The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts has cancelled its student union’s speech at their welcoming ceremony for new students two days before the scheduled date. It came as the union published a survey suggesting that 12 per cent of students had suffered sexual harassment by teaching staff and 18 per cent had witnessed classmates being harassed.

Chairman of the student union Ryan Lo said that, for the past six or seven years, a student union representative had been given around ten minutes to deliver a speech at the annual ceremony. “A student-elected representative must give welcoming remarks to freshmen,” he said. On Thursday, Lo and several other students asked the Student Affairs Office for an explanation. In response, school authorities said they cancelled the speech to add a time buffer as past ceremonies always went overtime.

“If there is not enough time, you can cut the time limit, but why do you deprive us of the right to speak?” a student asked.

學生會直播 現正前往SAO

Posted by Ryan Lo on Thursday, 25 August 2016

Over 100 freshmen gathered at the school lobby as Lo gave a speech he originally prepared for the ceremony.

Photo: i-Cable TV screenshot.

In April, the school suspended the student union’s right to use school venues and threatened disciplinary actions after the union hosted an academic forum on methods of resistance. The punishments came after the school allegedly banned the event, saying that it “may promote violent and illegal acts.”

Also in April, HKFP reported on how ex-employee Peter Jordan was to be paid HK$1 million by the school after he sued in a case related to sexual harassment. Jordan accused Ceri Sherlock of victimising him and terminating his employment after he confronted him over rumours of sexual harassment.

Koel Chu is a second-year journalism and fine arts student at the University of Hong Kong. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Koel is interested in the arts and urban design. She interned at China Radio International in Beijing and, at her university, she also works as Vice-President of Branding and Marketing in AIESEC, the largest youth-run organisation in the world.