The Jakarta Post
A number of North Sumatra University (USU) students staged a rally at the USU campus on Thursday to protest the rector’s decision to dismiss 18 students from the editorial board of student publication Suara USU after they published a short story about the struggle of a young woman who falls in love with another woman.
Protest coordinator, Felix Kristiono Simanjuntak, said the protest was a spontaneous act by the students to support the now-defunct student press.
“We criticize the one-sided revocation of the press permit for the Suara USU student publication. This is an act of persecution. We, as students and an intellectual community, object to the suppression of ideas and creativity,” Felix said in his speech.
Felix said the students wanted the rectorate to reappoint the editorial board team.
Head of Suara USU, Yael Stefani Sinaga, who also wrote the controversial short story, said she was grateful for the support her fellow students had given.
Yael said the dismissed editorial board members had prepared to move out of the Suara USU secretariat room in compliance with a command from the rector, Runtung Sitepu. However, after seeing the protest, Yael said the board members would remain in the secretariat room.
“We will stay here, we did not do anything wrong,” Yael told The Jakarta Post during the protest.
Yael said the short story, Ketika Semua Menolak Kehadiran Diriku Di Dekatnya (Everyone Refuses My Presence Near Her), is still on the website although the website is now blocked by the university.
“We will never take down the short story because we have a right to freedom of expression,” Yael said.
Reacting to the protest, USU deputy rector Rosmayati said the rectorate had no interest in banning the student publication but would elect a new editorial board to run suarausu.co.
Rosmayati said the current editorial board had to leave the secretariat room as the university would soon elect new members.
“This was one of the points of the agreement between the rector and the Suara USU editorial board during a meeting on Mar. 25,” she said.