The powerful diversity experience called Boxes and Walls is being offered this fall to give students at UW-Whitewater a glimpse of what life might be like for someone else.
"The intent is to have people walk in others' shoes,'' said Terry Tumbarello, associate director of Residence Life.
Boxes and Walls was created by Residence Life at UW-Whitewater in 1998 and is now used on more than 300 campuses across the country. Student participants have described it as "an eye-opening experience" and "very intense."
"We believe the majority of our students don't have a true understanding or appreciation of what some of our underrepresented students experience on a daily basis,'' Tumbarello said. "Boxes and Walls allows that to happen."
The interactive experience offers participants a tour of six rooms reflecting different experiences. This year's rooms are African-American, Latino/Latina, ability, sexual orientation, gender and socioeconomic status.
Staff members and 250 to 300 student volunteers staff the tour, which is expected to draw about 1,200 participants. It is aimed primarily at students but is also open to any member of the campus community.
Boxes and Walls will be offered from Monday through Thursday, Oct. 14-17, from 6 to 10 p.m. each evening in Esker Hall. Tours will begin every 15 minutes and last about one hour and 20 minutes.
The title reflects the effort to educate students to tear down walls and throw away boxes that hold stereotypes.
Boxes and Walls began as diversity training for resident assistants, who found it so valuable they asked that it be expanded for all students, Tumbarello said. It has been offered every other year in February but is now planned to be an annual fall event.