PLU’s 5th Annual Tunnel of Oppression described as “an eyeopener”

Pacific Lutheran University put on its 5th annual Tunnel of Oppression this Friday. The many scenes of oppression struck hard on many of the students who participated.

Tunnel of Oppression is a learning opportunity as well as an emotional program with an interactive focus on issues dealing with oppression.

The event happened from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.  Friday in CK, there was already a line a 9 a.m. where eager students were waiting to take part in this year’s production.

Megan Johnson, sophomore, was shocked by this. “This struck home to me as I come from a military family. I had no idea that the numbers were this low, but it was definitely an eyeopener.”

The CK had been divided up in different “rooms” with the held of curtains isolating each of the rooms where different scenes were taking place. Each scene represented an oppression issue in today’s society, and it ranged from prostitution to immigration, and from PY (Parkland Youth) to cultural taboos.

The first scene the students who participated in this year’s production met was a setup of military sexual assaults. It was claimed that in 2011, only 1.5 percent of reports of military sexual assaults resulted in an administrative discharge. These are some startling reports that need to be dealt with.

As the student groups of approximately 10 students went through the different scenes guided by a docent, different sound effects and posters set the dismal mood for each of the scenes.

Another scene the student groups met dealt with coal transportation in the Pacific Northwest and the implications this potentially can have on the environment.
It was said that although many of the “big men” behind the coal industry claim that the coal transportation between Washington and Oregon will strengthen the economy in these states, huge implications to not only the environment but also the people living in these areas could be damaging.

Coal dust has a similar effect to smoking and in rail transportation and each individual coal car loses approximately between 500 to 2,000 pounds of coal dust.
There are around 100 to 150 cars per train and up to 18 trains per day, meaning that at least 1,125,000 pounds of coal dust is lost en route every single day.
The environmental implications caused by this as well as the health hazard to the people living in these areas are therefore very much of concern.

Not only is there the coal dust but also the acid mine drainage which can reach 117 Fahrenheit. The pH level can be as low as -3.6. Again, huge implications to the environment.

Another scene represented indigenous people and the oppression many face due to their culture within the country they live in.

In the 2000 census, Native Americans living on reservations had incomes less than half of the general US population. The unemployment rate was an average of 65 percent, and in Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, it is as high as 80 percent. Pine Ridge also has the highest teen suicide rate in the country and the life expectancy on that specific reservation is 50 years.

The scene also depicted that 1 in 4 Native American peoples live in poverty, well below the poverty line compared to people living off reservations.

In 2007, 143 countries adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is a declaration to better the treatment of indigenous peoples and put effort towards eliminating human rights violations against them.

The Unites States – one of the wealthiest countries in the world – was not one of the countries to adopt this declaration.

Many of the students who read the poster were surprised, some even dumbfounded as they could not believe that the US did not want to take part in this highly needed declaration.

There were not only posters and testimonials that the students could take part of, but also games. Wheel of Misfortune, led by junior Karrine Williams, showed that many people are being oppressed in our society where they cannot afford basic human rights such as healthcare and health insurance.

“As part of the Progress Club here at PLU, we want to raise awareness on campus. Being a part of Tunnel of Oppression this year is a big opportunity to show how poorly off healthcare and health insurance are.”

Another scene represented prostitution, more precisely child prostitution – in Seattle. It read on one of the many posters hung up in the space that Seattle has the 3rd most child prostitutes in the nation.

Many students, again, could not believe that Seattle, a city with barely 600,000 inhabitants, could be in the top three from child prostitutes.

Brian Wade, sophomore, was surprised. “How can Seattle have so many child prostitutes when the city doesn’t even have that many people? What about Miami, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles – all those really big cities? What about them? How can Seattle possibly be in the top three?”
It was a question many were asking themselves.

Seattle/Tacoma ILTF (International Loving Touch Foundation), which is a partnership between the FBI, the King County Sheriff’s Office among others, helped recover one-third of all of the victims recovered nationally in 2010.

One of the last scenes in this year’s production of Tunnel of Oppression dealt with the issue of Gender Neutral Housing (GNH), a topic that has proven to be controversial on the PLU campus.

The students seemed to very much enjoy the GNH scene and the students involved in the actual scene had nothing but positive things to say.

Kyle Monahan, junior and Senator at ASPLU (Associated Students of Pacific Lutheran University), was taking part in a scene where he depicted a guy who was not comfortable with his homosexual male roommate. Monahan meant that involvement in these issues are crucial. “Involvement in this year’s Tunnel of Oppression was really important due to the Gender Neutral Housing process with ASPLU and RHA [Residence Hall Association]. I believe that it closed the understanding gap between organizations and the student body.”

At the end of Tunnel of Oppression, every student group were encouraged to write down a few words about their experience of going through the “tunnel.”

The students were later taken to a group room for a debrief session to talk about what they had just experienced. Many felt the need to let out anger as they explained the unfairness in it all, and how some people are better off than others and are more “privileged” than others simply because they grew up in different places.
Some students reflected quietly over what they had just seen and heard, while others took to tears.

Throughout the day from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., the lines to enter CK to experience the Tunnel of Oppression were massive and collided with the dinner line to the UC.
People do care about the oppression is going on in the world.
After experiencing Tunnel of Oppression, there is not a sense of disparity, but rather hope.
Because people do care.

Categories: Arts and Entertainment, Community, Other, Recreation, Student Life

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