The following is an open letter by a group of Warwick students from mainland China regarding the recent Lennon Wall incident that took place on the Piazza.
We are a group of Warwick students from mainland China, we are sorry that given the sensitive circumstances currently, we have to write this letter in complete anonymity. In the light we wish that we would not be cyber-bullied, or even have the personal safety of ourselves and our families back in China endangered.
We have learnt about the recent Lennon Wall incident took place on Piazza, and the enormous backlash from some members of the mainland China community at Warwick. In strong opposition to their unreasonable response, we have to express our concerns. Admittedly, it was a hard decision for us to speak out. Not only because the psychological trauma we have to go through in midst of the intimidating events, but also the hates we have to potentially endure in the future. We attend the University of Warwick because we have trust in its ability to facilitate conversation, to welcome reason and the freedom to reason, but not to suppress the voice of others.
The pig image put up by the Hong Kong students is merely a mascot figure used during democracy protests
First of all, as it has been reported previously on the student newspaper The Boar, we learnt that some mainland students have claimed the pig image on the Piazza is a defamatory insult to the Chinese people. We disagree and have found this claim completely ludicrous and fictional. As our fellow Hong Kong peers have relentlessly clarified, we would also like to confirm that the pig image put up by the Hong Kong students is merely a mascot figure used during democracy protests. It would contain no pejorative semantics related to the mainland people at all. The uneducated and self-degrading interpretation of some mainland students only shows lack of multicultural understanding. To narrate allegorically, what difference such assertation makes from the kind of Islamophobic claim that insist hijab as an insult on the British culture? It is simply unacceptable. We are hugely disappointed to learn that later the Vice Chancellor and the university administration team have decided to entertain this racist and xenophobic speech without further deliberation.
Secondly, we are really sorry to observe speeches (some of them even contain vulgar languages) amongst our fellow mainland students to stigmatise their Hong Kong peers. We certainly acknowledge that the ongoing events faraway in Hong Kong are not pleasant news to anyone, and the turmoil undeniably contains unlawful and violent elements from both sides. However, to scapegoat the so-called “violent and illegal behaviours of trashy Hong Kong students” is definitely not helpful at all. When two million Hong Kong citizens rose peacefully to the street but are completely dismissed by the government, who is being unlawful? When years of law-abiding actions for changes only led to arbitrary political persecution and escalating human rights, who is advocating violence? When the politicians afloat decide not to dialogue, but to pass the blame and hide behind police brutality, who is responsible for the chaos?
The University of Warwick should be a place for all, for us, for the Hong Kong students, and everyone who wishes to live and study here
We do not believe Hong Kong students are “cockroaches”, “yellow zombies” or “trash teens”, just as much as we do not believe mainland students are “zhi na pig” (though as some would ironically insist themselves). We believe violence is always wrong and divisive, especially the violence to ignore and silence the others. And we believe love and belongingness should be earned but not coerced. We know there is no panacea for the current unfortunate events here and afar, but we also know to hear each other would always be the first step.
Likewise, we also urge the university to look into the real cause behind this incident. Instead of an obsequious but pointless attempt to water down the controversy, the university should take further actions to address deep-seated institutional racism in campus culture, such as the greater alienation of international students and the lack of cultural diversity. The University of Warwick should be a place for all, for us, for the Hong Kong students, and everyone who wishes to live and study here. We suggest, the university should acknowledge and the common existence of everyday discrimination on campus and extend its efforts to address the real issues. And with timely actions, maybe it would not be too late for the University of Warwick to be truly inclusive.
A group of anonymous students from mainland China