TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Students supporting and opposing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have engaged in a tit-for-tat graffiti battle on Johns Hopkins University’s famous mascot.
On Tuesday morning (Oct. 3), a screenshot of a Chinese student taking a selfie in front of Jay the Blue Jay Statue covered in red paint surfaced on major social media platforms such as X (formerly Twitter) and Reddit. On the statue’s shield are painted the yellow stars of the Chinese flag, the number “74,” which marks the 74 years since the CCP took power in Beijing, the word “China,” and a hammer and cycle.
Under the photo, the student wrote in Chinese: “JHU is awesome. Happy National Day.” The student explained that she had spraypainted the mascot in front of the cafeteria to celebrate China’s National Day and included a Chinese hashtag that read “#NationalDay.”
Australian political activist Drew Pavlou posted the screenshot and wrote that CCP supporters had sprayed the mascot to mark “CCP National Day.” However, Kevin Kind, a PhD candidate at the university’s Department of History retweeted Pavlou’s post and explained that defacing the mascot is an undergraduate tradition that “happens several times each semester.”
Another student at the university, Misha Novikov, uploaded a link to the university’s mascot policy under another X post with the screenshot. According to Johns Hopkins University guidelines, the Jay the Blue Jay Statue was “created by students for students as an outlet to express themselves creatively and spontaneously and promote the Blue Jay spirit.”
Students are allowed to “promote events, programming, and community spirit, and to further the free and open exchange of ideas.” There are five major conditions that must be met, such as only Johns Hopkins students and staff can paint the statue and the university reserves the right to remove paintings that breach a law or policy.
Novikov uploaded a photo showing that other students had already retaliated against the pro-CCP messages with anti-CCP graffiti of their own. The graffiti included vulgar Mandarin and English slogans scrawled in black mocking and cursing Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平).