Tunnel of Oppression helps students understand racism

Rose Schneider and Rose Schneider

The Social Justice Task Force allowed the community to see the world through someone else’s eyes, with a motivating, bold event.

The Tunnel of Oppression, which is a nationally-recognized event, was brought to the University Wednesday in the Union for the third time.

The event, which featured many different rooms designated for specific oppressions, had many shocking words, pictures and fake bodies designed to immerse people into the world of judgment and oppression.

Greg Lucsko, the event’s coordinator, said the Tunnel of Oppression began at Western Illinois University.

“The environment at West Illinois was very homogenous, and they wanted to find a way to depict the realities of oppression in society,” Lucsko said.

“It’s been put on by hundreds of campuses around the country,” Lucsko added. He said the event has won numerous regional and national awards.

Lucsko said SJTF decided to bring the event to the University because it was “something we want the entire campus to experience.”

“It’s something we are passionate about and something we thought faculty and students, and the entire community could benefit from,” Lucsko said.

The extremely interactive event allowed everyone who entered a chance to become more educated and aware of numerous social oppressions around the world, which included gender stereotypes, body image issues, classism, racism, homophobia, ableism and religious oppression.

“I felt like this was a really great way to show people how others are oppressed and maybe they will be able to empathize with the types of oppression going on around the world,” said Joshua James, a committee member for the event.

James said the event was supposed to represent people without a voice.

“There are a lot of things that people don’t realize [are] still happening,” said Amanda Freyaldenhoven, the SJTF’s chair.

She said the overall reaction to the event was mostly positive. “For the most part, everyone seems to be pretty open and they’ve all learned something,” she said.

“Whether it’s the religious oppression room or the homophobia room,” Freyaldenhoven said, “everyone at least takes one thing [with them].”

Freshmen Amanda Menke, who attended the event, said she thought the overall learning experience was very enlightening.

“It makes you think a lot about what you say,” Menke said.

Menke said she learned that there are words that one person might think are harmless, but another person is hurt by it.

“I think it’s going to open a lot of people’s minds, to see that what you say, and [that your] words can hurt,” she said.

At the end of the tunnel, there is a station designed for reflection and awareness.

“This is to be much more reflective,” Lucsko said.

He said there is an area where you can write down your “dirty laundry” as well as your thoughts from the experience on mirrors.

“We start with a lot of mirrors and end with a lot of mirrors,” Lucsko said. “It’s the idea of reflecting upon yourself.”