This week, students and staff can venture into the darkness to bring oppression to light.
The seventh-annual Tunnel of Oppression features a walk-through event designed to show students different perspectives of race, gender, body image and homophobia. Thirteen Registered Student Organizations, including the Black Togetherness Organization and Speaking and Teaching, have come together to host the 30-minute tour.
Marvin Dixon, a junior from Rockford studying speech communication and Africana studies, said he started volunteering in the tunnel his freshmen year. He also said it is an excellent learning experience.
Dixon said the tunnel realistically portrays everyday struggles to which many people turn a blind eye.
“It shows you the different experiences that different people have to go through,” he said. “Most of us have privileges that we aren’t aware of.”
Dixon highlighted different privileged cultures, such as males and whites, and said many people are not aware certain oppressions still happen today.
“Some people, I don’t want to say they’re ignorant to the fact that these types of oppressions happen, but I know a lot of people don’t know,” he said. “They need to become aware of the things that truly go on in their peers’ lives.”
Dixon said the university has many marginalized cultures, and anyone can find the tunnel relatable.
“In order to make our campus truly diverse and truly inclusive, we need to understand the drawbacks that we have,” he said.
Aaron Adams, a senior from Chicago studying advertising and sociology, said he took an active role in the tunnel, and his demonstration room portrayed both a slave and dating auction. The slave auction shows a type of dehumanization, but then draws correlations to dating auctions, which he said has an undertone of selling women.
“You are selling yourself as someone’s property for a night or however (long) it’s for,” he said.
Adams said Greek students, a group he said is typically not considered oppressed, spoke about fraternities and sorority stereotypes in one room. Different students can provide perspectives that tunnel visitors would never have considered, he said.
“You come with an open mind to learn about somebody else’s oppression so that you can have a different view and possibly live your life differently,” Adams said.
Raven Gougis, a freshman from Chicago studying biological sciences, said she saw the tunnel Monday.
“I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” she said.
Gougis said the human trafficking and public versus private school classrooms particularly affected her.
“I kind of experienced that I went to a Chicago public school, and I could kind of see some of the similarities with the skit,” she said.
Gougis said she enjoyed the tunnel enough that she brought her friends back.
“I wanted to open someone else’s eyes so they could see what I saw when I went through it,” she said. “Things like this happen every day that people don’t know about. If anybody is thinking about doing it, then do it. It is a great experience.”
The demonstration began Monday and will continue through Thursday from 5-9 p.m. in Grinnell Hall’s lower level. To reserve a spot, email Laura Becerra at firstname.lastname@example.org.