The time is now

Students listen to a guided tour as they walk through the Tunnel of Oppression to learn more about the exhibits on display.
By Genesis Cosme

Students listen to a guided tour as they walk through the Tunnel of Oppression to learn more about the exhibits on display.

The time is now

By Genesis Cosme
Tunnel of Oppression tells stories that transform the University of Miami experience, shedding light on social issues that impact people around the world today.

From learning how new legislation can impact members of our society to understanding your role in our shrinking world, Tunnel of Oppression reminds the University of Miami community of the big picture: the time is now.

For the past 12 years, Tunnel of Oppression has encouraged honest conversation surrounding social issues on the University’s campuses and beyond. The 45-minute experience is designed to guide participants through a museum-style, multimedia exhibit that exposes various forms of oppression faced by many around the world today.

With each “room” designed by a student organization, this year’s Tunnel of Oppression covers relevant topics including education, racism, human trafficking, immigration, religion, the environment, and women’s and LGBTQIA+ rights. By highlighting these topics in visually striking and immersive ways, participants can have the opportunity to deeply connect with, understand, and advocate for their peers and others across the globe.

Dynesha Peterson first participated in Tunnel of Oppression as an auxiliary board member during her first year on campus. She helped guide participants through the session. Her experience with the program, however, made Tunnel of Oppression become more than just another volunteer opportunity for her.

“All the work is put in by students, and people leave the tunnel actually wanting to do more,” Peterson said. “I keep coming back each year because I feel like this event is making a difference and educating many people on the issues right in front of them. Tunnel is breaking the silence and generating conversations.”

Now a junior and Tunnel of Oppression 2020 chair, Peterson feels her biggest takeaway is coming to understand the power of inclusion and listening.

“Every person on this Earth has a story,” she adds. “Tunnel helps tell the stories of people who can’t tell their story themselves.”

Like the impression Tunnel of Oppression made on Peterson in her first year, three first-year students reflect on their first time participating in the program and on how they plan to carry what they’ve learned into their college experiences and beyond.

Brandon Sanchez, aerospace engineering

Brandon SanchezTunnel of Oppression gave Brandon Sanchez a new perspective on issues he didn’t know much about. The ableism room was the most memorable, he said, and presented ways that people can become more inclusive toward people with disabilities.

“Tunnel of Oppression is a culmination of a lot of experiences that we all go through, which I thought was more individual,” Sanchez said. “It makes you want to be more patient and accepting of everyone, because you never know what people have gone through and how it has affected them.”

Madison Capote, neuroscience major

Madison Capote“There was such a wide variety of rooms that could apply to every single person,” Madison Capote said. Her biggest takeaway: you don’t have to experience something firsthand to be able to empathize with others.

“People say things like ‘the world is too sensitive,’ but I think everything is just changing,” she adds. “It’s eye-opening to see how other people are affected by the issues in those rooms.”

Lainee Winter, health science major

Lainee WinterFor Lainee Winter, Tunnel of Oppression was a wake-up call. The statistic that most resonated with her was that by the time she had completed the tunnel, at least five more people in the United States would have become victims of sexual assault.

“We know these issues exist, but we forget about it,” she says. “This is a good way to refocus on what’s important. We live in a very diverse place in Miami, especially at the University, where we have people of all different backgrounds. Programs like these help us to become more respectful and accountable for our actions.”

Tunnel of Oppression takes place Jan. 27–29, from 4 to 9 p.m. in the Shalala Student Center ballrooms, headlining a full list of Social Justice Week events hosted in part by the Butler Center for Service and Leadership.

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