‘Tunnel of Oppression’ pushes students to learn from prejudice

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Friday, November 20, 2009
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Downtown campus students attended the annual Tunnel of Oppression event Thursday afternoon — an occasion aimed at getting students to explore their own prejudices and learn from them.

Eichelle Armstong, organizer of the event, said her goal was to get the attendees to become motivated to help.

“It doesn’t really matter what something is, but our main goal is that they come out of this having a changed perspective and that will move them to action,” Armstrong said.

The tradition of the event has been to pick three topics of oppression to explore, Armstrong said. This year’s topics are Islamic phobia, sex trafficking and global hunger and homelessness.

The hour-long event was held at the Civic Space Park near the Downtown campus. Attendees in groups of five to 10 people silently made their way through the six rooms of oppression.

“We have some interactive portions, which also involve visual aids,” Armstrong said.

Exercise and wellness freshman Ken Ott, who attended the event, said he has been working with nonprofit organizations since he came to Phoenix, but wanted to increase his understanding of global issues.

“I’m hoping to gain a better understanding of … problems all over the world,” Ott said while waiting to enter the tunnel.

Interdisciplinary studies junior Jearlyn Tsosie’s teacher brought up the event in her class, which inspired her to check it out.

“It just sounded really interesting,” she said. Tsosie said she hoped to gain experience that would allow her to help those who have been oppressed.

After completing the walk through the Tunnel of Oppression, nursing freshman Elizabeth Peeples was inspired to lend a helping hand.

“They showed some videos and you are actually seeing [oppression] and hearing the sounds,” Peeples said. “That’s pretty impacting.

From this experience, Peeples said she realized that oppression is actually a widespread occurrence.

“I thought it was just in third-world countries — it’s actually in America [and] in countries that you wouldn’t think [about],” she said.

The reactions that many attendees had to the tunnel were what Armstrong and volunteers were hoping for, Armstrong said.

Volunteer and nursing junior Katie Jacober volunteered at the event Thursday and also once in the past.

“I hope that students gain a powerful insight into [the topics] and are able to look at the impact that they are having currently on the world,” she said.

Reach reporter at katelyn.bolnick@asu.edu