On Tuesday, Apr. 20 through Wednesday, Apr. 21, several student organizations across campus came together to present an interactive exhibit entitled “Tunnel of Oppression” in Ballroom A of the Overman Student Center. The exhibit consisted of several smaller displays sharing information on the different forms of oppression in the world.
Julia Turner, a junior nursing major and member of Students for Violence Prevention, shared some of the inspirations behind the event.
“(This event) is supposed to act as an insight into what goes on in the world of oppression,” Turner said. “We have a lot of different subjects (in the exhibit). There’s a part on what happened to Native Americans, and our (SVP’s) little part in there is about rape culture and how that is perpetuated really heavily in America right now, what it is and what we can do about it, stuff like that. The tunnel features a lot of different groups collaborating together.”
Wren Lowrey, a junior biology major and the current president of PRISM commented on the tradition of the event and the impact it is meant to have on viewers.
“This is something that we do just about every year,” Lowrey said. “We tend to do it during April since it is Sexual Assault Awareness month. Obviously, there is more that goes into sexual assault, sexual violence, abuse and manipulation than just what first comes to mind. There’s layers to it, there’s ableism, sexism, racism, poverty. All of those things factor into oppression and I think that’s why all of these organizations get together and do this every year.”
The tunnel itself was set in an area with very low light meant to mimic the pressure oppressed people might feel in a tangible way. As participants walked through the winding corridors of the tunnel, they were able to read about various oppressed groups and ways to combat the different forms of oppression. Organizations like the Black Student Association, Hispanics of Today, Native American Student Association, PRISM and SVP helped sponsor and create the displays.
One of the presentations featured information on the gender wage gap and a printed version of Robin Bleiweis’, “Quick Facts about the Gender Wage Gap” published by the Center for American Progress.
Turner particularly liked the information on oppressed Native American populations presented through historical accounts and images at the start of the tunnel.
“(I liked) that very first bit where they’re going through the plight of Native Americans when the colonizers came, the forced assimilation, the boarding schools for the kids and how a lot of kids died during that time because the abuse and neglect were so high,” Turner said. “I never knew that was a thing and thought that was really new and interesting information for me.”
Lowrey felt particularly moved by the survivor accounts presented near the end of the tunnel.
“The thing that really got to me the most was towards the end when I was reading survivor accounts of people who experienced assault or abuse. A lot of them said ‘well, for X, Y, or Z reason this was my fault,’ and that was shocking to read because I feel it’s nobody’s fault except for the abuser.
Other events in response to Sexual Assault Awareness month include SVP’s “Take Back the Night” on Apr. 29, which features a candlelight vigil for victims of sexual assault, and the “Start by Believing” pledge drive which spans from Apr. 7 to Apr. 30.