The University of Science and Technology (HKUST) Students’ Union has expressed “extreme regret” over the institution’s decision to punish union leaders for organising a memorial event on campus, repainting a protest slogan on a campus path, and refusing to remove protest-related materials from notice boards.
The university had claimed that the union’s memorial event last May – which marked the six-month anniversary of the death of HKUST student Chow Tsz-lok near a protest site in Tseung Kwan O – posed public health concerns and violated university management’s instruction not to hold the event.
It also accused the union of blocking a pedestrian passage while repainting the protest slogan “Hope lies in the people; change begins with resistance” on a path near the campus entrance last June.
The union’s president and internal vice president have now been suspended from class for a semester, while several other key members are barred from using campus facilities for six months and have been ordered to serve 75 hours of university community service over the alleged violations.
In a statement, the union called the penalties “disproportionate”, “extremely regrettable” and “unreasonable”, saying it had adopted effective anti-epidemic measures during the memorial event and only did the repainting work during a quiet period.
It also stressed it has the responsibility to voice up against social injustice.
The union said it will not bow to suppression from the university, and will continue to act in the interests of HKUST students.
In response to media enquiries, HKUST said student activities must be held in accordance with government regulations and must take into account social conditions at the time.
It stressed that students who repeatedly defy the university's decisions are subject to disciplinary action, adding that they are given a chance to explain themselves or lodge an appeal during the process.