Tunnel of Oppression to highlight injustices on campus

GVL / Zach Lucassian - Tunnel of Oppression events; Feb. 5, 2015.

Zach Lucassian

GVL / Zach Lucassian – Tunnel of Oppression events; Feb. 5, 2015.

Shae Slaughter

For nine years, the Tunnel of Oppression has been held on campus to help combat inequalities and injustices that the average person might not know currently exist in their community.

Students and staff from Grand Valley State University created this program to battle oppression on campus. This years’ Tunnel of Oppression will occur on Feb. 22 from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. in the Pere Marquette Room in the Kirkhof Center.

The Tunnel of Oppression is run by Housing and Residence Life and is specifically created by intercultural mentor resident assistants.

“I think this program and other programs on campus are integral to helping students engage and reflect on themselves and their experiences, and understand other’s experiences in order to grow as individuals who will positively shape the GVSU community and beyond,” said the Assistant Director of Housing and Residence Life, Beth Thimmesch-Harpold.

Throughout the course of the year, GVSU has had other resource centers involved to help the RAs with training and planning. The Women’s Center, the Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center and the Office of Multicultural Affairs all have a hand in helping with the event.

Every year, the focus of the exhibit changes, and this year the program is focusing on areas of oppression including racism, sexual assault, incarceration, dating violence, inequality, food justice and cultural appropriation.

These subjects will be addressed through six separate depictions with a 15-20 minute explanation at the end by GVSU’s Counseling Center.

Students will have the chance to examine topics that show their own privilege more clearly than they may have before. With this new knowledge, participants will also be able to better understand individuals or societies that are currently marginalized.

According to data from the Division of Inclusion and Equity, last fall semester GVSU had 36 reported incidents of bias on campus. 15 of these reports involved race, seven had to do with sexual orientation and four regarded religion, among other issues. It’s statistics like these that show oppression is still present on GVSU’s campus.

It’s in this vein that the Tunnel of Oppression started, Thimmesch-Harpold said.

Attending the event will allow students to hear stories of fellow peers that will create a more extensive understanding of what other classmates must face on a daily basis. This expansion of knowledge will create a partnership and a push for change.

The Tunnel of Oppression exhibit aims to create positive change by making students more reflective, active and educated. An ideal result is not only a more caring and conscientious student as a result of their involvement in this event.

For more information, contact Thimmesch-Harpold at [email protected]