Semester ban for Chow vigil activists

Local | Mandy Zheng 26 Jan 2021

Students who repeatedly ignore school instructions could be disciplined, University of Science and Technology said after suspending two student union executives for a semester.

The union announced on Sunday that its president, Mak Ka-chun, and vice-president, Lo Kai-ho, were punished for hosting a vigil on May 8 for the late UST student Chow Tsz-lok.

Chow, 22, died of brain injuries four days after falling from a Tseung Kwan O car park on November 4, 2019, while police were clashing with protesters nearby. Chow is regarded a martyr of the city’s year-long social unrest.

The school management also accused the union of other incidents of “misconduct,” including painting the slogan

“hope lies in people, change starts with resistance” on a campus street, hanging protest-related posters at an entrance and refusing to take down posters advocating independence on a notice board.

Mak, Lo and four other union members were barred from using facilities for half a year. They were ordered to do 75 hours of university community service, and the disciplinary action will be part of their academic records.

The union said the six received e-mails about the alleged misconduct in August, and met with the student disciplinary committee to explain the incidents last month.

It also said the vigil was attended by some 200 people, adding that school management had accused them of breaching social distancing rules and damaging the university’s reputation.

A UST spokeswoman said on Sunday: “If a student fails to comply with regulations after we advised and explained [the rules] multiple times, the academic registrar can decide whether to transfer him to the student disciplinary committee given the case’s severity.”

In a written response yesterday, UST said the union held the vigil and slogan painting event despite “repeated advice and opposition” from the school management, adding that some members had a track record of violating university rules.

“The registrar decided to transfer the cases to the student disciplinary committee, as they refused to correct their mistakes.”

The committee, chaired by engineering professor Khaled Letaief, comprises seven faculty members and four students. UST said students have the right to appeal the committee’s decisions.

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February 2021

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