CUHK offers no apologies for sex column warnings
Letters were sent with ‘good intentions’ to student editors
By Louise Ho
Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Vice Chancellor Lawrence Lau refused to apologize yesterday for issuing students warning letters regarding a “sex column” in the students’ monthly publication, Student Press.
In May, the university issued the warning letters to editors of the publication following complaints that a column in its February and March issues was indecent.
The letters stated that the university was giving a serious warning to students, asking them to stop publishing the articles immediately.
The Obscene Articles Tribunal later classified the column as a Class II indecent article after the Ming Pao newspaper reprinted the articles.
However, last month the High Court overruled the classification and ruled that the Tribunal didn’t need to hold any review hearing for the articles.
In an open session to meet with students at CUHK, Lau was confronted by angry students who demanded the university to withdraw the letters and offer students an apology.
Student Press Chief Editor Chan said that since the High Court’s ruling was made, the university has not talked to the students.
She asked whether the university would put any unfavorable comments in the student editors’ files.
Melody Chan, a third-year law student and one of the editors of the Student Press, criticized the university for sending the warning letters to the wrong students.
“We did not publish last year’s issues. The university owes us an apology,” she said.
The students’ requests were met with a few seconds of silence among CUHK’s senior management.
Then Lau said the letters were sent with good intentions, and he asked the students to look forward.
He clarified that the letters were not to penalize students and said there won’t be a record of the incident in students’ files.
“The incident is over,” he said. “No student needs to get punished, and we will not reopen the case.”
CUHK Registrar Eric Ng added that a penalizing letter would have explained the penalty, which the warning letters did not include.
Meanwhile, Lau also rebuked media reports that CUHK is going to demolish a sculpture known as a symbol of the university, and which stands in front of the University Library.
They are taking down the sculpture only to make way for expansion of the University Library, he told the students.
The college understands the importance of the sculpture to its history, and all the parts will be kept intact, he said.
“Please be reassured that University Square and the sculpture will keep its current look after the expansion work is finished before next year’s graduation ceremony,” he said.
The expansion of the University Library is to cater for the addition of 3,000 freshmen in 2012, when the four-year tertiary education system will be implemented and secondary 6 and 7 students will be attending year 1 at the same time.
Moving The Gate upsets students
By Phyllis Tsang and Elaine Yau
A landmark sculpture regarded as the heart of Chinese University and an icon of freedom of expression will be removed for a year to make way for library extensions.
The university has promised that the sculpture, The Gate, and its broad rectangular base nicknamed the Beacon will be returned to the same spot after work is finished. But students and alumni have complained about a lack of consultation, saying they were not told about the move until a decision had been made.
The Gate, by Ju Ming, resembles two men locked in combat and has stood in front of the university's main library since the 1980s. Its base is a popular site for public forums and has been the scene of student protests on issues such as the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, the appointment of former vice-chancellor Charles Kao Kuen as a Hong Kong affairs adviser to the mainland and the Article 23 security bill in 2003.
Vice-Chancellor Lawrence Lau Juen-yee told students of the temporary removal at a forum yesterday. He said The Gate and the Beacon would be removed for 12 months from December next year, while an underground extension was added to the library. It will be back to its original site without an inch of difference, Professor Lau said. Despite the high cost of the underground proposal, we still chose that option because we wanted to retain the original look of the main campus.
Student union president Lam Ka-ka said the whole thing was closed from the students… They only told us the details when everything was confirmed.
Alumnus Chong Yiu-kwong, a 1991 graduate, criticised the university for lack of open consultation, especially as the Beacon was considered the heart of the university.
Another alumnus, Ivan Choy Chi-keung, now a political science lecturer at the university, said the temporary removal was acceptable.