Chinese Student Group Objects to the Dalai Lama on Library Walk

Students gather to talk to members of the CSSA. Jaz Twersky / The Triton

The Chinese Student and Scholar Association (CSSA) held an event on Library Walk yesterday afternoon in opposition to the Dalai Lama as the 2017 senior commencement speaker for UC San Diego.

“We want people to hear the other side of the story about the Dalai Lama,” said CSSA Chair Mark Ji. “We got a different perspective in our education than you do in the U.S. We want to share a different perspective.”

The CSSA denounced the decision to have the Dalai Lama speak at commencement when it was first announced in February and met with Chancellor Khosla to discuss the issue.

The official UCSD announcement of the Dalai Lama as a speaker referred to him as “the exiled spiritual head and leader of the Tibetan people” and “a man of peace.” He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and regularly travels the world speaking about issues such as peace, Buddhism, and Tibet.  

The CSSA said their goal in tabling on Library Walk was twofold: to educate students about how they feel disrespected by the decision and to advocate for the university to consult with student associations before deciding on a speaker. In a statement released on WeChat the day before, the CSSA maintained staunchly that the tabling event was not a protest, but an attempt to “present Dalai Lama’s controversial side from an objective perspective.”

A group of largely Western students gathered to argue with the presenters, asking questions about issues such as Chinese brutality toward the Tibetan people and the specifics of the CSSA’s objections toward the Dalai Lama. Several members of the CSSA strenuously objected when one student referred to a “genocide” against Tibetans.

“Where did you hear that?” one member of the CSSA demanded. “It’s not true.” This same member said students at UCSD had told her she was “brainwashed” by the Chinese government, a charge she strongly contested.

“What you hear in America is subjective as well,” she said.

Posters bearing titles such as “The Chinese students’ attitude towards the Dalai Lama” or “The Dalai Lama as a spiritual leader” listed information about both the Dalai Lama himself and the response of Chinese students to his presence. CSSA members also brought up other talking points as well.

“There was a massacre under his name,” one of the members told the assembled crowd, and elaborated that she was referring to the events that occurred in March 2008. The Tibetan unrest at that time resulted in 18 deaths and hundreds of injuries, largely against Han Chinese people, the dominant ethnic group in China.

“We want to be treated evenly, as members of this university,” said Tian Song, an officer in the CSSA. “Our parents are flying 16 hours to come here and commencement is a big occasion that only happens once.” This perspective was echoed by other CSSA members, and highlighted on the posters, one of which was entirely devoted to showcasing what Chinese UCSD students have said on social media about the Dalai Lama.

“But is this a Chinese university or an American university?” said Josh Beneventi, a socio-cultural anthropology major from the United States. Beneventi expressed frustration with the presenters from the CSSA, saying that he hadn’t seen any evidence of wrongdoing by the Dalai Lama. “We care about logic and facts. This is an institution of learning. Maybe they could learn something too.”

The Dalai Lama will speak at two events at UCSD, once at commencement on June 17 and in a public event the night before. The CSSA claims they are not planning any organized protest at the commencement ceremony itself, because “that would be very disrespectful and disruptive.”

Jaz Twersky is the Editor-in-Chief of The Triton.

  • Ram

    Hypocrisy at its best. They should protest in China rather than America.Then they will know how much freedom in communist china they have. On the one side they provide support for Islamic Terrorist JeM chief Masood Azhar and provide Arm and Ammunition to Pakistan to wage a war against India and here they protest Peaceful Buddhist Monk who is peacefully protesting for Free Tibet. Histroy witness How brutally China Invaded Tibet and Killed millions of Buddhist Monks and still repressing them in Tibet. Very soon they Shall pay the price for all the inhuman act they committed.

    • Ether Net

      From a political perspective, members of the United Nations including powers such as the USA, United Kingdom and India have for decades recognized the sovereignty of China over Tibet. If you cannot accept this then please also support native Indian independence (there will be no USA left), Australian native independence, Canadian native independence (the French should just pack up and leave), etc.

      The problem here is that the leader of Tibetans is abusing respect for his spiritual views as a front to advance his government in exile’s political ambitions and I wonder which country or countries is backing/funding this. I don’t see any problem if His Holiness Dalai Lama wears the hat of a spiritual leader or a (even) secular one but to use this strategy of spirituality fronting political ambition is playing with fire.

      I would advise all students and faculty of UC San Diego to examine the cult of the Dalai Lama deeply and from many angles. He is not a simple man and don’t let his laugh fool you.

