“Beyond Words” event to highlight oppression

Susan Riello

The Office of Multicultural and Global Education and Residential Life will be co-sponsoring “Beyond Words,” an interactive exhibit designed to allow students to experience different forms of oppression.

The event will take place at Rocky Top Student Center on Oct. 29, and Oct. 30, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“‘Beyond Words’ can best be described as an art gallery or exhibit, set up with three different rooms,’” said Josephine Liz, co-coordinator of the event and NAACP public relations and publicity chair. “Each room represents a group that has been oppressed, whether in the past or in modern times.”

The three rooms will represent racism, sexuality and body image as forms of oppression. The idea is based on a large-scale event called “Tunnel of Oppression,” which is held on campuses nationwide. Quinnipiac will be doing a small-scale version to introduce the concept to students for the first time.

“Basically, ‘Beyond Words’ is a ‘museum’ of words, thoughts and ideas. Each room has a different dynamic,” said Matthew Francia, who is co-coordinating the event with Liz. “The ultimate goal is to put the audience into the perspective of someone who is made to feel like less than a human being on a daily basis.”

Students will be guided through the rooms, where they will see art, words and images representing the three forms of oppression and other related issues. Students can attend the event at any time Monday and Tuesday, and will be taken on a tour for 30 minutes to an hour.

“People aren’t comfortable talking about racism or any of these topics, but they’re real issues,” Liz said. “The goal is to make people feel uncomfortable, and to make them step into someone else’s shoes. You will feel like you are being oppressed as you walk through the rooms; it’s really powerful.”

A series of informational sessions will be held before the event, which will provide students with background information and introduce them to the concept. Following the event, students will have a chance to gather their thoughts in a reflection room, where they can share their thoughts on the experience and brainstorm about how to solve modern-day oppression.

“Our hope for the event is that it will allow students to find ways to be agents for change,” said Valencia Constant, a graduate assistant in the Office of Multicultural and Global Education. “Nothing like this has been done at Quinnipiac before, and the fact that it has been spearheaded by students is a great initiative to challenge participants’ norms.”

The last information session will take place on Thursday at 1:45 p.m. in the Carl Hansen Student Center, room 119. The follow-up sessions will take place in the same room on Oct. 31, at 2 p.m. and Nov. 1, at 2:30 p.m.