“The Tunnel Of Oppression” was a three day event hosted by the Multicultural Student Affairs in the Carmichael Recreation Center Playzone. The event was co-sponsored with University Housing, Union Activities Board, the Counseling Center and others organizations. The Tunnel of Oppression is an award winning interactive tour which originated in 1993 at Western Illinois University. The Tunnel of Oppression gives students, faculty and community members the opportunity to witness the multiple types of oppression which are prevalent in our society.
In an effort to create awareness of various forms of oppression, participants were guided through different rooms to view the effects of various forms of oppression which impact our society and the campus community as well. Students and faculty were welcomed to the “Tunnel of Oppression” with a slide-show that placed an emphasis on major forms of oppression. Participants were then led through various skits acted out by fellow students focusing on subjects of body image, homosexuality, rape, and racism.
The Women’s Center presented a skit which focused on rape and sexual assault. The theme was, “Rape and Sexual Assault is Never the Victim’s Fault.” The skit portrayed a scene of a girl confessing that she was raped at a party the previous night. The Women’s Center shared an approach one might take when confronting a friend who has experienced rape and suggested locations which offer assistance. A backdrop listed responses which victims of rape may receive from others, such as “She flirted with him all night,” or “She led him on.” The Women’s Center stressed that sexual assault is “NEVER” the victim’s fault and that they are there for students who may need to talk.
The next room addressed body image. It portrayed a skit of a male and a female who were disappointed in their body image. The girl explained in her diary that she felt overweight and constantly monitored her eating habits to the point that she became obsessed with losing weight. The male struggled with another problem. He utilized unhealthy tactics to gain muscle mass. A slide show of statistics was displayed to the audience. It was shown that an alarming rate of girls fear being fat and a large amount have struggled with food eating disorders. Most had never viewed depicting other’s body image as a form of oppression.
The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Center put on a skit that analyzed sexual orientation oppression. A male found out that his roommate was homosexual and wished to move out of the dorm. The audience witnessed several responses one might receive in disagreement to the lifestyle such as: “The bible says no to homosexuality,” and “You’ve changed in front of her. She could have been looking.” Afterwards, participants were shocked to realize that the skit performed was a real life experience that occurred on campus.
The hate room presented images of hate speech that was discovered around campus. There were posters and videos of various forms of racial oppression. There was one poster found on campus that implied, “It’s a great day to be out” in which someone crossed off the word “out” and replaced it with “shot.” This form of oppression has the tendency to make members of some groups question the measures in place to prevent this type of behavior.One video featured a college student complaining about Asians in the library. The video can be found on YouTube.com entitled as, “UCLA Girl’s Asian Rant.” The student felt that Asians were too loud in the library. This can be extremely powerful because many students watch and make YouTube videos, and oppression is not always visible.
After leaving the tunnel, faculty, students and staff were able to discuss what they saw in the tunnel. There were large sheets of paper where people were able to write what they would do to stop oppression and name a form of oppression that they know of. It was an opportunity for students to witness the ways in which many groups are oppressed. The “Tunnel of Oppression” may become an annual event on campus.