VCU held its first Tunnel of Oppression event in the spring of 2017. The event is scheduled to take place for the second time in March of 2018, and is intended to be bigger and better than the event in the past. Listed below are five most important things that you need to know about the Tunnel of Oppression event at VCU.
The Tunnel of Oppression is an event hosted by VCU, led particularly by student initiative, that acts as an active simulation for participants to experience a fraction of the struggles faced by those with marginalized identities. Such identities include those with mental health issues, LGBTQIA+ community members, undocumented students, people of color. The Tunnel of Oppression also addresses the way the media portrays marginalized identities and how that affects people’s perspectives. At the end of the Tunnel of Oppression, there is a Tunnel of Hope; this area encourages students and faculty members who have passed through the tunnel to discuss their experiences and opinions, as well as converse in a safe space about the oppression they face in their everyday lives.
The Tunnel of Oppression is sponsored primarily by the VCU Office of Multicultural Affairs, but is also sponsored by other on-campus organizations and departments and involves many student volunteers. Last year, students volunteered to record audio clips to enhance the experience, but this year the planners of the event are hoping to include student actors to act out situations of discrimination or oppression. The event is open for all VCU students and faculty members to attend.
The Tunnel of Oppression is held throughout the entire second floor of the University Student Commons, which is a fairly central location on the Monroe Park Campus. It is also located just upstairs of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (the primary sponsor of the event). The Tunnel of Oppression is not a literal tunnel, but actually takes place in the several different rooms- all of which feature a different marginalized identity.
The first Tunnel of Oppression event at VCU occurred in the first week of April in 2017. This year, the event will take place around the same time, but only slightly earlier. The Tunnel of Oppression is scheduled to be on display from March 26th-28th, which is about two weeks after students return from Spring Break. These days fall on a Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, so it is important for you to plan ahead if you want to attend, especially if you’d like to go with a group of friends or peers.
The ultimate mission of the Tunnel of Oppression is to educate VCU community members of the issues and trials that marginalized identities face on a day-to-day basis within the bounds of VCU and the city of Richmond. Sponsors of the event find it important that participants are exposed to a variety of diverse perspectives to help them make more informed, respectful decisions. Students who have participated in the Tunnel of Oppression event have described it as a very emotional but worthwhile experience, from which they learned a lot about the struggles faced by the marginalized identities within their communities.
The Tunnel of Oppression is a fairly new event on a large scale, but is an especially new event to the VCU campus. However, it is a particularly valuable event to experience for all who attend due to its powerful, emotional, and informative message. If you have a keen interest in gaining a better understanding of people who are different from you, mark your calendars for the 2018 Tunnel of Oppression event at VCU.