Hong Kong’s equality watchdog hopes to launch an investigation into an alleged incident of bullying and sexual harassment in a dormitory of the University of Hong Kong (HKU).

The Equal Opportunities Commission announcement came after local media reported that several HKU students had bullied and sexually harassed two female students from mainland China staying in the same university hall of residence.

The University of Hong Kong. File photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Ricky Chu, the chairperson of the EOC, said in a Tuesday statement that the alleged acts were “despicable” and “absolutely unacceptable.”

According to press release from HKU published on Friday, an unspecified number of students had been expelled from a dormitory as they had allegedly “offended fellow hall residents with inappropriate language and behaviours under the influence of alcohol.”

The students involved were from Richard Charles Lee Hall, the university’s students’ union publication, Undergrad, reported on Saturday.

Undergrad said it had obtained audio recordings of the incident, in which people can be heard repeatedly banging on a door, shouting “come out and play” and “Hong Kong welcomes you” in Mandarin.

A female voice can be heard begging multiple times for whoever is on the other side of the door to leave.

Two students were permanently barred from living in university accommodation over the incident, while one was expelled from staying at the hall for one semester, according to the student paper. The school also issued warnings to two other dormitory residents.

The Chairperson of the Equal Opportunities Commission Ricky Chu. File photo: Supplied.

In the EOC statement, Chu said that the alleged acts “may be in breach of the provisions on sexual harassment.”

Under the Sexual Discrimination Ordinance, sexual harassment includes “any unwelcome sexual behaviour directed towards the harassed person in circumstances which a reasonable person would have anticipated that the harassed person would be offended, humiliated, or intimidated,” the EOC wrote.

That includes “behaviours creating a sexually hostile or intimidating environment such as making unwelcome sexual demands or sex-related obscene jokes,” the statement continued.

Chu called on the “aggrieved persons” to contact the commission so that it could “investigate and follow up on” the matter.

‘Aggravate social division’

Additionally, Chu said in the statement that the incident involved “bullying and harassment against students as mainlanders.”

“Such intolerant and inflammatory remarks and acts will only aggravate social division and undermine social unity, which must be stopped and condemned,” he said.

The EOC chairperson added that the government has been actively following up on the watchdog’s proposal to address discrimination and harassment between people born in Hong Kong and those from mainland China by amending the Race Discrimination Ordinance.

Chu said the commission would also study whether the alleged acts in the HKU dorm incident contravened “existing relevant ordinances.”

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Peter Lee

Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.