Last week, more than 200 members of the community turned out in record numbers to experience the Tunnel of Oppression. The event, sponsored by the Pluralism and Diversity Program at CSI, is part of “I Am SI,” a Borough-wide effort to combat violence and hatred on Staten Island.

Halim Daoud, a junior who is majoring in Engineering Science, who experienced the Tunnel, came away with a sense of empathy for people who experience oppression. “It gives you a feeling that I should be more sensitive when I talk to people or do things that might offend people, so I have to be careful to respect their feelings and their culture.”

Graduate History student Cory Goetze, who also participated, put the Tunnel into the broader context of disturbing events that have been occurring on Staten Island. “With the violence that has been going on on the Island for racial reasons, it’s important to make sure that everyone is sensitive to these things and is knowledgeable about racial sensitivity.”

According to Brian DeLong, Director of New Student Orientation/CLUE and Chair of the Pluralism and Diversity Committee, the Tunnel “is a multi-sensory program that we hope allows people to see what life is like in someone else’s shoes. This is accomplished through passive, theatrical and interactive approaches, presented to elicit dialogue and promote social change throughout the campus community. The scenarios and images boldly present various forms of social injustice. Overall, we hope this program is an ingredient toward the ongoing promotion of a campus-wide commitment towards diversity, critical thinking, and civic engagement.

“The Tunnel takes place at colleges across the country,” DeLong added. “This is our fourth year of presenting it here at CSI.”

As for the impressive turnout, DeLong noted that “Each year the build up for the program grows. Some people choose to go through it each year. We probably did the best job of advertising the event this year.”