By Yolanda Barragan
Students and staff were encouraged to question the cycle of socialization and challenge various forms of oppression at Bridge the Gap, an event that was hosted by Housing & Residential Education from Feb. 28 to March 1 in the Grand Salon. Bridge the Gap offered “a sensory experience, and an opportunity for dialogue to engage (individuals) in discussion around different forms of oppression,” Tanya Yancheson, Coordinator of Community Programs, explained.
The event featured an exhibit created by Housing & Residential Education that consisted of four different rooms. Participants were organized into groups and were taken on tours through these rooms, followed by a discussion after the tours.
The first room held a variety of toys set up on tables and on the floor, the second room included memes, the third room featured two videos and the fourth room had different items. “Each room…represents a variety of different forms of oppression that exist in our society within the United States and that are continuously existing and perpetuated on a daily basis,” Yancheson stated.
Participants were encouraged to walk around the rooms, pick up the toys, read over the printed materials and watch the videos, and were then offered an opportunity to discuss the materials they had been exposed to. The discussion featured topics about intersectionality and activism, and allowed people to ask any questions they had regarding the tour or other topics covered in the event.
Bridge the Gap, which was originally called Tunnel of Oppression, was started in 2012. The name change was due to the new focus of the event, which is based on the idea of helping students understand oppression and privilege. This shift in the theoretical framework of the event replaced the cycle of oppression with the cycle of socialization. “We felt that (the cycle of socialization) really broke down the understanding of how we come to think and feel the way that we do, that then contributes to stereotypes, power, bias, and oppression,” said Yancheson.
Both Bridge the Gap and Tunnel of Oppression were inspired by the Museum of Tolerance. The intended similarities of the event and the museum include the different elements of visual media used, from physical objects to video. The inclusion of the cycle of socialization is unique to CI, along with the use of items more relevant to college students, like memes and clips from popular TV shows.
A committee consisting of staff, faculty and some students was responsible for choosing what kind of content was used in the event, and although they aren’t able to include everything students may have wanted to see, they worked to “provide a snapshot to be able to engage people in thought and dialogue around the conversation of social justice, oppression, and intersectionality,” Yancheson concluded.
At the end of the event, participants were offered the opportunity to sign a pledge that they would try their best to dismantle oppression and were offered a T-shirt and a button that featured various messages regarding the different topics.