Thousands of Chinese University staff, students and alumni have signed an online petition supporting the newly elected cabinet of the institution's student union, Syzygia, after the university announced a decision to cut ties with the group.
As of 3pm on Friday, 5,700 people had signed the petition, demanding that the university retract the decision and stop suppressing student views.
“We are deeply regretful and distressed to know that the university renounces its students. And it is very unfortunate that the integrity and foundation of humanities rooted in CUHK have been destroyed by the University itself,” the statement said.
“We, CUSU, are now launching a petition. We call for support from students, graduates and staff in CUHK to support us through the general will of CUHK students and to show objection against the CUHK from depriving the rights of the Student Union because of political reasons. We hereby urge the university to recall such decisions.”
The petition was launched after the university announced late on Thursday that it would stop providing administrative support to the union as well as venues for its activities, accusing Syzygia of failing to clarify "potentially unlawful statements and false allegations".
In its manifesto, Syzygia accused the university of "kowtowing to the regime" and said the national security law infringes on people's basic human rights and freedom.
More than 3,000 members of past CUHK student unions have also signed a joint statement, condemning the university’s decision.
They accused the institution of quashing freedom of expression on campus, and called on the university's vice-chancellor and president, Rocky Tuan, to immediately stop the "suppression".
However, three pro-Beijing lawmakers who sit on CUHK's governing council jumped to the management's defence, saying students shouldn't use the university as a platform to “conduct illegal acts”.
“The university’s administration has the responsibility to protect every member of the university. They have to ensure that everything is legal on campus… we will not accept anything that will violate the laws of Hong Kong,” Alice Mak from the Federation of Trade Unions said.