Baptist University’s student union has slammed the school’s “crackdown on resistance,” even as it lifted the suspensions of two students who were involved in a row over a Mandarin proficiency exam.

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 graduation requirement, and local students must pass the centre’s test if they wish to be excused from taking a Mandarin course. However, 70 per cent of students failed the exemption test.

Some students then demanded talks with the administration. After a video emerged showing Student Union President Lau Tsz-kei swearing at staff members during the protest, Lau and Andrew Chan, another student present, were suspended by Vice-chancellor Roland Chin last week.

Baptist University
Baptist University. File photo: In-Media.

Vice-chancellor Chin announced that the students’ suspension will be lifted on Thursday. In response, the Baptist University Student Union said: “We believe this incident is a crackdown on resistance – even though the suspension only lasted a week, it is sufficient to show the school’s barbarism and unreasonableness, and how they turn a blind eye to procedural justice.”

“The controversy of the two students’ suspension will end here – we hope staff and students at Baptist University, as well as sectors across society can focus on the Mandarin language exemption test and graduation requirement, and continue to supervise the school.”

In an email to members of the school announcing the decision, Chin said that the Director of Students Affairs met with the two students, during which “they undertook not to commit the same mistakes again.”

Chin also said that the staff at the Language Centre accepted the students’ apologies. The director decided that the conditions for the temporary suspension were no longer valid “after a careful and thorough assessment.”

baptist university Andrew Chan and Lau Tsz-kei
Andrew Chan and Lau Tsz-kei. Photo: In-Media.

“The two students may resume their classes from today,” Chin said. However, he added that the formal student disciplinary procedures will go ahead as scheduled – meaning the students could still be suspended or expelled if a disciplinary committee finds their conduct unacceptable.

“Punitive action is not our goal. Education is. I trust that the two students’ repentance is genuine and that they cherish this second chance and have learned from their mistakes.”

Chin also said that the school “would like to reiterate that we always respect students’ rights to voice their opinions in a peaceful and rational manner” and will continue to discuss the Mandarin language graduation requirement and exemption test with the university community.

In response to the school’s suspension of Lau and Chan, over 700 alumni signed a petition protesting the decision, and 200 rallied in support of the students last Friday.

Chan was previously forced to cut short his internship in China after receiving threats.

Karen cheung hong kong

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.