Tunnel of Oppression Demonstration Brings Awareness to Hays Campus and Community

BY ELIZABETH ANDERSON
PHOTOS BY ALEX JUAREZ
VIDEO BY KERISA BROWN

On November 5th, in the Ballroom of the Union building, the Student Engagement organization hosted an event to bring attention to oppression around the world. The event was a tour around the different oppressions that Hays and the world have been subjected to. These oppressions include mental illness shame, hate crimes, and the importance to be aware of oppression.

Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. Many people go through it and get help, but there are many people with mental illnesses who don’t get the help they need. People shame these individuals and put them down just because they have something they cannot help. This can also be seen on college campuses.

“Stigmatic terms (like crazy people, the mentally ill) are sometimes used to describe mental health and those who struggle with symptoms,” Ashley Lockwood, a member of the Student Engagement Organization said. “Faculty member use of stigmatic terms make it difficult for students to feel comfortable talking about experienced or reaching out for help.”

Not only is mental illnesses and depression a big part of today’s society, so are hate crimes. Eiran Saucedo-Rodgers made this apparent in his presentation of immigration and racism. One sees the word racism are simply slurred words about another person of color. However, it goes much further than simply words that are said, it is more so the words that are not said. 

“It leaves those with identities that have been victims of hate crimes to be in a constant state of fear/alert,” Saucedo-Rodgers said. “Especially when placed in an environment that isn’t inclusive to that specific identity.” 

This just gives people more reason to have open arms to these people that have no place to go to feel safe. It is our duty, as fellow human beings we are, to be able to make a place safe for them. That place should be the entire world, however, it takes much more than a simple open-mindedness, it takes action.

The importance of being aware of oppression goes a long way. Once one is aware of the struggles, they are more able to help those in need. Alexandria Kultgen, a helping hand in the event, wanted to express her opinion on the crucial need for awareness.

“This event is extremely important because many students don’t see oppression in their daily lives,” Kultgen said. “This gives them the opportunity to see how other people are treated and the many hardships they face. This event is really designed to teach people how to be more empathetic and understanding and that is so important in today’s society.”

The student engagement event was a way to lead Fort Hays State University students towards that helping hand. Let them know that if they need help, Hays is there for them; and if they do not personally need help, be someone who people can go to for help. It only takes FOUR words to help someone under the pressure of oppression. Those words are: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

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