On Friday, a group of students hung a Taiwanese flag in Hirst Lounge.

Organized by senior Yaal Dryer and junior Mustapha Ibrahim, it was meant to “show support and solidarity” for the students affected by the administration’s reclassification of the Taiwanese and Hong Kong flags as “sub-national entities.” 

This classification was changed to “other countries and regions” following controversy a few weeks ago.

The event, Dryer said, was attended by Taiwanese students, but also by Tibetan students. Dryer said there is no Tibetan flag in Hirst Lounge, which denies Tibetan students’ identities.

“This all needs to be viewed in the larger context of what’s going on,” said Dryer, referring to the recent campus conflicts surrounding Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong, and mainland China, which most recently culminated in a back-and-forth painting war in the painted tunnel.

“[The University claims] that this was unrelated to recent events,” Dryer said, before insisting that the administration needs to “look at the larger political context.”

Dryer said they hoped that the event would be a platform “for the Taiwanese students to say, ‘We’re here, our identity is valid.’”

Ibrahim posted a picture of the new flag on the University Facebook group Overheard at Rochester, where a heated discussion soon erupted.

Sophomore Yifan Xu expressed distaste for the event, writing, “The official name of TW is Republic of China and no one would argue for that.” 

Sophomore Amber Hu disagreed.

“Taiwan doesn’t belong to ROC nor CCP [the Communist Party of China],” Hu wrote. “It is an independent state.”

Dryer also referenced a petition that they, junior Warish Orko, and some other students created after the tunnel paintings. The petition calls for administration to “issue a clear statement” taking a stance against the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) for organizing students to paint over the original paintings, “partake in meaningful restorative justice” and “disciplinary action,” reclassify Taiwan and Hong Kong under the “national section” of the flag display, and “ensure that this never happens again” by barring CSSA from campus.

Dryer decried CSSA’s actions in the tunnel, describing their paintings as “random […] fun-related imagery that was just meant to censor.”

In the comments of the Facebook post, Hu expressed a desire for dialogue.

“There has been a lot of political stuff happening on campus, and it gives a perfect chance for discussions and exchanges of ideas,” she wrote.

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