Simulated oppression scenarios create unique learning experience

Participants are invited to walk through different theater experiences designed to display oppression of a marginalized group.

The first ever Tunnel of Oppression experience aims to put MU students in the shoes of marginalized groups on campus.

The experience begins at 5:15 p.m. on March 5 in Leadership Auditorium, where registered participants will be split into groups and taken through various simulated instances of oppression.

"We had this idea before school started," Young Kwon, co-chair of Four Front Minorities Student Leaders Council, said. "We wanted to get as many groups as possible… to, you know, have a collaborative event where we can all raise awareness and actually empower people to speak up."

The event is sponsored by the Multicultural Center and Four Front. Organizations from around campus are participating as well, including the Association of Latin American Students, the Women's Center and the Legion of Black Collegians.

"It's simulated experiences of oppression amongst different identity groups," Multicultural Center Coordinator Stephanie Hernandez Rivera said.

There will be eight scenarios, each put on by a different organization, covering gender discrimination, sexual identity, race, ethnicity, micro-aggressive behavior, tokenizing, violence and inequalities in education.

"Basically, it's kind of a theater experience, so most participants will walk into a room, and there will be a simulative oppressive experience," Hernandez said. "So some rooms may be more interactive than others, some might be just participant observing."

"We are a historically black sorority, so our chapter is filled with African-American women, and we wanted to do a simulation that represented black women being oppressed," Darnesha Tabor said.

Tabor is the assistant student coordinator at the Multicultural Center and a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Epsilon Psi Chapter, an organization participating in the event.

In a particular scenario, there will be two scenes put on by about six actors. The actors will pause, and offensive or oppressive acts will be addressed.

"We have Diversity Peer Educators,” Kwon said. “They'll be like... our tour guides for the participants.”

After the groups go through their selected scenarios, they will have a debriefing session with their Diversity Peer Educator to discuss what took place and how it relates to current events.

"I'm excited for people to walk through and be exposed and (experience) that very real moment, as opposed to potentially either being a part of these scenarios or walking through them everyday and not really thinking much about it because you haven't been exposed,” Hernandez said.

The Multicultural Center is planning to make this an annual event and hopes it will become a signature spring event.

"I think this is a very innovative and needed event on campus because Mizzou is a predominately white campus, but there's a lot of different minority groups at Mizzou," Tabor said. "I feel like we aren't well represented on campus through programming and stuff like that. I think this event gives people a glimpse of what we go through in our everyday lives."

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