University of Rochester students are speaking out after messages of support for the Hong Kong movement was painted over in the school's tunnels and flags were moved in a campus hall.
The ongoing protests in Hong Kong, focused around pro-democracy efforts, have created tension among students. Some say it all began when the school moved the Hong Kong and Taiwanese flags in a campus hall.
“They first re-categorized the Taiwanese flag as first sub-nation and then as a region,” student Ambr Hu said. “Now it’s under other countries which is unfair to me. It undermines my identity as a Taiwanese student.”
In response, a group of students spray painted what they called a “message of support” with Tibet, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Those messages were covered up, starting a larger event where students posted additional message of support in the tunnels Sunday night.
"The initial messages were supportive and in solidarity,” said Yaal Dryer, another student. “The messages covering them up were not only censoring them, but there was one image of blackface of a Uyghur person in a traditional hat that was extraordinarily offensive to say the least.”
The school sent out a statement about the concerns Friday when the news first broke.
"The University of Rochester is dedicated to supporting the civil exchange of opinions and views among its community members, and the freedom of expression for all students, faculty and staff. When disagreements become quite vigorous, universities like Rochester remain the place for these discussions to constructively take place,” the statement read.
Some students said they feel the school has not reacted appropriately. They ask that the flags be moved back to their original location.