A Hong Kong university caught in a storm after the death of one of its students will suspend classes on Monday due to “mass-scale malicious vandalism” on campus last week.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) said it was deeply saddened to see the ongoing turmoil in the city had spread to universities, urging authorities to do their part to end the crisis.
It also condemned an assault earlier this week on a mainland Chinese student on campus, pledging to bring the attackers to justice.
“The government must propose feasible solutions to the current social disputes so that peace and order can be restored in the entire society,” the statement read.
“The university once again calls on all parties to remain calm and restrained. Violence cannot solve any problems and will only intensify conflict and inflict greater damage.”
The class suspension came after the death on Friday of 22-year-old computer science undergraduate Chow Tsz-lok, who fell four metres in a car park in Tseung Kwan O. Tear gas and confrontations had taken place nearby as police attempted to disperse protesters who were trying to disrupt an officer’s wedding.
Angry students and protesters vandalised HKUST president Wei Shyy’s residence soon after the news emerged, and trashed at least three cafeterias, a Starbucks outlet and a Bank of China branch on campus. They demanded Shyy condemn police violence, which they blamed for Chow’s death.
Xu Jiang, a mainland Chinese professor at the university’s department of electronic and computer engineering, also had his office smashed by the protesters on the same day.
HKUST said many sites on campus were damaged and heavily spray-painted and classes would have to be cancelled on Monday as “repairs will take time”.
“The university will assist police in the investigation of criminal damage cases and reserve all right to pursue legal and other necessary actions,” the statement read.
Staff of the university – except for those who have special duties – would also have the day off on Monday with the cancellation of all official events and classes, according to an internal memo.
Meanwhile, in a separate statement to the school community, the senior management of HKUST strongly condemned the “totally unacceptable assault and battery” of a mainland Chinese student who was beaten up during the university’s open forum last Wednesday.
The leaders pledged to hold the attackers accountable by imposing punishment and pursuing appropriate legal action.
“Disciplining those responsible for this malicious incident is one of our highest priorities. We are seeking external professional help to more effectively collect and review all of the available evidence to identify those responsible for the violence as well as those deliberately shielding the violence from view, among whom were HKUST students,” the letter read.
Scores of mainland Chinese students at HKUST have reportedly fled Hong Kong since last Friday over fears they would be attacked, as anti-mainland sentiment sweeps through the campus and the city.
In a rare move, Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong issued a letter to mainland students in the city following reports of the attack and other incidents of campus intimidation.
“We strongly condemn campus violence and have immediately followed up and handled the incidents,” the letter read. “Please keep calm, pay attention to your safety and focus on your studies at ease.”
The liaison office called on mainland students to report any further difficulties to the school, the office or the Hong Kong Mainland Students Association.
HKUST management said they would evaluate all security measures as well as the process of handling safety after some members of the school’s community expressed concerns following the attack.
This article Classes suspended at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology as campus repairs to be carried out following ‘mass-scale malicious vandalism’ first appeared on South China Morning Post