February 13, 2015

Tunnel of Oppression tours set Feb. 23-26

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Visitors will have the opportunity to experience the discrimination and oppression some people encounter on a daily basis during an annual event at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. 

The Tunnel of Oppression, an interactive experience, will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. Feb. 23-26, in the lower level of Grinnell Hall. 

The tour is free and open to the public. However, due to the intense nature of the experience, organizers suggest those who attend be at least 17 years old. Parents will be asked to sign waivers for those younger than college age. 

Tours last 45 to 60 minutes and begin every 30 minutes on the hour and the half-hour. The last tour starts at 8:30 p.m. 

Participants visit a series of connected rooms, each portraying some form of oppression, prejudice or discrimination. The themes are a secret to assure visitors experience the full impact. 

In previous years, experiences have focused on such issues as cultural biases, religion, sexual orientation discrimination, drug abuse, race, gender, body image, child abuse and various other types of discrimination or oppression. 

Organizers seek to create realistic, eye-opening experiences that illustrate what it’s like to be treated unfairly, to be laughed at or mocked, to be invisible. The goal is to increase understanding, get people talking and bring about positive change. 

Each tour concludes with a short debriefing with staff from SIU’s Center for Inclusive Excellence and the Counseling and Psychological Services along with The Women’s Center in Carbondale. 

Dozens of volunteers create the Tunnel of Oppression. Attendance is capped at 600 people nightly with a maximum of 20 people per tour. 

To reserve a spot, call 618/536-2054 or email aburns90@siu.edu or access the reservation form online at www.housing.siu.edu/tunnel. Indicate the number of people attending and the three preferred dates and times. Participants must arrive 10-15 minutes prior to their reservation to confirm and secure their spots. Walk-in visitors are permitted if space allows. 

Tunnel of Oppression sponsors include the Black Togetherness Organization and University Housing.