The University of Hong Kong has lifted an entry ban on 18 student union council leaders previously forbidden from setting foot on campus after they passed a motion mourning the “sacrifice” of a man who stabbed a police officer in July.
An HKU spokeswoman told the Post on Thursday that the ban, which barred 44 members of the council from entering the campus or using its facilities and services, had been revoked for 18 of the group, at least some of whom would have voted in favour of the motion.
She explained the decision had been made after “having considered the available information and assessed the risks … [and the students’] roles and participation in the matter”.
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“The university hopes that the students will reflect deeply upon their words and deeds, abide by the law, and uphold their social and ethical obligations,” the spokeswoman said.
According to the HKU student publication Undergrad, several other members of the student union council received an email on Thursday from university registrar Jeannie Tsang Wing-shi stating that the bans on them were still in effect.
In her email, Tsang said there currently was not “sufficient information to address or remove the risk concerns of the university in relation to your participation” in the meeting that passed the motion.
She also told the student leaders that the ban would be “subject to review upon the availability of further information”, including that provided by the students or their legal representatives.
The Post has reached out to HKU for clarification on how many student leaders are still banned from campus.
The since-withdrawn motion, passed on July 7 by 30 of 32 student union council members present, expressed “appreciation for the sacrifice” of the assailant, who used the knife to kill himself after the attack. Two students abstained from voting.
The president of the student union and its council chairman were arrested on national security grounds in August, becoming the first charged with “advocating terrorism” under the Beijing-imposed security law. The crime carries a sentence of five to 10 years.
Last week, HKU management emailed dozens of student union council members asking them to explain whether they had been in attendance at the meeting, if they proposed or seconded the motion, and if and how they had voted.
HKU said the students’ responses – or even if they opted not to respond – would be taken into consideration as it reviewed the decision to ban them from entering campus.
In July, the resolution drew immediate condemnation from HKU management, the Security Bureau and the education minister, and within hours, members of the student union council said they would withdraw the motion, with a number of them apologising and stepping down.
Despite that, the university still decided to sever all ties with the student union later that month. The campus ban followed shortly thereafter, despite critics and university insiders challenging the move for sidestepping the normal disciplinary procedure.
Hundreds of alumni and seven members of the university’s court, a body which creates and amends the school’s statutes, later signed a petition demanding that HKU revoke the punishment.
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