"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Friday, September 2, 2011

Empathy for Elementary School - The Tunnel of Oppression for College

For today's college generation, who didn't have the benefit of the empathy classes discussed in yesterday's blog, and who are completely unaware of hardship present on this planet or what they should be doing about it, never fear. We have the Tunnel of Oppression. Started in 1993 at Western Illinois University, The Tunnel is
"an interactive event that highlights contemporary issues of oppression. It is designed to introduce participants to the concepts of oppression, privilege, and power. Participants are guided through a series of scenes that aim to educate and challenge them to think more deeply about issues of oppression. At the end of the tour, participants are provided with the opportunity to discuss their experiences with each other. Facilitators help participants reflect on their experiences and put their newfound knowledge to use in their everyday lives. Before leaving, participants attend a fair where opportunities for involvement in addressing some of the issues presented at the Tunnel are provided."
Perhaps it had good intentions when first started, but today it is a "liberal, left-wing, anti-religious, anti-male, anti-middle class, and anti-white tirade that glorifies the cult of victimization." [comment on Critical Mass] Fox Nation reported that students going through the Tunnel of Oppression recently at DePauw University in Indiana experienced an emotional Disney-esque ride. An RA there reported that she was required to lead students in her dorm through rooms where supposedly “realistic” demonstrations taught lessons such as,
"how religious parents hate their gay children, Muslims would find no friends on a predominantly non-Muslim campus and overweight women suffer from eating disorders.
Indeed, in her training to become an RA, “We were told that ‘human’ was not a suitable identity, but that instead we were first ‘black,’ ‘white,’ or ‘Asian’; ‘male’ or ‘female’; ... ‘heterosexual’ or ‘queer.’ We were forced to act like bigots and spout off stereotypes while being told that that was what we were really thinking deep down.”
Concerns about the real goal of the Tunnel have been around for almost as long as the Tunnel itself . A report from Critical Mass in 2003 said,
The Tunnel of Oppression is a good example of what passes for enlightenment on today's campuses. It is not about disseminating information (not about disseminating true information anyway), or about providing historical context for understanding the conflicts that define our age, but about oversimplifying those conflicts through a disingenuous appeal to our emotions. The Tunnel of Oppression--which proudly casts itself as a "sensory experience"--encourages students not to think rationally about what ails the world, or to inform themselves by learning facts and studying context, or even to take reasoned, principled action against injustice, but to react viscerally to images of violence, to become hysterical on cue.

The Tunnel of Oppression takes the concept of shock value to extremes, using overblown melodrama as an agent of social change, and recruiting people to its cause by subjecting them to simulated short-term trauma--which it then conveniently tells them how to understand in the handy group therapy session that forms the final stop of the tour. It's manipulative, it's anti-intellectual, and it's--paradoxically--every bit as cynical and consumerist as the society it claims to deplore. In a world where instant gratification is all, the Tunnel of Oppression models consciousness-raising on the drive-thru window: offering one-stop awareness for students on the go, it sells convenience as substance, and even packages their reactions in school-sponsored "shrinkwrap." The only question remaining is, Do they include fries with that?

The Tunnel experience is available at hundreds of colleges and universities across the country including both Missouri State and Truman State, and it may be coming to Mizzou. Thank goodness we might be able to save this generation. (end sarc)


  1. I am a parent of a student at Truman State University.



    Of paying my taxes;
    Of following the law;
    Of raising my children to behave responsibly;
    Of not expecting the government to bail me out of any poor decisions on my part.

    This "Tunnel of Oppression" is a waste of my money and MO taxpayer money.

    Dr. Troy Paino, President of the University, will be taking my call on Tuesday.

  2. Sorry! I have no empathy for the "institutions of higher learning" that have no more foresight than to be the tools of a force that is intentionally destroying our culture of freedom and independence by giving one sided presentation "political correctness" that devalues the very values that built this great nation. Not only do they work to destroy a culture of self respect and personal responsibility, they are also orchestrating their own demise as well. Who will need to go to college to learn to "think critically" when they have succeeded in creating a culture wide mindset where everyone lives under the auspices of equality and fairness and gets their marching orders from one world government? We will all be then truly oppressed. Great work!

  3. It seems as if not all groups are supportive of this tunnel:


    Notice the last sentence:

    "There's always a danger when you're presenting something in a 15-minute time frame, but how else can we force people to recognize these things?"

    We are seeing these "nudges" for what they are: "force".


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