Earlier this week students went through the Tunnel and viewed skits written by their peers on topics such as body image, relationship violence, mental health and religion.
Students were able to walk through hallways and rooms in Cobb Residence Hall filled with statistics and signage detailing oppressive issues throughout the Tunnel.
UNC Housing and Residential Education, the Residence Hall Association and UNC’s chapter of the National Residence Hall Honorary partnered on the project and offered assistance when making selections for different roles within Tunnel.
Interactive Theatre Carolina , the housing department, RHA and social media sites helped supply the tour with 17 new and returning UNC actors.
Ashleigh Curry , a junior global studies major with a minor in drama, acted in this year’s Tunnel. Curry said she remembered the times she had been discriminated against and used those experiences to fuel her role.
“I can say that after each tour group went through, my group members, and I had to reel it back in and remember that it was just a play,” she said.
Last year about 400 students attended the Tunnel.
This year the event was sold out with about 375 students purchasing tickets. Tonight is the last night of the event.
During the first activity, students were able to ponder their own identities by stepping backward and forward in response to certain scenarios applicable to their life experiences.
UNC senior Molly Zaslow, an actor at last year’s Tunnel, said the event opened her eyes to issues faced by others on campus.
“The reason we have events like Tunnel is to change this culture, so we will have to struggle to find stories of oppression to be used in the skits,” she said.
Sophomore Max Williams, who is biracial, said he was struck by two Tunnel scenes in particular: the stereotype scene and the mental health scene.
“Given where I have grown up and how I was brought up, I find myself in situations where I am always the one who is different. My friends and people around me think I should fit a certain stereotype, but I don’t,” he said.
Williams said the scene depicting the student who struggled with matching her ‘Carolina Way’ to the ideal Carolina experience also made an impact on him.
“I had never really thought about how this seemingly innocent campaign (Carolina Way) can be such a burden for some,” he said.
Tunnel of Oppression offers students both University resources and outside resources to help cope with the scenes displayed. On the group’s website, campus offices, clubs, organizations and other general civil rights organizations’ sites are listed.
Tony Dubose, who is serving his second year as an adviser for Tunnel of Oppression, expressed how important going on the tour would be for UNC students.
“Coming to this is sometimes the first time students are seeing these events happening.... During the processing phase, we hear that a lot,” he said.
The processing phase immediately follows the tour and lasts about 15 to 20 minutes. Within that time, the group is able to reflect on what they saw and how it impacted their perspectives.