered through their website.