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March 8, 2007
Most people probably don't want to experience the darker subjects of society such as sexual assault, racial discrimination and violence. However, a handful of University students, faculty and staff are offering just that chance with "The Tunnel."
The event, taking place at noon on Sunday, March 11 in the Ansari Business Building, is intended to address and offer solutions to societal problems, according to Jeannette Goree, one of the event's coordinators.
Originally titled "The Tunnel of Oppression," the event was inspired by another school six years ago and has been a success at the university ever-since. Once at the University, coordinators shortened the title to "The Tunnel," thinking the original title was too depressing.
"It's more about the betterment of humanity than oppression," said Goree, a University resident director.
The Tunnel is a 45-minute guided tour through a series of rooms and exhibits, each addressing a different problem within American society. The introduction to the tour, however, is a series of photographs and quotes from nationally and globally known humanitarians such as Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi and Ida B. Wells.
"The pictures of humanitarians in the beginning of the tour show that it's possible for one person to make a difference," Goree said.
The tour is guided by University faculty volunteers. They lead participants from room to room, issue to issue – from sexual assault, domestic violence and suicide to sexuality and racial issues.
There are two types of rooms, according to Goree. "Some are active," she said, "Played out like three-minute advocacy commercials by actors, and others are passive, using things like pictures, facts and media for participants to examine."
The sexual assault room, which Goree said is one of the more emotionally powerful rooms, is an active room.
"It's typically the room where you find participants breaking down," she said.
Bridget Kelleher, a 21 year-old Political Science major, participated in last year's Tunnel and said she was moved by its emotional impact.
"It left me with a surreal feeling," she said. "It showed struggles that many of us don't typically see. It's a great way to open eyes."
At the close of the tour is "The Light at the End of the Tunnel," where various organizations are set-up to offer solutions to the addressed problems. It's also where participants are asked to fill out evaluations intended to give tour coordinators insight into bettering the event.
Goree expects this year's Tunnel to be the best yet.
"We've been doing this for six years, and every year it's gotten better," she said. Indeed, Tunnel is a three-time winner of ASUN Program of the Year as well as recipient of the Thornton Peace Prize.