Hong Kong Shue Yan University will take control of the office of its student union early next year after the union failed to form its own cabinet for the second year in a row.
The university will also lay claim to the union’s public message board, in a move that has sparked student protests.
The temporary administration overseeing Shue Yan’s student union issued a joint statement on Tuesday responding to the news.
“The school’s move to take back the office and the ‘democracy wall’ ignored the election results, suppressed self-governance and the space for freedom of speech of students,” the statement read. “It is difficult to understand the school’s logic to… selectively refuse to accept elected student councillors.”
The joint statement was signed by the temporary administration of Shue Yan’s student union, and student unions of seven other universities, Chu Hai College, and the Hong Kong Federation of Students.
The Hong Kong Federation of Students is a separate body that was formed by several university student unions.
The temporary administration of Shue Yan’s student union said that while a student union cabinet and a student press committee had not been formed in an election last month, a student council had been elected.
They added that the student council should be allowed to use the office and manage the message board. They said it was the usual practice and was in accordance with the student union’s rules.
The temporary administration are a group of students who have been operating in the absence of a cabinet, performing day to day tasks such as photocopying. They reported that the school’s Office of Student Affairs told them on December 7 that they should return the office by December 31.
They will at that point also take control of the “democracy wall” – a board on which students write their opinions.
The temporary administration urged the university to respond to their demands by December 27, lest it take further actions.
In response, the university said the school had earlier this year made a “concessionary” arrangement with the temporary administration. It reminded students that it had stated that, if a student union cabinet could not be formed by the end of the year, the school would not open up its facilities.
The school added that the “democracy wall” would be turned into “a normal message board.”
It also said that if students were willing to run in an election and successfully form a cabinet, the school would discuss arrangements to open up its facilities again.