OPEN LETTER TO THE TEN DEANS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG
I write as an alumna of this University.
It is rare for 10 deans of the University of Hong Kong to issue a joint public statement. So it must be important and for the right reason.
You say academic freedom and institutional autonomy are the absolute bedrock of higher education in Hong Kong. You call on all parties including those within the University to respect these principles. By those within the University, you must include the University Council. And you must be aware that many senior staff and alumni of the University are deeply dismayed – to use your term - precisely because academic freedom and institutional integrity are being threatened by the very controversial decisions of the University Council in its last two meetings to depart from its normal practice and due process and to refuse to deliberate on the recommendation of the Search Committee for the post of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Staffing and Resources) despite the strong urging from the Vice Chancellor. The excuse given for such delay is nonsensical and an affront to common sense. When has the University suspended discussion of the Search Committee in order to wait for the view of one single person who has not even been appointed?
You say you cannot condone uncivil activity. But you are aware of the cause behind such activity. You say this disrupts normal operation of the University. But have you said anything about the above decisions of the University Council which cause far greater damage to the normal operation of the University?
As deans, it is your responsibility to guide and help the students, particularly when they are fighting the fight that you ought to be fighting for. Yet by issuing the public statement, you may be unwittingly applying pressure on the powerless students instead of urging those in power to stand by those principles that you say are important. I urge you to do what you can to help the students, to persuade the Council members not to delay, to return to its usual practice and to restore normal operation to the University.
Audrey Eu LLB 1975