Tunnel of Oppression
Mount Saint Mary College Tunnel of Oppression, April 12, 2013 (photo by Paul Habernig)

by Malika Rao

On an average Friday afternoon, the corridors of Hudson Hall were covered up in hateful words and populated by students getting victimized. The 2013 Tunnel of Oppression had arrived at Mount Saint Mary College, and students who went through it saw firsthand the ugly reality that is oppression on college campuses.

Those who dared take the tour around the tunnel were first let into the Hudson Glass Lounge, which was adorned with hate speech against various religions. Campus Ministry worked their hardest to research the slurs against these religions. “There is religious tolerance all around the world,” says Father Francis Amodio. “We can eliminate injustice through our behavior and stop the tension.”

Two students acted as belligerent tour guides, hurling insults as the group of students ventured around the halls. They first instructed us to watch a YouTube video from another college campus advising students to stop the hate. The tour guides then told us to ignore whatever good messages the video was trying to send and we were transported to a computer lab where each computer had a picture of an incriminating text message exchange that can be interpreted as cyber- bullying.

The Black Student Union, Allies, Aging United, Muslim Student Association, and Academic Council performed sketches that informed the public on abusive practices against African Americans, homosexuals, the elderly, Muslims, and average everyday college students, respectively. Sophomore LeihShane McLaren bemoaned about her “different” hair in the BSU sketch. Junior Becky Van Duzer played a lesbian who had not come out to her father, played by fellow junior Bobby Maher, in the Allies sketch. The Aging United sketch took place in the halls, with a bunch of students purposely letting a student dressed as an elderly woman trip. The most thought provoking of the sketches was the MSA’s, which featured two women arguing over Islamic regard of Jesus. Finally, the Academic Council acted out a beer pong game and typical peer pressure, a form of oppression many a college student can relate to the most.

The tunnel ended with a group of students dressed as hippies singing the Beatles’ “All You Need is Love.” This portion of the event was organized by the LOVE (Let Our Voices Echo) Club, whose Vice President is Sophomore Geraldine Yniguez. She hopes that students can “become more aware, [and] be the change” after this event. Senior and Academic Council President Lida Colon believes that all colleges should “have inequality and oppression in the spotlight, so that we may stare it in the face and deal with it head on, if only for a night.”

The mastermind behind this project was Paul Habernig, a Residence Director at the Mount. He got the idea to set forth the Tunnel from the previous college he worked at, The Culinary Institute of America. His idea behind the event was to “let reality set in” for those oblivious to oppression on college campuses. Mission accomplished.