19 October 2019
Academic institutions should respect freedom of speech and allow political discussions, Hong Kong students say. Photo:
Academic institutions should respect freedom of speech and allow political discussions, Hong Kong students say. Photo:

Teachers, students take umbrage at La Salle College move

Some teachers and students of Hong Kong’s La Salle College are said to be wearing black clothes Monday in a show of protest over the college’s directive to keep political discussions away from the campus.

The college’s principal, Brother Steve Hogan, told students during an assembly last Friday that politics is a personal matter, and that political views should not be publicized in school or enforced on others, Ming Pao Daily News reported Monday.

The principal apparently insisted that “political matters should be left at the gate” of the campus. Any student who is absent from class should hand in a letter from his parents explaining the reason, Hogan is also reported to have said.

The comments came as students in the city were preparing to boycott classes this week to highlight their anger over Beijing’s political roadmap for Hong Kong.

Hogan’s speech caused dissatisfaction among some teachers, prompting them to plan to wear black on Monday to express their feelings, the report said. Meanwhile, some students said that they would also wear black to support the teachers’ action, according to a representative of the students’ concern group on political reform. They said the principal’s directives amount to stifling freedom of speech.

Meanwhile, some students of Tseung Kwan O Government School wanted to distribute yellow ribbons near their school, but didn’t succeed.

The government school would not allow students to do so, not only within the school area, but also near the area at a bus stop that is 200 meters away from the campus, according to the Facebook page of the school’s civic education concern group. 

The Education Bureau, which is the operator of the school, said the school has only reminded that students should seek parental consent before engaging in any political activity outside the school.

Tik Chi-yuen, director of the Hong Kong Institute of Family Education, said secondary school students do not have enough time to digest and understand the reason for class boycotts. Hence, he has reservations about the activity.

Raymond Chiu, chairman of the Federation of Parent-Teacher-Association of Hong Kong’s Eastern District, said most of the parents he contacted had a neutral stance on the class boycott. As the boycott will not last long, it will not have an impact on students’ academic development over the entire school year, he said.

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