Today: Apr 23, 2024

Students walked through the ‘Tunnel of Oppression’ and faced realities in a full sensory experiment


Mama’s boy. Look at this fat girl: how dare she have the audacity to stand in front of the group. Didn’t she learn anything about what real beauty is in the last room? These words were shouted out at attendees as they went through the Tunnel of Oppression on Nov. 15. Ebony McClease, a 23-year-old graduate intern and women’s studies major, said that at some point everyday people act as the oppressors by the words they say and the wounds they cause.
“There’s this idea that your education is not your own. This makes you see it from the other lens. We are trying to make the student body feel as uncomfortable as possible. As if they were the ones being oppressed,” she said. “This is the second year it has been at Southern. Initially people couldn’t conceive the idea to build a tunnel like structure. It just didn’t make any sense. It was so hard to sell this idea to the school.”
McClease said they warned students that certain issues in the tunnel might elicit discomfort.
“Last year we had to blindfold someone. There are things that might trigger from someone’s past so we try to make that aware at the beginning,” she said.
Isabelle Delgado, 22, said she was glad to help with the event and show that the old saying about stick and stones is invalid.
“I’m a volunteer from AmeriCorps. My section was about slurs and how words can be harmful. We harbor a lot of biases,” Delgado said. “You might say something to your friends that you might not say around your professor. I called people names as they walked by. We were trying to shed light on the truth because who isn’t a perpetrator at one point or another?”
According to ETR Associates, a non-profit organization that serves to maximize the physical, social and emotional health of all individuals, states the average female fashion model is 23 percent thinner than the average American woman. Also, 9 percent of male college students have disordered eating patterns.
Taylor Gall, an 18-year-old freshman and physical science major, said that attending the program was required for his Inquiry class although the topic caught his interest anyway.
“I’m here for my class. It’s an Inquiry class so everything we learn is for our own benefit. We are supposed to write a paper about what it was like,” he said.
The Tunnel featured rooms filled will different stigmas and generalizations of people, such as the child rape that occurs in Africa, negative male perceptions, voting rights, body image and more.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, a non-partisan public policy and law institute which focuses on the fundamental issues of democracy and justice, the new voting laws could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in elections.
Maayra Nieves, the 25-year-old president of the African Student Association, said this was a great way to raise awareness.
“What better way but to include the student body—to let them form their own ideas on what oppression is and see who really the oppressor is,” she said.
The program ended with students coming together to debrief. They were able to express their concerns in an open setting.
Anthony Vendetti, an18-year-old human performance major, said he was angered by some of the issues discussed.
“I felt the information was accurate. There is something we can do and it starts with educating the ignorant people,” he said. “I don’t like when people use the word ‘faggot.’ Just hearing it pissed me off.”

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