Oppression is something that can take many forms and can be based on many characteristics such as race, sexual orientation, and sex and/or gender. A resource for students to learn about various forms of oppression took form as the “Tunnel of Oppression.”
Located in Ballroom C of the Overman Student Center, the Tunnel of Oppression was available for viewing from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday April 2 and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday April 3. The event was an exhibit set up as a tunnel where those who attended were able to navigate through the ‘tunnel’ and view tables and booths set up describing and depicting varying forms of oppression.
“It’s important to make sure that our students have the opportunity to walk in someone else’s shoes and experience oppression as much as possible to create an environment of growth,” said Harold Wallace III, assistant director of Student Diversity Programs.
The event was created as a way for student groups to create awareness about different forms of oppression and “to give voices to the voiceless”.
Eight student groups were able to take part in the event, including the Black Student Association (BSA), Students for Violence Prevention (SVP), the Native American Student Association, Young Americans for Liberty, Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), Hispanics of Today.
Wallace said he believes it was important for there to be a variety of groups who had booths.
“It’s very important to make sure that it’s a diverse group of oppression represented so that students can encounter as many different types as possible,” he said. “It helps build cultural competency when we are able to learn more about what different groups deal with on a daily basis.”
The student associations had two opportunities to attend informal meetings about how to be involved with the ‘Tunnel’ or could contact Wallace if they were interested.
Elijah Brown, junior in political science and international studies, is a member of FCCLA, which had a booth in the Tunnel. The booth included information about minimum wage and advocated raising the minimum wage.
“… We wanted to participate in it to reveal a side of oppression that isn’t often talked about, which is financial oppression that we’ve been seeing a lot lately,” Brown said. “Especially in terms of poverty… there are some built in things to the way policy works that makes it really hard for people to get out of things like poverty.”
The Pitt State chapter of the FFCLA is “very new,” according to Brown, and he said that participating in the Tunnel was a good way for the organization to promote themselves as well as their cause.
“(We) have always been pretty big advocates of minimum wage increases, so we thought… it fits in perfectly with what we’re trying to do and because it’s a fairly new organization, we wanted to set an example for people who may be interested in joining so we wanted to get our information about this out there and sort of help both our cause and this new organization,” Brown said.
In addition to the FFCLA’s focus on financial oppression, other topics that were covered were the Flint, Michigan water crisis, rape culture, information about wage gaps, a booth debunking myths about Native Americans and information regarding “truths” about their history, as well as other tables set up with information and resources about oppression. Additionally, there was a table set up with different suggestions for how to support the oppressed and how to help find a resolution to various forms of it called ‘The Area of Hope.”
KiArrah Moore, senior in communication, attended the event as a member of the BSA who had a table in the exhibit. Moore said going through the Tunnel gave her better insight into some types of oppression.
“I kind of had an idea on most of the topics but… I had some insight more when coming here about basically rape culture and how we support it without really knowing it, so it’s kind of opened me up about that topic,” Moore said.
Moore said the exhibit, which had a sign warning about mature and emotional content, was emotional but that she appreciated the “rawness of it”.
“It didn’t try to cover up anything or make it short and simple,” Moore said. “They kept it as open as possible and I liked the truth of it. I think they’re all very important (topics) and most of them I feel like are ones that we are blind to, so it’s very important to address those.”
Wallace said his hope for those who attended “will be able to see the world through a different light and use their platform (big or small) to help make the world a better place.”