- Letters to Editor
BY: JACOB BLAIR
According to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, annually approximately 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States. A group of Eastern students weren’t going to let this issue be ignored.
For 27 hours, students stayed on Powell Plaza from noon Monday, March 4 until 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 5 as a part of the Stand for Freedom movement to bring awareness to about the 27 million slaves still in human captivity today.
This group of students stayed overnight in the cold and rain underneath the awning outside of the Meditation Chapel. They had coffee, many blankets and jackets to keep them warm overnight. The students rotated throughout the night, so a few students would always be standing in the Plaza.
Lyndsey Marsh, 21, general studies major from Cynthiana, coordinated the campus event.
“I’ve been really passionate about this issue for a long time and looking for a way to share the issue,” Marsh said.
Marsh planned the event once she found out about the Stand for Freedom sponsored by the International Justice Mission two months ago. She said many individuals, both Eastern students and non-students, have supported her with the event. Many of the helpers came from the various college ministries on campus.
Courtney Russell, 23, a psychology major from Fountain Run, attended the event for nearly the entire 27-hour timeframe and was pleased with the turn out at the event. She estimated 115 students stood for some amount of time in support of the Stand for Freedom, and more than 200 students stopped by to receive more information and became aware about the movement.
Jonathan Newman, 22, ran international business major from Henderson, was one of the students who wanted to get involved as soon as he heard of Marsh’s idea to participate.
“My mother is a social worker and when she was a student at Eastern, she made me aware of slavery within our society,” Newman said. “Normally, you think of human trafficking as a problem in East Asia, but it is also predominant in the States.”
Newman said Twitter is aiding people to know about the event not just locally, but globally.
Matthew Greenleaf, 20, nursing major from Danville, stopped by to learn about the 27 million enslaved people Tuesday morning.
“I wasn’t aware that slavery still existed,” Greenleaf said. “I think it is important to make students aware that slavery still exists.”
The organizer of the event emphasized the overall theme and problem at hand.
“This is bigger than just an event,” Marsh said. “This is a real issue, and there is something students can do about it.”