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This past week Missouri Western hosted The Tunnel of Oppression, encapsulating the trials and hardships from racism to the mistreated disabled.
The Tunnel of Oppression, virtually a tunnel constructed in Blum, began with the first category one would think of when oppression is the topic: Racism. Upon entering, every derogatory word for any minority group you could think of was painted on the tunnel walls. Eventually, the group is separated and told to stand facing the wall. A couple convincing actors then walk behind you screaming and insulting you as a simulation of what it is like for Mexicans going to and from the United States.
Although racism is still a great downfall in our society it can often overshadow other groups going through equally grueling struggles, such as people in unhealthy and violent relationships, homosexuals, and those with eating disorders.
Throughout the tunnel shocking statistics for each oppressed group were painted on the walls, like the vast number of American teenage girls in the sex slave industry and that within 48 hours of being homeless many are sucked into that hopeless underworld.
Isaiah Collier, Assistant Dean of Student Development, had done this event at another institution and felt that it could have an eye opening and positive impact here at Missouri Western.
“I think students who went through the Tunnel were made aware of some of the different oppressions that occur that they wouldn’t necessarily see on a regular basis.” Said Collier, “For some students who went through, parts of the Tunnel might have mirrored some aspect of their life or someone they might know.”
Literally dozens, if not hundreds, of statistics were gathered for this event and multiple actors were used to recreate the scenes that are going on behind closed doors all around us.
“We actually sent out a general email to get the actors and my staff started gathering statistics for the area we wanted to focus on. They are truly an awesome bunch of students.” Said Collier.
Collier also noted that he doesn’t feel that there is necessarily an exceptional amount of oppression at Missouri Western, but that of course is subject to the individual. Over 400 individuals went through the tunnel, all with a different reaction to the insight of life’s great struggles they experienced.
Dr. Judith Grimes, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, said “It’s a really great thing for students and teachers both to go through.”
The Tunnel of Oppression is a national program and can be seen at other universities and perhaps back at Western in the future.

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