HKU severs ties with its own students’ union

The University of Hong Kong says it has severed ties with its students’ union, accusing it of using the campus as a “platform for political propaganda”, undermining the institution’s interests and tarnishing its reputation.

In a public statement and an email to students, the university said it will assume control over the union’s offices and other facilities, stop collecting membership fees on its behalf, and stop providing it with financial management services.

The email said management were taking steps to “rectify the protracted ambivalence in the delineation of legal responsibilities between the university and the Hong Kong University Students’ Union (HKUSU)”.

In the statement, the university said the union “has become increasingly politicised in recent years, utilising the university campus as a platform for its political propaganda. It has repeatedly made inflammatory and potentially unlawful public statements and unfounded allegations against the university”.

“The undertakings of HKUSU have compromised the mutual trust established over the years, to the extent of undermining the overall interests of the university and tarnishing its reputation. The university strongly condemns HKUSU’s radical acts and remarks.”

The university’s move follows a series of articles in pro-Beijing media in recent weeks calling for the union to be reined in. State media said the union had “smeared” Beijing’s electoral overhaul in Hong Kong, education on national security, and the “One Country, Two Systems” principle.

In late February, Chinese University took similar action against its students’ union, leading to the resignation of the union’s entire cabinet.