Hong Kong students at the University of York were told to take down a protest ‘Lennon Wall’ at the YUSU Freshers’ Fair after the University of York Chinese Society complained about finding them offensive.
First reported by York alumnus Henry Dyer for The Times, the clash between Hong Kong students and mainland Chinese students resulted in the former agreeing to remove messages from the protest display written in Cantonese or Mandarin.
York’s on-campus security, DoorSafe, which is run by YUSU attempted to have the display taken down on the assertion that displays “should not contain politics” despite the fact that the majority of political societies ratified by YUSU were present at the fair. The Hong Kong students involved toldThe Times that they feared repercussions from the Chinese state if identified and “felt pressured” by DoorSafe to remove the installation.
This is the latest clash over the issue of Hong Kong at a UK university with clashes at Exeter, Sheffield and Manchester within the last month.
This is the latest questionable action on the part of DoorSafe who faced criticism from The Lemon Press in February for accosting a student journalist at YUSU’s Elections Hustings event for quoting the phrase “hockey Nazis” which the chair of the debate had used.
The ‘Lennon Wall’ is a protest wall in Hong Kong featuring Post-It Notes with pro-democracy messages written on them. It emerged as part of the Umbrella Movement in 2014 which called for a fully democratic election of the leader of Hong Kong Executive. It is a spin-off of a similar protest wall which emerged in Prague, Czechia after the assassination of John Lennon in 1988.
A University spokesperson told The Times that they hadn’t been told about the clash but the University “upholds freedom of expression within the law and all staff members are required to observe the principle of freedom of speech”.
Featured Image by Studio Incendo.