Iowa State University Students Making a Difference

As Iowa college students head back to campus for the fall 2017 semester, I thought this would be a good time to hear from the ISU Student Network Against Human Trafficking. This club exemplifies how college students can meaningfully contribute to Iowa’s fight to end human trafficking and slavery.

The following article was written by Rachel Sporer, president of the Iowa State University Student NAHT. Rachel describes some of the service projects undertaken by ISU students to increase awareness of trafficking and to support survivor services. The ISU group is also offering to assist other colleges and universities to establish similar campus anti-trafficking clubs. To take Rachel up on her offer, feel free to contact her at

Iowa State University Student Network Against Human TraffickingHello to the Network blog subscribers from the Iowa State University Student Network Against Human Trafficking. We are an affiliate of the statewide Iowa NAHT. Our student organization educates ISU and Ames about modern forms of slavery. We also partner with organizations around Iowa to help provide support to survivors through fundraising efforts and supplies drives.

Our club was founded back in 2014 by an ISU student who found out about the issue of trafficking during her human sexuality class here at Iowa State. Since the beginning, the goal of our club has been to raise awareness on ISU’s campus and in the community. One of our first events for students after becoming an official ISU student organization was screening Sex + Money, a documentary about human trafficking in the United States. After asking questions on campus, the founding members discovered that most ISU students didn’t know that trafficking was a problem and if students did know, they thought it only happened in eastern Asia. This pushed the club to screen another documentary and host a local informational panel about Human Trafficking. In that first year, the club also partnered with Heels of Hope to host a 5K with the goal of raising awareness about trafficking in Iowa.

Nicholas Kristof Lecture about human traffickingSince this humble beginning, our club has continued to host many education events on campus. Our largest lecture was a collaborative effort funded by several campus and community groups. Nicholas Kristof, the Pulitzer Prize winning columnist and author of popular books such as Half the Sky and A Path Appears was a huge draw. The week prior to the Kristof lecture, we showed his documentary, Sex Trafficking in the USA, and amazingly 480 students attended the film followed by a local panel discussion. The next week, the Kristof lecture attracted over 1,500 to Stephens Auditorium to learn more about the human trafficking and human rights violations that women face throughout the USA and the world.

We also participate in events on campus like club Fest and the annual Earth Day tabling event where we set up a booth and interact with fellow students. These are great opportunities to talk to students, one on one which always provokes a lot of concern and conversation about human trafficking. This is also a good way to recruit new members

Our club meets monthly and sometimes has a speaker. For example, we recently had Terry Forliti, the executive director of Breaking Free in Minnesota, come talk to our club about her experiences with “the life” and how she helps other women overcome it.

Last year, the ISU Student NAHT Partnered with the statewide Iowa Network to place a human trafficking awareness sign on Cyride buses. The sign shown below was designed by ISU students and was displayed on three buses for three months.

Human Trafficking Awareness Cyride Sign

Last semester, we held a supply drive to benefit Wings of Refuge in Iowa Falls and Dorothy’s House in Des Moines. We collected craft supplies, women’s hygiene products, games, handbags, and many other household items by leaving donation boxes around campus. Our members hung up flyers and our club advisor, Dr. Diana Baltimore, let us make an announcement to all of her classes to promote the event. We also do a lot of advertising for these events on Facebook. This supply drive was a great success and we were able to donate a lot of needed items to both organizations.

We have had many more accomplishments in the past 3+ years and we intend to keep that momentum going in the future. We have clearly defined our goals for the 2017-2018 school year and even began our work this summer. Our larger goals include expanding membership, recruiting student volunteers to train hotel/motel workers to recognize and report suspected trafficking, assist other universities to start up clubs, having larger awareness events, giving educational presentations, partnering with other clubs on campus, and staying well organized with strong leadership.

This club has made great strides in increasing student awareness and knowledge about human trafficking within the ISU community. There are a lot of ways that people can get involved and we want to encourage students at other universities to start their own club and to affiliate with the Iowa Network Against Human Trafficking. We will offer all of the support we can to anyone who wants to get started in creating a student organization to join the fight!

We also invite everyone who would like to stay updated on events to like our Facebook page.

Thank you to the Iowa NAHT for your support and effort in ending human trafficking.