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Tunnel of Oppression illuminates social ills, offers hope

  • January 18, 2013

Cal State East Bay will hold its first Tunnel of Oppression, a program that introduces participants to concepts of oppression, privilege and power, Feb. 19 through 21 on the Hayward campus.
“The Tunnel of Oppression is designed to create an awareness of various forms of oppression and its effects within society,” said Aisha Wahab, a student organizer of the event for the Diversity Center.

Participants will be guided through an experience that includes: role-playing scenarios, viewing video clips and activities that will educate participants about racism, heterosexism, domestic violence, body issues, ableism and other forms of oppression.

A form of oppression most commonly ignored is ableism, Wahab said. Ableism refers to the discrimination towards those who have handicaps. Wahab adds that often those with disabilities are not given the same opportunities as others, and the Tunnel of Oppression will open participants’ eyes to that.

“A lot of times people tend to focus on our differences, and we forget that we’re all human beings,” said Jonathan Stoll, program coordinator for Associate Student Inc., an event co-sponsor. “Students (also) can realize the opportunity to make a difference in the Tunnel of Hope.”

After experiencing the Tunnel of Oppression, participants will be led through the Tunnel of Hope, which gives them an opportunity to reflect, share their thoughts and consider getting involved with putting a stop to oppression on campus. Counselors and therapists will be available to be used as resources for those who need it.

Organizers encourage faculty and teaching assistants to incorporate the Tunnel of Oppression experience into their class assignments. Wahab offered suggestions such as providing students extra credit for participating in the experience, writing a personal reflection essay or journal assignment as a diversity awareness project or incorporating a discussion in the classroom regarding the experience.

Other California State University campuses have held Tunnel of Oppression events as an annual event, Wahab said. If the event is successful at Cal State East Bay, she added, ASI will plan many more in coming years.

The Tunnel of Oppression hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Feb. 19; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Feb. 20; and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Feb. 21 in the New University Union.

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