Prepared by: Julie Bryant, Assistant Director for Fraternity and Sorority Involvement
The University Center Student Involvement Network (S.I.N.) plans a program every spring semester called the Tunnel of Oppression. The program focuses on creating an interactive environment where participants are introduced to various forms of oppression, privilege, and power. This year marked the fifth year for the program Tunnel of Oppression on the University of Montana campus. Unlike previous years, this year S.I.N. developed a week long event around the topic of oppression; this programming included Tunnel of Oppression, a guest speaker, and a movie showing. Over the course of three days, 341 people from both the campus and the community attended the event. The planning committee used the University’s strategic initiative of Dynamic Learning Environment as the standard for the learning objectives to the program. A paper survey was conducted to assess learning outcomes as well as the program’s success.
Survey results showed that 95% of participants experienced systemic oppression during the event and 77% felt that they had the knowledge of resources to take action toward combating oppression. According to attendance reports, there was a decline in attendance of the tunnel of 133 people. However, 816 people attended the lecture by guest speaker Laverne Cox, which increased participation numbers in diversity programming for the entire week. II. Background
II. Background Information and Relationship to Strategic Initiatives
Tunnel of Oppression consists of various exhibits linked together to create an interactive tunnel. Each of the exhibits focuses on a different topic or issue based upon oppression; they are all designed by the planning committee with the help from community groups. This year the exhibits focused on the following topics: albleism, privilege, homelessness, transgender identity, human trafficking, First Nations People representation, and class inequity. Participants go through the tunnel in tour groups with a tour guide. After walking through the tunnel, the tour group sits down for a facilitated debriefing. The committee’s objectives were to make the rooms more interactive, to increase volunteers, and include more acting into the tunnel. We created learning objectives for both participants and volunteers (those who served as tour guides, facilitators, and actors).
As a result of going through the tunnel:
Participants will experience systematic oppression.
Participants will have an understanding of the intersection of identities.
Volunteers will learn to work collaboratively across functional areas.
Volunteers will have an understanding of program planning skills.
Tunnel of Oppression aligns with the strategic plan of the university. Specifically, our learning outcomes stem from the initiative Dynamic Learning Environment. Tunnel of Oppression, like all programs the University Center creates, offers the students a chance to enhance the education they are receiving in the classroom, creating a dynamic learning environment on campus. Since one of the goals of Tunnel of Oppression is to educate students on topics of power, privilege, and oppression, it supplements the classroom lessons and allows them to learn more about their identity and the ways in which they can become contributing members of society (Student Personnel Point of View, 1937). This program also aligns with the core value of diversity. The participants in the program are able to develop multicultural competence of awareness, knowledge, and skills (Sue et al., 1982).
III. Indicators and Assessment Procedure
To assess the learning outcomes, the committee collected data using three different methods. To assess attendance, the committee had all participants sign in and/or swipe in before going through the tunnel. Those who are members of the University of Montana community swiped their Griz Card before going through the Tunnel. The committee also had community members use a community card so that the card reader would still be able to collect data for nonstudents. Using the Griz Card reader allows the committee to collect more information, such as how many students who live on campus attend the tunnel, and the breakdown of each student’s year in school.
A 5-point Likert scale paper survey was created to assess the learning outcomes created by the planning committee. The survey contained 18 questions that asked for demographic information, how the participant heard about the event, suggestions on how to advertise the event in the future, and if their views on systemic oppression changed. Over 300 surveys were printed for the event and 157 of the 341 participants filled out the survey, yielding a 46% response rate. The survey was left in the ballroom where the debriefing took place. After each group finished debriefing, they were led to the “Room of Hope” where a member of the planning committee would point out the table where participants could find the surveys. A box on the back table was used to collect the results. Members of the planning committee then went online and filled in the results from each individual survey into the Campus Labs tool. This online portal then compiles the results into an Excel document that the planning committee uses to analyze the data.
