Understanding oppression: Tunnel of Awareness event educates students on various marginalizations

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A Kansas State University student thinks critically as she comments on the microaggressions that trans folk experience every day. The Tunnel of Awareness was held on the first and second floors of Kramer Dining Center on Monday. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

On Monday, March 26, Housing and Dining Services’ Social Justice Alliance hosted the Tunnel of Awareness. The Tunnel informed the students attending by depicting stories of various marginalized groups across the United States.

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A K-State student listens intently as an individual shares their tale of sexual violence. The Tunnel of Awareness was held on the first and second floors of Kramer Dining Center on Monday. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

When students arrived at the Kramer Dining Center, they traveled to the second floor to swipe their Wildcat ID card so they could participate.

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Mary White, junior in journalism and mass communications, takes a student ID to swipe for Kramer's Tunnel of Awareness. The Tunnel of Awareness was held on the first and second floors of Kramer Dining Center on Monday. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

Mary White, junior in journalism and mass communications, is part of the Social Justice Alliance and said the alliance means a lot to her because she grew up in a small town where she was isolated. White said the alliance has given her the opportunity to see more of the world.

Students and faculty then led those in attendance through a series of different rooms to inform them about different situations that marginalized groups go through on a daily basis.

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Jenny Yuen, health educator at Lafene Health Center, recounts a story of a high school student to K-State students. The Tunnel of Awareness was held on the first and second floors of Kramer Dining Center on Monday. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

The topics covered included mental wellness, sexual assault, police brutality, undocumented students, white terrorism, cyberbullying, religious oppression, ability discrimination and transgender microaggressions.

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Handing students cards at random, Leandra Jenkins, event staff member, runs an activity to help portray the microaggressions experienced by trans folk everyday. The Tunnel of Awareness was held on the first and second floors of Kramer Dining Center on Monday. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

As the attending students traveled through the different rooms, they came into contact with the stories of students, coming face to face with the photographs of oppressed individuals and the realities they face.

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The Tunnel of Awareness was held on the first and second floors of Kramer Dining Center on Monday. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

Students read the stories of undocumented students within the United States and heard their words as a slideshow of the students’ family photos played on a projector.

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Reading the tales of undocumented students and their struggles, K-State students travel through the Tunnel of Awareness at Kramer. The Tunnel of Awareness was held on the first and second floors of Kramer Dining Center on Monday. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

One topic was White Terrorism, which covered how individuals within the U.S. contribute to terrorism domestically.

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The Tunnel of Awarness was held on the first and second floors of Kramer Dining Center on Monday. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

Students also came face-to-face with stories of individuals hurt by cyberbullying.

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The Tunnel of Awareness was held on the first and second floors of Kramer Dining Center on Monday. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)
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The Tunnel of Awareness was held on the first and second floors of Kramer Dining Center on Monday. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

Junney Yuen, health educator at Lafene Health Center, said societies move forward by putting emphasis on mental illness in the way physical health is prioritized.

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Two K-State students wear glasses to mimic the affects that chronic anxiety can have on individuals with the mental illness. The Tunnel of Awareness was held on the first and second floors of Kramer Dining Center on Monday. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

Leandra Jenkins, Housing and Dining community coordinator and member of the Equity and Inclusion Committee, said “seeing it come to life” and listening to students discuss aspects of the Tunnel of Awareness was “life-changing.”

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The Tunnel of Awareness was held on the first and second floors of Kramer Dining Center on Monday. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)
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The Tunnel of Awareness was held on the first and second floors of Kramer Dining Center on Monday. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

As they traveled together through the rooms, the expressions on students’ faces changed as they learned the stories and truths of the what the Tunnel of Awareness taught them.

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