Tunnel of Oppression 2014

By Sara Pompeo 

This week, the Office of Housing and Residence Life has put on their annual Tunnel of Oppression, an experimental and visual experience that aims to explore the different types of oppression.

The Tunnel explores topics such as racism, ableism, sexism, classism, genocide and privilege. When students first walk through the Tunnel, they are asked to participate in a “Cross the Line” activity, which shows the impact of oppression versus privilege once completed.

New topics being shown this year are cyberbullying, oppression of undocumented citizens and male body image.

Ashley Jones, a residential education graduate assistant for Housing and Residence Life, is in charge of the event this year and explained the importance of including contemporary issues.

“These were topics that may not have necessarily been identified when the Tunnel of Oppression was first created. We chose these specific topics based on feedback from student committee members, who felt that these issues were the most prominent,” Jones said.

Jones explained that some topics, such as racism and classism, always occur within the Tunnel because they have been present throughout history.

After students walk through the Tunnel, they are directed towards the Room of Hope — a processing and debriefing area for students to go to after their experience.

“It is critical to include the Room of Hope… to allow [students the] opportunity to process their experience as well as ‘restore the hope.’ All participants process the Tunnel differently, so we provide a safe space for them to do so,” Jones said.

In order to help, “restore the hope”, the Tunnel has chosen to donate money and blankets to Project Linus.

“Project Linus’ mission is to provide security, warmth and hope to children facing terminal illness, tragedy or natural disaster,” Jones said.

Students have the opportunity to “tie the knot” on one of many handmade blankets to be donated to the Akron Chapter of Project Linus. Monetary donations will also go towards the Akron Chapter, for the purchasing of supplies to make blankets for children in need.

Macey Nortey, a graduate assistant for Housing and Residence Life, used to put on the event and has been with Housing and Residence Life for 7 years.

“The Tunnel of Oppression is part of a series of programs we put on for students; it is one of the biggest ones. The themes of the Tunnel change each year, with this year’s theme covering all of the basics. We update the Tunnel as more information about topics, such as ableism, is discovered,” Nortey said.

Also included in the Room of Hope is a table set up by the Student Government Association.

Gabriella Gessler, vice president of student life for SGA, is taking part in Sexual Assault Awareness Week by setting up a table about the nationwide campaign — It’s On Us.

“People don’t realize how common sexual assault is, or if it’s happening to them. It is a societal issue that we need to raise awareness for,” Gessler said.

SGA’s It’s On Us table encourages students to “take the pledge” against sexual assault.

“By raising awareness, our goal is to encourage students to further explore oppression and what role they can play in ending oppression,” Jones said.