Several college student organizations have voiced their support for a group of a National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) students after school authorities said they were considering disciplining the students for daubing a statue of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) with red paint.
Members of an NCKU student organization, 02 Group (零貳社) — whose name sounds similar to “protest” in Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) — on Feb. 28 marked the 65th anniversary of the 228 Incident by installing an artwork on campus to commemorate the horrific event.
They hung a board that read “1947-2012” on a statue of Chiang and splashed it with red paint. More than 600 pieces of paper with the names of the victims of the massacre were scattered around the statue.
The school authority, which initially said it respected the right of students to express their opinion, is now considering handing out demerit points. This has sparked an outcry among scores of university students at home and abroad, who have come out in support of the NCKU students.
The National Taiwan University Student Association on March 1 publicized an official petition in support of members of the 02 Group and called for the removal of all remaining statues of Chiang or any figure symbolic of totalitarianism from universities nationwide.
The petition also called for a joint deliberation between school faculty members and students over the management of public spaces in universities.
Student Rights Investigation and Assessment Team — a group founded by college students nationwide to safeguard students’ rights — on Monday also voiced their support for the NCKU students, saying that students were entitled to freely express their opinions on public affairs and that school authorities should not resort to administrative suppression or restrictions to deprive them of their rightful space and freedom.
02 Group member Chang Chih-ling (張芷菱) said the existence of Chang’s statue was not only a subject of dispute at NCKU, but at other universities around the nation as well.
“In light of the motion, students around the country have started to ponder the issue of totalitarianism on campus, as well as the question on who should have authority over the management of public spaces in schools,” she said.
NCKU chief secretary Chen Ching-cheng (陳進成) on Monday said that students were allowed to express their opinion on the condition that they do not violate school regulations.
Chen added that the act of “daubing paint” already constituted vandalism.
“School authorities take into account educational values, freedom of speech and school regulations before determining if or how the students should be disciplined,” Chen said.
Translated by Stacy Hsu, Staff writer
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