Recognizing oppression

 

Interactive display brings awareness to diversity, oppression on campus

 

By Kayla Edgar

 

Students on campus will have a chance to experience what it is like for their peers have faced oppression their entire lives when Boxes and Walls returns to campus from Oct. 14 to 17.

The free event is hosted by Residence Life and is open from 6 to 10 p.m. every day in Esker.

“Boxes and Walls can best be described as an interactive oppression experience,” said Terry Tumbarello, assistant director of Residence Life. “It’s kind of like a haunted house in which you travel in a

Terry Tumbarello
Terry Tumbarello

group from room to room, but instead of ghosts and goblins jumping out at you, you experience different areas of oppression that are all social justice related.”

There will be six different rooms where students can experience firsthand what many on campus experience on a regular basis.

“We believe that sometimes it’s hard to relate until you’ve experienced it yourself,” Tumbarello said.

The six rooms feature African Americans, Latinos, low-income, gender, ability, and gay, lesbian and bisexuals.

The program originally began in the summer of 1998 as a way to get resident advisers the type of diversity training needed. After persistent begging from the staff, the program was opened to residents in the spring of 1999.

Until February 2011, the program was offered every other year due to lack of staff.

Tumbarello said his goal has been to move the program to October and do it every year.

“I thought the information that the people learned and experienced was more valuable doing it earlier in the academic year. So for the last several years, we’ve worked to make some changes to how we staff the program and this will be our first effort to try to do it in October. We’ll see how it goes. I’m very hopeful.”

On an off year, the program will put around 600 people through, and that is normally due to bad weather.  On a good year they will put closer to 1,200 people through.

“Every year there are at least a few people I see that choose to go through it a second time because they had such a positive experience,” Tumbarello said.

The goal is to accommodate as many people as possible, and for them to walk away with an understanding and realization of what many of the students go through today on campus.

“Hopefully they will transition from that realization to ‘What can I do to affect change? How can I make a difference?’” Tumbarello said.

Amanda Krier-Jenkins
Amanda Krier-Jenkins

This year there is a new room called the mosaic of human experience.

“Basically it’s a room that people will be able to wait in,” said Amanda Krier-Jenkins, co-organizer of the room. “From the minute you get in line, until the minute you leave you are a very active participant. We don’t masquerade anything; we put it all out there about how life really is for most of our students.”

Krier-Jenkins said this is a really unique program that students should give a shot.

“If students are on the ledge of ‘do I go or do I not,’ I would really encourage them to go,” Krier-Jenkins said. “It’s opened a lot of eyes and it’s something that people talk about afterwards.”

 

Photos by Courtney Roe, [email protected]

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