An open letter has been released into the public today, decrying the way in which YUSU’s Doorsafe handled complaints from mainland Chinese students about a “Lennon Wall” display.
The letter, penned by former student Elliott Banks and signed over 80 other students and alumni, describes how all those signed to it are “appalled” at how the situation was resolved, after it first came to public light in The Times on Saturday, and later covered by York Vision.
It details how the only posters removed were those in “Cantonese or Mandarin”, highlighting the fact that this was “a peaceful way of conveying to other students the fear of many in Hong Kong about the eroding of civil rights”. before explaining how this particular issue goes against the 1986 Education Act’s commitment to protecting free speech.
The original article in The Times highlights how clashes between Hong Kong and Chinese students have happened in various Universities across the country, but that a spokesman from the University of York said the University “upholds freedom of expression within the law”.
The remainder of the letter explains how those that signed feel like YUSU has treated this issue “contrary to that tradition of a University”, and demands that the University issue an apology to those Hong Kong students “who were bringing this issue to the attention of their peers in a perfectly reasonable way”.
A University of York spokesperson said: “We are aware of these reports about a Freshers’ Fair run by our Students’ Union and are looking into the circumstances.
“We believe universities should provide a platform where a variety of views can be debated and challenged and we remain committed to creating a positive environment which is fair, welcoming and inclusive.
“If students have any concerns about material they see on campus we would encourage them to contact the University’s Equality and Diversity Office.”
YUSU also responded after the initial Times piece and the publishing of the open letter complaining of their actions stating that “to date, no complaints relating to this issue have been received from students involved” despite the students involved going on record to The Times.
YUSU’s full response can be found here.
To read the letter in full and who have signed, you can find it at: