Reflection: the Fordham University Humanitarian Student Union participates in Hostile Terrain’s Toe Tagging Event


By: Aidan Auel FCRH c/o 2023, President of the Humanitarian Student Union

The Hostile Terrain 94' Toe Tagging workshop was a success! With 27 people in attendance, it was incredibly impactful to see how everyone responded to the project in different ways. This meeting was different from our typical HSU meetings. We sat the group in small circles to create a more intimate environment for everyone.

This was many people’s first exposure to the history of the Prevention Through Deterrence Policy and the deaths that it has caused. We gathered to discuss the history of the project and to fill out toe tags that represent real people who died on the Arizona-Mexico Border. As the students were filling out the tags, we walked around to see how they were doing, being careful to allow space for the students to process the activity. At first, they asked us questions about what different terms on the toe tags meant. Terms like, “surface management” and “ML#”. They then started to ask what the different causes of death may have meant and what could have caused them.

We discussed our reactions to the activity. Many commented on their surprise at seeing causes of death that weren’t natural. One student commented that this activity made them think about how every individual has their own story as to why they were crossing the border. They thought of the danger they were desperately fleeing, only to encounter the harshest conditions along their journey. Another student commented how they were surprised to see so many people of similar age to us (college students in the United States). The activity provided a much more personal lens through which to view the topic of immigration and bring awareness to the Prevention Through Deterrence Policy and the harm it causes.



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