Keeping political conflict off university campus
Dear Staff, Students and Alumni,
The provisional Executive Committee of the CityU Students’ Union (SU) has announced that it has invited Professor Way Kuo, President of CityU, to an open forum on 21 August but it did so without the prior acknowledgment of the University.
The University has kept in constant communication with students and student organisations, almost on a daily basis over the years. The President has regularly met students, delivered lectures publicly and privately to students, faculty and academic community, and visited staff and faculty at academic and administrative unit in turn. This year, the President has met more than 300 staff members and individual students, including staff in the Enterprise Solutions Office, Communications and Public Relations Office, Finance Office, Human Resources Office, Computing Services Centre and administration, academic and teaching staff in the College of Business.
Regarding the social unrest in Hong Kong over the last two months, we have reiterated through channels such as University Announcements (UA) and responses to media that CityU students must pay attention to the safety of themselves and others. We respect peaceful and rational discussions and will not tolerate any form of violence or vulgar speech. According to University regulations, no politically related activities are allowed on campus.
The President and senior management met representatives of SU on 1 August and conveyed SU’s messages to the Heads of the eight UGC-funded universities following the meeting. The UA issued on 4 August urged the government to respond to our students’ requests in the interest of the welfare of the entire Hong Kong community and to pay attention to the safety of students and society.
Many alumni and members of society have expressed their opposition to SU’s request for an open dialogue with the President. At a special meeting on 8 August, the President and senior management agreed unanimously that the University had conveyed its stance unequivocally to students, and that an open dialogue with SU could hardly be advantageous to the recent problems in society. Such a forum would not provide new arguments for discussion. On the contrary, it may trigger more serious conflicts among our family of alumni, staff and students of different ideologies and backgrounds.
Student safety is our top priority. We have been very concerned about escalating public sentiment since 11 August, and as a result we have established the Emergency Response Unit (ERU). Since its establishment, ERU has conscientiously performed its duties and issued several UAs. In fact, Professor Horace Ip Ho-shing, Vice-President (Student Affairs), and Mr Sunny Lee Wai-kwong, Vice-President (Administration), had invited CityU students to an open meeting to discuss contingency plans for emergencies on 14 or 15 August.
On 15 August, 20 faculty members and members of CityU’s leadership teams, including those who take care of alumni relations, issued a UA stating that now is not the time for an open meeting. The University should get back on track and focus our resources on providing students with the support needed for research and teaching at the start of the new academic year.
Professor Richard Yuen Kwok-kit
Acting Director of Communications and Public Relations
21 August 2019