Tunnel offers glimpse of oppression

Matt Weir / The Collegian

Walking through the Tunnel of Oppression is meant to be a journey in someone else’s shoes that ends after an eye-opening experience.

Aimed at giving students a deeper perspective on how oppression is ever-present and affects many people that are hidden in plain view, the tunnel is a diorama of some afflictions in society.

Devin Puente, the resident advisor and head of University Courtyard’s diversity committee, organized the event, now in its second year at Fresno State. Puente said he hopes the tunnel helps students realize how oppression damages society.

“It might make you upset and might make you want to cry,” Puente said. “We just want to impact people with the realness of the groups that are being oppressed. It puts those things right in your face so you can’t avoid them.”

Puente said the event has been able to open up the eyes of students who attended Tuesday, as well as last year.

“Last year we got a lot of feedback from people and how it impacted them, people didn’t realize how they oppress others,” Puente said.

Approximately 120 people attended Tuesday, exposing themselves to the challenges and ridicule that face the mentally and physically challenged, those with eating disorders, the homeless, sexual assault victims, transgender and many others.

The tunnel also offers statistics and information about these groups that help the participants realize the vastness of these problems.

Professor and organizer Mary Husain said events like the tunnel are vital in lowering the negative effects of discrimination.

“Winning support for diverse groups is an ongoing work in progress,” Husain said. “Anything we can do to help is for the better. There’s so many steps still to be made.”

Africana and American Indian studies professor Meta Schettler said she an event, like the Tunnel of Oppression, even though she realizes there can be a challenge in organizing such an occasion.

“The only challenge is inclusion,” Schettler said. “It would be really hard to include all the angles, and have as many groups represented, and have everybody included because diversity is so complex.”

Shettler said that inequality can be the greatest proponent of oppression.

“Sometimes it is hard to see that inequality,” Schettler said. “It’s a much harder goal to achieve equality. To eliminate [inequality] completely is not realistic, but the goal of activities like this is to raise awareness. We have to do small things to make a difference.”

Jeremy Eggman a freshman dorm resident walked the tunnel and said he was enlightened by the information it presented.

“It was awesome,” Eggman said. “It really opens your eyes to the statistics that you really wouldn’t be aware of. It makes you think about how you treat others. It met all my expectations.”

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