Hong Kong Baptist University has said it will “re-assess” its decision to temporarily suspend two students following a row over a compulsory Mandarin-language test, “in light of the students’ apology.” A decision will be reached this week.
Two weeks ago, the Baptist University Students’ Union held an eight-hour protest at the school’s Language Centre over a Mandarin test. Mandarin language proficiency is a HKBU graduation requirement, and local students must pass the centre’s test if they wish to be excused from taking a Mandarin course.
After 70 per cent of students failed the test, some demanded talks with the administration. A video later emerged showing Student Union President Lau Tsz-kei swearing at staff members. Following the row, one of the protesters – Chinese medicine student Andrew Chan Lok-hang – cut short his internship in China after receiving threats.
Lau and Chan were suspended by Vice-chancellor Roland Chin last Wednesday. In response, over 700 alumni signed a petition protesting the decision, and 200 rallied in support of the students last Friday.
In an email sent to students, staff and alumni Wednesday afternoon, Chin said: “We are pleased to know that the two suspended students had taken the initiative to apologise in person to Language Centre colleagues yesterday, expressing their remorseful regret and their willingness to bear the responsibility for what they have done.”
Chin said that, in light of the apology, the Director of Student Affairs will meet with Lau and Chan, as well as staff at the Language Centre, to “re-assess” whether the conditions of the suspension still applied. A decision will be made within the week.
Chin also said that, regardless of the decision over the temporary suspension, the school’s formal disciplinary procedures will “go ahead and run its full course” – meaning the students could still be suspended or expelled if a disciplinary committee finds their conduct unacceptable.
“Nothing hurts a teacher more than seeing students conduct themselves irresponsibly, and nothing delights a teacher more than seeing students learning from mistakes and improving themselves,” Chin added. He asked the public to give the school time and space to handle the matter.