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Tunnel of Oppression

Religious Tolerance with a Muslim-identifying student in one of the Tunnel of Op

On February 6th- 8th EKU Housing organized and hosted the Tunnel of Oppression in Telford Hall. The Tunnel of Oppression is an interactive theater experience where participants walk through different theaters designed to display oppression of marginalized groups. It started as a campus grassroots diversity program at Western Illinois University and can now be found at many colleges and universities around the nation. Inspiration from the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles was used as a template for the first Tunnel of Oppression.

This year’s event marks the first time this program has been hosted to the entire EKU campus community. The Tunnel of Oppression at Eastern Kentucky University was directed and written by the EKU Housing Diversity Committee, with acting performed by EKU students and staff volunteers. Participants were able to witness scenarios related to a variety of topics, including LGBTQ+ related issues, Religious tolerance, Sexual Assault, Mental Health, and Racial bias. Participants were then debriefed by staff from the EKU Counseling Center to process their experience after going through the Tunnel.

Students responded positively to this activity and encouraged others to go. From this activity students were able to gain perspectives from many different people. Kirsten Hodge-Reid stated, 

Kristen Hodge-Reid “I liked how everyone was together, no matter the race, religion, or anything like that. And doing stuff like that, that's going to make a mark. If we continue to do that, we'll get heard." 

From this students were able to take away how to be supportive to oppressed communities and were challenged to be aware of what do in order to be helpful in discussing these issues with others. Brooklynne Moore said,

“Everyone's backgrounds are different, no matter who you are, so you   shouldn't judge based on someone's physical appearance."Brooklynne Moore

From each of the rooms students were able to put themselves in another person’s perspective. In the debrief room, Dr. Sarah Talentire, from the EKU Counseling Center, was able to listen to the participants as well as give insight to what the participants saw in each of the rooms. She says, “Rather than thinking about it as a label that defines all of who you are, viewing it more as a natural response to a lot of situations that you are going through." Based on the success of this program and the impact it had on the students, the EKU Housing Diversity Committee said that they would continue this program in the future and hopefully reach more students. 

Tunnel of Oppression Students Making Bracelets with each colored bead representing a different "identity"
Student's seen here are making bracelets with different color beads to signify different identities that they have.

Published on March 02, 2017

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