The Students Behind the Illuminati Posters

On the evening of Feb. 15, a series of mysterious posters began appearing across campus, prompting speculation amongst students and quick cleanup ...

Feb 21, 2015

On the evening of Feb. 15, a series of mysterious posters began appearing across campus, prompting speculation amongst students and quick cleanup efforts by security and administration. Depicting sparse, geometric images of sets of names relating to Abu Dhabi and the university, the posters’ aesthetic paid homage to Illuminati or New World Order memes. Almost immediately, RAs, security guards and administrators began removing the posters.
The project was a coordinated effort by a group of students and was completed within a few hours. One of the students, who agreed to speak to The Gazelle under the condition of anonymity, said that the main motive was entertainment for a group of friends, as well as curiosity as to how long it would take for the posters to be removed.
“We were just doing it for a laugh,” said the student. “But now that I think of it … We wanted to see which ones stayed up the longest.”
Official university policy, as stipulated in the Signage Policy for Residential Spaces, states that it is not allowed to hang posters outside spaces designated by the university.
The students said that they were aware of the policy:
“The primary motivation was that this could be funny,” said the student. “But I also feel like there should be more [things] like this on campus. It’s fun. It’s harmless. Some people will get a good laugh out of it and ideally it’s not offensive to anyone.”
Even though the motivating factor was the entertainment value, the student also said that the outcome was indicative of a larger issue within the university.
“This campus doesn’t feel like a college campus. I’d love to see more people playing music outside and putting up posters,” commented the student. “You walk into A6 or A5 and it is … white everywhere, and [only] things that are being advertised are formal … events.”
According to the student, part of the motivation, even if indirectly, was to break up the monotonous character of the campus culture.
“So many of the events are robotic,” added the student. “I’m not feeling the student love for the campus. The campus is not student-friendly.”
These sorts of projects are not particular to the Saadiyat campus; during NYUAD’s time in Sama Tower, graffiti was common in the building stairwells, leading to conversations — formal and informal — about how NYUAD as a community occupied the space it operated in.
One of these projects that has traveled in various forms from Sama to Saadiyat is the ongoing presence of King Broichiro, which first appeared as a series of Student-Government-style campaign posters bearing uncanny resemblance to the face of a junior, Soichiro Hattori, who declined to comment. The King Broichiro collective denies the possibility of Hattori possessing autonomous personhood independent of the King Broichiro project.
What began as a group of posters soon evolved into a wheat paste graffiti project, with the images soon displayed around campus. So far, few images have been put up on Saadiyat, but a website has since been created to allow others to promote King Broichiro by printing cutouts of King Broichiro’s face.
Student representatives of King Broichiro agreed to discuss the project, again under the guarantee of anonymity.
“The King Broichiro project began as an attempt to systematically dismantle student government from a grassroots perspective. Moving from there, it became clear that the people had spoken and King Broichiro was in fact the true leader of the student body,” said the collective, before admitting: “That remains to be carried out in practice.”
The representatives noted that, as was the case of other poster and graffiti projects, the poster policy conflicts with their project. They also echoed the sentiment of a campus lacking in informal projects and activities of this nature. They commented that this atmosphere, whether limited by official policy or a lack of student interest, solidified the sense that life on the Saadiyat campus did not exist.
“King Broichiro encourages students to engage in all sorts of freewheeling and exciting activities to bring life and vibrancy to the Saadiyat campus,” said the collective.
Sam Ball is opinion editor. Email him at 
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