Sun, Oct 26, 2014 - Page 3 News List

NTU clears way for naming plaza after late activist

By Rachel Lin and Jake Chung  /  Staff Reporter, with Staff Writer

A proposal by National Taiwan University’s (NTU) student council to name a plaza on campus after late NTU alumnus and democracy activist Chen Wen-chen (陳文成) can now be considered, after a school affairs meeting yesterday unanimously approved a principle on naming public spaces within the university.

The plaza is between the university’s Graduate Institute of Library and Information Science and the first student activity center.

Chen, who graduated from the university’s department of mathematics, studied in the US and became an assistant professor in Carnegie Mellon University’s department of statistics.

A supporter of Taiwan’s democracy movement, he was found dead on an NTU lawn on July 2, 1981, after he was questioned by the then-Taiwan Garrison Command one day after returning to the nation to visit his family.

At the time, the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government said Chen had committed suicide. However, an autopsy performed by a US forensics expert disputed this conclusion. The cause of Chen’s death remains unknown, though many allege that his death was a consequence of political oppression.

In June this year, NTU student council leader Lee Hsin-wen (李心文) said at a school affairs meeting that “Chen was politically oppressed” and that his body being found on campus was a tragedy of an autocratic era, adding that the transition to democracy called for a reflection on the past.

The naming of the plaza after “the man who fought for Taiwan’s democracy and was sacrificed by political oppression” would help the university’s students and faculty understand NTU history, as well as strengthen democracy and the implementation of transitional justice, Lee said.

Lee’s proposal was supported by most students and faculty members, but NTU Dean Yang Pan-chih (楊泮池) said in June that the naming of public spaces should have more guideline rules to avoid school affair councils being burdened with all naming issues.

The principle passed yesterday says that the naming of all open spaces should take into consideration aspects such as historical commemoration; names from nature, humanities or a particular landscape; the characteristics of the location; and the spirit behind the location’s original design.

In terms of the principle, no plaque would be erected bearing the name of a location, but if specific historical significance of a location must be made known to visitors by putting up a plaque, it must not stand out too much from the surrounding scenery.

Yang said the naming of the plaza should follow the principle guidelines.

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