    • Ram

      So that means you do accept China invaded Tibet forcefully. For your kind information The Tibetan government-in-exile still maintains that Tibet is an independent state under unlawful occupation. Just because you invade and occupy and bring political pressure to accept as sovereignty of china over tibet is like saying – you want to accept a rapist as your husband. And now you are preaching Sovereignty? How effectively China Practice Sovereignty of the neighboring nations? The only voice Tibetans had is Dalai lama and now china want to suppress that as well. And you call Dalai lama as a Cult? You must have gone totally mad. And one more thing. There is something called “Freedom of speech” that is observed in USA and many other countries of which Chinese never heard and practiced in there country. The state and University has every right to choose who will visit the University and you cannot dictate that. First learn to respect each and every culture and freedom. If you want to protest go back to china and protest there on Freedom of expression rather than dancing on communist propaganda here in USA.

    • Ether Net

      What political pressure are you referring to? The United Nations and most of its component nations had a chance to examine the situation decades ago and never lifted a finger. Instead they upheld Chinese sovereignty.

      Of course the Dalai Lama is a cult. How do you explain a person whose words Tibetans accept without question, who is believed to magically reappear on earth via reincarnations and who in the form of the 5th Dalai Lama incarnation, used the military might of the Mongols to crush (kill) his own opposing people? If this is not a cult then what is?

    • Ram

      There You go, you are contradicting yourself again. If there is no Political Pressure from china why still Tibetans accept him as there leader rather than china? Why china opposing that? and look at yourself no answer on Sovereignty? I am again asking How effectively China Practice Sovereignty with there neighboring nations? My dear first learn to follow what you preach. Who are you to decide who is cult or not? If some one seeing him as there leader it is there freedom of choice. And for sure he is not a Terrorist. It is very clear that China is afraid of him and some how you guys want to bring him down. I know for hard skin communist it is hard to understand what it means to be a freedom. USA is free country. And any one can practice there belief and culture within the limit. Do not try to educate us on what is right or wrong. The era of conquering nations by conquest has gone long back and start embracing the culture and freedom now.

    • Ether Net

      “If there is no Political Pressure from china why still Tibetans accept him as there leader rather than china?” – because he is their cult leader.

    • r1b5

      Do you consider Catholicism a cult, with the pope as cult leader?

    • Ether Net

      No, definitely not. It is rather meritocratic.

    • Yuan Tien

      Low of you to draw the medieval card, but unsurprising given your previous comments. Everyone knows that the Chinese government relies on absolute censorship and control of information to maintain their legitimacy. It uses Tibetans and other minority groups to portray China as an inclusive, multicultural country to promote soft power, but will not give voice to the grievances of these groups. Wouldn’t be surprised if the Chinese government has connection to and influence these overseas Chinese student associations as well.

    • Ether Net

      If you look at my comments you will see that I am not commenting about China, rather I am commenting about the heavily-rose-tinted glasses which many people view the Dalai Lama with, and who are unable to understand that the Dalai Lama is a cult leader and that Tibet is no Shangri-la. It is the Dalai Lama who is speaking at the UC San Diego commencement, not the Chinese President, so please take the time to objectively study who he really is. I’ve given some leads. You should also look into the company his head of cabinet Lobsang Sangay is courting in Japan – the Nippon Kaigi.

    • Yuan Tien

      I will look into those. But I don’t understand how you think the Dalai Lama is a cult leader and yet the Pope is not?

    • Ether Net

      This is His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche who lives in Vermont and in the recent picture attached was in Bloomington. He is the reincarnation of one of His Holiness Dalai Lama’s two most senior teachers and mentors.

      Notice the two bodyguards flanking HH Trijang Rinpoche. When he was young, HH Dalai Lama’s supporters threatened to kill him because he practised the practice of enlightened being Dorje Shugden and he had to flee to Switzerland where he is reported to have attended boarding school anonymously.

      It looks like he has had to increase his security detail lately. I do not know why. Please look into Dorje Shugden. You will understand more about the cult of Dalai Lama.

    • jimmy meeker

      No one seriously considers the Dalai Lama to be a cult leader. Now you are saying that UCSD should not have had him speak because he is leader of a cult?

    • Ram

      I know Histroy of Tibet very well. Unless you have your own Chinese version of histroy of Tibet. You say one is Cult leader and one is Meritocratic. How about Chinese leaders ? Democratically elected? Clearly you need to brush up your mind rather than labelling some one as a cult or not.

