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Tunnel vision • F4 tornado

Summer 2005 • Volume 11, Issue 3

Tunnel vision

by Nancy Ridgeway

Men dressed as Ku Klux Klansmen yell racial slurs to people as they walk by. A group files into a room, then watches vapors rise as if they are in a gas chamber at a concentration camp during the Holocaust. Someone resembling the late Matthew Shepard, the young gay man who was tortured and tied to a fence post where he was left to die, calls out for help.

Tunnel of OppressionA disabled student is ordered out of an office when he tries to talk to an administrator about building a ramp so a main building on campus will be more handicap accessible. A male student strikes his girlfriend because she gets home later than he thought she should. A female student walks into her professor’s office to ask some questions regarding an assignment and is touched inappropriately. Students laugh at a foreign student because of her accent.

Students, faculty, and staff were jolted beyond simple awareness and confronted these situations, as well as terrorism, religious oppression, domestic violence, sexism, ageism, and more when they participated in Bradley’s Tunnel of Oppression. The Michel Student Center ballroom was transformed into a twisting tunnel with music, videos, and actors portraying various acts of oppression. The walls revealed statistics, photographs of people treated unjustly, derogatory words, and more, giving more than 1,200 participants an “in-your-face” experience of what
oppression feels like.

The event was coordinated by DuWayne Brooks, director of multicultural student services. The Tunnel of Oppression program was conceived at Western Illinois University in the 1990s and has been recreated since at colleges and universities worldwide. Brooks had coordinated a Tunnel of Oppression when he worked at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and began working on one at Bradley when he came to campus one and a half years ago. Brooks says, “We wanted to create an awareness of what oppression is like and the real awareness that it’s still going on.”


An image of Senator Barack Obama and students while visiting campus.

Freshman Gorav Raheja, right, pulls out his camera phone to snap a photo of himself with U.S. Senator Barack Obama. Also posing with Obama are senior Jim Judd and junior Heather Meek. Obama was on campus on March 30 for a media event announcing his plans to introduce a bill designed to increase Pell Grants for undergraduates.


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