KUEC’s “Tunnel of Oppression” is eye-opening presentation of societal issues that need to be solved

The virtual "Tunnel of Oppression" event raises awareness about social oppression and encourages action on justice, equity, and inclusion issues.

Tunnel of Oppression

Students, faculty, and staff at the KU Edwards Campus (KUEC) recently had the opportunity to take a close look at critical issues facing society with respect to justice, equity, and inclusion. KUEC presented “Tunnel of Oppression,” an annual event which was held virtually this year during the first week in April.

“We offer the ‘Tunnel of Oppression’ so we can all learn more about social oppression in the U.S.,” said Anna Pope, assistant professor of Social Psychology, who helped create of the program. “This is our chance to build awareness, spur action, and generally encourage discussion.”

“Tunnel of Oppression” is a one-hour presentation that consists of 45 minutes of self-paced content, both videos and reading material, followed by a debriefing session. Topics covered include power, privilege and oppression, undocumented youth and adults, anti-transgender and LGBTQ legislation issues, indigenous sovereignty, and the Land Back Movement.

Some KUEC classes went through the program together, as did faculty groups and individuals who signed up on their own.

“Some people are shocked at what they didn’t know. This program provides additional knowledge and ignites a desire for action,” said Verónica Rodríguez-Méndez, program manager for transfer, diversity, equity, and inclusion, who also helped create the program. “It’s eye-opening for some participants when these situations are not part of their lived experiences.”

According to Rodríguez-Méndez, the debriefing sessions are important to help people process the information but also to discuss actions that can contribute to a solution.

Response to the program has been positive.

According to participant Jenny Parr, academic success coach, the videos and content were very good and provided a perspective that was timely and relevant. 

“The additional content and reflection questions were also very thought provoking and insightful. I want to watch and read through it again,” Parr said.

“The tunnel was very well done,” said Jennifer Mellenbruch, executive assistant. “The information about Native Americans being forcibly moved from areas with energy resources to areas without those resources was very interesting and something I had not thought about before.”

Pope is grateful KUEC continues to present this program every year. 

“Diversity, equity, and inclusion are central to my life as a faculty member.  I consider it key that we, as a place of higher education, are informed and active in social justice issues. These issues are the focus of my teaching and research.”

“Positive, sustained change is possible, but it requires commitment, and it takes all of us to engage in that change,” said Rodríguez-Méndez. “We want people to see themselves as agents of change. Everyone can contribute to making things better.”

The presentation is filled with up-to-the-minute data on the issues and additional resources for anyone wanting to educate themselves further. The link will stay live for a limited time and is accessible here

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