The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


The ‘not politically correct’ tunnel

Tunnel addresses sensitive topics
 The not politically correct tunnel
Photo by Lindsey Perkins, The Daily Campus
The ‘not politically correct’ tunnel

The ‘not politically correct’ tunnel (Photo by Lindsey Perkins, The Daily Campus)

Sorority girls are prostitutes. Greek life means you buy your friends. Mexicans are lawn mowers. Minorities are all here on scholarship.

These are the things you see on entering the Tunnel of Oppression. It’s not nice or pretty or politically correct. They’re real issues SMU students deal with every day.

This past Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, SMU’s Service House hosted an event called the Tunnel of Oppression.

Each participant is given a colored sticker upon entry, with each different color representing a specific stereotype.

Blue represents someone who is poor. Red represents homosexuality. Green means you have HIV and purple designates you as African-American. Groups of eight to 12 people are then led through a series of four skits, all written by SMU students, while the tour guide uses the colored dots to single people out.

“You and you, come to the front of the line,” said tour guide Jonathan Dobin, pointing at two participants with purple stickers. “I don’t want you to steal anything.”

The four skits presented deal with class issues, racism, prejudice and body image.

First is the guy who has to make his own way through college by getting a job and taking out loans. He likes a rich girl who wants to date another guy just because he’s rich, too, and can “take care of her.” She doesn’t understand why he’s always fixing his car. Why can’t he just go get a new one?

Next comes the first-year who ends up with a deaf roommate and treats her like she’s handicapped. She wants to have the mother call Residence Life & Student Housing to get her transferred to another room – she and her friend talk about the roommate like she’s not even there.

Then there’s the guy who suggests dressing up as a slave, a “towel-head” terrorist or a Mexican lawn mower for Halloween.

Finally, there’s the girl who ends up bulimic because her mother and boyfriend think she should go on a diet, since she gained a few pounds her first semester at college.

After seeing all four skits, participants are led to a “safety zone” where they fill out surveys and talk about their reactions to the skits and the Tunnel itself.

A staff member facilitates the group discussion, asking students why they came and what they learned. Some are calm – this is nothing new for them. Others express comfort in knowing that they are not alone in feeling familiar with these skits. Then come the hard questions: Define diversity.

“I think trying to define [diversity] kills it,” said Cherylin Clark, a senior political science major and resident of the Service House. Others echoed her sentiment, saying diversity encompasses more than just what can be seen on the outside.

This spring is the first time in six years that the Tunnel of Oppression has been seen at SMU, though it has been a tradition at many universities for over a decade.

 SMU’s Diversity Action Committee, a group of staff members from Residence Life & Student Housing and the Division of Multicultural Student Affairs brought this tradition back to campus.

“In the fall, we hope to present an even bigger and better Tunnel of Oppression,” DAT Chairman Dave Roberts said. “We really just want to make students more aware of how their words and actions affect others.”

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