February 16, 2011

Fifth annual Tunnel of Oppression is next week

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- An upcoming program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale gives students, faculty, staff and the public the opportunity to experience bias and discrimination for themselves. The Tunnel of Oppression is an intense, interactive experience, bringing to life those powerful forces.

The fifth annual Tunnel of Oppression is open 5-9 p.m. Feb. 21-24 in the lower level of Grinnell Hall, 275 E. Park St. on the SIUC campus. Tours will take visitors through a series of rooms, each with unique focuses, each evoking its own emotions.

Throughout the half-hour tour, you’ll explore a variety of themes including race, gender, body image, homophobia, class, physical ability and much more. Volunteers from registered student organizations and community groups will create the multi-themed tunnel rooms. As you walk along, you will personally encounter stark images and examples of oppression and hatred. You will find yourself drawn in bodily and through a barrage on your senses.

“By experiencing this, even for just a few minutes, people will understand the various types of prejudice and oppression and the powerful impact they have. They will see what it is like to be treated unfairly, to be mocked or laughed at. Our goal is to bring about understanding and to create dialogue in the hopes it will bring about positive change in all of us,” said Alfred Jackson, education and outreach coordinator for University Housing. University Housing and the Black Togetherness Organization are the Tunnel of Oppression sponsors.

There is no cost to participate. But, due to the intense nature of the program, the Tunnel is open only to those who are age 17 or older. As the eye-opening tour concludes, participants will have the opportunity to participate in a debriefing by staff from the SIUC Wellness Center and Counseling Center.

Tours will begin every half hour with the final tour each evening starting at 8:30. There is a limit of 20 people for each tour and reservations for this thought-provoking event usually go quickly. To reserve a spot, e-mail your top three choices of dates and times to jmarie@siu.edu or call 618/536-2054.