Students experience oppression

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Article published in the Dec. 3, 2010, issue of The Daily Eastern News.

As guests walked through the Tunnel of Oppression Thursday in Andrews Hall, they experienced first-hand the hatred and abuse many people feel on a daily basis.

The long elevator ride up to the ninth floor of Andrews Hall was dark and quiet. When guests reached their destination, they found a noose was hanging from the ceiling and a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. written on the wall above a graveyard.

The hallways were dark and the walls were covered with words of prejudice, hatred and abuse.

There were also people monitoring the hallways as the groups moved from room to room, being sure to insult each and every person who walked by.

“Who told you that haircut was ok?” “Is that coat made of dog hair?” and “Keep moving, bitch” were just a few of the phrases screamed at the tunnel’s guests.

Quashe Wilson, a junior health studies major and one of the guides, said that each room coordinated their own demonstrations.

Each room had a specific type of oppression on display.

Before entering one of the rooms, guests were asked to imagine that they were going to visit their friends.

When the door opened, bodies were laying on the floor, on the beds and in the chairs. Their shirts read, “Because my parents stopped loving me,” and other reasons to commit suicide. The walls were covered in every abusive word toward homosexuals.

The bathroom displayed the two sides of body image. The shower room had posters of motivational phrases and the mirrors had positive words written on them, while the bathroom side showed the negative aspect of body image.

Actors portrayed eating disorders, excessive working out and general low self-esteem and body image.

By the sinks, guests were asked to write on the mirrors what they like and dislike about their bodies.

Sam Noblit, a graduate assistant for New Student Organizations, said that she looked up what other schools did for their Tunnel of Oppression to come up with the body image display.

“We tried to find things that would really hit home,” Noblit said.

A room about child trafficking showed girls tied up and abused with signs over them reading how much money they cost.

The Tunnel of Oppression Airlines harassed a woman wearing a headscarf, saying in a threatening tone, “Just to let you know, we know your type and we will not tolerate anything,” before cheerfully wishing the rest of the passengers a nice flight.

The in-flight movie was a tribute to 9/11, followed by a video showing racist Americans and their ridiculous ideas about Muslims needing to wear a badge, have a different identification card or be equipped with a microchip.

The Black Student Union created two joined rooms showing images of slavery in one room and the other playing Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech alongside images of Civil Rights Leaders.

Essence Allen, a junior communication studies major, said that she found the Civil Rights room the most interesting.

“I got to look at what we’ve been through; it’s amazing,” Allen said. “We are free.”

The Frozen Deli enacted the attacks many people endure when they enter a grocery store. There were signs reading “No du-rags or bling,” and “We don’t take Link,” which workers brought to the attention of specific guests.

There was a relay race for guests to act as mothers in a rush to get ready for work. They had to get dressed, dress their baby and cook a meal while the rest of their group were acting as children and husbands, yelling at them to hurry up and cook dinner, all while their baby was crying in their arms.

In another room, guests had to read a short paragraph as a dyslexic child would and answer comprehension questions about it. Meanwhile, the director of the demonstration clapped her hands, flickered the lights and tapped her feet.

Shelves in the room were covered with attractive and interesting items that children would be interested in learning about, distracting them from their work.

The challenge given to guests as they left was to focus on the word “retard” and how people use it.

After groups finished going through the tunnel, they were brought to the basement to speak with counselors about their experience, if necessary.

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