Three University of Hong Kong (HKU) students have been expelled from a residential hall after some 20 students allegedly entered the dormitory room of a student without consent and then poured wax over his genitals.

The residential hall, St. John’s College, said in a statement on Saturday that 19 students were suspended from residence, while one student was given a written warning.

st john's hall
St John’s Hall. Photo: HKU.

“Ragging, under whatever pretext or in any manner, has no place in St. John’s,” Wong Kwok-chun, the dean of the residence, said.

St. John’s College defines ragging as any action that intentionally exposes someone to “any form of cruelty, indignity, humiliation, hardship or oppression” in a situation where the perpetrators enjoy an overpowering position.

Wong said the college hopes that the disciplinary action will make clear to HKU students and alumni that ragging cannot be justified as a “sub-culture” or “tradition.”

According to the statement, a student was physically abused on March 21. Upon investigation, a disciplinary committee concluded that incident took place at the hall, with the perpetrators being students from different floors of the residence and school years.

University of Hong Kong. Photo: WikiMedia

The students’ association of the college said in a separate statement Saturday that the victim and the perpetrators had two “frank and extensive discussions” following the incident. They agreed that ragging was an “unbecoming conduct that must be reprimanded,” it said.

“Ragging is fundamentally unjustifiable, dishonourable and wrong,” it said. “The notion that ragging forms part of the ‘tradition’ or ‘sub-culture’ of the College is wrong and should not be adhered to.”

“We hereby sincerely apologise to the public for the unbecoming and irresponsible behaviour of our fellow students in the incident, which has disgraced the College and the University, and has caused unnecessary public concern.”

Meanwhile, another HKU residential hall is embroiled in a similar controversy after a video surfaced on Wednesday appearing to show a student slapping another on the face with his penis.

hku university of hong kong
Footage of the alleged bullying incident. Photo: Screenshots.

See also: Dormitory says ‘one-off’ incident was not a case of bullying, as HKU promises investigation

The hall in question, Simon K.Y. Lee Hall, said Thursday that its members, warden and tutors in charge immediately investigated the incident. They concluded that the conduct “raised no concern of bullying,” and the warden had submitted a report to the HKU administration.

It apologised for “any misunderstanding” created by the incident, which it said it was a “one-off” case and had no connection with the hall. The students involved have been suspended from the dormitory until the investigation is completed.

A spokesperson for HKU told HKFP earlier that the hall involved was investigating the incident and disciplinary action will be taken if it is justified.

A police spokesperson said Thursday that two people reported the incident to the force. The Western Police District crime unit is handling the case.

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.