HKUST must share blame for suicide, head says

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 November, 2007, 12:00am

The head of the University of Science and Technology said the institution must share the blame for the death of a research student who hanged himself in the dormitory last Saturday.

Paul Chu Ching-Wu met about 250 students and staff yesterday to counsel them after the suicide of Ge Weiwei, 27, from Suzhou, in Jiangsu province.

'Everybody is responsible for it,' he said. 'Teachers, management, classmates all have a share of responsibility in this incident. If we had noticed this earlier, it might not have happened.'

It is believed that Ge was suffering depression and had visited the university's counselling service centre.

Professor Chu said the university would set up a committee to look into the matter.

A good friend of the dead student who did not want to reveal his name said Ge had been unhappy since switching from a PhD to a master's programme in September.

'He told me his adviser [for his PhD research project] was going to leave the university in August. He has been studying at this university for three years, but he was to become a master's student. Did the university offer any assistance to him?'

A former roommate also revealed that Ge had been worried by his adviser leaving the university.

'In August, he told me his adviser would resign and the funding for their research would be lost. He said it had a great impact on him.

'Why did the university do nothing to help when he was obviously troubled?'

Professor Chu said the university followed the western system, so the adviser and the student of the research project both chose each other.

'Professors might leave the university and the research student can choose another adviser for his project.

'They are separate incidents,' he said.

The university said it had not received a resignation letter from Ge's research project adviser, Xu Bing, a professor of chemistry.

Professor Chu said many PhD students failed to graduate and switched to a master's programme. But Ge was an only child, so might have felt more pressure to get the best result.

Ge's parents, accompanied by two university staff members, will arrive tonight from Suzhou to arrange the funeral.

The father told Cable TV yesterday that he wanted to find out the truth behind his son's death.