The Tunnel of Oppression attempts to dissolve the barriers that divide those who do not understand oppression and those who live it daily. This multimedia tour creates an awareness of different types of oppression, and its effects, within society and the campus community. Participants are walked through a variety of experiences to expose them to different kinds of oppression including racism, homophobia, sexism, ablism, classism, and anti‑semitism. The program also incorporates issues of body image, domestic violence, and hate speech. The Tunnel is designed to challenge the senses and feelings of participants in a safe environment while also providing an opportunity to confront these issues directly and develop personal and societal strategies to address the oppressions that plague our society.
The Tunnel of Oppression is a campus diversity initiative originally developed at Western Illinois University. The initiative stemmed from a homogeneous campus environment searching for a way to represent the realities of oppression into a full sensory experiential manner. The creators of the Tunnel of Oppression wanted to give participants the opportunity to see, touch, hear, and feel the realities of oppression as a stepping stone towards creating diversity awareness. The first Tunnel of Oppression was loosely based off of the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, CA.
The Tunnel of Oppression is intended to be eye-opening and consciousness rising and is built as a brief introductory experience for those students who have rarely experienced difference. The rationale is that students are often unable to fully understand oppression and discrimination until they have experienced it first-hand.
The experience should stimulate thoughts, feelings, and emotions around the issues and images presented. Therefore, the Tunnel is often shocking and disturbing to those who have never experienced blatant forms of discrimination or oppression. A number of feelings can be evoked as a result of the full-sensory experience and may also be upsetting to those who have witnessed the realities of the images presented. Yet, it is important to realize that the scenes depicted in the Tunnel represent reality for those living it as a daily experience.
The following are links to the programming sites of other schools which have incorporated the Tunnel of Oppression as a part of its multicultural programming initiatives:
The Museum of Tolerance
For more information contact the Diversity Round Table president, Jenna Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at (405) 974-3588.