An additional paper survey was created to assess the learning outcomes created for the students and staff that volunteered for Tunnel. This survey contained 13 questions based off of the learning outcomes and assessed the volunteers’ understanding of each issue. This survey was given out at the trainings for volunteers to gather the pre-event information. Out of the 20 surveys created, 10 surveys were returned to the planning committee yielding a 50% response rate for the pre-event survey. The plan for the post-event survey was to use the same tool to administer the survey to volunteers after they finish working the event; however, it was very hard to keep track of volunteers and no volunteer took the post-event survey. This survey was analyzed using Campus Labs.
Paper surveys were used because the committee believed it would be the best way to maximize results. It was thought that if the committee used electronic surveys,fewer participants would fill out the surveys. The committee would also have to wait longer to get the results back from the participants. The paper surveys allowed for the results to be collected, entered into Campus Labs, and analyzed immediately.
All of the participants from campus had to swipe their Griz Card before being admitted to the event. The planning committee collected the information provided from the Griz Cards to collect demographics as well as participant numbers. According to the data collected from the Griz Card collection, 341 people attended the event. Of the 341 participants, 283 were students, 21 were faculty/staff, and 36 were from the community. Of the student population, 223 were undergraduate students, 18 were law students, and seven were from Missoula College. The committee also collected demographic information using the paper survey. Of the 157 that filled out the survey, 110 identified as female, 34 identified as male, and 13 chose not to identify. The response box for race allowed the responders to identify their race in any way they felt comfortable, which provided a wide range of results. Among the respondents of the survey, 71% identified as white/Caucasian, 4.6% identified as Black/African-American, 3.5% identified as Asian, and 13 people chose not to answer the question. The decline of attendance in the actual Tunnel of Oppression event is assumed a result of the increase in events. 816 people attended the lecture by Laverne Cox: of those who attended, 618 were students and 475 of those were undergraduate students. When including this event as a part of the week, our overall attendance grew immensely.
The assessment had three questions that asked about the growth of the student’s views on the entire process. The first question asked if the participant experienced systemic oppression during the event; the second question asked if the debriefing allowed the participant to process their experience in the Tunnel; the third question asked if the participant had the knowledge and skills to combat systematic oppression. The results of these questions showed that the learning outcomes of developing awareness, knowledge, and skills were met (See Appendix A-C). The next section of questions broke down the understanding of the each of the issues covered during the tunnel. The participant was asked to mark their level of agreement with the statement that their way of thinking was challenged for each issue. According to the results, the participants’ views were challenged on the majority of the issues, with the issue of human trafficking being the most challenging to participants. The survey for the volunteers could not be included because the instrument was flawed and there was no post-event survey. The post-survey would have allowed the committee to understand the growth and learning that took place during their volunteering. The instrument also asked why they chose to volunteer, when in fact many of them were being paid as actors, thus making them employees and not volunteers.
The committee always strives to learn more about how the participants heard about the event so that they can create plans for marketing the event next year. Approximately 30% learned about the event by word of mouth, and were either invited to attend or heard from a friend. About 28% were there as a requirement for class participation and 43% were there because they wanted to attend the event.
The results of the survey as well as the wrap-up conversations between the Tunnel committees will be used to help effectively plan for next year’s Tunnel of Oppression. These suggestions have been submitted to the Tunnel committee to improve the event next year.
Consider electronic communications for information about the event, as 35% would like to hear about it from Facebook, and 21% want to hear about it from email.
Work with various departments to continue to encourage attendance as a classroom requirement.
Continue to use the online tour registration tool called Eventbrite to allow classes to reserve tours.
Find a way to get more participants to take the surveys. This would allow the group to get more feedback about how to improve the program for the future.
If distributing a volunteer survey, find a way to ensure that volunteers complete the post-event survey. This is the second year that volunteer surveys have not been able to accurately collect information due to problems with getting responses.