Writing on Wall Wants to Stamp Out Prejudice

The Holocaust, the Trail of Tears, slavery, oppression, hatred, discrimination, prejudice and other abominations will be the subject of the Writing on the Wall Project.

The project will construct a “Wall of Oppression” on the Marriott Library Plaza this weekend. The wall will stand during the following week. On Friday, students will pull down the wall with ropes, symbolizing the destruction of hatred. After breaking down the wall, students will have the opportunity to take a piece of the broken wall so they can remember to fight against the atrocities the wall represents.

The wall will be constructed of a series of cinderblocks that students and groups on and off campus have written messages on. Those decorating bricks were encouraged to write about acts of discrimination in their own lives or in history.

According to Jared Kronenberg, a member of the Writing on the Wall Project planning committee, even the cinderblocks themselves have symbolic value in this project.

“We wanted to use something to symbolize how strong discrimination is,” he said.

The wall will be about 10 feet high and 20 feet long. All people in the crowd will be able to participate in the wall?s destruction, symbolizing a collective effort to stop oppression.

In order to prevent the falling wall from hitting the sidewalk, the wall will crash down on 16 plywood boards that have racial epithets written on them.

Sociology Professor Theresa Martinez and 2nd District Rep. Jim Matheson will speak at the wall-destroying event, held at 11 a.m. on Oct. 26. Students can get information at the event about how to become involved in preventing discrimination.

“I’m hoping that it will just raise awareness about these issues, that it will just bring some people together and make them more knowledgeable about what’s going on,” said Kevin Laska, the Writing on the Wall Project student adviser.

The group had 300 cinderblocks. According to Marlin Taylor, a student involved in the project, 160 blocks were returned by Thursday afternoon. Laska anticipates that between 250 and 300 cinderblocks will become part of the wall.

“This is the only thing on campus that seems at all relevant right now,” Taylor said, explaining his participation in the project.

The project was conceived by Office of Residential Living Assistant Director LaDon Roeder, who had participated in a similar project at another university.

“I hope that by students actually completing a brick or picking up part of these ropes, they feel this connection with people around them and that they truly experience that metaphor in a tangible way,” Roeder said.

The Writing on the Wall Project will occur in conjunction with End Discrimination Week, which will include many other events targeted toward ending hatred and oppression. The event originated with the Human Issues Education Committee, but is now sponsored by many different student groups. All groups have been encouraged to participate in some way or another, either by making a display, sponsoring an event or adding a brick to the wall of oppression.

“I feel that the impressions I’ve felt, other people can relate to,” said Rick Henriksen, explaining why he chose to write his thoughts on a brick. “I hope to symbolize the things that I’ve gone through in life.”

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