Though CU is sometimes reputed to be a place of privilege and wealth, the walls beyond UMC room 247 have been telling a different story this week.
The Tunnel of Oppression is an annual program offered by the Hallett Diversity Program. It aims to combat forms of oppression through the use of shocking images and compelling facts, said Astrid Diego, a 20-year-old junior international affairs and political science major who help coordinated this year’s event.
Visitors are guided through a tunnel of hanging images fastened onto a long black sheet with safety pins. Though the installation only covers half of the room, it takes nearly 15 minutes to view the installation in its entirety.
The tunnel addresses issues like racism and sexism and caters to many different individuals including striking photographs and cartoons that mocks the oppressed groups.
Diego said she believes the approach to the Tunnel of Oppression this year was different than past years.
“This year was just a little different because we tried to put a little positive spin on it, even though this has been going on for years,” Diego said.
Diego said she thinks that students at CU need to hear about this program to maintain a heightened awareness of issues of oppression.
“I think when we talk about oppression, we talk about saying what’s most politically correct to say and we feel like a display case would promote that it’s more than just trying to be politically correct,” Diego said. “There are more things behind it.”
Some students and CU faculty members said the tunnel is not only a visual display, but an emotional experience that all CU students should experience firsthand.
Susan Beckett, the energy program manager of the Environmental Center at CU, said she was sobered by the emotionally-provoking installation.
“We see all of that stuff all our lives, it’s just shocking to see it all at once,” Beckett said.
Beckett also said CU students must see oppression in this light, because it often gets ignored and there is not a lot of awareness of the issues at the campus level.
On a personal level, Beckett said she related to the sexism component of the installation.
“The body image and sexism sections really spoke to me,” Beckett said. “As females, we hear those things every single time we turn on the TV or open a magazine.”
Margot Ripley, a 20-year-old junior international affairs major and diversity mentor for the event, said she recommends that all students find time to see the event because the subjects addressed need to be heard.
“It’s important for the students to know because it allows you to stand up rather than just being a bystander,” Ripley said.
Blair Iaffaldano, a 22-year-old senior communication major said she felt that the experience was both sad and empowering.
“Seeing the various forms of oppression that people have gone through makes me realize that being active on the CU campus and raising awareness for LGBT rights on campus can only help people in difficult situations,” Iaffaldano said.
Iaffaldano said as a transfer student to CU, she feels she has faced more discrimination here than at her previous school.
“I identify as a lesbian, and I am from Marietta, Georgia,” she said. “However I have run into more discrimination at CU than I ever did in Marietta.”
Roger Wolsey, director and pastor of the Wesley Fellowship Campus Ministry at CU, said he was able to identify with the section of the display that focused on religious oppression.
“Doing campus ministry in Boulder, I sometimes encounter people discriminating against me for being a Christian pastor for fear that I might be one of those sorts of Christians,’” Wolsey said.
Lianne Haug, an 18-year-old freshman computer science major, said she felt humbled by the exhibit and recalled an experience where she came face-to-face with oppression.
“I, myself, identify as lesbian and have been discriminated against many times,” Haug said. “I’ve had people yell things out of cars at me for holding my girlfriend’s hand on Broadway and have lost friends when I came out to them.”
The Tunnel of Oppression is located in UMC room 247 and will be running through March 2.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Audrey Hoffman-Lekmine at Audrey.firstname.lastname@example.org.