California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    Tunnel of Oppression: LGBTQ, Women and Immigrants

    What began as a senior passion project in 2014 grew into an annual service and justice event that educates students about the prevalent social issues minority groups face.

    The Tunnel of Oppression, now hosted by senior Resident Assistants of California Lutheran University, includes walk-though observational sessions about the oppression of LGBTQ+ groups, women’s rights and immigrants.

    The third annual Tunnel of Oppression looked a little different than past versions, senior RA Alicia Light said. The 2017 edition included informational sessions about three prevalent social injustices that stood alone from each other. Each walk-through lasted approximately 15 minutes and the singular topic session spanned a two-hour time frame.

    Light is the senior RA for Pederson Hall and took direction of the women’s rights session. She said much of the passion behind the Tunnel of Oppression comes from witnessing oppression take place in society.

    “If people don’t take away anything from this event other than to be kind to others because you don’t know what they’re going through, then that’s really our main goal. Moving forward, it’s really just acknowledging the issue and deciding to be part of changing it,” Light said.

    Senior RAs Ryan Moguel and Christina Suarez, who directed the LGBTQ+ session, said tunnels in the past included three to four educational rooms each dedicated to one social issue. This year, those spaces were carved out to highlight one specific facet of the larger issue.

    “Based on our experiences either setting up for, or attending the event in years past, the RAs decided we wanted to give attention to more topics that fall under one issue so we weren’t brushing over or rushing through certain areas of discussion,” Suarez said.

    Moguel, the senior RA for the New West complex, said the decision to separate the LGBTQ+, women’s rights and immigration sessions was rooted in the desire to give students and faculty their choice of topic of interest to attend.

    “We live in this affirming Lutheran, Southern California bubble where we sometimes get shut off to how hard it is for different groups of people in other parts of the world. The Tunnel of Oppression is sort of a wake-up call that a lot of us have it pretty good in Southern California, and that there’s so much more we can do to help nationally and globally, as well as in our community to make sure everyone gets the same privileges,” Moguel said.

    Suarez, the senior RA for Thompson Hall, said the RAs met earlier in the semester to decide what current and prevalent social issues would be highlighted in the educational event, and what campus resources would be available to students and faculty that chose to participate and take a stand.

    “We wanted to bring rise to these issues and really educate people on what they are, but we also wanted to educate students and faculty on what they can do to help,” Suarez said. “That’s why our slogan this year was ‘In order to take a stand, you must understand,’ because you can’t put your full heart and passion into a cause if you don’t fully understand what the issue is.”

    Representatives from Counseling Services made their way through the tunnel as a resource for those who needed emotional support, and faculty from different departments were in attendance to “be the bridges of communication with other offices [on campus],” Suarez said.

    “So much of our job as an RA is obviously to enforce university policies, but we also strive to build community and relationships with our residents,” Suarez said. “When we have a better understanding of certain topics that might be affecting our residents, not only can we advocate for them but we can teach them how to advocate for themselves.”

    Olivia Schouten
    Staff Writer