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The Comenian

The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

One Grain at a Time: How Red Sand is Saving Lives

Photo courtesy of Logan Palau.
Photo courtesy of Logan Palau.

While walking through campus one day, many students may have noticed a group of students pouring packets of red sand onto the sidewalk.

This was an event being run by the Gender Equity Club. The co-advisors for the Gender Equity Club are Professor of Psychology, Dr. Stacy Zaremba, and Public Services Library Assistant, Kris Beutler. For the last fifteen years, The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has assisted Moravian in its endeavors to empower women. The AAUW was disbanded, and the Gender Equity Club was established in the spring of 2023.

The event is in collaboration with the Crime Victims Council of the Lehigh Valley and is called The Red Sand Project. This project has been an on-campus event for the last five years to raise awareness about human trafficking.

The GEC chose to highlight the issue of human trafficking because of the startling statistics. According to The Red Sand Project’s website, almost 50 million people worldwide are currently being trafficked. Tragically, only 1% of trafficking incidents go to court, as stated by the U.S. Department of State

“Human trafficking is more widespread in the US than most people realize. Awareness events, like the Red Sand Project, shine a light on this very dangerous issue,” states Kris Beutler. “Unfortunately, human trafficking isn’t going to go away without people actively recognizing the signs of trafficking and taking steps to catch the people falling through the cracks.”

The Red Sand Project was created by Molly Gochman. Gochman hoped that this participatory and in-your-face approach would best capture the attention of the public.

And boy, has it captured the attention of Moravian. The sand in the cracks is supposed to represent people falling through the cracks of society. The red color is representative of the violence involved with human trafficking.

From left to right: Dr. Stacy Zaremba and Kris Beutler. Photo courtesy of Logan Palau.

“It all serves as a powerful symbol that triggers empathy and prompts people to contemplate the lives of those trapped in trafficking,” said Dr. Zaremba.

The hope is that this project will open opportunities for students to question, connect with, and take action against the vulnerabilities that can lead to human trafficking. The students who attended this event
were given multiple bags of red sand. After students were told what the sand is representative of, the experience became much more powerful and overall was an emotional experience.

The GEC hopes the student takeaway is to be more aware and conscious of how prominent human trafficking is in their community. People always think it will never happen to them, and until it does so, it is crucial everyone stays vigilant.

One member of GEC stated,“As I placed the red sand in the cracks, I couldn’t help but reflect on the plight of human trafficking victims. It compelled me to consider the measures the U.S. takes to combat human trafficking and the support provided to victims.”

The Gender Equity Club’s mission statement is to be a safe space on campus for all individuals, regardless of gender. They aim to commit and represent matters of intersectionality while working with other Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion groups on Moravian University’s campus.

They hope to discuss uncomfortable topics along with gender-inclusive celebrations and issues. All students are welcome to attend their weekly meetings as well as share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

“If you have experienced sexual violence or believe you are in danger of it occurring, reach out to the Moravian University Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Violence by texting or calling 484-764-9242,” said Dr. Zaremba. “The Moravian University Advocates consists of volunteer male and female staff who provide support and referral to student survivors of sexual violence, intimate partner violence, and stalking. Between May 8th and August 21st, call the Crime Victims Council’s 24-hour advocate hotline at 610-437-6611.”

Please remember that if you or someone you care about seems to be in danger, there are resources available to help.

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