Hoping to increase awareness of stereotyping and discrimination
of students in college, three University students organized the
University’s first “Boxes and Walls” museum,
which features various photographs, news stories and other objects
displaying different social prejudices.

Julie Pannuto
LSA sophomore Rachel Lederman and LSA freshman Andrew Wong direct the Boxes and Walls presentation at Hillel yesterday. (LAURA SHLECTER/Daily)

Having seen a similar museum at the Midwest Asian American
Conference in Champaign, Ill., LSA seniors Rachel Lederman and
Jessica Tang got together with Rackham student Namita Arora to help
establish the project at the University.

According to Lederman, they began organizing the museum at the
beginning of the year, hoping to present it during January’s
Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. symposium. They sought help
with the project by contacting student organizations on campus.

The museum has been running since Monday, open three tours a
day, and will continue until 7 p.m today. Hillel is hosting the
museum within its campus center on Hill Street.

Eight different minority groups responded and were represented
within the project, including African Americans, Japanese
Americans, Latino Americans, Native Americans, women, Jews, the gay
community and various socio-economic classes. Each group helped
create a room depicting common stereotypes that the groups go
through.

For example, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
community room had students assume the role of a gay person. They
were confronted with several slurs and insults gay people face. The
LGBT room coordinator, LSA freshman Andrew Guzman, said, “Our
room is basically within the mindset of closet gays and lesbians
and shows how hard it is to get out of the closet because of the
restrictive mindset and the derogatory slurs they go through so
often. There are so many different types of things you experience
that you don’t necessarily hear or see.”

To Wayne State University freshman Don Magtivang, the LGBT room
was one of the most memorable because of the confrontational method
it used with the students on the tour.

“(The museum) made me take a step back and think about
whether or not I do any of this stuff and it makes you more aware
of the things going on around you.”

The Latino American room also evoked strong emotions from
students. The students within the tour group were asked to come
into the room, with each person representing a different Latin
American country.

According to Museum Coordinator Rogelio Hernandez, after
stepping into the room “America,” the students were all
forced to wear brown bags over their heads. They were all called
“Spics,” effectively losing all the specific Latin
American identities they carried.

“We had the students sit down and basically yelled at
them, telling them no matter what they do, they will never attain
the American dream,” Hernandez said

After experiencing the strong emotions of each room, the
students within the tour groups meet afterwards with Amora and
counselors to discuss and process the feelings they encountered
while touring the museum.

“There were varying opinions from the students, from shock
to crying. A lot of people were ready to change their own behavior
and become more cautious of what they say or do,” said
Amora.

LSA freshman Megan Magrum, an actor in the Women’s room,
said, “I hope the students leave with a realization of the
absurdity of the pressures of society, which even society sometimes
doesn’t see.”

According to Lederman, the museum expects that more than 150
students will tour the room. They are hoping to make the museum an
annual event.

Minority groups that were not represented in specific rooms were
given a wall for students to look through so as not to leave any
group out.

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