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May 7, 2015
LA GRANDE, Ore. (EOU) – Eastern Oregon University students and community members are invited to participate in the “Tunnel of Oppression” Friday and Saturday, May 15-16.
This interactive program includes a tour through a series of rooms focusing on different oppressive actions and reactions toward marginalized populations. Groups of eight to 10 people at a time will experience the oppression represented in each room. The themes this year are racism, homophobia, poverty, Native American and body image.
In some of the rooms participants will play the part of those who are oppressed, and in others they will be the oppressors in order to experience both sides of the situation.
A contrasting “Tunnel of Hope” and “Room of Hope” waits at the conclusion offering inspirational quotes and phrases to help participants decompress, followed by a facilitated discussion with counselors about the experience.
The program is being brought to campus by alumnus Eric Martin and is inspired by the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles and similar activities at other universities throughout the U.S.
Martin first spearheaded the activity as part of his senior project last year with the intent of providing opportunities for members of the EOU and La Grande community to become more educated and aware of numerous social oppressions around the world. It is also meant to help people examine their own biases, and inspire them to take action and stand up for equity and social justice.
“The ‘Tunnel of Oppression’ is an eye-opening and unique experience that you don’t want to miss,” said Nanda Van Houten, who works in the Multicultural Center at EOU and is creating content for the room focused on body image.
“The idea for the body image room came about because this issue affects so many,” Van Houten said. “During the CEAD conference this year, there were people interested in a workshop offered on body image, but the room was at maximum capacity, so many were unable to participate. Because of that I thought it was a good idea to have a room designated to this topic as part of the Tunnel.”
The body image room includes actors who will interact with participants, in addition to images and statistics regarding eating disorders in the U.S.
The racism room will showcase examples of how individual, group and institutional racism and microaggressions have perpetuated stereotypes and beliefs that a person or group is less than human because of skin color or ethnicity, and the impact this has on the well-being of people of color.
The homophobia room will depict a world where being gay is the norm and being straight is seen as a sinful act. The poverty room focuses on how the poor are routinely targets of discrimination and frequently viewed with contempt for circumstances beyond their personal control.
In the Native American room, participants encounter a display of negative Indian stereotypes – particularly those perpetuated by sports mascots – which affect the reputation and self-image of Native people and foster ongoing discrimination against tribal citizens, as well as a misleading image of Indian people.
Participants must be 18 or older due to mature content. Space is limited, and registration is free and available online at www.eou.edu/mc/programs-services/tunnel-of-oppression.
Contact the Multicultural Center for more information at 541-962-3741.
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