Two Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) students said they would appeal their suspension, which they consider totally unjust, and seek a judicial review if necessary, Apple Daily reports.
Former student union president Lau Tsz-kei and Andrew Chan Lok-hang, a fifth-year student at the HKBU School of Chinese Medicine, stormed into the university’s language center on Jan. 17 to protest the alleged lack of transparency in a Putonghua course exemption test, which was launched last year as a requirement for graduation.
Video footage showed Lau and Chan shouting agitatedly at some female staff during an eight-hour occupation of the facility, with Lau even heard using abusive language.
The school barred the duo from their classes for breaching the students’ code of conduct by making teachers feel insulted and threatened, pending an investigation by its disciplinary committee
The suspension was lifted several days later after it sparked student protests.
However, the committee decided last week to discipline the two, with Lau to be suspended for one semester and Chan for eight days plus 40 hours of community service on campus.
They were also asked to write a letter of apology to the language center by April 12.
Responding to the punishment at a press conference on Monday, the duo vowed to appeal the panel’s decision. Chan did not exclude the possibility of applying for a judicial review if their appeal was not successful.
Chan slammed the committee for significant negligence, saying it failed to get the facts straight by only listening to one side of the story, while Lau suspected the school tried to make an example of them so as to discourage students from speaking freely about school policies.
Dr. Benson Wong Wai Kwok, who chairs HKBU’s faculty and staff union, said the disciplinary action created an impression that it was suppressing dissent under the cover of giving the duo a punishment.
Wong is concerned that the decision, being favorable to the school administration and not to the students, might create an antagonistic environment on the campus.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the university said details regarding the committee’s decision will not be revealed for protection of privacy, stressing it definitely respects students’ right to express their opinions peacefully and rationally and the two students concerned can lodge an appeal if they disagree with the decision.
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