About Critical Mass [dot] Writing [dot] Reviews [dot] Contact
« previous entry | return home | next entry »

November 4, 2005 [feather]
Arizona's tunnel of oppression

The University of Arizona will be running its eighth annual Tunnel of Oppression next week. Here's an excerpt from a memo that went out about it yesterday:

To: UA Community

From: elMundo Diversity Initiatives, the Residence Hall Association, & the University Activity Board's Eye on Diversity Committee


"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

Preparing this generation to become advocates for change, in a world wrought with injustice, is a difficult undertaking. However, the TUNNEL OF OPPRESSION attempts to break down a very controversial barrier that divides those who do not understand oppression and those who live it.

. . .
The TUNNEL OF OPPRESSION is a multimedia tour designed to challenge peoples' ideas and perceptions of issues dealing with oppression. The Tunnel experience consists of a series of rooms designed with interactive skits, multimedia videos, and role playing to sharpen awareness of acts of oppression.

We encourage faculty to suggest their students attend this nationally recognized educational program. If verification of attendence is necessary to satisfy a class requirement, we would be happy to work with you to keep attendence records or provide some other kind of document to aide in verifying the presence of those students who did participate in the tour.


Please take this opportunity to help further educate the generation of the future. Support them to live in a hostile-free environment that will facilitate growth by disassociating themselves from hate crimes, bias incidents and acts of oppression.

Involve the students of this campus in a program that is dedicated to advocating a change.

Arizona's eighth Tunnel of Oppression is sponsored by Residence Life's elMundo Diversity Initiatives, the Residence Hall Association, and the University Activity Board's Eye on Diversity Committee.

The Tunnel of Oppression is a national grassroots consciousness-raising movement designed to shock and awe unsuspecting undergraduates into a state of enlightened sensitivity regarding issues of racism, sexism, homophobia, and so on. In the past, Arizona's tunnel has featured a skit in which a young man beats his girlfriend for studying with another man, a passage in which visitors to the tunnel were were treated to anti-gay taunts ("God hates you, faggot. You queer, you'll burn in hell"), and a scene set in a Nazi gas chamber in which guards in military dress shoved tunnel visitors into a small, dark room dominated by a low hissing sound. "You have just been executed for your religious beliefs," read a sign on the wall of the room.

SUNY New Paltz ran a Tunnel of Oppression this week. It featured scenes of hazing, illegal abortions, and "animal oppression" (depicted in the photo of meat eaters here). Boise State also opened its Tunnel this week. It focusses on "racism, homophobia, and gender, disability and global issues." The director of Boise State's Tunnel expresses the aim of the project succinctly: "We want it to provoke emotion." Not thought, not awareness, not discussion, not further inquiry, not criticism, not action: emotion. After all, what's more important in our therapeutically-dependent, narcissistically-inclined culture than how we all feel?

posted on November 4, 2005 1:21 PM


What really scares me is that the memo implies some professors might actually require attendance at this "emotion" event.

Posted by: tess at November 4, 2005 1:47 PM

South Park made fun of the whole "tunnel of oppression" when the kids were forced to visit the museum of tolerance.

the kids were shocked when they went through the "hall of racial slurs"-except for Cartman who is a little racist a--hole. Cartman had a big smile.

the point--things like this work to shock, but don't offer any real discussion of racism or ways to confront real problems. kids know this. it's almost like a "Here's the mandatory diversity hour where we learn that racism is bad." Most students already know this--a simplified, essentialized view of racism damages any struggle against the real "race" problems that students might face.

Posted by: Jason at November 4, 2005 3:50 PM

"You have just been executed for your religious beliefs"...this isn't even accurate. Nazi oppression of Jews had no direct connection to religious belief: you could convert to Christianity, or Wotan, or whatever, and it wouldn't save you.

But, as Erin says, it's all about emotion, anyhow...

Posted by: David Foster at November 4, 2005 5:33 PM

I wonder what their reaction would be to being told that this 'Tunnel of Oppression' project itself was generating further hatred and outrage...after all, where in the world would you find anti-gay, anti-women, anti-diversity, anti-religious...er, anti-Christianity viewpoints but in places like Pakistan.

See the Gates of Vienna's post on Glamour Girl here:

and try to argue that the logical outcome of going through the Tunnel of Oppression is not a deep anger at the places in the world like Pakistan.

Posted by: Armitage at November 5, 2005 1:24 PM

At least they got the meat eating exhibit right. If you have to cook it above bloody rare, you might as well eat Oscar Meyer lunchmeat.

Posted by: Bill at November 5, 2005 6:21 PM

"Help, help! I'm being oppressed!"

Posted by: Winston Smith at November 5, 2005 8:18 PM

"Help, help! I'm being oppressed!"

Bloody peasant! ;-)

Posted by: Dave J at November 6, 2005 1:02 AM

Preparing this generation to become advocates for change, in a world wrought with injustice, is a difficult undertaking.


Maybe they meant "fraught."

Posted by: tim at November 7, 2005 8:52 AM

"Wrought with injustice" would imply the world was created by the devil, which would in turn apply advocacy of a dualist religion (Catharism, perhaps).

Sounds like establishment of religion to me...

(snark mode off)

Posted by: David Foster at November 7, 2005 9:57 AM

What a stupid emotional weep-fest. Why do universities spend student money on this garbage? And where do they get off promoting a certain political viewppoint at a STATE INSTITUTION! Are they going to show the horror of the over 40 million real abortions next to the back alley one? Are they going to show the terror that PETA and groups like ELF do to those who are not vegans? How about when students are forced by liberal administrators to attend these emotional outbursts and celebrate them? Shouldn't that be part of the tunnel too?

Posted by: Mark Chaszar at November 8, 2005 12:36 PM