Facing the present

The Tunnel of Oppression takes a modern angle in celebration of MLK week

Human trafficking and sex slavery target women and children world-wide, including here in West Michigan. This year’s human trafficking section in the Tunnel of Oppression was an updated look at the issue. Photo by: Samantha Dow | Torch Photographer

The annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy offered students a chance to view the Tunnel of Oppression, an interactive exhibit created by the Office of Housing and Residence Life Harmony Project Student Staff committee. 

Exhibits in the Tunnel addressed contemporary inequality and oppression, as well as giving historical context. The following five topics comprised the display: freedom of speech, cyberbullying, gun control, human trafficking and police brutality.

Ferris CAD drafting and tools design technology junior Andrew Vreugdenhil experienced a slight culture shock after walking through the Tunnel of Oppression.

“After coming here, it was a lot more in depth than I thought it would be,” Vreugdenhil said. “A lot of the stuff you’re not really quite as aware about on a small college campus, but seeing all this stuff makes it more real.”

Exposing students to these modern issues was just the goal of the Office of Housing and Residence Life Harmony Project Student Staff committee.

“It’s just something that we do to raise awareness for things that are happening in society that people might not be aware of,” said Ferris information security junior and student staff member Elisha Parsons, who helped put together the cyberbullying display.

Parsons experienced a culture shock as well when researching cyberbullying information for the project.

“I play a lot of video games and I’m on the internet a lot, so I knew that it was a problem,” Parsons said. “But one of the things that really surprised me was ‘Gamergate’ and how it all started. Basically this girl was just targeted and then it just blew up from there. It was really interesting to do research and learn about a lot of stuff.”

Each issue had its own display with photos, quotes and statistics posted to inform and “challenge [participants] to think more deeply about issues of oppression,” according to the exhibit’s website.

The exhibit was just one of many campus events last week in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.