Students Undergo ‘Disturbing Sensory Experiences’ to Drive Out Prejudice

Drew Van Voorhis, College Fix, November 28, 2017

Some San Diego State University students are undergoing what organizers acknowledge is a “disturbing” series of “sensory experiences” in an attempt to drive out students’ prejudicial tendencies and help make them less oppressive.

The annual workshop, “Journey to a Shared Humanity,” is described on the university’s website as a way for organizers to get students to “step outside their comfort zone and into the shoes of those who are struggling with oppressive circumstances.”

This year, some students were required to attend the event as part of their classes. During the experience, students are walked through a darkened multipurpose room to view a series of theatrical vignettes acted out by campus leaders.

For example, in this year’s rendition, held earlier this month, students observed skits that included a black man yelling at them to stand against and face the wall and not look at him.


The overall theatrical experience, which included about a dozen skits, lasted about 20 minutes. (A transcript of the entire performance is available here.)

Ray Savage, leadership coordinator for residential education and coordinator for Journey to a Shared Humanity, told The College Fix that organizers have not received any formal complaints about the program.

According to a 2014 Facebook description of the annual workshop, “Journey strives to give people a way to experience oppression in a hands-on way. By engaging emotions of the participants, it allows for the accounts in the program to be truly effective.”

Organizers acknowledge the annual event’s “sensory experiences …may be disturbing,” but adds “it is an effective tool used to teach people about how it really feels to be in oppressive situations.”

After students viewed the “immersive live theatrical experience presenting a collective of raw and emotional performances,” as it has been described, they are taken into a room and debriefed by professors or other campus leaders about how the skits made them feel and what they should do to better combat oppression.

After one such performance earlier this month, a student group that experienced the journey together then engaged in a discussion during which the professor leading the talk said President Donald Trump is a racist, and also encouraged the students to fight against oppression.


The journey is hosted by the public university’s Residential Education division. Students are advised they are allowed to leave the journey if it becomes too intense for them.

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