Tunnel vision

Bryan Wroten

Students witness various forms of oppression in walk-through exhibit

Danny McLaughlin, junior integrated social studies major, walks through the Tunnel of Oppression: Air Your Laundry yesterday. The event was sponsored by the graduate class for multicultural higher education. T-shirts with student opinions will be on displ

Credit: Jason Hall

Leave all stereotypes, prejudices and bigotry at the “gas chamber” curtains.

Holocaust statistics, famous people with disabilities and facts and fiction about sexuality were just a few of the displays in the Tunnel of Oppression, a walk-through exhibit held in the Student Center yesterday.

Eunsook Hyun, professor of teaching, leadership and curriculum studies, and her class constructed the Tunnel of Oppression to publicize issues of hate and confusion of different cultures.

The graduate students in her Multiculturalism in Higher Education class set up this exhibit in room 204 of the Student Center.

“It not only makes it more apparent, it makes people more comfortable dealing with them instead of stigmatizing them,” she said.

To enter the middle section of the tunnel, visitors would have to walk through curtains below a sign with the words “Gas Chamber” crossed out and covered by “Showers.” Inside were posters with pictures and information about lynchings, body image and ageism. Clear plastic stretched between a display of women suffragists and facts about wage differences between men and women symbolized the glass ceiling.

“It’s pretty powerful,” said Andrea Ritchey, intervention specialist graduate student. “It really opens your eyes to stereotypes in the world.”

Ritchey said the exhibit on disabilities saddened her because of the work she does with the disabled. She said her classes help her learn how to stop further misunderstanding.

“In a small way, we can prevent that by sticking up for someone,” she said. “Not going along with that (comments and jokes). I tell them I don’t want to hear it. It’s not funny.”

Westley Gaddis, junior physical education major, said the exhibit will make him think more about his future thoughts and actions.

“I may say things about people and now I’m thinking about what people say about me,” he said.

“I’m going to try to not be judgmental so much, always show love and try to break down stereotypes. Everybody’s different, you know?”

Following the walk through the tunnel, visitors could express their feelings or reactions on T-shirts and socks, which the graduate students would then hang by the windows in Student Center as part of the “Air Your Dirty Laundry” aspect of the event.

“Our fear is that it might be more than some can handle,” said Julie Jackson, liberal arts graduate student. “That’s why we’re doing this room. It’s a chance to debrief.”

She said all of the 172 visitors who came out had only positive things to say about the tunnel. The younger students were especially surprised by what they saw, she said.

Jurdene Ingram, freshman pre-med biology major, said the tunnel was interesting because it showed how racism and other -isms still exist.

Because of the tunnel, she said she’ll “have a more open outlook on life and different people.”

Contact religion and minority affairs reporter Bryan Wroten at [email protected].