Ten faculty societies at the University of Hong Kong have issued a joint statement criticising the invitation from the school governing council’s chairman Arthur Li to meet with “top” students. The societies questioned the legitimacy of the meeting and condemned the lack of transparency.

The statement, entitled “Meeting the ‘top students’ behind the closed doors is not facing opinion with sincerity”, was released on Sunday. It said that the HKU President’s Office sent an email to staff members on February 23, asking each faculty to nominate a “top” student to attend a meeting that Li and Vice-Chancellor Peter Mathieson. The meeting is to be held on March 24 and will last one and a half hours.

Arthur Li. File Photo: Stand News.

The societies then contacted their faculties for more information on the meeting, such as the selection process and nomination criteria. The faculties replied that it was to do with students’ academic performance and extracurricular activities. Mathieson also said that he did not know about the purpose or agenda of the meeting.

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The societies condemned Li and the Council’s failure to disclose details stating that “the students of HKU are the major stakeholders of this meeting, yet we are wholly uninformed.” It also said that such a meeting appeared to be an “insincere attempt to collect students’ opinion”. It urged a more comprehensive consultation approach to be adopted and asked students to boycott the meeting should Li fail to explain the details.

The societies’ joint statement on Arthur Li’s proposed meeting. Photo: Arts Association, HKUSU via Facebook.

The Arts Association, one of the first societies to voice their opposition towards the meeting, said it would not be nominating a student as per the faculty’s request and stressed it was important for student organisations and the media to be allowed into such meetings.

“The reason behind such a decision is that the meeting lacks legitimacy… Arts Association condemns such a meeting which bypasses all student organisations.”

Other faculty societies that signed the petition include: Architectural Society, Business and Economics Association, Dental Society, Education Society, Engineering Society, Law Association, Medical Society, Science Society, and the Social Sciences Society.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.