Talking Tough Topics

(Photo by Duane Zehr)

Matt Hawkins
November 27, 2017

Bradley students, staff and community members heard modern stories of oppression and harassment during the Tunnel of Oppression. The three-day event featured creative displays, multimedia and personal accounts of injustice.

The event introduced visitors to difficulties faced by transgender people, racial profiling by law enforcement and concerns of Latin immigrants and citizens. Guests also explored body image perceptions, financial stress of student loan debt, sexual assault and other topics.

“It’s an in-your-face experience that talks about social problems we don’t want to talk about,” said participant Marissa Bacon ’18, a sociology major from Chicago. “It forces us to talk about the elephants in the room because it’s important to understand what people are going through.”

Though topics like police brutality, gender discrimination often make headlines, this year’s organizers sought to address debt, body image and mental illness — issues bubbling on college campuses. Brief moderated discussions enabled visitors to process thoughts after the experience.

Many issues featured issues of personal significance to presenters, who appreciated the chance to share experiences and listen to others in a safe setting.

“It matters that our stories our told from our perspectives — not others telling our stories,” Bacon said. “The tunnel helps build community by allowing us to hear each other and build bridges.”

Organizers hoped the event would catalyze discussions about sensitive topics on campus.

“I want to hear conversations on campus that challenge people outside their comfort zones,” said Everley Davis ’18, a Spanish, sociology and religious studies triple major from Peoria. “We told stories people could relate to so we could spark conversations that don’t normally happen in big groups.”

Bradley’s Office of Diversity of Inclusion, in collaboration with student organizations, student affairs and academic affairs, has presented the Tunnel of Oppression every other year since 2005. Thousands of students have participated since its inception.