Recently, students at UC San Diego have rallied to protest the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, from coming to speak at their commencement ceremony in June. The Dalai Lama has been campaigning to increase Tibet’s independence, while the government of China considers it to be a province of China. The Dalai Lama has been in exile from China(including Tibet) since 1959, 9 years after China under the dictator Mao Zedong occupied Tibet.
The students protested him by saying that his presence on campus would be disturbing as an oppressive figure. Why oppressive? Well a large portion of Chinese students have taken a personal offence to his invitation, considering him as a person who is threatening to divide a united China. This was the response to his stance on trying to gain more political Independence from China. After the announcement of his invitation the Chinese Students and Scholars(CSAS) association issued a note on WeChat saying they had contacted the Chinese Consulate about the issue.
The reason the CSAS gives that the Dalai Lama should not be allowed to speak is that it apparently undermines the spirit of respect tolerance and equality, as well getting the Chinese students all hung up about engaging in their academics. These ideas were spread by several students at the University on social media, some saying that it is hypocritical of the University to invite this ‘oppressor’ because of their efforts to create non-racist, non-sexist community.
All these reactions to the Dalai Lama being invited to speak at UC San Diego are indicative of the sentiments of censorship being spread in this campus. It is enough for the Chinese students to feel a bit put out because the man is fighting for more political independence for his homeland after it was occupied, for students to demand that he not even be allowed to show up. The language that these students use is also very telling, using words like tolerance and equality, while advocating to silence the Dalai Lama for holding an opinion different from their own that made them feel uncomfortable. This is ridiculous, just as it is with the other instances in american universities where the students protest guest speakers because they don’t want to hear the opinions they espouse.