Around 30 students of Lingnan University staged a protest during a graduation ceremony Tuesday to express their concern over the recent controversies surrounding the institution.
The graduating students, mainly from the Faculty of Arts, displayed placards bearing messages such as “University Council members lack ethics” and “Shame” when they went on stage.
Others threw white roses on the stage to suggest that Lingnan University’s liberal arts education spirit is dead, Ming Pao Daily News reported.
The protesters also refused to bow to Simon Ip Shing-hing, vice-chairman of the university’s governing body, the report said.
Meanwhile, paper planes with messages saying “I want genuine academic qualifications” and “I want to elect council members” were thrown onto the stage from the audience.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who is the chancellor of the institution, was absent from the ceremony, as was the university council chairman Rex Auyeung Pak-kuen.
Professor Joshua Mok Ka-ho, vice president of the university, said Lingnan’s liberal arts education allows students to voice their opinions. He added that he respects the students as they conducted themselves peacefully and reasonably without causing any disruption to the congregation.
Lee Mei-ting, one of the initiators of the protests, said students want reforms in relation to Lingnan’s governing body, given the recent scandals surrounding the institution.
She was referring to issues such as the controversial appointment of Junius Ho Kwan-yiu and Chan Man-ki to the university council and a “diploma mill” saga of Lifelong College, an institution which is linked to council member Alex Lee Ye-lick.
Lee added that students would like see an end to the existing system that automatically makes the chief executive the chancellor of universities.
Also, students should have the power to elect more of the council members, he said.
Lee stressed that the protest was staged in a solemn way and that the students did not disrupt the proceedings at the ceremony.
Alex Lee, meanwhile, said in a statement Tuesday that he has applied to the vice-chancellor for leave of absence from the university governing body.
Or Hoi-ling, deputy secretary general of the Lingnan student union, said Lee should quit the council with immediate effect as he failed to respond properly to the allegations surrounding his private college.
Lee’s Lifelong College has been accused of fast-tracking doctoral degrees to benefit some people.
Or said students were disappointed with the lack of follow-up action from Lingnan University.
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