Posters calling for the end of fascism appeared in various locations around campus last weekend, before being removed the following day.
The A4 sheets, bearing a variety of slogans against ‘capitalism’, ‘fascism’, and ‘the establishment’, were put up in the library, on the library bridge over University Road, throughout Vanbrugh College, outside Nisa, outside the Exhibition Centre and outside the Spring Lane Building.
The slogans varied from entreaties to “join the resistance” and “craft antifa poems”, to appeals to “fuck the facist [sic] fucklords” and “feast on facist [sic] pain”.
Other posters included: “Fuck fascism, fuck Trump, fuck hatred, fuck you”, “Be the fist you want to see in a fascist’s face”, “Punching fascists is self-defense”, “Survival is contingent on solidarity”, and “Tenderness and capitalisms cannot coexist, destroy the establishment”.
Reactions to the posters have ranged from ‘magical’ to ‘beyond ridiculous’. Some people were clearly neither impressed nor amused as almost all the posters were removed within 24 hours. One student questioned how effective the posters might be: “We know that most York students don’t like Trump, I’m not sure what this campaign is achieving”.
Though various theories have circulated as to where the posters might have come from, their provenance is as yet unproven. When contacted for comment, the University of York Socialist Society stated that: “All those who oppose fascism, through witchcraft or other means, are making campus a far more tolerable place in these troubled times”.
Speaking on behalf of the University (who say they did not remove the posters), Registrar David Duncan stated: “As an institution of higher learning, we have a duty to uphold freedom of speech. We would not normally remove political posters unless they break the law or are put up in inappropriate places. At the same time, we would encourage all students to treat each other with respect and not to cause deliberate offence.”
As mysterious as the posters were when they came up, there is further doubt about how they were removed. With YUSU and the University both claiming to have no knowledge, the posters were probably removed by the institutions they were attached to, or by dissenting students.
YUSU President Millie Beach stated: “YUSU was not involved in the removal of the posters, and has no knowledge of who was putting them up. We do not condone any form of violence, while we encourage freedom of expression on campus, we also encourage students to fully consider the impact of posters such as these ones – anecdotally, I have spoken to students who have felt intimidated by them.”