Four Anderson University students attended the Justice Conference earlier this year, thanks to scholarships from the university’s Peace and Conflict Transformation (PACT) program. The four students are officers in BOUND, an anti-human trafficking group on campus that focuses on fundraising, informing the public, and taking action in the community to engage in justice. The conference helped them pursue their mission of spreading justice locally and globally.
BOUND works to fight trafficking by serving in the Anderson community, working with women’s shelters, raising money for organizations, and advocating at events on campus and around the community. For Super Bowl XLVI, BOUND organized an activity during which AU students labeled bathroom soaps with an emergency number that residents could call if they found themselves in a trafficking situation. These were placed in hotels all across Indianapolis. Because of the soaps and the efforts of other nonprofits in Indianapolis, two victims of human trafficking were recovered that weekend, according to the Super Bowl host committee.
[Photo: Author Rachel Lloyd, an advocate for the fight against human trafficking, was one of the keynote speakers at the Justice Conference.]
The Justice Conference was held in Portland, Ore., on Feb. 24-25. “It was incredible,” said Alissa Cain, sophomore nursing major and president of BOUND. “There were speakers from all over the country, organizations from around the world, and so much quality information given about aligning our hearts with God. We heard from a variety of inspiring leaders. … We are so blessed and incredibly thankful for PACT’s gift and the love that went to sending us to Portland.”
Renowned speakers such as Rachel Lloyd, author of Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not For Sale, and Shane Claiborne, founding partner of the Simple Way faith community, changed the scope of BOUND for the future. “Before the conference, our club only focused on human trafficking,” said Leah Gilbert, sophomore Spanish major and vice president of BOUND. “However, since we’ve attended the conference, we have a much broader view of how all forms of poverty are connected. I didn’t realize how joined all issues of justice are. I had always identified justice as ending human trafficking. I was never necessarily apathetic to providing clean water, but these speakers influenced me to see that everything is caused by something else.”
Cain thinks that the conference has brought a new sense of excitement to the club. “We brought back so many ideas to present to the members of BOUND. Right now we are planning the rest of our projects for the semester and so much passion is being spurred on by us coming back, excited about what God is doing, and the members having such a heart to end this injustice,” she said.
Audrey Weiger, advisor for BOUND, also believes that this conference will have a big impact on the future of BOUND. “Understanding the nature of God is imperative to how we address the issues of human trafficking, poverty, peace, and community development,” she said. Weiger thinks that the students now have a better understanding of justice and the goals they would like to accomplish through BOUND.
The BOUND officers hope to return to the conference next year. “Each officer took away something different,” said Cain. “I think the overall consensus was that we are passionate about ending human trafficking. However, there is so much that needs to be done before this can end. We have to look at poverty, gender conflict, issues of socioeconomic status, and so many other issues that lead to this injustice. The conference fueled our desire to serve in the Anderson community and to love the least of these, right here and right now. This is our heart for this campus and this world.”
— Kelli Oxley is a sophomore from Anderson University, majoring in communication arts. Oxley is an associate with Fifth Street Communications™, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.