Thursday, February 10, 2011

UIS students create Tunnel of Oppression as part of Black History Month

A group of resident assistants at the University of Illinois Springfield spotlighted issues of privilege and power through an interactive exhibit known as the Tunnel of Oppression on February 9-10, 2011.

The Black History Month display welcomed more than 100 people during its two day run. While students have designed similar displays in the past, this is the first time they had taken on an exhibition of this magnitude. The goal was to leave a lasting memory with those who visited the display.

“We want students to look outside themselves to understand there’s so much more in this world that goes on that is beyond anything probably they ever imagined,” said Kalia Patricio, organizer and a west campus resident director.

Participants were guided through a series of scenes that aimed to educate and challenge them to think more deeply about issues of oppression. At the end of the tour, participants were provided with the opportunity to discuss their experiences with each other. Facilitators helped participants reflect on their experiences and put their newfound knowledge to use in their everyday lives.

“I think I was just kind of overwhelmed by just how successful it was. I saw a lot of the pieces, but when the pieces came together I was actually very proud of what my staff has done,” said Jessica Enock, a UIS senior who helped design the display.

Students started planning the Tunnel of Oppression in August and conducted research, designed posters and made arrangements for the space necessary for the display.

“It’s been a lot of research, a lot of craft projects and a lot of work,” said Enock.

Organizers hope to host similar Tunnel of Oppression events during future Black History Month celebrations on campus.