When she was just 12 years old, freshman Maddie Ruhel experienced first-hand oppression.
“Someone told me that I was going to hell because I’m Jewish. Even at school I was always the center of Jew jokes,” said Maddie. “Kids even called my brother, Joe, “Jew” for a nickname. I didn’t even bring my Star of David to campus just because I wasn’t sure how it would go, especially because the Charlottesville riots were happening.”
To combat situations like this, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and many student organizations worked together to put on the “Tunnel of Consciousness” the week of Oct. 9. The exhibit challenged student’s thinking as well as allowed them to reflect upon the topics at hand.
Topics like racism, LGBTQIA, ableism, religious oppression, social class, rape culture and xenophobia were explored to encourage students to expand their knowledge of the different identities relevant in today’s world.
“Our goal here is to make sure students understand that diversity and inclusion is a fabric that is woven into all aspects,” said Tiffany Reed, program coordinator for the Office of Diversity. “I’ve realized that the “Tunnel of Consciousness” brings awareness to some of the privileges I have that can be sometimes overlooked by other disadvantages.”
The “Tunnel of Consciousness” provides an opportunity for all students to gain a collective experience and foundation in diversity and inclusion. It’s important for students to become informed on the topics presented in the tunnel because many are not discussed in middle and high schools.
“It provides an opportunity for students to learn things that they may not know without feeling embarrassed or that they’re going to say the wrong thing,” Kristi Hipp, residential life coordinator, said. “Even as a staff member, there are still areas that I struggle with. When I experience the tunnel, I am still getting a positive experience that I believe can be beneficial to students as well.”