    • Pem Phayul

      In reality, what you write here doesn’t matter as the Dalai Lama is a Nobel peace laureates loved and respected by millions around the world. And you see how bias the author of this website for not letting others to write in support of the Dalai Lama. Looks like you people are brainwashed by the Chinese hardliners. Truth will prevail not matter how hard you try to turn it upside down.

  • Thupten Norbu

    Those Chinese students who opposed H.H the Dalai Lama, you guys should learn both sides of the coin to know exactly what is written on it before throw your superficial judgement on Sino-Tibetan issues. You are supposed to be a graduate from a great US university there, you honest opinion matters and it should be genuine and truthful. As far as the Dalai Lama is concerned, he is committed to: First) World Peace, Second) Religious Harmony among the major religious traditions , Third) Genuine Autonomy for his people within the People’s Republic of China. He is not seeking independence for Tibet….All in all, Sino-Tibetan issues should be solved by the both parties involvements, so for the Tibetan side, H.H the Dalai lama is the only solution to this because 6 million Tibetans listen to him. Thanks!

  • alexdt

    “Histroy witness How brutally China Invaded Tibet and Killed millions of Buddhist Monks…”

    What “History” was that?

    I challenge anyone to back up such “History”.

  • alexdt

    To the Chinese citizens, the Dalai Lama is a traitor who collaborated with Mao in the early 50’s and then, after a failed uprising, waged guerrilla warfare in collaboration with CIA based on Mustang of Nepal. One can easily find the picture of the Dalai Lama inspecting the exile Tibetan military troops, the now not so secretive Unit 22.

  • wangld11

    No surprise those skin tangka lovers support this evil monk. Every time they are against the “brain washed” Chinese, they just persuade them to read some “correct history” stories, but they never take the other side perspective into consideration. Of course, they are priori correct.

    • Ether Net

      I like your comment.

      HH the 14th Dalai Lama from “The Path to Enlightenment”, Snow Lion Publications · Translator: Glenn H. Mullin :-

      “It is sometimes said that a major cause of the decline of Buddhism in India eight hundred years ago was the practice of Vajrayana by unqualified people, and sectarianism caused by corruption within the Sangha. Anyone teaching Tibetan Buddhism should keep this in mind when they refer to the precept, “every action of the guru is to be seen as perfect.” This is an extremely dangerous teaching, particularly for beginners.”

  • Ether Net

    From Wikipedia, various entries:

    The title “Dalai Lama” was first bestowed by the Mongolian ruler Altan Khan upon Sonam Gyatso in 1578, a title derived from the Mongolian Dalai-yin qan (or Dalaiin khan) one. The 4th Dalai Lama was Mongolian and not Tibetan 🙂

    And (political) Tibet was actually the Mongolian Koshut Khanate: “With his crushing victory over Tsogtu, Güshi Khan conquered Amdo (present-day Qinghai). The unification of Tibet followed in 1641-42, when Güshi Khan invaded Central Tibet and defeated the indigenous Tsangpa Dynasty. After his victory he was proclaimed (chogyal), i.e. the King of Dharma, or Teaching, by the Fifth Dalai Lama. With these events the establishment of a Khoshut Khanate was confirmed.”

    The Khoshut’s leader Toro Baikhu Güshi Khan defeated all the Dalai Lama V’s enemies in 1637-1642. He was enthroned by the Dalai Lama as Khan of Tibet. His grandson and second successor Gonchug Dalai Khan (1669–98) welcomed dissident Dzungars when Galdan Khan began despising Guushi Khan’s Oirats.

    With the defeat of Galdan in 1697, Dalai Khung Taiji Dashi Batur submitted to the Kangxi Emperor of the Qing dynasty in a personal audience. In 1705, with the approval of the Kangxi Emperor of the Manchu Qing dynasty, Lha-bzang Khan of the Khoshud deposed the regent and sent the 6th Dalai Lama to Beijing; the 6th Dalai Lama died soon after, probably near Qinghai Lake (Koko nur) in Amdo. The Dzungar Mongols invaded Tibet in 1717, and held the entire region until their final defeat by the Qing imperial army in 1720.,[6] thus began the period of Qing rule of Tibet.

  • Tawu K

    Since 1949, the Chinese government has relentlessly attempted to
    wipe out Tibetan culture as a strategy to eliminate Tibet as we know it – as it
    has existed for 2,000 years. But
    the Tibetan people are strong and their culture is one of resilience.

  • jimmy meeker

    “educate students about how they feel disrespected by the decision” So this is about being disrespected? Nobody cares if your feeling are hurt.
    You are in America as a guest in our University. You have no say in who is allowed to speak at the University.