As Gamecocks, we’re obligated to follow the Carolinian Creed to create a more welcoming school environment. Reading through it, it’s easy to dismiss some bullet points as mere common sense.
“I will respect the rights and property of others,” or “I will practice personal and academic integrity,” sound like lessons we were taught in grade school.
In fact, for most of us, they probably are. We’re fortunate enough to live in an increasingly conscientious and tolerant world, but as these values become more and more ingrained, it’s important that we don’t get lazy and lose sight of the injustices that still remain.
To this end, USC’s own Tunnel of Awareness is an interactive attraction open this week that gives students a chance to explore the issues of social injustice our community faces.
Participants of the Tunnel of Awareness will navigate its exhibits, ranging from suicide and HIV/AIDS to gender and disability. Furthermore, each exhibit provides multiple perspectives that give visitors a greater understanding of the issues that challenge our society.
Although cultural morality has improved greatly since the civil rights movement and although most of us wouldn’t consider ourselves bigots, tolerance and understanding of others and of all walks of life is as important as ever. Consequently, it’s important that exhibits like the Tunnel of Awareness — and the issues they represent — are not dismissed by students.
The recent uproar over gay-themed books assigned to freshmen at the College of Charleston and USC Upstate is all the evidence we need that the pursuit of absolute tolerance is still ongoing. If our own state’s leadership was up in arms over homosexuality, we need to be aware of how similar beliefs permeate the rest of society.
This is exactly why greater coverage of social injustices is paramount to bettering our culture.
The Tunnel of Awareness doesn’t advertise that it aims to change anyone’s mind, but awareness and understanding go a long way in knocking down the mental barriers that stand in opposition of greater social acceptance.
If anything, visit the exhibits for the knowledge alone. There are people from all walks of life struggling to get by and fighting against the kind of oppression that unfortunately wasn’t completely eliminated decades ago during the civil rights movement.
Visiting the Tunnel of Awareness won’t resolve much bigotry overnight, but simply learning of the difficulties that many live with is a solid first step in the long journey ahead towards ridding the world of social injustice.