Hong Kong students told to remove display at Freshers’ Fair
One student claimed that they felt ‘pressured’
Students from Hong Kong were instructed to remove a display about the ongoing protests at York's Freshers' Fair.
They told The Times that members of the University of York's Chinese Society had complained about a "Lennon Wall" on their stands. The wall contained images and newspaper cuttings about the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
The students remained anonymous as they feared that if they were identified by the Chinese state they would face repercussions.
They also added that campus security said that displays "should not contain politics." One also said: "We felt pressured," adding that security ordered them to take it down.
The students from Hong Kong argued that this was unfair as at the Freshers' Fair, student political groups including York Labour, York Tories and York Lib Dems all had stands.
Following negotiations with campus security, it was agreed that the display could remain as long as anything in Cantonese or Mandarin was removed.
The university has drawn criticism on social media, with one student tweeting that it is a "disgraceful affront to freedom of speech and human decency."
This is my university. Disgraceful affront to freedom of speech and human decency.https://t.co/OLxAHireqJ
— Munghoul Tattered-Clown (@MungoTattonB) October 26, 2019
One alumnus also described himself as "ashamed," arguing that "The Hong Kong students are standing up for freedom and democracy in their homeland."
So ashamed my alma mater @UniOfYork has done this. The Hong Kong students are standing up for freedom and democracy in their homeland and should be supported, not told to hop it because it might affect the uni’s balance sheet! #IStandWithHongKong https://t.co/KpohF2vsHy
— Callum S (@G0CartMozart) October 26, 2019
A spokesman for the University of York told The Times that it had not been informed of the conflict at the Freshers' Fair. He added that the university "upholds freedom of expression within the law, and all staff members are required to observe the principle of freedom of speech."
This is not the only time that action relating to the ongoing Hong Kong protests has taken place on a university campus. Recently, as first reported by The Tab, a Sheffield student was arrested and suspended following violence between Hong Kong and Chinese students at a pro-Hong Kong demonstration.